Answered

Using Sonos on home wifi same SSID, different channels


Userlevel 2
Badge +4
  • Contributor III
  • 102 replies

UPDATE: I have just realized there is an “advanced setup” section of the forums. But I don’t know how to move my existing question. If a moderator can move it, please do!

 

I’ve had a Sonos system for a while (all Play3s)  always with one wired to my home network. Times have changed, my home network has grown more complex and now I’m in the situation where I have several APs all using the same SSID but on different channels. This is a common practice to increase coverage, but the end result is on 2.4Ghz, the APs are already broadcasting on either 1,6, or 11. Letting Sonos use SonosNet, just ends up causing interference both to my wifi network and to Sonos. I use my wifi network for a lot more things, so I’m not very tolerant of interference from Sonos here.


I’m comfortable with the reliability of the wifi network, so I decided to try moving Sonos to my wifi network. A few things surprised me, so I thought I would ask here:

  1. I’ve got at least one spot it would be easy to use a wired connection with a Sonos player, but it looks like if any Sonos devices are wired, then the whole system uses SonosNet? It seems like it would be better to let all devices be on wifi or wired, as long as they are all reachable on the same subnet.
  2. When switching to wireless, I put in the SSID from my Sonos mobile app. I assumed each device would join the AP nearest to it, but it looks like all Sonos device want to join the same wifi channel, which puts a couple of them pretty far from their AP.  I verified this by checking: http://X.X.X.X:1400/status/proc/ath_rincon/status for each of the devices. In my case this is channel 6. Two of them are sitting very near APs using channels 1, and 11, but they’re staying fixated on the farthest AP, which uses ch6. Is this right?

 

What I’m looking for is some advice for Sonos co-existing nicely with a multi-AP network that already uses Ch1, 6, 11. 

icon

Best answer by John B 27 April 2020, 23:18

I believe Sonos uses direct routing between devices where it is preferable to following the paths determined by STP. And I think that requires them to be on the same channel.

That's the design. Pros and cons I guess. 

I believe Sonos states that the system is not compatible with enterprise deployments. It is certainly the case that this is not a common deployment in Sonos' target market.

View original

16 replies

Hi. SonosNet is part of the original Sonos design and is still the best way to run Sonos in most situations. If one device is wired then the whole system shifts to the SonosNet mesh. Mixing SonosNet and WiFi is generally less stable.

Why use all three channels for your WiFi?

Yes Sonos prefers being on the same channel. Which is why it is better off the Wifi.

Btw none of us notices which section of the forum a question appears under

Userlevel 2
Badge +4

Hi. SonosNet is part of the original Sonos design and is still the best way to run Sonos in most situations. 

Thanks for the reply! I’m in a situation where I believe it is doing more harm than good.

 

Why use all three channels for your WiFi?

This is a pretty common strategy to get good wifi coverage with multiple wifi APs. Many enterprise deployments use it. It is showing up more in more in the Prosumer/Home Mesh wifi products too.

Rather than a single AP blasting as much power as you can, you place multiple APs in various locations, the coverage for these APs overlaps but if you use the same SSID but non-overlapping channels, most wifi clients will naturally roam from one AP to the next as they are moved around. If you have more than 3 APs, you swap the use of channels in such a way to keep the same channels as far away from each other as possible.

 

Right now I have three APs, each on their own 2.4 (and also 5Ghz) channel, so great coverage, no interference. With SonosNet active, I have a single channel taken over by SonosNet, spread out thru my house, which cuts against the “avoid interference” design. I knew this would be a problem, so I decide I which switch my old Play3s to wifi, that SonosNet and wifi are not interfering, it’s up to the wifi system to be reliable enough for Sonos. I’m ok with that tradeoff. 

But, then I was surprised that all Sonos gear wants to be on the same wifi channel. This makes no sense in a modern wifi client and is completely counter to most wifi clients operate these days. Some old (broken) wifi clients used to be locked to a channel, but that’s broken behavior. The client should join the “best” AP that has the configured SSID. Best is decided by the client. But most of them choose the best RSSI for their band. 

