> sound is digitally represented in a way that requires a fixed
> amount of data per second. I.e. 64 or 128kbits/sec. When playing
> the data must be consumed at a fixed rate that depends on the rate
> it was encoded at.
Only true if no compression is applied. Compression is pretty common, because
of the huge amount of data involved.
> Maybe an intermediate node goes down and there's a delay
> while switching, or some extra traffic clogs part of the path that your
> packets are using.
Or maybe there's a marginal/noisy hop somewhere that is losing packets.
One other thing that might be worth trying, if you have a hardware firewall or
external switch/bridge/router at your end, is to substitute or temporarily
eliminate it and see if the problem changes. I had a home-grade switch that
dropped packets like crazy (when it wasn't locked up completely) ... replacing
it did wonders for my effective bandwidth.