Now You See It…

… and now you don’t. This is a tale about technology, about the little things that don’t quite work and hence irritate me out of all proportion, rhyme or reason. Unless you’re a technology nerd, this probably won’t interest you, so go and read something else. But if you are a technology nerd, then pull up a chair. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…

I’ve recently acquired a Denon AVR-3808 to sit at the heart of our home’s audio-visual system. As well as being able to handle the usual array of audio visual devices (DVD and Blu-ray players, Satellite receivers and TVs), it also comes equipped with an Ethernet port. So I’ve connected it into our home network. There, it is able to connect to the Internet to receive Internet Radio streams, and also connect to the audio media held on our PCs and Windows Home Server. It even comes with a nice little Microsoft  PlaysForSure sticker on the front. Trouble is, it doesn’t “play for sure”.

It will quite happily play Internet Radio stations all day long, but if I try and play back music stored on any of the PCs or the Windows Home Server, then after a couple of hours, the connection will break, and the Denon will display a sad little “Server disconnected” message on its display.

20090127-1445-13

At this point, to get rid of the problem, I have to switch off the Denon and then switch it back on again. When it powers on, it will re-connect to the network, and then all will be well again for another couple of hours listening to music stored on the home network. It’s most odd – it will remain connected all the time as long as I play Internet Radio streams, but as soon as I try to play music stored on any of the devices connected to the home network, after a couple of hours the Denon will fall off its perch, and disappear off the network. Take a look at this snapshot of the network:

Denon Network Issue 1

Here you see two of the PCs (Matisse and Renoir) and the Server (Degas). There are several icons for each of them representing the different functions:

  • A PC that may have part of the file system and its attached printers accessible over the network
  • A File Server and Backup device
  • A Media Server device that can stream audio or video data on to the network. You can see that both PCs and the Windows Home Server can all act as Media Servers.
  • A Media Player device that can connect to a Media Server to playback either audio or video data. The device labelled “Network Audio” is the Denon AVR-3808.

In addition, you can see that Matisse can also act as a playback device for any of the Media Servers. The Speedtouch is my ADSL modem and Router – the device that joins the home network to the Internet. Now, the above snapshot represents the situation that I see most of the time. But if I start using the Denon as a Media Player device to play back music from any of the Media Servers, then after a couple of hours I get the “Server disconnected” message, and this is what I see on the network:

Denon Network Issue 3

… the Denon has disappeared from the network… As I say, it’s a case of “now you see it, now you don’t”. But curiously, even though it disappears from the network diagram, it’s still possible to ‘ping’ its IP address:

Denon Network Issue 5

So even though the low-level functions of the Denon’s networking capabilities are still there, something has happened to the higher levels. It appears to have had a lobotomy. Even more curiously, if I switch off the ADSL modem/router, so that there is no connection possible with the Internet, or have the ADSL modem/router on, but with its firewall set to block all incoming and outgoing traffic to the Internet, then the Denon will quite happily stream music from the Media Servers the whole day long.

So it looks as though there is something in the Denon that has a heartbeat with something out on the Internet that conflicts with local audio streaming and which might lie at the bottom of the issue. I noticed something else that is curious. For those of you that are playing around with the Beta of Windows 7, you may have noticed there’s a new feature in the version of Windows Media Player than comes with it. While all versions of Windows Media Player can “pull” media from Media Servers, this new version can “push” media to Media Player devices out on the network. So, when you’re in Windows Media Player, you can select tracks to play, but instead of playing them locally, a right-click shows a new option: “Play to…” and a list of the Media Player devices attached to your network. Here’s an example of what I see when I “push” a track out to the Denon:

Denon Network Issue 6

Notice that Windows 7 has correctly identified that the Network Audio device is in fact a Denon AVR-3808 – I didn’t have to set that up myself, it’s done automatically. But here’s the interesting thing. See that “Clear List” in the snapshot above? That’s actually a button, which when clicked will clear out the contents of the playlist in the panel below and stop streaming to the network device. And when I click that, sure enough, the Denon stops playing, but its built-in display shows something very odd:

20090127-1532-31

What’s that “Rhapsody”? If I try to navigate to that item using the Denon’s controls, it instantly vanishes from the list of choices, which are normally: “Favorites, Internet Radio, Media Server, Recently Played”. Now Rhapsody is an online subscription digital music service. It looks as though the Denon is treating the Windows 7 Media Server as though it’s a Rhapsody stream, and that can’t be right. I have no idea why the Denon falls off the network when it’s connected to the Internet and streaming audio from our Media Servers on the home network, but I’m pretty sure that the problem lies with the Denon. Its firmware is the latest current version (2.01). This problem doesn’t seem to be common, but there is at least one other person who is seeing the same phenomenon. Trouble is, if it’s just the two of us, then this isn’t going to be fixed anytime soon. We’ll just have to continue to switch our Denons off and on every couple of hours… Sigh.

