Is it my ISP or is it the router or is it something else?

  • 30 October 2016
  • 8 replies

I am in Gloucestershire, in the southwest of England. I have 2 x Sonos Ones and a Sonos Three connected wirelessly to a Sonos Bridge which is hardwired into our Draytek Vigor 2820n router which is connected to our ADSL broadband service (Plusnet) which claims to give us 8Mb download and 0.3Mb upload.

For the last year the Sonos system regularly drops the connection. By this I mean that we are listening to the radio (via the Sonos) and the transmission just stops, then restarts, then stops again, then restarts. This can happen at almost any time, morning or evening, and there doesn't seem to be any discernible pattern. A couple of days ago I saw a dialogue come up on the controller (a redundant iPhone 3) which said something like 'network service too slow to maintain buffer'. This is the first time that I have seen that dialogue.

In previous attempts to understand the problem I have used BroadbandSpeedchecker which regularly reports that our ISP service is around 8Mb down and 0.5Mb up. I now run Network Logger Pro and, whilst this does report very occasional outages, these are rare and short lived and do not reflect the gaps in the radio or anything near.

I have tried the basic troubleshooting i.e. restarting router, restarting bridge but the problem persists. I also worry that my tinkering with the router may have done more harm than good because I really don't understand what I'm doing.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

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8 replies

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In terms of the "basic" troubleshooting you should turn EVERYTHING off - Router, ALL Sonos gear AND every device attached to network (NO cheating. Turn off phones, tablets etc). Then switch router on , wait a few mins for interne to be active, then Bridge, wait again a couple of mins, then your 3 x Plays (start with nearest to Bridge).

This will give you a fresh start. Then these are things to look at:-

1) Make sure that the the Router wireless channel for the 2.4 GHz network is set to manual (channel 1, 6 or 11). Then in the Sonos controller under Service Settings, Advanced make sure the channel is DIFFERENT to the one you set on the router
2) Make sure the Bridge is as far away from the router as possible to avoid wireless interference.
3) You make like to look at setting via your router settings the Sonos gear to have assigned IP addresses to help avoid duplicate IP addresses.

It's worth noting that the BBC radio channels via TuneIn are currently rather problematic with drop-outs, restarts and so on - been like this for maybe 6 or 8 weeks.
And if none of that works temporarily wire one of the play devices to the network and turn the bridge off, the Bridge power supply may be failing, it's a relatively common issue and will produce exactly the sort of symptoms you're seeing.
Stuart W - A lot for me to think about. Have tried total power down of all components in the past but maybe need to do it again. Bridge is 30cm from router so interference could be an issue - need to consider how to move it to another location (fortunately we have an ethernet network throughout the house). I have seen reference to 'channels' so I need to look more closely at this.

The LHC - hadn't considered power supply issues. Again, hard wiring the units presents some issues but not insurmountable.

Many thanks to both for the pointers. Will report back in due course.
The LHC - hadn't considered power supply issues. Again, hard wiring the units presents some issues but not insurmountable.

Note the use of the word "temporarily", this is purely for testing purposes and you only need to wire ONE Sonos device to do the test, not all of them.
@digital journey. "Channels" are the frequency bands on which your router broadcasts. In the 2.4GHz band there are 11 channels but they overlap. To avoid this overlap it's best to use only channels 1, 6, or 11. With a wired Sonos component, SonosNet is also running, and needs to be on a different channel from your router.

You need to fix the router channel to 1, 6 or 11 - don't leave it on the "Auto" setting that it often has by default. For guidance on how to change the router channel, see the manual for the router. Set the Sonos channel (in Advanced Settings) to something different, e.g. router on 1, Sonos on 6. As already noted, even with this separation, having the Bridge too close to the router can cause interference.

If you have an Android device, the app "Wifi Analyser" is very useful, as it can show what channels your neighbours are using and the strength of signal. It can make optimising the two channels quicker and easier. Otherwise it's down to trial and error.
Stuart W, The LHC and John B,

I have digested the advice and have done the following:

a) Disconnected Sonos Bridge from system (i.e. completely removed it)
b) Connected Sonos Play 3 to router via ethernet cable

These changes seemed to be effective and the drop-outs seemed to stop and later I:
c) Removed ethernet cables and the system continued working without drop-outs.

However, earlier today (18th November) our PLUSNET network service stopped. This was recorded by NetworkMonitor Pro. This outage lasted for 16 seconds and when service was resumed the Sonos started its previous regular drop-outs.

I have now:
d) disconnected the router (Vigor 2820n) and restarted it
e) reset the Sonos controller (an iPhone 3GS only used as a controller)
f) powered off and on the Sonos 3

d) and e) made no difference but restarting the Sonos 3 seems to have resolved the issue.

The failure of the PLUSNET service seems to have destabilised the Sonos system. Is that possible? Can anyone comment on this experience.

Temporary internet outage really shouldn't take down anything. If the router rebooted then it might have made a mess of IP assignments. The best protection against that is to assign fixed IP addresses to all your Sonos components.

You really would be best advised to operate with a wired component, I suspect. And it might just as well be the Bridge. Wire a component, wait a few minutes to let the system adjust. Check in your Sonos controller under "about my sonos system" and make sure every component has "WM:0" not WM:1 next to it. And make sure your speakers play!

That indicates that you are running SonosNet. It's best then to delete the wifi credentials by resetting them in "wireless setup" in the controller.

If drops continue, submit a diagnostic and post the number back here.
Anytime you restart your router you should reboot everything connected to the network, not just any Sonos devices.