I know I’m stuck with the capabilities of the physical hardware, but I bet the choice of wifi channel is in the Sonos firmware, not the radio itself. It’s clearly capable of being changed by the mobile app, so each Sonos device should be capable of being on different channels.

I believe Sonos uses direct routing between devices where it is preferable to following the paths determined by STP. And I think that requires them to be on the same channel.

That's the design. Pros and cons I guess. 

I believe Sonos states that the system is not compatible with enterprise deployments. It is certainly the case that this is not a common deployment in Sonos' target market.

Sonos also tries to use direct routing between grouped peers in WiFi mode, for which the nodes would need to share a channel. If the nodes are connected to different APs, on different channels, direct routing can’t happen and group performance can suffer. Note that a stereo pair with/without a Sub is a special type of group.

Userlevel 2
Badge +4

Sonos also tries to use direct routing between grouped peers in WiFi mode, for which the nodes would need to share a channel. 

Is this “direct routing” at the wifi level or is it a normal layer 2 thing, like broadcast or multicasting on the same subnet? Does having wifi station isolation turned on break this?

It’s looking like my wifi setup has outgrown the environment Sonos was built for. Unfortunately I value the wifi setup more than I do Sonos these days, it’s been a good 8-9 year run, but habits have changed.

 

Sonos also tries to use direct routing between grouped peers in WiFi mode, for which the nodes would need to share a channel. 

Is this “direct routing” at the wifi level or is it a normal layer 2 thing, like broadcast or multicasting on the same subnet? Does having wifi station isolation turned on break this?

It’s looking like my wifi setup has outgrown the environment Sonos was built for. Unfortunately I value the wifi setup more than I do Sonos these days, it’s been a good 8-9 year run, but habits have changed.

 

 

Or you could buy a Boost, wire it in and carry on just as before (only with better range/coverage).  

Userlevel 2
Badge +4

I didn’t  know about the Boost until right now (I stopped following Sonos gear a couple of years ago), and reading about know I don’t see how it helps. AFAICT, Boost creates a new dedicated wireless network for Sonos devices. That’s exactly the problem I’m trying to avoid.  I have taken care to create a good wifi network using several of APs and channel choices, there isn’t really room for another Sonos-dedicated network. What I was hoping to do was put Sonos on my existing wifi network and live with any Sonos performance problems if they showed up. 

 

I just checked my wifi clients and it looks like one of the Play3s chose the AP right next to it which is a different channel than the others. That’s exactly what I wanted, so it appears this is possible!  I’ll see how it goes. 

A multiroom system is slightly more demanding than a cell phone that neither can be grouped nor play in sync with other cell phones. Wire all Play:3s to the router and disable the WiFi module on each unit.

How to disable or enable WiFi on your Sonos players

 

Or sell them on ebay and buy yourself a traditional HiFi system.

 

 

It’s looking like my wifi setup has outgrown the environment Sonos was built for. Unfortunately I value the wifi setup more than I do Sonos these days, it’s been a good 8-9 year run, but habits have changed.

 

You are entitled to your purist view of your home network.  I suspect that you could have a perfectly functioning home WiFi and Sonos set up without using all three 2.4GHz channels on WiFi, but you know your system and your aims.  Fortunately, for 99.9999% of Sonos users, this sort of setup is unnecessary, and your concerns irrelevant.

So good luck with however you decide to provide your whole home audio in future. 

Sonos also tries to use direct routing between grouped peers in WiFi mode, for which the nodes would need to share a channel. 

Is this “direct routing” at the wifi level or is it a normal layer 2 thing, like broadcast or multicasting on the same subnet?

Well, it’s layer 2 at the WiFi level. The physical channel is intrinsically a broadcast medium. Stations using direct routing between peers target one another directly via their MACs. 

 

Does having wifi station isolation turned on break this?

As it happens, station isolation imposed by a central AP would possibly not block direct p2p traffic, but it’s an academic question since isolation stops Sonos working anyway. Wireless controllers wouldn’t be able to locate the players. This is why Sonos and guest networks don’t mix.