Update: I think a number of people are seeing this problem on their Denon equipment, but not everyone does, so it’s likely to remain problematic as far as resolution is concerned. Meanwhile, I do have a workaround, although it’s not very elegant. I’ve created a new Firewall profile on my ADSL modem/router. That allows all traffic from devices on my home network to reach the Internet and vice versa, apart from the Denon 3808. The Firewall profile has a rule that prevents any traffic between the 3808 and the Internet, although local traffic on the home network subnet is permitted. With this rule in place, I can stream music from the Media Servers on my home network to my heart’s content and all day long. No more cutting out after a couple of hours as the 3808 falls off the network. It’s not elegant, because if I wish to switch to listening to Internet Radio stations on the 3808, then I have to switch over the Firewall profile on the ADSL modem/router first. But at least I’ve proved, to my satisfaction at least, that the problem lies within the 3808.

Update II: A couple of people have run packet traces on their Denon’s network traffic and found that, even when using a local media server, an AVR-4308 or AVR-3808 will communicate with internet address 207.188.0.25 on port 443. Doing a “whois” lookup shows that this IP address is registered to Real Networks. My bet is that this is a server address of the Rhapsody Music service. Quite why the Denon receivers should be communicating with these servers out on the internet when using local media servers on a home network is anybody’s guess, but it looks like a bug to me, and definitely seems to be causing the “server disconnected” message.

I therefore modified my original Firewall rule, which stopped all communication between the Denon and anything out on the internet, to one that stops the Denon communicating with this specific internet address. This modified Firewall rule also stops the “server disconnected” problem from occurring, while allowing the Denon to continue to receive Internet Radio and to communicate with Denon’s servers for firmware updates. Now all we need is for Denon to acknowledge that this is a bug and fix it.

Update III: Denon provided a firmware upgrade A2.04, WEB=W200908260504 on October 15, 2009 that may have been to address this bug. I haven’t bothered to remove the Firewall rule, which I would need to do in order to test this, so I can’t confirm it.

Update IV: Since that firmware update was released (and I installed it on my Denon), I have replaced my old ADSL Modem/Router with a new one (it was on free loan from my ISP). Although that has the possiblity to create Firewall rules, I have not done so. Therefore, the “Denon rule” is not present in the new modem, and I have not seen a repeat of the “server disconnected” issue. Therefore I conclude that the October 15 update has fixed this issue. I should add that I’m not using the Rhapsody music service (Denon don’t offer this in Europe, and even if they did I wouldn’t use it), so I don’t know how this affects Denon users based in the US who do use the service…

Update V 9 May 2014: Damnation, the “Server Disconnected” message is back! And now it’s worse than before – it also affects Internet Radio as well as streaming from our home media server. I think I need to recreate the firewall rule again. Trouble is, I have a new router (a Fritz!Box 7360) which doesn’t seem to have a straightforward way of doing this.

Update V1 29 May 2014: Damnation again. It transpires that Rhapsody have changed their servers, and Denon have issued a new firmware to fix this. Trouble is, Denon have only issued the firmware for their new products. There has been no update for the 3808. Unless Denon issue the firmware for the 3808, or I can find out what the new version of the firewall rule needs to be, this problem will remain.

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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20 Responses to Now You See It…

  1. Geoff says:

    Hi "No name". I’m somewhat surprised that the problem persists with you even after you disconnect the Internet connection. On my system, isolating the 3808 from the Internet certainly removes the problems of freezing connections with the Media Servers on our home network. In your post on the AVS forum (http://www.avforums.com/forums/integrated-av-amplifiers-receivers/901683-denon-3808-server-disconnected-2.html#post8918080) the IP address you give is owned by Real Networks. That may be a contributory factor to the issue that we’re seeing.

