How I fixed my SONOS installation - ie No Dropouts

  • 23 October 2018
  • 8 replies

Userlevel 1
Apologies for the long post, but after struggling with dropping rooms and playback dropping out, I started trawling the net for solutions. I still see so many posts about issues and it seems to still be problematic for many. Keep in mind that SONOS is a wireless system and it is using the similar frequencies as standard WIFI. Therefore, there is likely going to be interference and this is going to cause problems.

Using your home WIFI to communicate with players is a no-no. Regardless if SONOS says it can be done, the system is far too reliant on a pristine signal to talk to each device – even if it is only ONE player. Yes I have tried it many times and yes it was constantly failing.

WIFI in general is a mashup of many devices all querying devices and sending info – all conspiring to interrupt the signal – and it will. Many of us live in high density areas with hundreds of wifi signals bouncing around. I constantly had issues where the system said there was not enough bandwidth to playback. WTF. I can stream Netflix without issue – pretty sure Netflix is using far more bandwidth. Again, this seems to be a common issue and thought process.

I have implemented the below strategy on a number of systems now and it is holding up nicely. Sure there will be some hybrid setups out there that are going to test the limits of STP etc – if this is your issue then check for compatible routers/switches etc. Extensive and complex networks can cause other issues if not implemented correctly (yes some of you are probably network peeps).

If this doesn’t help then definitely get hold of SONOS support as there may be other issues at hand.

Couple of things:
If you are going to have a wireless SONOS system of more than one player, get a BOOST – regardless if you are connecting one of your units to a network outlet. They are easier to move around (explained later) and seem to have better signal transmission than some of the older units. You may also do this without a BOOST and have success – again, you just want to eliminate wifi and use the SONOSNET mesh network.
If you have one player, make sure it is plugged in to your network. For multi-unit setups with a BOOST, read on:

1. Connect up the Sonos units as per the instructions. You should have at least one device hardwired to the network at this point – This ideally will be a BOOST.

2. Once connected, open up your APP where you will be able to see the connected units under ‘About my System’

3. Use this information to assign a fixed IP address to EACH AND EVERY Sonos device – Including the BOOST. You will need to check with your router instructions (Google etc) on how to do this.
Simplest practice is to set a fixed DHCP range for roaming devices (phones, tablets etc) For example – to – this gives 50 addresses for devices to connect. This will also help prevent duplicate IP addresses being handed out – at least to SONOS devices anyway. Once you have done this, allocate the fixed IP addresses for SONOS outside this fixed range you have set up. This is an example of what I do and works. You may of course set it up however you wish with whichever IP range you choose. Just ensure that you have the fixed IP’s outside your standard DHCP range.

4. Unplug the SONOS devices. Restart the Router. Once it is back up, re-power the BOOST first. Then once it is up, re-power each SONOS device in turn.

5. Go back in to your SONOS app and check that each device now has the correct corresponding fixed IP address you have allocated. If not, double check everything carefully.

6. While you are in the SONOS app, check to see that each device has WM:0 against its listing. This is showing that it is using SONOSNET. If any are showing WM:1 then it is using your wifi. This is to be avoided.

7. If all above is done then open up a browser window and go to address:
the stars represent the IP address of one of your SONOS Players (not the BOOST)
This lists all of your SONOS devices and all of your controller devices. There’s some interesting info under each one but the best view is the “Network Matrix”.
Below is a screenshot example.

Sonos Local Diagnostics Network Matrix

There’s a few things to note here:
The Root Bridge
In the left column, one device will say “Root Bridge”. Sonos support inform me that this device is best set as the one which is most central to the premises and is hardwired to the network. This can be any Sonos device, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a Sonos Boost. To change the Root Bridge, follow these steps:
In your web browser, go to http://:1400/advconfig.htm and “disable” the “FirstZP”. in this case is the IP address of your current Root Bridge. It doesn’t appear that this page reflects the current state so it’ll likely already have “disabled” selected. Just press the “Submit” button.
In your web browser, go to http://:1400/advconfig.htm and “enable” the “FirstZP”. in this case is the IP address of your desired Root Bridge.
In your web browser, go to http://:1400/reboot to reboot system system. in this case is the IP address of your desired Root Bridge.
The Colours
The colours in the leftmost column indicate the level of noise and interference directly affecting that Sonos device. The colours go Red, Orange, Yellow and Green to signify a scale of really bad to really good respectively. The colours on the main cells of the table indicate which Sonos device is connecting to which other device in order to form the Sonos mesh network. In the screenshot above, you’ll see that Master Bedroom is connecting to Back Bedroom with a very good connection.
This is where the ability to move things around helps – IE the BOOST.
You’ll also see that the noise and interference surrounding living room, master bedroom and bathroom is very bad. The most common solution to this, so I’m told, is to change the wifi channel. This assumes you’ve already set the best device as the root bridge.
You can change the wifi channel in the Sonos desktop controller application by going to Manage->Settings->Advanced.
In my case, changing the channel from 1 to 11 improved things massively:

