Question

connection woes with multiple WAPS

  • 12 November 2017
  • 15 replies
  • 249 views

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hello all.
I have a funny shaped house with lots of RF-opaque walls. So I have 5 WAPs, each with the same SSID&password, but on different channels. Most of the WAPs are dual band. They're connected to the router (which contains DHCP etc) over reliable powerline.
I have a largish number of Sonos players distributed through the house. A couple of them can be connected to wired, but most are wireless only.

I'll describe the configurations I've tried and where I've ended up, with a few fun questions and observations on the way. Perhaps someone cleverer than me can help.
Assume I'm doing all the basic stuff correctly i.e. set controller in and out of airplane mode to select nearest WAP, allow devices to settle following config changes (to allow STP to propagate). Assume I'm checking on the network matrix that what I'm saying about wired/wireless is correct, etc etc

1/ one Sonos wired, all others wireless
I assume this puts them all on SonosNet?

Behaviour:
- all Sonos devices always discoverable (i.e. they respond to ping) and can be seen in all controllers
- playback of live streaming services (e.g tunein Radio) is poor, with frequent dropouts
- ping times highly variable, between 2ms and 2000ms

Hypothesis:
The house Wifi 2.4Ghz channels are set to a repeated sequence of 1, 6, 11 across the WAPs. Assume that this is interfering with Sonos Net.


2/ no Sonos devices wired
(note that one of them _is_ wired, but has its wireless disabled so I think it's irrelevant here)
Behaviour:
- some devices can never be discovered
- playback seems more reliable but I confess I haven't tried this for a very long time. Over 30 minutes it was fine except when the devices disappeared

Hypothesis:
The Sonos devices are on the house Wifi - BUT they are unable to cope with multiple access points and are randomly selecting them. Not all WAPs are RF visible from some rooms

Question:
I went to preferences->advanced settings on various of the controllers, and got a dialogue saying that it's not possible to configure the Wifi. This seems to happen in any of the above scenarios.

3/ one Sonos wired, all others wired, and 2.4GHz house Wifi disabled

Behaviour:
- Sonos system is reliable
- Ping times all steady on about 6 ms
- all my 2.4GHz clients are disappointed as they can't use house Wifi

Hypothesis:
this works as it has removed the WiFi interference experienced in scenario 1/. The Sonos devices are now using SonosNet.


Questions:

SO there we are. Please advise. The ideal would be to have the Sonos devices working properly on my home Wifi and able to cope properly with multiple access points. I've gone to a lot of trouble to get the coverage around the house working and it's a shame that Sonos can't work with this....
Discuss.

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15 replies

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It's probably worth adding a few details:
Each WAP is a separate switch, but they all have DHCP, NAT, etc switched off, so that from an IP point of view, this is a single flat subnet. Each Sonos has a permanently allocated IP address.
The wired connection is into one of the access points - not the main router, which it is accessing over Powerline. I don't believe that there are connectivity issues with the Powerline.
The WAPs are a variety of different TP link wireless routers.
Home broadband is about 80Mbit/s.
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Should I be removing the home wireless details from the Sonos devices to avoid confusing them?
A couple of points i think if you have wired one speaker then SonosNet will be invoked even if wireless has been turned off for that speaker. But easy to check as I could be wrong. In About My Sonos System if the speakers show WM0 it indicates SonosNet, WM:1 is wifi.
If running SonosNet then it would be better to remove home wifi details
Can't you limit wifi to channels 1 and 6 and put Sonos on 11?
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Thanks John B, much appreciated.

re: limiting WiFi channels to 1 and 6, yes, I think that's what I'll have to do.
re: removing home WiFi details. I don't see how I can do this given that it won't let me into the WiFi setup screen "Alternative Setup. There was a problem configuring Sonos to work on your wireless network"
re: WM0: ah cool, that's helpful
re: running with SonosNet even when the wired speaker has no WiFi - don't think I agree. First of all, I don't see how it would work i.e. how would the Sonoses connect to the world? They can't run SonosNet and home wifi simultaneously AIUI. Also - the WM0 thing switches to WM1 once I've disabled Wifi on the wired Sonos, which I think is conclusive.

Also, BTW: I tried connecting two of them wired just for fun, and the entire network immediately dies on its a55 in a loop of death. I think this is expected behaviour.
I think it may be the case that SonosNet is invoked with a wired connection, but I thought post-posting that it is rather academic because none of the other speakers has the means to connect to it if wireless off, which is basically what you are saying. So they connect over wifi or not at all.

