WiFi Range Extenders that don't cause intermittent connection problems for Sonos Move Speakers.

  • 24 February 2021
  • 11 replies
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  • Contributor II
  • 5 replies

I recently purchased 2 sonos move speakers that are stereo paired and currently have them on the 2nd floor of my house. The main Xfinity gateway/router is on the first floor directly below the room with the move speakers. The other side of the 2nd floor has a wifi dead spot where I installed a EX8000 Netgear Nighthawk wifi extender which just failed completely and now needs to be replaced. What type of WiFi range extender would you recommend that will provide "seamless roaming" for my other devices but won't cause interference with the move speakers' connecting to the main wifi? (I had initial move installation problems that your tech said was caused by the Netgear wifi extender.)


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11 replies

Userlevel 7
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Hi @MidF 

Thanks for your query.

In general, Sonos doesn’t support or recommend WiFi extenders or boosters, due to the way in which they operate (they tend to be half-duplex and thus cut bandwidth in half, in addition to blocking network protocols we make use of, like multicast).

For extending the reach of your WiFi, we recommend you use a WiFi Mesh system. These are much faster and more robust. If you keep your existing router, make sure to put a mesh system into Bridge mode to prevent it creating a new network.

Sometimes, however, boosters or extenders work without issue. I’d need to leave it to the community to recommend products they’ve had positive results with. Please note that results may vary depending on your situation.

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Hi Corry,

Thanks for the quick reply and clarification of what works best with Sonos.

I’m going to get the NETGEAR WiFi Mesh Range Extender EX7500. It is obviously billed as a mesh system and Netgear claims “seamless smart roaming” that uses my existing network SSID name so I’d supposedly never get disconnected as I move around the house with my various devices (e.g. iPhone, iPad, laptops, etc.). I’m presuming this would not cause any problems with moving my paired Sonos Move speakers anywhere within range of my “extended” home network. (I generally don’t move my other Sonos speakers (Play 1s and Play 5s) around much and they currently work quite well with my Sonos Boost.)

There’s maybe a way to set the Netgear EX7500 mesh extender in bridge mode using the Netgear Nighthawk app but it doesn’t seem like that would not be necessary since the Netgear mesh extender would use the existing Xfinity gateway/router’s SSID name and not try to create a new network. 
I’m certainly not an expert on how all these networks and network protocols work, so I may be off base with some of my statements and assumptions.

Thanks very much.

@MidF, I suggest you go for Access Points instead, e. g. the Ubiquiti UniFi kit is said to work quite well with Sonos.

I just purchased a TP-Link AC1750 WI-FI Extender. Then opened Sonos on my iPhone and had the alert that some speakers connected to the range extender network and could not be paired with speakers on the original network. One of my speakers that was paired was not responding.

I downloaded the TP LINK TETHER app for the iOS. I selected the TP-LINK device and clicked on ‘Clients’ which shows all the connected clients. I selected ‘SonosZP’ and clicked ‘BLOCK’. It kicked Sonos off the range extender network and everything seems to be working fine again.

Hope this helps somebody, I as about to return the TP LINK.

Userlevel 7
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 Hi @MidF 

There’s maybe a way to set the Netgear EX7500 mesh extender in bridge mode using the Netgear Nighthawk app but it doesn’t seem like that would not be necessary since the Netgear mesh extender would use the existing Xfinity gateway/router’s SSID name and not try to create a new network. 

That seems entirely likely - that device wouldn’t try to create a network, but I cannot comment on whether it works or not - you’d need to try it and see. It does look promising though. Please let us know how you get on, and be sure to test it with Sonos thoroughly before the return period is over.

Userlevel 5
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I’m going to get the NETGEAR WiFi Mesh Range Extender EX7500. It is obviously billed as a mesh system and Netgear claims “seamless smart roaming” that uses my existing network SSID name so I’d supposedly never get disconnected as I move around the house with my various devices (e.g. iPhone, iPad, laptops, etc.). I’m presuming this would not cause any problems with moving my paired Sonos Move speakers anywhere within range of my “extended” home network. (I generally don’t move my other Sonos speakers (Play 1s and Play 5s) around much and they currently work quite well with my Sonos Boost.)

There’s maybe a way to set the Netgear EX7500 mesh extender in bridge mode using the Netgear Nighthawk app but it doesn’t seem like that would not be necessary since the Netgear mesh extender would use the existing Xfinity gateway/router’s SSID name and not try to create a new network. 
I’m certainly not an expert on how all these networks and network protocols work, so I may be off base with some of my statements and assumptions.

To update this thread with direct experience of a similar Netgear Extender (EX6410, which is also supposed to support seamless roaming): straight out of the box, using the same SSID as the router, it doesn’t work with a Move!

As soon as I connect it all up and reboot the Move and then try to add the move to a group, I get  the message “Some Sonos products are using the Wifi from a range extender device. If you include one of these in a room group, you won’t be able to play music to that group. To ensure playback in all grouped rooms you’ll need to permanently wire a Sonos product to your router.

Of course, it’s impossible to wire a Move to the router, so the warning message doesn’t help!

I may try looking at the Nighthawk app to see if it allows me to turn on Bridge mode, but I don’t hold out much hope.

