Adding WiFi mesh network - turn off Boost?

  • 6 February 2023
  • 17 replies

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After a lot of attempts to get good reliable playback on my system, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll probably only solve the existing dropouts by moving to a tri-band mesh-type wifi network.

So I’ve bought one of the midrange products (BT Premium Whole House Tri-band Wifi, three node), and plan to switch off my router’s wi-fi function (which is right at one end of the house and can’t easily be moved) and add the mesh network instead.

The question: I currently have a Boost which is more centrally placed in the house, hardwired to the router - should I turn the Boost off once the mesh system is in place?

(For completeness, the system comprises three Ports, two Symfonisk speaker pairs and one Symfonisk Frame)


Best answer by Antifon 9 February 2023, 22:52

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In general, Sonos recommends the use of the BOOST even with a mesh network. Some mesh networks split up the network into separate subnets, something that’s an anathema to Sonos. I’d leave it the way it is, and not put the new network information in Sonos at all. 

Note that the majority of network dropouts experienced by Sonos are not “too little signal”, but instead “too much wifi interference “ 

If you haven’t, I’d certainly recommend that you submit a system diagnostic within 10 minutes of experiencing this “dropout” problem, and call Sonos Support to discuss it.

There may be information included in the diagnostic that will help Sonos pinpoint the issue and help you find a solution.

When you speak directly to the phone folks, they have tools at their disposal that will allow them to give you advice specific to your Sonos system and network. 

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The dropouts are repeatable - all I need to do is “track forward” from one track in a playlist to the next - the next track starts and then the sound drops for several seconds. It was very much worse when I had a Move, but I got rid of that and things have improved significantly.

I’m moving to a 3-node triband setup in the hope that this will overcome the shortcomings of the Boost - as far as I can tell, all of my devices (except the Move, now thankfully gone) were on Sonosnet, and so served via the Boost. Other than Sonos traffic, the wifi in my house doesn’t get used a lot, as most of  the stuff is hardwired on Ethernet, and I don’t have any very close neighbours so there probably isn’t too much overspill from neighbouring properties.

It’s odd that I have to say this, as normally it’s the other way, but wifi interference doesn’t have to come from outside.  There’s all sorts of devices that can cause wifi interference, even if they’re not wifi themselves. I’ve had issues in the past with a Microwave, which certainly was not wifi enabled. And having anything electrical in close proximity of a Sonos (or any) wifi device can be detrimental. It’s why there’s always that 3 foot/ 1 meter suggestion of separation, not only for the BOOST, but pretty much every Sonos device. 

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Agreed - I found this out early on because the Symfonisk pair in the kitchen used to cut out completely when the microwave was on - though they have stopped doing this a few months ago (so I guess the microwave only emits strongly onto one channel).

I’ve placed the Boost at least a metre away from anything else likely to generate interference, but each of the Ports is very close to other DACs/amplifiers - so it’s probably worth trying to lift these away from those - though they are all metal cased and so should (in theory) be relatively well shielded.

I’ve also got a few DECT phones around the house, so I should probably try turning those off to see if that has any effect.

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Well… that was a waste of time and money! The new 3-node mesh network arrived this morning and I set it up (and turned off the router’s built-in wifi), but all of the Sonos devices want to stay on the Boost, even though the mesh network must certainly be stronger for some of them.

So… I made the mistake of turning off the Boost and… that completely screws everything up!

Half the devices just disappear, even though the mesh network has been added as a trusted network. Having gone through several iterations of “Lets find your devices” which simply were not able to find all of them, I had to relent and turn the Boost back on and it all eventually sorted itself out, with the result that all of the Sonos devices are now connected back to the Boost - dropping the mesh network as soon as the Boost is back.

Hence as it stands it seems impossible to figure out if reception would be any better with the mesh network than the single Boost.

So now I’m thinking the unthinkable: should I do a complete system reset, factory reset every Sonos device and rebuild my network with the Boost left out, or would that be A Really Bad Idea? There doesn’t seem to be any other obvious way to delete the Boost from the system.

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So now I’m thinking the unthinkable: should I do a complete system reset, factory reset every Sonos device and rebuild my network with the Boost left out, or would that be A Really Bad Idea? There doesn’t seem to be any other obvious way to delete the Boost from the system.

A complete system reset would be a bad idea. You say your mesh has been added as a trusted network. When you disconnect the Boost, I would try a reboot only for the devices that do not show in the app, to see if they then join the mesh WiFi at that time.

