Question

Garbled Corrupted and Dropped Audio Intermittently


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Hello! I have quite a number of Sonos devices, but I have been having trouble with my surround setup. Currently I have a Playbar, two Play3s, and a Sub in my theater room. I have a PS4 Pro, Xbox One S, and Comcast Cable box. From these I have optical cables going to a J-Tech 4x4 optical switcher. Then one optical cable to my playbar. I have my sonos devices connected to my very robust wifi network. After anywhere from around 15-30 minutes my Xbox One S audio starts becoming garbled and eventually cuts out completely. Pulling the power cord on the playbar seems to fix it for awhile. I do not have this problem on any of my other Playbars, though this is the only room with surround sound. All devices are configured for optical bitstream dolby 5.1 (not DTS) out.

A couple of points to note: Previously all devices output sound over HDMI through my Sony XBR75X940D which then went to the playbar. In this configuration, it was my PS4 Pro that had this identical garbled audio issue. To address that problem I switched to the current configuration. Now the PS4 Pro works great and the Xbox is having the issue. My comcast box would also have dropouts with the previous config that seems to be resolved using the optical switcher. Finally, about 25 min ago I removed my wireless config and now everything is on Sonos net. Last but not least, the Sub and both Play3s in this room are hardwired into my network but the playbar is not.

For any Sonos reps, I submitted diagnostics after the most recent failure and subsequent removal of the wifi config from my sonos devices: 7227724

EDIT: Just happened again. Sent another diag: 7231962

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29 replies

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Hi Aclosedmind,

I'm very interested in what you describe as "garbled sound"... drop outs, I get.... but can you perhaps describe what you perceive when you hear the "garbled" audio?

I'm also posting so I'll know when the Sonos reps respond to the post when they explore the diagnostic. While I've heard a lot about drop outs occurring, etc... I haven't heard any description of "garbled" audio in advance of it...

I know that the PlayBar sets up a 5Ghz connection to the 5.1 wireless devices it uses for bass and surrounds, but I *don't* know what happens when all but the PlayBar is wired... I presume it must do exactly the same thing - since the audio originates from the PlayBar, and since the PlayBar can't use higher speed connectivity associated with a wired connection, and I'm pretty confident it can't send data over 2.4Ghz (It would be too late for audio sync) I'm guessing it still sets up a 5Ghz connection to the sub and your 3s.... (in which case... maybe you want to disconnect them from the router and see what happens.... are they the only devices setting up SonosNet?)

Sorry I don't have answers for you, but I know the Sonos staff here will have. (Or others in the Community that have a ton of experience here) ... In the meantime any input you can describe about what you are hearing may help in the diagnostic process for others as well as identifying if any other of your Sonos products are hardwired...

🙂
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Thanks for the reply. When audio starts having issues it usually begins with a few quick dropouts in quick succession. Then it will get a "digital" garbled sound. Not like hissing or an "analog" sounding audio garble but more like if you were listening to an MP3 that had gotten corrupted. Perhaps corrupted audio is a better descriptor. Over the next 30 seconds to a minute it gets progressively worse, then eventually it will drop all audio. Switching to another source like SiriusXM seems to be just fine, but then switching back to the "TV" source its garbled again. Rebooting the playbar fixes the audio issues.

Right now everything is on SonosNet (verified in About My Sonos System). I had thought perhaps using wifi was the problem, but no change after removing the wifi config. I have a total of 15 sonos devices around the house. Most are standalone speakers though I have a stereo pair of Play 1s in one room, and 2 more TVs with Playbars and Subs but no surround. None of those speakers have had any issues.
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A couple questions come to mind:

What products are connected to your router to create the SonosNet?

Any chance the PlayBar is in the same room as your router - and you have an awesome multichannel 5Ghz router that is causing significant broadcast noise over the 5Ghz channel??

(Given that 3 devices are wired to it..... HOW close is the router?... you want it at least 3 feet from any speaker minimum) , or from Baby monitors, or DECT home phones, etc that could be crushing the 5Ghz channel frequencies in your room with the 5.1 system?
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In the room with surround, both Play 3s and the Sub are hardwired in. 2 rooms away I have a Playbar and Sub, neither wired, and a play 1 in the kitchen as well as in the office, all wireless. Upstairs I have another wireless playbar with a wired sub. The stereo pair of play 1s in another room are wired, as are 2 standalone play 1s. Last I have a standalone play 3 which is wireless.

Its worth nothing that this behavior now is only happening with audio coming from my Xbox. Comcast cablebox and PS4 Pro work fine. Previous to my recent conversion of everything to direct optical audio out with a switcher box, it was the PS4 Pro that would exhibit this exact behavior and the Xbox was fine. At that time everything was on HDMI through my TV then to the Sonos. Now everything is optical right to a switcher box and then direct to the Sonos bypassing the TV. Everything is manually set to optical audio out using bitstream and DD 5.1. I have not noticed this from any streaming sources. No other Sonos device at my home is having issues, just the surround setup.