Clearly there is an STP problem somewhere in your configuration. Many people run with more than one device wired
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re: spanning tree, would you expect something like a TPlink T-W9980 to pass STP packets? what about TPlink Powerline?
I had that router and I am pretty sure had more than one wired component at times. Don't think I am knowledgeable enough to say much more. I would try temporarily wiring a speaker to you router and leaving the rest wireless.

But I think eliminating the interference is your best bet
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Yup, got it. I think I understand what the rules are - I don't think there's much wrong in the thinking in my original post.

Re: spanning tree: The problem is clear to me now. If you ever have a situation where there are multiple paths, then you not only need be able to pass the STP packets, you also need the involved switches to be spanning tree active. So for example, if you have two wired Sonos connections, the switches that they're connected to need to use spanning tree themselves otherwise you will get loops.

For me the ideal solution would be that Sonos would be able to work properly on the house Wifi. I think what's happening is that it is sharing details among itself, assuming that there is only a single household access point. I assume that something must be happening that causes the players to connect, randomly to the _wrong WAP_. I can only guess that happens because either
- the Sonos wireless client is broken. It should pick the access point (=SSID & channel) that has the best signal for it, and stick with that, and it appears not to be doing this
- the Sonos sharing of home Wireless details includes not just (SSID & password) but also the radio channel number.

I understand that there's a concern that some home networks might not pass all the necessary packets - I assume we're talking about things like multicast and STP?

Does Sonos assume that a (standard, not boost) home network must consist of:
- a single wireless access point
- (optionally) some Sonos devices with wires going directly to the single household router?
- the router passes STP packets ?

That sounds like a fairly narrow requirement... discuss.
1/ Re-enable the wireless temporarily on the relevant node. (If necessary unwire others to prevent storms.) Remove the WiFi credentials in Advanced Settings. It's the radio-off state which is preventing this.

2/ Organise WiFi onto ch 1/6, with SonosNet on 11, per John B's suggestion.

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1/ Sonos in Station (WiFi/Standard) mode will attach to multiple APs. However it's not optimum if they use different channels. Direct Routing between peer nodes in a group (or bond) won't work properly.

2/ STP is disabled in Station mode.

3/ Station mode info -- e.g. SSID/BSSID -- is at http://x.x.x.x:1400/status/proc/ath_rincon/station
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thanks Ratty. Is there is a single setting for the whole system for WiFi credentials? Do I have to have all of the nodes in Wireless On to be able to change this?
It's a single setting, system-wide. But to access it the system must be in SonosNet mode, with none of the radios disabled.
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ok got it thanks. I am basically working fine now, just want to understand the rules underneath.

Re wireless interference, is there any reason why I shouldn't run the Sonos Net on channel 6, with other things going on on channels 1 and 11? Not sure how wide the channels really are.
Is it right that Sonos doesn't use 5GHz at all?
And finally - with a properly configured SonosNet, what data rate could I reasonably expect through it? I'm contemplating an evil way of range-extending my house wifi by attaching an access point to one of the Sonoses!
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Running SonosNet on 6 and others on 1 and 11. But there aren't any hard and fast rules. Really it would be a question of trial and error as interference is going to be dependant upon environmental factors as well (doors, people, atmospheric conditions). And devices operating on frequencies that don't overlap can still cause problems if they are close to each other.

Sonos uses the 5 GHz band to connect surrounds to a Playbar or Playbase.

Can't answer your last question but I have seen reference and know it probably wouldn't be great
Re wireless interference, is there any reason why I shouldn't run the Sonos Net on channel 6, with other things going on on channels 1 and 11? Not sure how wide the channels really are.SonosNet is 20MHz. Assuming WiFi is only 20MHz, pick whichever combination best suits. (2.4GHz WiFi at 40MHz would cripple things.) Channel 11 tends to be the most affected by microwave ovens.

Is it right that Sonos doesn't use 5GHz at all?
Only for local comms between PLAYBAR/PLAYBASE and its bonded satellites. 5GHz range is too uncertain for the main SonosNet mesh.

And finally - with a properly configured SonosNet, what data rate could I reasonably expect through it? I'm contemplating an evil way of range-extending my house wifi by attaching an access point to one of the Sonoses!
Not much. Anything from 12-13Mbps downwards, depending on the number of wireless hops simultaneously utilising the channel.
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ok that's fine thanks guys. I wasn't serious about using SonosNet as an extender but I might measure it just for fun.