Credit to Phil Lavin For the above diagnostics images

OFDM signal level figures explained:
OFDM ANI level is a measurement of how well your Sonos components are coping with interference in your wireless environment. The lower your score the better. 0 is best, 9 is worst.
Depending on the age of your SONOS equipment, you’ll see either a OFDM Weak Signal or a OFDM ANI level recorded in the snapshot. This is a single digit number which runs from 0 to 9 and indicates how well the speaker can cope with local noise levels. Confusingly, the scores work in opposite directions for the two OFDM indicators when considering quality.
For OFDM Weak Signal, higher is better: 5 is best, zero is poor. For OFDM ANI, it works the opposite way, with 0 best and 9 the worst.

8. If you are showing RED on any device, then it is best to move them around to clear any interference as much as possible – the idea being to have them GREEN - or at least YELLOW. Hence why having a BOOST makes life easy. It is easy to move this around as it is not actually playing anything.

Finally, I would be very surprised if you have any issues following this setup. This has worked for me and may help others. Whilst SONOS is generally plug and play as they advertise, sometimes it just doesn’t want to play ball – and this is probably going to be caused by your own environment. Especially with everything wifi these days. As I said, this has worked for me and the setups I have done for others. I totally get the frustrations when it doesn’t work. I can now walk into any of these homes with the setups I have created, join the network, open Spotify and choose the playback device. Rock solid lockup and playing every time without dropouts and skipped tracks. There will of course be some areas that are just far too plagued with too many wifi signals – you may just have to run cables and be done with it.

Anyways, hope this helps.

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8 replies

Userlevel 2
What a great post. Thank you for the clear and detailed info. As soon as I set static IP's my dropout problem went away. Interestingly, my matrix has more red in it now - one wired device (an old ZP 100) and one of two wireless surround sound speakers. In any event the system is working great. Thanks again!
Very helpful
Userlevel 7
Badge +21
No, it's the lowest value of bridge priority and MAC address combined, as in priority.MAC

How Sonos assigns bridge priority:

Thanks, one more thing to add to my pile of Sonos information.
What about getting a mesh wifi configuration?
No problem, so long as you only connect Sonos control devices to it (phones, tablets, etc). Don't connect the actual players to it in 'Standard mode'; use 'Boost mode' with a Sonos device wired to one of the mesh pods.
Userlevel 5
Badge +12
What about getting a mesh wifi configuration?
The root is usually assigned to the device with the lowest MAC number
No, it's the lowest value of bridge priority and MAC address combined, as in priority.MAC

How Sonos assigns bridge priority:

If FirstZP is ENABLED:
Boosts/Bridges are 0x8000 if wired, 0x9800 if unwired
Players are 0x8100 if wired, 0x9800 if unwired

Boosts/Bridges are 0x8F00 if wired, 0x9800 if unwired
Players are 0x9000 if wired, 0x9800 if unwired

If Priority is ENABLED:
Node is 0x7000, irrespective of FirstZP or wired/unwired

I should point out that FirstZP is a leftover from the way the system used to set itself up, prioritising the first node to be registered. These days it generally doesn't matter either way, since the node detects a wired connection and dynamically adjusts bridge priority based on that.
Userlevel 1
Hi Stanley, great follow up and thanks for the addendum/addition re #6.
Userlevel 7
Badge +21
Very good post.

The static IP change is good even for folks that aren't seeing issues in normal operation as it really seems to help avoid issues during some update cycles. I recommend it to folks that only have one Sonos play 1 for that reason.

At your #6 -- If using Boost mode, with a Boost device or not you will want to clear the WiFi credentials from the Sonos system to prevent it going into mixed (some Boost, some Standard, WM: 0/1) mode. Do that from the WiFi settings, it will offer a clear option if they are set, nothing if they are already cleared.

When looking at devices with noise issues moving the Sonos is one solution but it may be easier to find the offending device and move it. Also be aware that a device can be a problem even if it does not contain a WiFi radio and is just spewing noise.

The root is usually assigned to the device with the lowest MAC number, it apparently isn't an issue which one gets it. I ended up with an antique ZP getting it so I did your change to get a newer Sonos device picked.

Having more than one Sonos device wired can be a good thing, particularly if you have long gaps between devices or thick walls blocking the signal.

With only channels 1, 6 and 11 open trying them each to see what works is not too bad. A WiFi monitor app can help a bit by showing knows WiFi signals but usually misses unknown signals. Something like the Ubiquity's APs offers a true RF monitor that is best for picking channels but not practical for most folks. Don't pick a channel and depend on it staying the best one, far too many (stupid things) auto channel switching routers out there will move and mess your good channel up... because it was good. Sigh.