Help: Bluetooth speaker cutting of first few words
#1  ApK 03-04-2019, 03:43 PM
I've discovered a weird issue recently, trying to listen to audiobooks from my phone on any of a variety of portable, battery powered, waterproof Bluetooth speakers (shower speakers...).

On several speaker, from dollar-store specials to moderately expensive Altec Lansings and others, and using several playback programs from (e.g. Audible, Listen) I get the same problem:

This first few words spoken after any silence longer than a fraction of a second get lost. It's as if the amplifier goes to sleep for power-savings after half a second with no audio, and then takes half a second or so kick in again.
In fact, I suspect that is exactly what's happening.

I have no issue playing the same content via Bluetooth on my Echo devices or my stereo system (all of which are mains-powered and therefore, as I suspect, power-saving is not as aggressive), nor does it happen on any of my Bluetooth headphones, which have batteries, but perhaps because they don't need to drive a large speaker, also don't use the same sort of aggressive power savings?

Any one seeing similar issues? Any thoughts or solutions?



#2  haertig 03-06-2019, 01:48 AM
At the beginning of your post you mentioned that this affects many different connected Bluetooth devices (speakers). The common item was apparently your phone that was playing the audiobook. This would lead me to believe that it was something on your phone that was causing the problem. But later in your post you mention that you do not see the problem on several other bluetooth devices.

What you need to do is isolate if the problem is in your phone, or in the connected bluetooth devices. One way to begin this investigation is to ask a friend to use their phone to try to play audiobooks on your problem bluetooth devices.

You are trying to see if the problem is following your devices, or your phone. Note that you should only change one parameter at a time, because if you change multiple things between tests, you don't know which thing caused the problem. So when testing with your friends phone it would be best to install the exact same audiobook player app and play the exact same audiobook. This implies that if your phone is Android, find a friend with a phone that runs Android too.

You also need to identify all the components that you want to isolate (test). i.e., what could potentially be the cause of the problem? A few things come immediately to mind: it could be your bluetooth speaker(s), it could be your phone, it could be the app you're running on your phone, it could be the specific audiobook you are playing, it could be a power saving setting as you mentioned. Those are off the top of my head, there could be other possible culprits. You should try to identify all the potential culprits and then do some testing my changing only one possible culprit at a time. Don't take short cuts and skip tests, and don't rule out things based on a hunch, don't indict something based on a hunch - you must test and prove/disprove specific things.

This is basic scientific "design of experiments".

FWIW, I have never seen a power saving setting, even an aggressive one, that would cut power in the "fraction of a second" that you are reporting. And you say you are seeing this on multiple different Bluetooth devices. As I said above, you don't want to rule this out without testing to prove/disprove, but I propose that you do not have multiple devices (I assume different brands, models, etc.) that were all designed by brain-damaged engineers who kick in power saving in a fraction of a second. That makes absolutely zero engineering sense.

You also mentioned "recently" in your post. I'm assuming this means that your same problem devices used to work OK but now they don't. If this is indeed true, then that makes the aggressive power saving theory even more unbelievable. Multiple different devices all went bad at the same time? That's not terribly plausible.

If I were to hazard an engineering "guess", I'd say this is probably an issue with your phone. Or the app you are using on the phone. Or something in the OS of the phone.
Making it harder to diagnose is that it is most likely an intermittent problem. e.g., the Echo devices that you say are working fine today may not be working fine tomorrow. You just haven't seen that happen ... yet. It may work for a while, then not work for a while, and it's somewhat random bad luck for a device to be connected when it stops working, since that device then gets blamed.

I believe you may be chasing intermittentcy at this point, and that is preventing you from getting reliable test results. Note that with intermittent problems, testing something only once may not be enough. It is possible, quite likely actually, that you may need to test and re-test the same potential culprit over and over to get a reliable result. I would first try re-running all the tests you've done thus far from a friends phone. My hunch is that this testing with a different phone might shed a little light on the subject. But you never know, the testing is still required - my hunch is only a hunch, it holds no value when compared to actual testing.

#3  ApK 03-06-2019, 12:50 PM
Hey, haertig,
Good troubleshooting plan, indeed.

What I was hoping for was for multiple people to chime in with "Oh yeah, I had that exact same issue, and it turned out to be {x...whatever}!" which would have short-circuited the need for all the testing.

I'll mention a few items before I go off and get all methodical on it:
1. "Recently" referred to the fact that this problem started with recently purchased, current model devices, which fed my suspicion that it might be related to a new Bluetooth version, which I though perhaps implements some power management older devices and mains power devices don't. Just speculation.
2. Thankfully, there's nothing intermittent. On the devices it happens on, it happens all the time, on the other devices it never happens. Completely reproducible.
3. I've tried with several apps and different content. Results are consistent.

If no one posts a magic bullet for me, I'll continue to test as you advise over the weekend. Fortunately in my household I have several phones to try, including another specimen of a phone like mine.

#4  haertig 03-06-2019, 06:40 PM
You've got a weird one there, that's for sure.

It sounds like you have done your due diligence in testing so far. Sometimes that is difficult to tell reading a post on the internet, so I apologize if I came down as preachy. When reading a post, you just never know if someone knows what they're doing technically or if they don't. So I usually start at the beginning, with the basics. Turns out you had already covered those.

I would be interested to hear what comes of trying this with a different broadcasting device (phone). Since you have tested various apps and various audiobooks and verified repeatable results, there's not a whole lot left in the "common element" area to test (of course, I could be overlooking something!) Your phone is a common element, as is it's OS, as is it's hardware Bluetooth implementation, as is it's Bluetooth version, as are any software config/settings you have in place.

What do you bet - if you simply reboot your phone, the problem will go away, and you'll never figure out what caused it. That's the kind of luck I have. Then five years from now the problem will reappear, and if you're like me, you'll have forgotten that you had the same problem years in the past, you'll do a Google search, and you'll find your own original post here on MobileRead in the Google hits! Don't laugh - that has actually happened to me. I got really excited once because it looked like I had found someone who was experiencing my exact same problem. But that poster was ME, a few years back! Talk about feeling like an idiot...

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