  2. Frank says:

    I have the same problem and the solution works! The only problem I have is the lack of internet radio. I hope there will be a firmware upgrade soon.After every song, or after every push on the remote while browsing the NAS for another song the AVR-4308 will go to internet address 207.188.0.25 on port 443. Best regards Frank

  3. Geoff says:

    Frank – thanks for posting that IP address. Doing a whois shows that it’s registered to Real Networks. My suspicion is that the Denon is doing a check with Rhapsody servers for some unknown reason, and this is causing the problem.

  4. Frank says:

    That is my suspicion too, but I think that the firmware must be changed for European AVR-4308’s. Are we the only ones having this problem, I can not imagine!Frank

  5. Geoff says:

    Frank, we’re not the only ones having this problem, but it doesn’t seem to be happening to everybody (or perhaps not everybody wants to stream from media servers on their home network. If you go to this thread:http://www.avforums.com/forums/av-amplifiers-receivers/901683-denon-3808-server-disconnected.html#post8498510 you’ll see that others are reporting the same issue, and one person confirms that the Denon is contacting a Rhapsody Server out on the internet at the same address that you reported. So it’s a definite bug, but one that doesn’t seem to have been acknowledged by Denon themselves.

  6. Geoff says:

    Frank, if your router’s firewall is capable of it, just create a firewall rule that blocks all traffic between the Denon and 207.188.0.25. That way, you should still be able to access all Internet Radio stations, and prevent the "Server disconnected" problem when you use your local media server…

  7. Cato says:

    Thanks Geoff for adressing this issue. I have a 3808 with the issue of "loosing connection" to my twonky on my NAS server. I also have a Linksys router with internet connection in between. I use radiodenon.com with vtunes. Typically music stops between songs and display usually shows 30%, but also 0% and 100% is seen. Disconnect from the internet, restart the denon and the problem i gone. Rhapsody has also been seen in the display, but I can not find a situation where I can recall this view. My problem is still there, but I have a sequence that I feel have reduced the frequency of the problem. First I have turned off any radio functions on the twonky 4.4.11 (shoutcast and vtunes I think). Rescan contents in twonky is only manual. After a rescan of twonky, I power off (hardpower) my denon and remove the internet connection. I then power on the Denon, lets it find the twonky server and then first connect it to the internet. I belive it helps, but I must admit I am just about to throw the denon out the door.

  8. Geoff says:

    Hi, Cato. Sorry to hear that you’re also a member of the "Server disconnected" club. Have you tried putting in a firewall rule into your Linksys to prevent the Denon from communicating with IP address 207.188.0.25? That has cerainly worked for me. I am no longer seeing the "Server disconnected" problem. I tried out the Twonky media server (in both a standalone version and as part of Twonky Media Manager) on a couple of my systems. I was not too impressed – it seemed too buggy for me. I’m using the Denon’s Internet Radio function directly, rather than via a Media server. That works fine – and using the RadioDenon site to create Internet Radio favourites which are then installed into the Denon seems easy enough. I don’t have a NAS – I use Windows Home Server, so I’m able to use other DLNA media servers, rather than Twonky. Mind you, these bring their own quirks to the party; see http://gcoupe.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!6AA39937A982345B!8242.entry

  9. Cato says:

    Good news, no disconnect has been seen since Linksys was properly set. Faster menu changes is also a realy nice bonus. I thought I had set the Linksys-Access Restriction correct, but I had not. I looked at the Linksys-Administration-Log that Denon was sending on a secure channel. I added HTTPS as Blocked Services and Voilà. If anyone comes to read this, here is how I set up my linksys access restricitn1. Enable Policy ( I called it Denon)2. Enter edit list of PC – Add MAC address of receiver. It can ba found on the back side. I also added its IP adress. I use fixed IP on everything but wireless. 3. Allowed it internett access 24/74. Added HTTPS as blocked services.5. Save.My error from before was that I tried to block the IP adress 207.188.0.25, but did’nt add blocked services. By using blocked services and https I don’t need to add the IP adress at all. I don’t know if the Denon needs to use secure channel for firmware upgrade or the like. In case I will have to disable this Policy during updates.Thanks again, I can’t believe our club is so small. I gess people just puts up with the problem. Oh, and twonky is working on my Qnap 409, but believe me RAID is no backup. I am actually quite happy with the functionallity on the Qnap. I did install twonky media manager on one of my laptops but that was a dissaster. I am quite sure it was a virus :-)I think Real networks knows about all the music I have played the last year, but not anymore. I sleep well tonight.

