Yesterday I reported on the availability of the 3.0 Patch 2 software we discovered on the HP web site, and gave instructions on how to install it. Since performing the initial install I’ve spent some more time with my EX495 running the update and have encountered a couple of issues.
The first was a problem where I experienced the high CPU utilization caused by Twonky. I eventually narrowed this down to a single video file in my library and have worked around the problem, however this is very frustrating since I did not experience this issue prior to installing Patch 2, and the updated 5.1.1 version of Twonky was specifically supposed to contain the resolution for this issue.
I don’t have a magic fix for this, unfortunately, but I can tell you how I investigated the problem. I watched the Twonky status in the “Media Server” tab of the server console, and noticed that it had indexed a lot of my content but the Last Database Update status showed that it was “In progress” and appeared to be stuck indexing a specific directory.
I started moving files out of that directory and into the Public share, telling Twonky to rebuild the database each time. This didn’t resolve the issue, so I moved up a directory and continued. Eventually the indexing completed and I was able to determine which file was problematic.
First, download the free “handle” utility from SysInternals here. Copy the zip file to your server Software share, and then log onto your server via Remote Desktop. Copy the zip file from the Software share to your server Desktop, unblock it, and then extract it.
Start a command prompt (Start->Run and type “cmd” with no quotes then hit Enter). Type the following into the command prompt window.
cd desktop\handle handle -p twonky
You should see output similar to the below, including the name of the media file that has Twonky “stuck” while indexing. I’ve highlighted the offending file on my system below in red. You’ll need to stop Twonky (the Stop Sharing button the Media Server tab works for me), then move this file out of the Twonky indexed folders (I moved mine to the Public share). Start Twonky again and hope that it doesn’t get stuck on another file. You may have to perform this multiple times if there are more than one file causing issues for Twonky.
I do not know why this file caused a problem, it plays fine on my computer and its metadata can be read by MediaInfo. A reader of this site named marco also experienced this same issue and was able to resolve the problem the same way I did.
The second problem had to do with the Remote Media Streaming feature. I experienced very poor performance while using the Music streaming feature, with the system exhibiting the following symptoms.
- Songs would take tens of seconds or longer to begin playing
- When a song completed, playback would not continue to the next track in the album
- Terrible, low resolution sound quality for some songs
Basically, one of the features that I use the most had just become unusable.
In the course of investigating the issue, I uncovered some interesting details. Twonky was now transcoding and caching versions of my music library when I would attempt to play them via Remote Media Streaming. Most files were converted to 96kbit bitrate, which was acceptable but not great quality. Files that were encoded at a high bitrate (320kbit, for example), were converted to 32kbit which sounds worse to me than AM radio. This was a new behavior, so I started comparing the new system with my recently upgraded EX487 that is running the 3.0 software update, and discovered an important difference in the Audio Transcoding configuration file.
If you experience this problem, here is how you can fix it.
First, access your server via Remote Desktop, and navigate to C:\TwonkyMedia\cgi-bin.
Make a backup copy of the audtranscode-mp3.desc file, and then open the original with notepad. The configuration file contains the following entries which cause the poor streaming performance for me.
# Audtranscode: Transcode/transrate audio (aac, mp4, wav, wma etc. to mp3) #(c) 2009 by PacketVideo exec: audtranscode $infile $outfile -br $outbitrate # capabilities from=audio/all bitrate>96000 defaultbitrate=96000 to=audio/mpeg asynchronous priority=idle
You will want to entirely replace the contents of the file with the settings that were originally in place prior to the upgrade to Patch 2.
# transcode audio (mp4, wav, wma to mp3) #(c) 2008 by PacketVideo exec: audtranscode $infile $outfile -br 128000 -sps 44100 # capabilities from=audio/all to=audio/mpeg asynchronous priority=idle
Save the modified config file, restart Twonky via the Server Console “Media Server” tab of the Server Console, and your Remote Media Streaming for music should be back to the way it was before the Patch 2 upgrade. Basically this sets the transcoder to stream your music at 128kbit, whereas the “bad” configuration allows some other logic (which is obviously incorrect) to encode at whatever bitrate it wants. Though it is supposed to default to 96kbit, as I experienced some files are handled improperly.
I’ve worked with long-time forum member and co-host of The Home Server Show “Diehard” to verify this behavior, and we confirmed both the problem and the solution on his system as well.
Nigel “Cougar” Wilks helped me investigate the Twonky installer package included in the Patch 2 update, and found that the offending configuration file is included in their package. The 3.0 Patch 2 installer contains logic to only install this new version of Twonky if it does not yet exist on the server, which explains why my upgraded EX487 was working correctly. So there’s no need to worry about the Patch 2 update once you have upgraded your EX47x or EX48x to the 3.0 software update. There is still an open question about why this issue doesn’t exist in the 3.0 Software Update systems since they are supposed to be running this same version of Twonky.
I’ve passed both of these issues along to the Twonky and HP support teams with the intent of helping them improve their products. However, given the slow timeframe that we see updates from these companies, I wanted to share the fix with you for any users that are currently impacted by the problem.