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Multiple Echo Dots in music group stop playing randomly

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Multiple Echo Dots in music group stop playing randomly
« on: June 30, 2018, 10:23:42 pm »
I have seen people in this site report similar issues to this, but the thread either dies out, or wanders away from the core issue.  So here is my situation :

I am an AV installer.  Recently I have begun using multiple 2nd Generation Echo Dots, utilizing their audio outputs, to provide my customers with multiple rooms of voice activated music. A few times I have used the existing amplification systems in a home, but replaced the audio sources with Echo Dots in the equipment rack, as well as a few Dots around the house for voice control, and success doing so.  Within the last few months I have had two larger systems, specifically one that uses 7 dots in the rack for streaming audio, two hidden under sofas to connect powered subwoofers to the system, and three separate Dots used only for convenient voice control around the house.  It is with these two most recent systems (these are not the largest, just the most recent) that I am having constant issues.  The main issue I have is with the multi-room music group feature that they use most often. Most of my other clients tend to use them room by room, not in groups. With these two larger and more recent installs, the music will sometimes work flawlessly for minutes, hours, or even days, before suddenly hitting a brick wall.  The music will stop mid-song, even though the app says each room is still playing.  Then you can tell Alexa to start again, and no sound will come from any of the Dots, even though the app again says that it is playing.  I have all the Dots in the audio rack on a single surge protector so they can be quickly reset.  Sometimes this helps, sometimes it doesn't.  When it helps, it might again last for minutes, hours, or days.  But sometimes it won't work again for days, no matter how many times I reset every Dot, the WiFi, and the modem.  While this is happening, I can stream 4k video on multiple TVs in the house with no problem, so the internet is still working fine.  We bumped the speeds up from about 350 mbps to almost 900 and we still have the same problem.  I have experimented with every kind of WiFi router of every price, but things seem to be just a tad more likely to work when connected to a Google WiFi Mesh network, for whatever reason.  I've tried the best Asus, Netgear Nighthawk, and Lynksys routers.  I've completely removed every firewall.  I've deleted and reestablished the group many times.  I've derestered, factory reset, and the re-registered each Dot.  Same problem.  Usually it will work for a few hours, then shut down completely for a day or two, until one morning it just works again.  The times when it works for a few days straight are few and far between, but they happen.  Never have any problems streaming music to a single Dot, just to a group. 

Does anyone have any other ideas?  I'm running out of answers.  It seems like if it can work for days straight, that the wifi and internet are not the issue, but something maybe involving the stream or servers or something, but at this point I'll try anything.  I started the troubleshooting process with an Amazing "tech support" person, but they insisted that, after I shut them all off and back on again, that I redo the entire process of derestering, resetting, and registering each Dot again (a process which takes at least 30 minutes with all these Dots), when I had just finished doing that right before I got on the phone with her.  If it would help to have the customer on the best possible Amazon Music subscription, to somehow prioritize the music stream, great, I'll do it, but I'd like to know if there's real logic behind such a move before I do it. This issue exists with Amazon Music, Pandora, Spotify, and XM radio.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, and I'm happy to help others in the future...
« Last Edit: June 30, 2018, 10:33:12 pm by Sideshow »

Offline jwlv

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Re: Multiple Echo Dots in music group stop playing randomly
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2018, 06:38:15 am »
Sounds to me like a really simple connection problem with the audio cable. The Dot use a 3.5mm audio output jack. From what I remember when I got my Dots a year ago, you really gotta shove the audio cable into the jack. And I mean push it in as hard as you can. The insulation part of the cable should be flush against the Dot for a good connection.

Another possibility might be heat. You stated that the Dots giving you problems are hidden under sofas. Does it get warm under there? I ask because I installed a Dot in my car. If my car has been sitting in the sun all day, the Dot will refuse to work. It just won't respond to any voice commands although I can see the LED ring turn blue when I call out Alexa. After I drive around with the air conditioner on, then it begins to work again as if nothing was wrong. And it didn't even need to be power cycled.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2018, 06:49:07 am by jwlv »

Re: Multiple Echo Dots in music group stop playing randomly
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2018, 09:03:08 am »
I think the dots are telling you it's overkill. Why do you have to use that many dots? I saw a YouTube video of someone doing kinda like that. His is not just audio output. It also has TV and vcr connection. He only need a couple dots for that multi room/devices setup and it works as it should. It's a messy snake of cords behind the scenes though.

