Best way to make stable groups

  • 14 August 2019
  • 69 replies

After years of resistance, I now have a TV in the patio dedicated to music videos, to be played there and streamed to other Sonos zones indoors. I am seeing the group break up often, even where all the concerned Sonos units have solid green signal strengths back to Boost.

Line is set to uncompressed; both compressed and the choosing the Airplay device trick does not seem to work; the latter does not fix the lip sync problem caused by the former.

The TV is connected to a Connect in the patio, which is used to initiate a group with the 2 other zones indoors, which are also closer to the Boost than the patio Connect. Often, and usually when I choose to change the video being played, these two drop while remaining as a group, leaving the patio Connect playing on its own. When I add the Connect back to these groups, play resumes on all three zones, and, I suspect, in a more stable manner.

Any ideas as to solutions? If I wanted to wire an ethernet cable from the Patio to the router what would I have to do - one end would go into the jack on the Connect, and the other back to the jack on the Boost? Would that solve the problem?

PS: The TV is connected from its audio analog line outs to the Connect Line in.

This topic has been closed for further comments. You can use the search bar to find a similar topic, or create a new one by clicking Create Topic at the top of the page.

69 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +20
Signal from CD player is in usually compressed digital format but signal from TV is usually in uncompressed format

They're probably just (clumsily) alluding to the fact that one needs to use Sonos Uncompressed mode for TV audio to maintain audio/video sync, whereas this is not a factor for audio-only sources so Compressed can be used.

Back to square one...with respect to the heaviness of the TV signal!

There is categorically no such effect.
Sonos Support seems determined to plumb new depths. Yesterday they wanted to see the discussions in this thread. Today, I get this email:

Sonos devices that fully supports TV audio are Beam, Playbase and Playbar. Also surround and sub with them are supported because they are connected with 5Ghz band instead of 2.4Ghz band. With other setups it is very likely that there will be audio dropouts if TV audio is used.

I have, in reply, asked the question about how TV audio is any different from turntable audio...
Oh dear.
Since except in the case of Airplay device, the uncompressed signals are all sent with a very small buffer, it begs the question whether even the latest audio products are by design able to send these signals in a stable manner to a group that is running wirelessly, be it on the regular WiFi, or on Sonos net. Never mind if the signals come from a TV or a turntable or even a CD player.
The thing to note of course is that there is the compressed option that can be a viable alternative for all sources except TV where the lip sync is destroyed in that option.
Audiophiles will disagree, but I don't think that compressed makes an audible difference for the pure audio sources like turntables, hence I say viable for the compressed option for such sources.
@Ken_Griffiths commented here that he had no major problems with sending Line-In to multiple rooms uncompressed. And back here it was emerging that local RF noise could be a factor. Did you ever get to the bottom of why the matrix left column looked poorly?
If you read the details of Ken's set up, it is not at all typical wireless Sonosnet; there are a lot of wired devices in it. The Connect that sends the stream is definitely wired, for instance.
The left column issue is one I am still struggling with although for Connect it will soon be moot. But the Connect has other devices close by, both of which I have moved to 5 ghz, with no significant improvement.
Both the play 1 root bridge and the bonded Sub can occasionally go to orange/red, although both are usually green in the left boxes. Another puzzle because all there is in the vicinity are the router and the NAS drive. The router is on channel 1 while Sonos net is on 11.
Quote from Ken:

my Connect is wired and the only other two Sonos devices wired is the Boost (Direct to the main Router) and my Sonos Beam (not its surrounds) which is linked into another (different) 8 port switch in another room.


So he has three wired to core network Sonos units and if this is done strategically as I suspect he has, he must be able to leverage this for stable Sonos net wireless service to his total of 13 other Sonos units.
The latest Sonos Support response:

TV audio signal is uncompressed and CD signal is compressed. Compressed signal doesn't require so fast WiFi connection.
Uncompressed signal requires much faster connection and cannot always be used with 2.4Ghz WiFi band but works good with 5Ghz WiFi band.
Connect isn't designed to be used with TV.

There doesn't seem to me much point in going on in this manner with this set.
Photos attached in support of PM conversation with Ryan.

