Well the DFplayer is not with out some quality issues, a bit of ‘Google Fu’ shows others having issues:
I’m not suggesting this is the same issue you are experiancing, but the point is, they are cheep as chips and some are better made than others
So to summorise you have only tried one photon. It gets corrupted, but is recoverable. I think you have tried another DFplayer, which works.
With the DFplayer there are two ways to control it, using manual logic level on some of the pins, or by using serial commands. Which way are you using it. I would suggest trying to use the manual logic control. That would let you know if it is soley related to the DFplayer audio chip…