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What happens when all speakers are wired?

  • 30 November 2021
  • 9 replies
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Hello! I recently bought into the Sonos ecosystem, but I fear I may have misunderstood how the devices work.

My wireless situation is a bit sketchy. Bluetooth, ZigBee, and WiFi all don't work very well in my bedroom. The problem has only gotten worse over time, to the point where Bluetooth audio is unusable in that one room. Wireless performance is problematic everywhere else too.

Put simply; I want as little wireless anything as possible. There is a horrible amount of congestion where I live, and I barely get reliable performance out of the handful of ZigBee devices I own. I don't use any wireless protocols for anything, except my phone and the aforementioned IOT devices.

I was sold on the Sonos Fives when my understanding was that they supported ethernet, and that I could use my phone to select which media to play, but the devices (even as a stero pair) themselves would fetch it over the wired network.

I got two fives for the bedroom and was really happy with their performance, so yesterday I filled out my living room with a surround sound set (beam, sub, two one sl's), my office with a one, and then a roam for around the house.

So far everything has been great, so I really shouldn't be worried… But I am still very curious about how these devices are communicating.

I have a very robust local network throughout the house, set up with layer 2 switching in every room (so traffic should not have to travel all the way to the router for my paired devices). All of my Sonos devices (except roam) are plugged into Ethernet, and I made sure to select “disable wireless" on every device.

When I inspect the network matrix at http://x.x.x.x:1400/support/review (where x.x.x.x is any of my Sonos device IPs), it lists all of my Sonos devices, but all of the cells are white/blank.

In my “about" page on the app, all devices (except the roam) are listed as “wm: 0”.

Does this mean that all media traffic is being handled over ethernet? Or are the devices still allocating a “SonosNet” for communication between eachother?

Also, should I expect less latency with the configuration that I have? So far I haven't noticed any latency with my tv, but I've only had the living room setup for a day now.

I know I'm overthinking this, but it would be nice to know that I'm not contributing to my area's wireless congestion needlessly.

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Best answer by ratty 30 November 2021, 09:02

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9 replies

Sonos support stated to me: 

“The only time we'd recommend turning that WiFi setting off (and why it exists) is when there's a room somewhere with several Amps all sitting next to each other, and likely to interfere.
For all other times, we recommend keeping it on, unless specifically advised otherwise by Sonos tech support after an examination of your diagnostics.”

 

That’s the standard line. There are other scenarios, such as where a unit is subject to excessive interference and can be wired to another (wireless) unit. This has implications for Direct Routing though.

Sonos support stated to me: 

“The only time we'd recommend turning that WiFi setting off (and why it exists) is when there's a room somewhere with several Amps all sitting next to each other, and likely to interfere.
For all other times, we recommend keeping it on, unless specifically advised otherwise by Sonos tech support after an examination of your diagnostics.”

 

Wired devices should favour the wired path to communicate, owing to its lower path cost. 

If they don't, it's usually because of some Spanning Tree Protocol problem caused by an incompatibility between Sonos' STP and a backbone's RSTP. 

Thanks again for all of the insight! I'll keep that in mind regarding potential issues with wired. As long as I get no noticable issues I prefer just avoiding wireless.

Though out of curiosity; if I enable wireless, but leave the devices wired, will they then communicate over SonosNet? Or would just satellite speakers connect over the 5ghz connection? Would it decide which route is “better”? Or would it basically just stay how it is now.

my two cents: initially I also had wireless disabled on all my wired Sonos devices, thinking that my solid LAN would do better than the wifi connections but I got synchronisation issues between the Sonos speakers when using AirPlay - once I had understood that a wired device with wifi enabled ‘created’ a Sonosnet, I enabled wifi on all wired Sonos devices and since then the synchronisation issues disappeared

Disabling SonosNet on all the wired devices when there are still wireless ones needing a connection will force the latter to use WiFi. This ‘mixed mode’ is generally not recommended. 

The documentation was just a little confusing because it only has two modes listed: “wireless" and “wired", and for the “wired" mode, it doesn't make it clear that if all devices are wired, that no SonosNet is created. It only says that the wired devices will become an access point to the Sonos Network.

The naming could indeed confuse. ‘Wireless’ mode sees all the devices connecting directly to the available WiFi. 

The ‘wired’ mode typically only has one, maybe a few more, nodes wired with the rest wireless on the SonosNet mesh. Wiring all the nodes is probably quite rare.

Wiring doesn’t disable SonosNet. One has to ‘disable WiFi’ (which is actually disabling SonosNet) on each of the nodes in question. 

my two cents: initially I also had wireless disabled on all my wired Sonos devices, thinking that my solid LAN would do better than the wifi connections but I got synchronisation issues between the Sonos speakers when using AirPlay - once I had understood that a wired device with wifi enabled ‘created’ a Sonosnet, I enabled wifi on all wired Sonos devices and since then the synchronisation issues disappeared

 

Ok cool, thanks! That's exactly how I'd like everything configured. I'm glad to know that no SonosNet is being created. I'm much more worried about latency spikes caused by wireless interference than any latency on my wired network; especially since the routes between my Sonos devices are very short.

I understand Sonos wants to Just Work for customers, and not many customers have the time or desire to over-engineer their local network.

And I am glad to have the flexibility of migrating to a wireless network in the future if need be.

The documentation was just a little confusing because it only has two modes listed: “wireless" and “wired", and for the “wired" mode, it doesn't make it clear that if all devices are wired, that no SonosNet is created. It only says that the wired devices will become an access point to the Sonos Network.

The reason the matrix is empty is simply that all the wireless interfaces are disabled.

Given that you've wired everything -- including the surrounds/Sub -- this will probably work okay. Note that disabling the Beam’s wireless also kills its private 5GHz connection to the satellites (surrounds/Sub) so they’d have to be wired to work at all.

If they start to glitch, owing to latency spikes on the wired network, you’ll have to go back to a standard arrangement with wireless enabled on the Beam and satellites, and with the satellites unwired. The satellites would be on 5GHz, in-room, so hopefully immune to your interference issues. The Beam’s 2.4GHz radio would also be active, but not doing anything.