I think you used way too many dots and it's a common headache that if you add new echo to an existing system. It will give you problem.

Re: Multiple Echo Dots in music group stop playing randomly
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2018, 10:38:56 am »
Those possibilities fade when you consider that these issues only arise when using the dots together as groups.  Individually they all work fine.  That cancels out audio cord connection issues and heat,, etc.

Using that many dots because that's how many rooms he has, and that is what gives him full control of the music system through Alexa.  Each room has its own volume control through Alexa, and each room can play whatever music stream it wants through Alexa, because each room has its own dot.  Again, systems like this have worked fine in other homes I've done, just not these two most recent.  So obviously the number of dots is not the issue, unless using that many ALWAYS caused this issue...

Re: Multiple Echo Dots in music group stop playing randomly
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2018, 08:45:49 pm »
You definitely are more knowledgeable than me in audio installation but you said you put 2 dots hidden under sofa which for me doesn't make sense.

I think you are better off searching on YouTube I just rewatched that guy I referred earlier that installed multi room audio using his existing TV in rooms in his house. He basically was using his TV audio for echo music.  LOL. AND he just use 1 dot! And a fire TV remote to control them.

Works as it should. It's not synchronized though.

Re: Multiple Echo Dots in music group stop playing randomly
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2018, 12:29:17 am »
The Dots hidden under couches (not under the cushions where they can't breathe, but infer the couch itself where they have 6-8 inches of clearance to easily breathe) give audio signal to powered subwoofers located under the same couches.  If they are in a group with the Dot that provides the same music to the listening speakers in the ceiling, then they turn the subwoofer they are connected to into a wires Alexa subwoofer, essentially.  Works perfectly in other systems,, just not these last two.

The people you see in the YouTube videos are doing a good thing, but they systems they put together are extremely limited.  The "group" function of Alexa allows many dots in a house to all play the same music stream together, and the Amazon Music Unlimited Service allows you to play up to six different streams of music to six different Echo Dots in the house.  The people you see wiring a single Dot to their multi-room system will only be able to listen to that one Dot, and the stream it's playing, anywhere in the house.  But the minute a person in a different room wants to listen  to a different stream, they will either have to wait until the other person is done or kick them off the Dot.  The way I do it assigns a Dot to every room, giving you full functionality and flexibility from the Alexa app on your phone.  Control volume, songs, etc, all from the Alexa app.  Except on these cases where the group function is too buggy to use.

Re: Multiple Echo Dots in music group stop playing randomly
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2018, 02:05:43 pm »
Okay Sideshow, I just came across this. I just moved into a new house and am in the process of setting up my "system again". This includes Lutron Caseta Wireless, Phillips Hue, Ecobee 3lite Thermostat, Orig Echo, Orig Dot, Gen 2 Dot, Echo gen2, Echo Show. Previously in LA, I had used my Apple AirPort Extreme as my network - very reliably - but dated. When we moved, I opted to go for Xfinity's new Xfi Router because I figured it was newer and it has a good app for router controls (maybe gimicky...) I am now experiencing what you have described - and it is frustrating. Sometimes the whole group stops, sometimes 1 speaker. The show started clicking today. Sometimes one of the echos doesn't play at first but 3 seconds later it catches up. I am chocking this all up to the fact that I haven't fully gotten the system set up yet... The system is still set up from before but not all the pieces are installed again yet.

BUT - if after it all gets set up and there still are issues then I am wondering if the new Xfinity router/modem is the issue. Its good to hear you looked at firewalls on routers- are there perhaps specific ports that should be open on the router to allow optimized communication? Did some new version of the software/firmware get optimized for a specific port? Does it have something to do with the syncing protocol for multi-room music? It's almost like the hardware can't respond quick enough and then the software throws an error.

Also - in my new house I am creating a "connected" home where all the connected devices can be controlled via voice or by 3 controllers: MacBook Pro, iPad, old iPhone 5. There are a lot of points where the services are looking for commands and I am wondering if there is confusion due to the number of control points in my system. Regardless, I am experiencing:

- The "Everywhere" group will stop randomly when using Spotify
- Speakers will start playing (in sync) but later than others
- Music will start randomly on the everywhere group! (Slightly Creepy)
- Echo Show starts "clicking" or Crackling like there is an audio connection issue

So anyway - it's weird. I will keep you posted, but I feel like I have something similar happening and finding what could be common could be key...

Thanks!
Stuart