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Thanks - yes, I’ve tried that, and they do all seem to connect to the mesh (the mesh network has an app which shows the number of devices connected to each node) - but they don’t seem to be found by the system (despite several rounds of “Find your device”). It all ends up a bit messy.

For some reason, powering the Boost down seems to lose only a subset of the Sonos devices, and they then seem to come and go (i.e. it’s not always the same set that are missing after I reset my router, which the Sonos diagnostic procedure insists that I do).

Hence the temptation to try starting again from scratch. The system has changed a fair bit over time, with me adding the Symfonisk components and removing the very troublesome Move, so I guess it’s possible that there may be something historically that doesn’t quite match up within the system?

Factory Reset will be a waste of time. Reboot might help. If you changed routers, reboot everything on the network, then reserve IP addresses.

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No, I didn’t change the router - simply turned off the router’s inbuilt wifi and added the mesh. I’m not too sure that reserving IP addresses is such a good idea - I would expect every Sonos device uses DHCP Ok and I don’t really want to interfere with that (checking “About my system” info shows that all of the Sonos devices have an IP address that’s correctly within the DHCP address range).

I do have a reserved IP address range - separate from the permitted DHCP range - but only use that for my media server and the main desktop PCs,

The idea behind a factory reset is that it seems to be the only way to be rid of the Boost from the system, unless you know of another way?

Reserved assesses are within the DHCP range. SONOS works only with DHCP.

I once had indications that an ancient NAS drive was failing, but the symptoms were a little odd. Some aspects of the “failure” suggested duplicate IP address, but I’m too smart for that — right? Well, I swallowed my pride and checked addresses — darn!! A few weeks prior I had replaced my router and changed the DHCP range slightly. I had forgotten about a fixed address, palm size, seldom used unit hidden in a cabinet that was now sharing the NAS drive’s address.

I strongly recommend reserving IP addresses, even though it did not help my silly NAS “failure”.

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I think we must be talking at cross-purposes. In my terminology, you can’t reserve addresses in the DHCP range. That range is for the DHCP server (in my case the one in my router) to manage. It might give out long leases, but that’s not (in my terminology) the same as reserving IP addresses.

I have an IP address range that the DHCP server is not allowed to use. That’s where I assign reserved IP addresses.

Our definitions are polar opposites.

You risk mayhem inside the DHCP range.

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Well we can agree to differ. There are no address conflicts on the network, so as far as I’m concerned there is no issue with DHCP.

Anyway, back to the question.

The rationale is this: the Boost appears to be a bottleneck in my system, because it appears to be a single device in a medium/large house that’s handling all of the traffic for all 8 Sonos devices.

The only way I can get the system to use my 3-node triband mesh network is to stop it exclusively using the Boost. How can I get rid of the Boost from the network without doing a complete factory reset?

While BOOST is operating go to Settings → System → Manage Networks and enter your WiFi credentials. After you power down BOOST, the system will switch to WiFi. Later, if you want to return to SonosNet, simply power-up and wire BOOST. In each transition allow a couple minutes for SONOS to work out the new topology.

But, if your WiFi mesh insists on airtime fairness, or establishes multiple subnets, SONOS players will drop out.

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Thanks - I tried exactly the same procedure again and this time it worked. I think the problem last time was that a change of trusted networks has to be made on one of the Sonos devices, and the change is then propagated to the others on the network. Obviously this takes time (probably quite a long time if you have more than a few devices) and I suspect that I didn’t leave it long enough before disconnecting the Boost. The result is that only a proportion of the devices know about the “new” network setting, and those that don’t disappear from the system.

From an hour or so of testing, upgrading to a mesh network is definitely worthwhile on my system. For the first time since I installed it around 2 years ago, I can play FLAC files properly, without bandwidth issues when jumping between tracks.

It seems that the advice I was given last year to turn off the Boost was correct, and that it does become too much of a bandwidth limitation when the system grows beyond a certain size (though what that size is no doubt depends on a whole load of factors, including things that may change daily, such as the interactions/conflicts with other wifi networks in neighbouring properties).

If considering a mesh system, it probably makes sense to go for a tri-band system, as these have dropped in price a lot recently and are no longer “premium priced”. The theory behind this is that the Sonos devices are dual-band, so the mesh nodes can use the third band to communicate with one another without conflicting with the channels used by the Sonos units.