Can Sonos use wired connections only ?


I think most would accept that a wired network connection is more reliable than a wireless network connection and that sometimes wireless connections can be particularly unreliable if the distance between wireless router and wireless device is great or has to traverse many walls.

So, if I setup a Sonos system where all the zone players (e.g. PLAY:3's) are wired into the network, will Sonos use these wired connections to communicate between the players or will it still attempt to setup it's own proprietary Sonos wireless mesh network ?

17 replies

Sonos will always prefer a wired connection over a wireless. In a fully wired system, the wireless, while unable to be turned off, will be used very minimally. It will still ping to maintain the wireless mesh, and will accept control I/O from Android controllers configured to connect to Sonosnet. However, all streaming will be via the wired connections.
jgatie, thanks for the swift reply.

If for some reason the wireless mesh ping fails will this affect the operation of the system in any way through the wired connections ?

Also, will a fully wired system be able to be controlled from an Android device connected , albeit wirelesly, to the same network or does the controller need to connect to the Sonos wireless mesh network ?
DrDoolittle wrote:

jgatie, thanks for the swift reply.

If for some reason the wireless mesh ping fails will this affect the operation of the system in any way through the wired connections ?

Also, will a fully wired system be able to be controlled from an Android device connected , albeit wirelesly, to the same network or does the controller need to connect to the Sonos wireless mesh network ?



I don't know about the ping failing, I would imagine the system would compensate, for it is pretty resilient. I do know that units with non-functioning or damaged WiFi will still connect via wired, so that bodes well for your question.

For the Android controller, you can set it to use your own WiFi connection or Sonosnet. Note that iDevices do not have this choice (as of 9/12/12), they are WiFi only.
jgatie,

brilliant, just what I wanted to hear, maybe time to replace my Squeezebox stuff with Sonos.
DrDoolittle wrote:

jgatie,

brilliant, just what I wanted to hear, maybe time to replace my Squeezebox stuff with Sonos.



Glad I could help. Welcome aboard!
DrDoolittle,

As jgatie says, Sonos will use wired connections given a choice. However there is a requirement on the Ethernet switches used. Read this post for a definitive answer on this, but the vast majority of switches should be okay. There's a hall of shame listing known offenders.

As for background wireless 'ping' traffic, it's essentially there to maintain the logical tree structure of the network and detect potential loops. Interruption shouldn't affect Sonos.

Android devices set to use SonosNet will roam between Sonos units, seeking the best signal.
DrDoolittle wrote:


If for some reason the wireless mesh ping fails will this affect the operation of the system in any way through the wired connections ?



This is semantics, and jgatie has already answered your questions, but "Wireless mesh ping" isn't really correct.

(So feel free to ignore all this if you find it confusing or really don't care)

"Ping" is a layer 3 network capability. The Sonos wireless mesh (and wifi and ethernet in general) work at a much more basic level, a layer below this, layer 2.

Roughly speaking, layer 2 connections work on a port level and detect the presence (or absence) of a signal from the other end. The green LED on the port on your router and the equivalent on the Sonos ethernet ports are a representation of this.

For wifi networks the equivalent of a signal on physical port is a valid connection to another wifi device over a radio link. Sonos uses a variation of wifi layer 2 so is similar.

Unlike normal wifi though, were everything connects back to a central wifi access point or router, Sonosnet maintains a mesh of peer-to-peer connections between every device in range. In other words, every Sonos player/bridge tries to create a direct wireless connection with every other Sonos player/bridge. If it cannot get a direct connection, this is roughly equivalent to a physical connection between the two device being broken.

On top of this, it seems to build a sort of "layer 2 and a half" mesh of tunnels between all devices. If a direct connection isn't available then this tunnel will be connected via a different route which may traverse another Sonos device.

Layer 2 networks can also be broken badly by loops, so there are normally loop avoidance algorithms and protocols which shut down ports to prevent loops. Sonos (and other network devices) will regularly send "BPDUs" around the network to communicate the state of devices and any topology changes. These could be considered as "pings" but they work differently.

Layer 2 networks can be complicated beasts, so I'll stop here, but if you want to know more about them, you should google for "Spanning Tree Protocol".

The important thing is, Sonos tries to do the right thing and, if you chose to wire your Sonos devices, it will use the wired connections in preference to the wireless.

Cheers,

Keith
Thanks Majik. I knew it was more complicated (though not as in depth as you), but I used "ping" in a generic laymans way, meaning "reach out and see if something is there." :o
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Majik wrote:

This is semantics, and jgatie has already answered your questions, but "Wireless mesh ping" isn't really correct.

(So feel free to ignore all this if you find it confusing or really don't care)



This was wonderful morning reading. Thanks!

//A fellow nerd
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Hi

Sorry for the slightly less technical question on this one. I am also planning a wired system. I live in a very thick walled old house where I need to have 3 wireless repeaters throughout the house to get wifi though it somewhat effectively.

Hence I am planning to use existing wifi infrastructure for control (android) and use the Cat5 cabling (which I put 20Km in when I rebuilt the house - sad I know but paying dividends now) for connecting the Sonos gear.

Question 1 - daft
Do I just daisy chain the Sonos gear together or should they all go to a central hub in a star configuration?