In the play 1 photo, this is the root bridge wired to the apple router that can be seen. Next to the router is the black modem, and the white WD NAS. Adjacent to the router, on the floor, is the Sub, in a dust cover.
Both the play 1 and the Sub are usually green in the left boxes, but can sometimes go into yellow/orange, and even an occasional red.

The Connect photo is really of academic interest now, seeing that it will be wired to the router as well, via a switch - as of now, because the ports on the router suffice, there is no switch.

Question for members as well - why would the play 1 suffer noise issues as the matrix indicates from time to time? Ditto for the Sub.
Question for members as well - why would the play 1 suffer noise issues as the matrix indicates from time to time? Ditto for the Sub.
A question I occasionally wrestle with, when I spot a flood of noise with no obvious cause. Presumably it's due to an external source of some kind.
Whatever it is, it is hard to trace. For the play 1 it hasn't been a problem until the streaming of uncompressed signals from the wired Connect onwards, to other wireless speakers in the same open plan area as the play 1. I can't see any other reason for stuttering in music play in these, using the signals from the source/group initiator, the wired Connect.

One of the two speakers in the group is another play 1 pair; that will be addressed via more wire, but the Living room Connect Amp stutter can't be solved this way, it is not easy to run a wire to it across the open space.

Just to try to assist you a little further, perhaps?

Here I played TV audio for 30 minutes, or so and then submitted a system diagnostic: 1287332135

I was playing the Connect line-in TV input to 12 Sonos speakers, contained in 6 Sonos rooms. I chose my speaker devices on the ground floor of my home to save me keep running up and down the stairs, so I could better monitor the playing rooms to try to ensure there were no apparent audio dropouts... I didn’t notice a single one, but please accept I can’t be in every room at the same time, but usually I can detect such dropouts by the shift in the audio stage, particularly when stood in my central Hallway area.

At the end of the test, I stopped the audio and submitted the mentioned diagnostic. I have included a couple of 'limited' screenshots too.

The audio test was with the line-in set to 'uncompressed'. The TV audio out is actually via my Sony TV HT Receiver, rather than from the TV itself, so not sure if that Receiver connection would make a difference? The reason I mention this is, as previously mentioned this Sony Receiver has a lip-sync facility that allows me to slow the TV audio output and I usually have that delay set to approx. ~40ms. This may therefore be a factor that helps the audio in my case (not sure?), but I don’t see why it would, unless the audio is compressed in some way by the Sony hardware?

Sony HT-AS5 manual:

The Connect (media room) is wired to the network and was not included in the playing group, which were as follows:

Fireplace (2 wireless Play: 1’s)
Breakfast Bar (2 wireless Play: 1’s)
Dining Room (wired Beam HT + 2 Play:1 surrounds)
Family Room (2 wireless Play:5’s)
Hallway (wireless Sonos One)
Utility (2 wireless Play: 1’s)

The Connect source name is set to ‘audio component’ and the source level is set to level 8 (portable player, PC)

Note my network runs on SonosNet using a Boost, set somewhat central in the Home and is set well away from my central Netgear router.

FWIW, I will add that I do have a wireless 'repeater' Access point in my kitchen/utility area a TP Link RE360 that repeats the 2.4ghz and 5ghz radios.

The walls in my home are brick/breeze-block and plaster.

I’m not sure if any of that detail will assist you. I’ve only described what I consider to be the relevant parts of my home network here, but there are various switches and other components etc.

Just to add i have made a mistake in my post above, the actual line-in to the Connect is in fact direct from my Sony TV RCA line-out connection and not from the attached receiver.. so that makes your issue even more baffling? So you can actually ignore my HT-AS5 Receiver, as it’s irrelevant.

Sorry for that 'schoolboy' error, but the line-in audio test still stands.
Ken, first let me thank you for the enormous effort to help; much appreciated.

I think there are two things that largely explain your success:

  1. Effectively, your wired Dining room and Boost are receiving a wired signal of uncompressed audio from the TV. If those are then distributing it around to the other wireless units, that is a critical difference from a typical Sonos system that has a Boost wired to the router, and the uncompressed source fed unit wirelessly connected to it.
  2. The other reason, I suspect, is that the Beam is insulated from RF interference - does it not show green in the left most box for it in the Matrix? And ditto for the wired Boost.
The Sony box of tricks that does the delay adjustment is probably not doing any compression; I can only guess to that bit.

