Can Sonos play local files without internet connection? Confused: many users say yes, tech support says no! If not, why?

  • 28 January 2019
  • 5 replies
  • 680 views

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As per the object. Of course you need an internet connection to stream from Spotify Tidal etc, maybe even to set up the system the first time (not sure), but, once a system is set up, do you still need an internet connection in order to play files stored locally? By that I mean: when there is a wifi network but without internet access (so that devices on the network can talk to each other but not access the internet), can I play:

* files indexed by the Sonos app, and

* any music via an app that is not officially supported by Sonos, but which has been reported to work, e.g. Roon, Subsonic or other DLNA / UPNP solutions

I am confused because tech support has confirmed to me in writing that you absolutely and categorically need an internet connection, and pointed me to this page: https://support.sonos.com/s/article/126?language=eng

However, many users have reported a different experience, and say they can play local files without an internet connection. So what's the truth?

Do the non-officially supported apps (Roon, Subsonic, etc) work but Sonos doesn't say because, well, it doesn't support them?

How about the Sonos app itself?

The link I was given uses very ambiguous language about powerline adapters and wifi hotspots; basically Sonos doesn't recommend them because they can cause delays in accessing the internet, and Sonos doesn't want us to think the delays are its fault. Fair enough. But why on Earth would Sonos require an internet connection in order to play local files? I can't think of a good reason!

Chromecast requires a connection because it must download the player from the internet, so if the internet goes down while it's already playing you're fine, but if it's down before it starts playing, then no. But how about Sonos?

All of these are reports of users who can get Sonos to work without internet.

https://en.community.sonos.com/setting-up-sonos-228990/sonos-without-internet-connection-6794076

https://en.community.sonos.com/ask-a-question-228987/sonos-app-without-internet-6817572

https://en.community.sonos.com/ask-a-question-228987/sonos-app-without-internet-6817572

https://en.community.sonos.com/music-services-and-sources-228994/make-sonos-work-without-internet-6795315

Thanks!

PS In case anyone is wondering, I am asking, despite the reports in the links above, because I want to understand if this is something which is officially supported or not.

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5 replies

Userlevel 5
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As long as you're connected to your local network, you wont need internet access to play your music library.

Internet access is only for updates, and online services such as Pandora, TuneIn, Spotify, etc.

Now if your music library is stored on say Amazon Music or Google Play Music, you would need an internet connection.
Userlevel 7
Badge +21
Easy enough to prove or disprove: unplug your router and see what happens. (It will be as described by misfit).
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May I ask with what speakers you have tried this (ie that it plays local files without an internet connection)? Play:1? Play:5?

Do you mean from the Sonos app?

How about DLNA, UPNP or other services which are not officially supported by Sonos, yet have been reported to work? Eg Subsonic, Roon, etc. Do they work with Sonos when there is no internet connection?

Why on Earth is tech support then saying the opposite? Any ideas?

I don't (yet) own any Sonos. The reason I am asking all these pedantic questions is that I bought a pair of Chromecast speakers which are proving to be an unreliable, unstable, temperamental buggy mess; I am considering returning them and replacing them with Sonos, but first I want to be 100% sure I understand how Sonos works. I thought I had done my homework before buying the Chromecast yet they are unusable.

Also, I am asking these questions because I have zero faith that tech companies won't follow questionable implementations (e.g. Sonos storing the index on the speakers and therefore having a max size limit, Chromecast requiring internet even just to play local files) or remove features with software 'upgrades'. Having already been burnt once with Chromecast, I'd like to be sure I understand Sonos before deciding to go for it.

Thanks!
Userlevel 7
Badge +20
I'd like to be sure I understand Sonos before deciding to go for it.
Why not just buy one or more Sonos units under their 100 day return program, experiment with them, and return them if they don't meet your needs? There's no substitute for hands-on experience.
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Sonos' tech support wrote back and apologised for the 'confusion'; they have now confirmed that you need internet to set it up the first time, to play internet streams (obviously...), but NOT to play local content: for that you only need a router, with or without internet access.

@pwt: I hadn't realised the 100-day return policy applies to the UK, too. Having looked into it, it applies only when buying from their site, but that's OK because the price is the same. So thanks a lot!