The fact that the Move cannot participate in SonosNet is proving to be a major annoyance and is adding to my desire to return it...

Userlevel 5
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Sadly, even accessing the settings webpage on the EX6410 itself, it does not seem to be possible to put this extender in “bridge mode”, so it cannot be made to work with the Move, as far as I can tell. I don’t know whether the same applies to the EX7500.

Userlevel 5
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The only consolation here is that if you buy a product like the ones in the Netgear EXxxxx range, they can be switched to Access Point mode, so when you find that a Move won’t work with it in Range Extender mode, you can set it up as an Access Point instead!

Ok, you may need a long Ethernet cable to get it to the middle of the house, but they seem a fair bit more powerful than the WiFi access point built into a typical broadband supplier’s router… So I now have an Access Point that is in effect dedicated to making my Move work without dropouts!

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Thanks for everyone’s responses and suggestions. I really appreciate the help. Unfortunately, the helpful posts about setting up an Access Point as the best solution came after I ordered and received the Netgear EX7500 mesh extender. I experienced similar problems that user, Antifon, had with trying to use Sonos Move speakers in the dead zone area that the Netgear EX7500 was supposed to cover.

I had 2 Moves grouped with a Play:5 in a room with good coverage from the Xfinity X1 gateway/router. (The Play:5 is connected via Sonosnet (WM: 0) since I have a Boost connected to the router.) Moving the Move speakers to the room covered by the Netgear extender caused all sorts of problems with both of the Move speakers. One time, the Moves did continue to play and were stereo paired, another time I tried the whole scenario again and only one of the Move speakers played. I also consistently got the same Sonos Controller app message that the Controller detected I was using an extender and I needed “to permanently wire a Sonos product to my router”. (I guess a Sonos Boost permanently connected to my router doesn’t do it.) Not only did the Moves moved to the extender-covered area behave unpredictably or not work at all, when I went back to the original room, the Sonos controller lost track of the Play:5 that was playing! – Hardly the “seamless mesh network” Netgear advertises.

Also found there is no way to put the Extender in bridge mode and this particular Netgear (“just plug into a wall outlet”) model has no Ethernet port and therefore no Access Point option.

Essentially, my Move speakers didn’t work consistently, if at all, in the extended zone. It’s a mess with the Netgear EX7500 which is probably why Sonos doesn’t really support the use of extenders.

I’ll be returning the Netgear Extender and would like to try purchasing and setting up an Access Point unit. Fortunately, my dead zone area upstairs does have Ethernet LAN connection to the gateway/router for the home entertainment center a professional A/V company set up for me a number of years ago.

So, even though some of the reviews for Access Point units indicate that setup is not for the faint of heart, I think I can just plug in the Access Point unit into one of the router-connected Netgear Ethernet switches upstairs and figure out how to tweak the AP settings to get them right and optimal.

Is there an Ubiquiti UniFi Access Point model that anyone would recommend and is relatively easy to set up? Maybe the Ubiquiti UniFi UAP-AC-PRO? Or perhaps another brand and model of an Access Point unit?   

Thanks.

Userlevel 5
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Sorry that I can’t help with your final question, and also sorry that you haven’t got a better solution yet.

I suspect that one of the fully-blown WiFi mesh solutions would probably be the best solution, turning off the broadband router’s wifi and having a proper mesh instead, but I can’t justify the £300-400 cost to do it myself.

It’s very disappointing that the Move has been designed without the ability to use the mesh network that Sonos build into the rest of their equipment, and I can’t understand the logic behind that decision.

As it stands, I’m just on the brink of returning the Move and replacing it, either with a pair of One SLs, or maybe with a pair of Ikea Symfonisk speakers. The latter would be quite a bit cheaper than the Move, although I fully understand that they will not sound as good!

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Followup:

I purchased and set up a Unifi NanoHD Access Point unit in my upstairs dead zone. I connected the AP to a port on the Ethernet switch already set up for my upstairs entertainment system which is obviously wired to the router downstairs (an Xfinity X1 Gateway). i was able to open the Unifi controller software on my laptop but did not tweak any of the default AP settings as i’m not sure what to do.

However, even without trying to optimize settings on the AP and maybe even the Xfinity gateway, the AP works “seamlessly” with my devices (iPhone, Macbook, iPad).

But moving the Sonos Move speakers back and forth from an area covered by the downstairs router and the upstairs area covered by the AP was not totally seamless. If the stereo-paired Move speakers were grouped with my Gen2 Play:5 and then carried to the AP-covered area, both Moves would often continue to play and playing could be stopped and started using the Sonos app, but sometimes one of the Move speakers would stop playing when carried to the AP zone. If I carried the Moves back to the router zone, the grouping with the Play:5 would be screwed up and the Sonos app would not recognize the Play:5 which continued to play the music originally started on it. 

Long story short - by some trial and error of closing and restarting the Sonos S2 app combined with turning off and on the affected speakers, I could get the Move speakers to work and be grouped as I wanted after being moved from one zone to the other. It’s somewhat annoying and certainly very frustrating for novice users but without a huge effort I was able to get the Move speakers to work in each zone with most scenarios I want.