Again, many thanks!
After the hopelessly inadequate responses from Sonos Support - EU based, I suspect - I have had some good conversations with Ryan and have suggested to him that he should leverage his efforts for that to construct a sticky on the subject for community use.

For now, I shall do more testing and see how thing go after I have done the wire laying, in a week or so.

An interesting suggestion from Ryan that I will explore after the wiring is done:

Also, if you haven't tried setting the line-in compression to Automatic, you might want to give that a shot. It's not exactly the same as either compressed or uncompressed, kind of in the middle.

I thought it would be a toggle, but it seems to be more like the Airplay device trick - which is another reason that justifies a sticky - why hide that trick?
Userlevel 7
Badge +26
Hi everyone, I figured I should jump in here too. I've been chatting with Kumar, as he indicated.

With grouped playback there are a couple terms I laid out for him that help understand the way Sonos music playback when grouped works. This is kind of the intense "magic" behind Sonos that most people don't need to worry about. So feel free to ignore. I'm going to try and trim down the definitions so they're a little easier to understand, so there are some specifics that are glossed over as it's not really needed. But if anyone's interested, here you go:

Some basic terms:
Root Bridge - the STP designated device which has the priority on the network as the main node. Layer 2 traffic is prioritized here and it's used for general network connections.
Group Coordinator (GC) - the Sonos speaker that is creating the group of speakers that you're playing audio to.
Group Member (GM) - other players that are part of a group, anything not the GC.
Direct Routing - player to player connections created automatically based on signal strength from one to the next. In the network matrix, anything connection with signals over about 25 dB will have an available direct routing connection.

Generally, audio is grabbed from the source by the GC and then transmitted to the GM(s) through the shortest available path via direct routing.

In Kumar's case, the GC accesses the Connect's line-in via direct routing (unless it's the Connect itself), and then it distributes it. For the Connect, this could be wirelessly to certain players if they aren't wired in and close enough.

As to the line-in compression setting, Automatic, generally the idea is that it switches between Uncompressed and Compressed as needed. There is a bit more nuance to it though. I'd recommend trying that out as a troubleshooting step.
My permanent ethernet wire laying is done, with one hiccup when I wired a couple of connectors the wrong way because I held them facing the exact opposite direction of the correct one. But once that was corrected, and the Connect WiFi disabled, grouped play of wired units with the source being the line in on the Connect in uncompressed mode works flawlessly. As logic dictates it should.

However, the Connect Amp across the room from the root bridge still stutters when added to the group. Even though it has signal strength of 50 or so, and is therefore always green for signal strength. Ryan has the diagnostic and will revert to see if he sees anything there that points to a problem that can be solved. I will give it some time therefore, but I am losing hope that wireless grouped play of uncompressed line in sources can be flawless to the same extent that NAS sourced play can be, except in ideal conditions prevailing through out the session. And in parties, with people circulating in the open space, these will be extremely difficult to obtain.
Ryan seems to have given up; even after swapping some wired with unwired units, the uncompressed stream from the now permanently wired Connect will play without stuttering only with other wired units. At least this justifies my effort of wiring the key units I need for open space coverage with lip sync, though such sound in the far part of the open space would have been nice to have. Wirelessly because it is awkward to extend wires to there.

I suspect that the Sonos ability to wirelessly deliver uncompressed minimal buffer signals via 2.4GHz is not quite where it needs to be, not even where the Boost is the transmitter of such wired signals it gets from the Connect on which, by the way, WiFi is also disabled. All it takes is to rock the wireless boat just a little for things to go awry. When all units in the group are wired ones, grouped play is rock solid.

Which is probably the reason for the boiler plate response from Support that Connect - or even the new Port for that matter - isn't meant for streaming TV audio. Logically, even if the source to the Connect was a turntable, the exact same issues would be seen. But the compressed option for Line In can be used there with its large buffer AND smaller data needs, because lip sync isn't an issue here.