  10. Geoff says:

    Cato, terrific – glad that you’ve found a solution that works for you.

  11. Carlos says:

    Service REconnected!!Thanks so much…this issue was driving me crazy and now all seems to work just fine. I ended up having to combine both sets of advice– blocked 207.188.0.25 and blocked the HTTPS services for my 3808 (used both its MAC and IP). I seemed to not work if I only had one or the other going…odd, yes, but there you go. Has been a couple days of uninterrupted music across my wireless. Thanks for your persistence on this Geoff, and for so thoroughly documenting your pain.

  12. Geoff says:

    Carlos, glad you got it working. Enjoy your music!

  13. Billy Kidd says:

    AVR991 with Netgear WNDR3700 router. I think the problem may also be related to DNS. I changed the IP to fixed (I was assigning the same IP with DHCP though a mac address assignment. But I still had the same problem… I get Server Disconnected and then I get bounced back to the previous Rhapsody menu. After changing the IP to fixed, same problem. I then changed the DNS to Google Public DNS 8.8.8.8/8.8.4.4. Now, I still get the occasional error, but the music continues to play and only once did I get bounced back to the prior Menu.

    • Geoff Coupe says:

      Hi Billy. After I updated my firmware, I’ve never seen the “server disconnected” message again. I’m using DHCP to assign its network address (the same one every time). I’m using the DNS of my ISP, as I’ve always done…

  14. billy kidd says:

    when I get server disconnected, Rhapsody skips the next song in the song list and plays the one after that.

    • Geoff Coupe says:

      Billy, have you applied the firmware update that I mentioned? If you have, then it sounds as though there’s still a residual problem. As I wrote, I don’t use Rhapsody, but since applying the firmware update, I’ve never seen the “server disconnected” message again.

  15. Graeme says:

    I have a Denon RCD-N7 which I have used for DLNA, pushing music from my PC via local network. Worked perfectly for years, until yesterday.

    A song would play only to stop after about 9 seconds, it would drop off the network and restart networking on the HiFi (as if it was just switched on). So I tried all the usual, checked the network, switched to WiFi (over wired), did a full reset of the HiFi etc. No change.

    Until I read this post. I blocked all external connections from the Denon RCD-N7 to the Internet, allowing it just access to LAN. And that fixed it. So thank you for this post, you saved me buying a new HiFi. Very odd issue there.

  16. Robert says:

    I have a Denon RCD-N9 which I use for listening to internet radio. A couple of weeks ago, it started buffering frequently, and drops to 30% at which point playback stops. A message sometimes appears, either “server disconnected” or “error timeout”, then either returns to the main menu or back to the radio station, but stuck on 30% with no playback. The ONLY way to get it playing again is to select the chosen station again using the remote.
    This happens regardless of what radio station I try. I have fibre optic with speeds in excess of 25 mb/s. I have tried it wirelessly and wired ethernet – same problem. Ping tests show 0% packet loss. I have contacted my ISP (Orange in Spain) who say they have checked my connection and found no fault. I didn’t have the problem with my previous ISP (Movistar), but then again, I’ve had Orange for a few months now, and the problem has only just developed a couple of weeks ago. I have contacted Denon customer service in the UK, citing this article, but they say they know of no networking issues with this unit, saying if it worked with Movistar, it must be the Orange router. I’m at my wits end. Any suggestions?

    • Geoff Coupe says:

      Robert, I’m afraid I’m not going to be much help here. If it is caused by your Denon trying to connect with the Rhapsody service, then perhaps you could try having a firewall rule in your router that prevents communication with the Rhapsody servers. I suspect they will be at the IP Address: 66.226.72.*. It’s a long shot though…

      I no longer have my Denon connected to the internet at all. It just became too much hassle when the “Server disconnected” message started appearing again. Now I have a different arrangement for media in the home, using Roon. Roon is supposed to be adding internet radio capability in a forthcoming release.

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