 

It’s looking like my wifi setup has outgrown the environment Sonos was built for. Unfortunately I value the wifi setup more than I do Sonos these days, it’s been a good 8-9 year run, but habits have changed.

In this day and age I’m surprised you’re so reliant on 2.4GHz, given the capacity and speeds available at 5GHz. Since your usage of 2.4GHz ought to be reducing I wouldn’t have thought it difficult to use just two of the 1/6/11 channels available, leaving one for SonosNet. 

Good luck with whatever you choose. Whichever way you turn there’s likely to be compromise.

Userlevel 2
Badge +4

I’ll combine two different responses in one post. To be clear, my intent wasn’t to bash Sonos. It does what it does very well. Reading these responses, I forgot that it seems Sonos chooses reliability and performance of Sonos gear over flexibility. Given their target market, that’s the right choice, but I forgot that when I tried to get the system to jump on my new-ish wifi network.
 

 I suspect that you could have a perfectly functioning home WiFi and Sonos set up without using all three 2.4GHz channels on WiFi, but you know your system and your aims. 

Yes, this is exactly it. When I first bought my Sonos system ~8 years ago, it was exactly what I wanted and did it’s job EXTREMELY well, all the time, in a variety of conditions. It still does. I understand enough about wifi and some of the problems they need to solve to be amazed. What has changed is me and my family. We use the system much much less than we used to and use the other devices on the wifi network much more. 

 

In this day and age I’m surprised you’re so reliant on 2.4GHz, given the capacity and speeds available at 5GHz. Since your usage of 2.4GHz ought to be reducing I wouldn’t have thought it difficult to use just two of the 1/6/11 channels available, leaving one for SonosNet. 

Good luck with whatever you choose. Whichever way you turn there’s likely to be compromise.

The lingering dependence on 2.4 comes from mostly “ few older devices (mostly IoT) like light switches and such that I’m not yet willing to upgrade. But, even many new printers still come with 2.4Ghz only. The devices are annoyingly spread out across the house. 

Since my initial posting, it looks like various Play:3s have re-associated over the last few days, choosing the AP nearest them, which is one of the thing I originally wanted. I haven’t used the system since then so I don’t know if it works well. I will have a look at getting rid of one 2.4g channel seeing if the 2.4g in near that AP can reach another one.

Thanks all for the explanations! 

 

 

The lingering dependence on 2.4 comes from mostly “ few older devices (mostly IoT) like light switches and such that I’m not yet willing to upgrade. But, even many new printers still come with 2.4Ghz only. The devices are annoyingly spread out across the house. 

None of these sound like bandwidth hogs. A single 2.4GHz channel throughout the house would almost certainly suffice.

 

Since my initial posting, it looks like various Play:3s have re-associated over the last few days, choosing the AP nearest them, which is one of the thing I originally wanted. I haven’t used the system since then so I don’t know if it works well.

All I can say is: be careful what you wish for. As already remarked, where players associate with APs on different channels they can no longer interconnect directly P2P in a group or bond. Performance can suffer. In fact a frequent diagnosis when users report problems on a meshed WiFi is that players have homed to different APs, on different channels.

Userlevel 7
Badge +21

Trying for an optimal WiFi setup while also keeping to the restrictions Sonos requires to work just didn’t make sense for me. Far better WiFi setup by just using two of the channels for the APs and giving Sonos the cleanest of the three channels for SonosNet.

I wired multiple Sonos devices as well, further reducing the load on the SonosNet. System has far fewer issues in Boost mode than Standard mode going from my results.

Userlevel 3
Badge +3

I have had all kinds of problems when using SonosNet. Network-storms, dropouts, missing players and so on. Earlier this year I switched to standard mode, and every thing has been rock solid ever since.

My players join the closest AP, as this screen grab shows. No problem for me. Using all the channels 1,6, 11

 

I have had all kinds of problems when using SonosNet. Network-storms, dropouts, missing players and so on. Earlier this year I switched to standard mode, and every thing has been rock solid ever since.

My players join the closest AP, as this screen grab shows. No problem for me. Using all the channels 1,6, 11

 

Don’t jinx it!

Good luck.

Reply