Question 2 - less daft?
Must I have a bridge in this config? I don't think I am going to need any sonosnet for control or streaming? It's not a biggie financially but one less box is one less box. I just don't know if the bridge is required to establish any hierarchy etc.

Any help greatly appreciated. This thread is excellent.

Looking forward to buying kit shortly!

Tim
underdone wrote:

Hence I am planning to use existing wifi infrastructure for control (android)



It's better to configure the android device to use Sonosnet, that way it'll directly connect to the nearest Sonos device, even if there isn't a connection to your home wi-fi available.

and use the Cat5 cabling (which I put 20Km in when I rebuilt the house - sad I know but paying dividends now) for connecting the Sonos gear.

Question 1 - daft
Do I just daisy chain the Sonos gear together or should they all go to a central hub in a star configuration?



Either, you just need to be aware of the number of hops if you're daisy-chaining, there is a limit (I think it's 7 but someone else will confirm that), the more you can route directly back the better.

Question 2 - less daft?
Must I have a bridge in this config? I don't think I am going to need any sonosnet for control or streaming? It's not a biggie financially but one less box is one less box. I just don't know if the bridge is required to establish any hierarchy etc.



No you won't need a bridge in that case as you're already wiring at least one Sonos device, the Bridge has two uses, to provide the wired connection to your own network or to fill in holes in the Sonosnet mesh network where it doesn't need to be wired at all (this is how I use mine, for similar reasons to yourself, thick walls).
Welcome to the forums.

underdone wrote:

Question 1 - daft
Do I just daisy chain the Sonos gear together or should they all go to a central hub in a star configuration?


Not a daft question. There's a limit of SEVEN on the number of switches which can be chained in a line across the network. A Sonos device counts as a switch.

Question 2 - less daft?
Must I have a bridge in this config?


Nope. Sonos builds its own wireless network, hence it needs to be tied back to the router somehow. If no Sonos player can be wired a Bridge would be required. You won't need one.
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Many thanks! Brilliant answers and got me to where I need to go.

On thinking about it, the whole house is star wired in any case so I may as well connect them to my router.

For total completeness, would you mind answering one more question?

I know that there is a death list of routers which don't work - I have a 16 port switch (with spare ports that I can pop the equipment into). The switch is connected to the router (I think its called an edge network but I am no networking guru) which then serves the network. The router provides IP addresses etc. Can I assume this config will work? I can happily add reservations for fixed Ips if Sonos prefers this.

Again - many thanks.

My credit card is starting to sweat!

Tim
If the router has a single connection to the switch then its main role is as Internet gateway and provider of address info to the local network via DHCP.

What actually matters is how the switch deals with STP (Spanning Tree Protocol), which ensures that network loops don't develop. Sonos units can obviously communicate wirelessly as well as by wire, hence the need to detect and avoid loops.

Most switches should be fine -- known offenders are in the FAQ. Dumb (unmanaged) switches will generally pass STP traffic transparently. Managed switches which are STP-capable may need to have the feature deliberately enabled.

As for fixing IPs, it's not essential but recommended. It means that a router reboot won't run the risk of causing address duplication. Precisely how you'd reserve IPs depends on the router's DHCP server implementation.
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ratty wrote:


Android devices set to use SonosNet will roam between Sonos units, seeking the best signal.



This is a dangerous statement to make, since quite a few android devices has trouble with seamless roaming. That's not the fault of Sonos though, but given the situation people should be aware that their Android device might not roam correctly.

See here for more details: http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=22575

Especially Samsung devices are extremely bad at it. HTC seems to be OK. My Galaxy Nexus roams on 5GHz band but not on 2.4.
jishi wrote:

This is a dangerous statement to make, since quite a few android devices has trouble with seamless roaming. That's not the fault of Sonos though, but given the situation people should be aware that their Android device might not roam correctly.


Valid point, and it will clearly depend on AP, device and Android version. I should have said "will try to roam". FWIW I couldn't get a cheap Chinese tablet running ICS to connect to SonosNet at all.

"Roaming" between Sonos APs will not be completely seamless anyway as there's no managed hand-off.

Some of the complaints on that issue report seemed to have different channels and/or chipsets in adjacent APs. At least SonosNet should make life slighter easier.

I'd agree with one of the comments that switching can be slow. I think it got slower with 4.2. In fact it's sometimes simpler on my Nexus just to disable/re-enable WiFi.

As for searching for the strongest signal, I find it can sometimes be too aggressive when all I want it to do is hang onto what it's got.
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Again - thank you all for your excellent replies.

I think I am ok with the router / switch (dumb) setup that I have - I think the best thing to do is plug it in and see if it works. The costs of these boxes isn't a deal breaker these days in any case.

Interesting point on Android roaming. I found my old iphone 4 and my new Samsung S3 and in fact my laptop (Tosh z830) all very bad at wifi management. All in the former category of not letting go rather than over aggressive acquisition. In fact both phones would prefer 3G over local wireless when connected to 3G. Annoying because an airplane mode on / off correcting the matter is slow and cumbersome.

Probably not on topic but this is in-line with all smartphone development over the last few years. I feel that we are being driven to use data and not make calls from our mobile devices and only from mobile networks, not from home. Get inside your old house and you can't get 3G reception, wifi roaming is poor for VOIP and there is no way for a home phone to inherit your contact lists. Sorry - rant over!

Many thanks again.

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