EDIT: I have 2 routers - a Netgear X10 which is two rooms away running segregated 2.4 and 5ghz networks and another Netgear X4S upstairs at the far end of the house in AP mode acting as a repeater. No cordless phones or anything else. I do have a Play 1 in the office about 5 feet from the router that has no issues and it is wireless.
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Happened again. Another diag sent: 7238366
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and again, now on a different input: 7238451
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And again. 7245543
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Again, same input. This time a min or two after switching from SonosNet to wifi: 7245626

Whats it take to get someone from Sonos to look at these?
Userlevel 5
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Hey aclosedmind....

FYI I did msg one of the Sonos Staff a couple days ago asking them to see if they could take a look. They are typically pretty responsive, but perhaps the one I msg'd hasn't been on... You can contact them via Phone as well of course... and I understand they also have a Twitter support team....
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I did end up sending them an email. I appreciate your help!
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I just can't figure out what may be happening... I could walk you through some of the wifi interface network matrices, etc. that could show if the devices are running into wireless interference, etc... but it seems that would be an odd reaction of the system to respond that way...
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You may want to go to a browser window and type: oneofyourSOnosDevicesIPaddresshere:1400/support/review and select Network Matrix and see what the connectivity is showing...
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Since it isn't limited to any specific input, I don't think its a problem with any of the devices. It happened over HDMI audio passthrough through my TV and also through direct optical connection, so I don't think its the optical switcher or cables. It does seem to exclusively happen with a 5.1 source as prior to converting to a surround setup some time ago this never happened. It happens whether on SonosNet or wireless. A reboot of the playbar fixes it for some time. When it is happening, switching to a non 5.1 source usually works fine (streaming audio typically). Returning to the 5.1 source makes the issue reappear until a reboot of the playbar.
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Yeah... just doesn't seem to be an issue that connects to a connectivity problem... at least at the surface
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I can get to all of that data but I must admit its greek to me. Anything specific I should be looking for?
Userlevel 5
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simply the colour coding on any given player being red or the communication between devices (shown by the colour block inside the matrix) being red... perhaps. It provides you perspective on the communication signal strength between the players I'd be looking to see if there was a problem with the Playbar and the surrounds it has (They will be running on 5Ghz) channel
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Here's a question. I have ethernet cable run behind my couch to a 5 port switch. The two Play3s and my sub are plugged into this switch which is then connected to my overall LAN. The playbar is not wired in at all. I can run a wire to that Playbar. I can't honestly recall if this particular issue happened when it used to be wired. Will the Sonos system then use the wired ethernet vs 5GHz for the surround setup, or will it always use SonosNet? I doubt this is an interference issue since it isn't constant but it is possible.

As far as the network matrix, the very best I can do in terms of minimizing "red" boxes in the leftmost column is a mixture of green, yellow, and orange. I have great wifi coverage at my house but theres a fair number of 2.4 and 5Ghz networks in the vicinity. I also have a network of Nest cameras which use 2.4. The majority of my remaining devices are 5Ghz.
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If you wire the SoundBar, it is my understanding that it will utilize that connection as a primary preference. It is worth a try - even if temporary. If that solves the problem, that will point to a source of the challenge you are experiencing. I'm confident that Sonos folks will eventually be around... but in the meantime I guess it is worth it as a troubleshooting step...
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I think I'll try that today. Bit of a pain to take a 75" TV off the wall to run the cable behind, so I may just jury rig a cable temporarily and see what happens. I'll keep you posted. If it does indeed fix it (and I hope it does), I'll run the cable permanently and perhaps this will help someone else in the future.
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So now the setup looks like this:

Main House Switch (netgear prosafe) > CAT6 jack in theater room > Netgear managed 8 port switch

From the 8 port switch we have one cable going directly to the Playbar

Then there is a long CAT6 going from the 8 port switch around the back of my couch to another Netgear 5 port switch. From there cables go to each of the Play3s and the Sub.

Wireless configs have been removed from the Sonos system entirely now, so its all SonosNet
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Soooo.... I was unaware you had so many switches involved in the hardwired communication.... Let me know how it goes. I know people have experienced challenges with "broadcast storms" as a result of networking multiple devices / daisychaining Sonos products, etc....

I am NOT a wired network guru in any way... but would point you to this thread as containing a few good posts with good information regarding details to investigate relative to the switches you are using:

https://en.community.sonos.com/troubleshooting-228999/sonos-and-the-spanning-tree-protocol-16973

So if you continue to have challenges, this could be a second place to look... Again. I think Sonos staff can see some of the communication challenges in a diagnostic when they look.
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Honestly I'd be shocked if having these switches in line caused an issue. All are managed, gigabit, and set up to not block spanning tree. It should be noted that while this issue was occurring, I had tried completely wireless with no switches in the mix to no avail. So far so good with the new setup, but I won't be comfortable saying its fixed for another day or so.
Packet loss and buffer underflow manifests as silence (dropouts). IMO this is not a network problem.

Either something is transmitting incorrectly on the S/PDIF or the receiving PLAYBAR is making a pig's ear of things. @aclosedmind, is it possible to swap the troubled PLAYBAR with one of your other ones?
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I have and the problem continued. Different optical cables as well. Even a different TV when I was using HDMI audio
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So far wiring everything up has made a difference. I won't say its fixed just yet but I've managed to have around 90 min of gameplay/movie/tv watching without an issue. Fingers crossed!