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Thread: TuneIn Radio audio dropouts

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Mississauga, Ontario
    Samsung Galaxy S7, Galaxy S4, iPhone 6S Plus
    Fido (Data-Only)
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    TuneIn Radio audio dropouts

    Let me begin this article by saying that not everyone will actually have this problem, and so please only read this if you are actually experiencing an issue with the TuneIn Radio app that causes short (but annoying) dropouts in the audio stream while you listen in the background. If you'd rather skip my length explanation of how I found the solution, you can skip directly to the end of this message to read the solution in point form. If you're curious about what the problem is, and how I found a workaround, then please read on.

    I'd had this issue on numerous devices over time, but not consistently. Sometimes, vastly more powerful devices had the issue, while lesser devices did not. This immediately discounted the possibility that the issue was a result of the hardware not being capable.

    I noticed that it only occurred if the screen was turned off, and it almost never affected the app if the audio was being delivered via Bluetooth. I found that much earlier builds of TuneIn Radio (going back to 13.6.1 for example) wouldn't suffer from this problem at all. It was therefore easy to "blame" TuneIn for creating the problem, but since it only affected some devices, it couldn't have been anything they were essentially "doing wrong".

    After much research and experimentation, I found the ROOT CAUSE of the problem: it was the result of overly aggressive CPU GOVERNORS. If you're not particularly techie, and don't know what a CPU governor is, let me quickly explain it.

    On all mobile devices (laptops included), battery consumption is an important issue, but so is performance. However, if we allowed the processors in our mobile devices to run at full tilt all of the time, we'd burn through our batteries no time flat.

    What's needed is a way to scale back the processor speed, and even put some our cores to sleep when they aren't needed. However, in order for the device to feel snappy, we need it to quickly re-evaluate the situation and ramp up the processor as quickly as possible, but not excessively so. This complex task falls to the CPU governor.

    Not surprisingly, there are MANY different CPU governors available, each sporting a slightly different algorithm for dealing with this difficult juggling act. Most device manufacturers opt for middling governors that are a reasonable compromise between performance and battery life. However, those of you who choose to install custom ROMs or custom KERNELS on your devices know that they often allow you to choose which governor to use, and let you tweak it to your heart's content.

    Regardless of which governor your device has, it might be set up to keep the device as deeply asleep as possible when it's idling to extend standby battery life. If this is the case, it can sometimes interfere with the smooth operation of background processes, and in the case of those that play music, this can be the difference between smooth, uninterrupted music, or choppy music with dropouts.

    Now background apps like TuneIn Radio are supposed to know this, and supposed to ensure that the process doesn't enter a state where it can no longer provide uninterrupted streams of music, and it is possible that TuneIn Radio hasn't done their homework properly. On all devices where I've seen this problem, I've not had a similar issue when running Spotify in the background.

    But I'm not here to point the finger at anyone for this issue, but rather to suggest a workaround that is actually quite simple.

    Once I realized that the governor was the root cause of the issue, I tried a brute-force fix by running something else in the background that had a habit of keeping the processor on its toes (such as a GPS tracker for instance). This indeed worked, but it was a rather heavy battery consumer.

    I next tried running apps that kept the screen on constantly (like Google Maps for instance), and then I put something over my light sensor so that the screen was quite dim. This consumed about the same amount of battery as the previous fix, even on devices with AMOLED screens. I can only image it would be much worse on LCD devices.

    I looked at TuneIn Radio to see if it had an option for keeping the screen on, but there didn't seem to be anything obvious. However, I tried out CAR MODE, and found that it kept the screen on. This was a slightly better solution, but it was still a poor option for an LCD device running strictly on battery.

    However, I then discovered something rather curious. While running TuneIn Radio in CAR MODE just recently, I turned off the screen without thinking, but at no time did I hear any dropouts in the audio. I looked a bit deeper into this and I found that it didn't even matter if I put TuneIn Radio into the background before I turned the screen off, just so long as I'd selected CAR MODE first.

    This solution proved to be the best overall, as it was simple to activate, it provided reasonable battery life (turning on CAR MODE didn't appreciably change the app's battery consumption), and yet it cleanly solved the problem.

    So, in summary (for those who chosen to skip here from the beginning), you can solve the audio dropout problem with TuneIn Radio (if you are experiencing it) by doing the following:

    - Launch the app and choose your desired station
    - Tap on the 3-dot menu in the station screen
    - Choose CAR MODE
    - Put the app in the background if you wish
    - Turn off the screen

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
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    iOS problem too

    For the last month, the Tune In radio app on my iPad has experienced almost total failure in connection or significant and frequent dropouts. After spending quite a bit of time unsuccessfully trying to solve the problem by working on my WiFi setup, I happened on your post on the Howard Forum that discussed a similar problem with an Android phone. The poster discussed CPU governors in mobile devices and concluded that Tune In, a background app, had a particular problem when the CPU governor kicked in and throttled the processor. I then remembered that I had set the iPad to shut down its display after 2 minutes, given that I had just purchased a cover with no cover switch. When I reset the iPad to never shut down its display, the Tune In problem disappeared. Also note that this problem did not affect the Tidal app, the SiriusXM app, or other apps using my Wifi system. I just have to be careful to always close the cover when I am listening.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    I had the same problem by installing the application TuneIn Radio on my phone, every time I listened interuptuions appeared, it was annoying I even thought to uninstall it, I tested your solution and that walk for me thanks for sharing.

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