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Bizarre Frustrating Audio Routing Error Made Worse by Zero Logging/Info from Spotify App

Bizarre Frustrating Audio Routing Error Made Worse by Zero Logging/Info from Spotify App

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Plan

Premium

Country

USA

Device

Desktop PC

Operating System

Windows 10 v1909

 

My Question or Issue

I'm sure this will go nowhere and probably get deleted/locked as you guys don't seem to care much about user experience when it comes to the desktop app (perfect example, the play button next to a track in a playlist is supposed to act like a pause button when said track is playing, the icon changes to the pause symbol to indicate this, but instead when you click on it, it just restarts playback instead of pausing it, it works like this on all desktop app platforms, mac, linux, windows, and I'm pretty sure it's been **bleep** up like this for at least 6 months, really how hard is it to fix this?). This is a bit of a rant but I'm hoping a developer reads this at some point and at least considers making some changes. Either way at least I get to vent my frustrations and maybe someone else will feel my pain or can save themselves some trouble if they ever have a similar issue.

 

I just dealt with an extremely frustrating issue that could have been solved in about a minute if the Spotify desktop app gave the slightest detail as to what kept going wrong. I opened Spotify this afternoon to go listen to some music only to find that no matter what I tried to play, I got the generic "Spotify cannot play this song..." error message. I spent over an hour trying to figure out how to fix this, reinstalled Spotify (using the Win32 and the Windows Store app) about 20 times, signed out of every device, ran every built-in Windows 10 repair tool/troubleshooter I could find/remember, restarted my PC like 10 times, reinstalled audio drivers, nothing fixed it. Zero information found on the internet because there was zero information given by either the Spotify app, or by Windows for that matter. I was giving serious consideration to reinstalling Win10 but then I finally remembered a lesser-known Win10 feature I take advantage of that could have something to do with it.

 

With my desktop computer setup, I have a pair of high-end studio monitors + subwoofer in my room connected to a USB audio interface for when I really want to enjoy what I'm listening to (also for music production but that's besides the point here). Using that for listening to music can be a minor pain since I gotta flip on like 4 different pieces of equipment to use it so I have a pair of cheap desktop speakers that sit on either side of my monitor for when I don't care and just want basic sound output. Win10 allows any number of audio output devices to be connected simultaneously and the default output device to be switched at any time. Sometimes this requires an app to be restarted if it was already running when the default playback device was changed. This is nothing out of the ordinary with this so far, it's a similar situation when you have headphones and desktop speakers connected at the same time (assuming no driver shenanigans going on attempting to hide the fact that they are separate audio endpoints), you occasionally want to switch between numerous devices without unplugging them. However, Win10 also lets you go a step further, by specifying the default playback device per application. I can say to Windows that I want Spotify to always use my Roland Octa-Capture audio interface for playback if the device is available, while all my other apps play back on the default playback device (which in my case was set to my cheap desktop speakers). This is what I normally have set. It's also very nice for when I want to listen to music while playing video games, having the playback for both of those things go to different devices provides numerous benefits (for instance I can control Spotify volume/playback using remote on my phone and the game volume with a physical volume knob right in front of me without them interacting with each other). When I was having trouble earlier, my Octa-Capture was not connected and I just wanted to use my cheap desktop speakers, so I set that as my default playback device (using HDMI digital output going out from my computer's graphics card, through my computer monitor, then out from there via 3.5mm jack into the cheapo speakers). I do this all the time with no problems so it didn't even cross my mind that this was related until later. Anyhow, I had the idea of connecting my Octa-Capture real quick as a troubleshooting step since I thought that might have been the device I used last time I had opened Spotify before all this happened, just to see if it would work, and it did. Then I unset the app preference I had set in Windows sound settings to always use my Octa-Capture interface, then switched back the default playback device to my cheap desktop speakers, and that worked now too.

 

I know there's a whole lot of things that complicated my situation here and many of them are not in any way under control of the Spotify dev team. I also know that probably most users are not using Spotify like I do. What could be fixed however, is the error messages/logging provided. If the error message at least gave some suggestion that it was the output device Spotify was trying to use that was causing the problem and maybe also name the device it was trying to use, then I would have instantly known "oh yeah that's not connected right now, it's not working because it's trying to play through a device that is not currently connected, better check my sound settings in Windows and see if I can fix it there". Instead, all the app says is "It's not working and who knows why". I don't even need an error message at that rate, I can see for myself that it's not working. If you're going to give an error at all you might as well make it the tiniest bit helpful. I mean the worst case is you confuse some less tech-savvy users, but they won't read that far anyway and will already be confused just by the fact that it's not working. You're not actually sacrificing any additional intuitiveness. If it's not working, the user experience is already broken, all you're doing is making the issue harder to troubleshoot. The app knows what it was trying to do when it failed. It knows that it failed to open the playback device it was told to open when it tried to play back a song.

 

Things break, you can't avoid that or even predict it most of the time but it's a thousand times easier to fix a problem when there's at least a tiny bit of info to help point you in the right general direction. Yeah it won't help a lot of users, but it will help the poor tech assigned to their case to diagnose the problem and hopefully fix it. I almost ended up wiping my entire machine and spending the next few weeks or even months installing programs I forgot about and possibly permanently losing data in the process for a very simple configuration change that took 30 seconds to change. I considered ditching Spotify altogether due to all the senseless frustration. If you're still convinced all of your users are hopeless neanderthals, you should at the very least keep an error log around somewhere on the device with the more verbose info about errors whenever they occur. I couldn't find any such thing when I was looking. Windows 10 is guilty here too, there was absolutely nothing logged anywhere on the system indicating that an application was trying to open an audio device that wasn't actually connected. Why is this the new normal for software?

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