Question

Multiple access points Sonos controller issue

  • 19 June 2019
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Hi,

I've been reading through the forums but can't quite see a solution to an issue I have when using my Sonos controller on my phone and moving between wifi access points, so just wondering if anyone can help or has any advice?

In summary, if I connect to Sonos using the controller on the first access point (AP1) and then move to a different area of the house where the phone then picks up a better signal from AP2, once connected to AP2 the Sonos controller app then seems to lose connection to the Sonos system completely.

My simple setup is as follows:

  1. BT Smart Hub router on ground floor of 3 floor house. Broadcasting 2.4ghz and 5ghz frequencies on different SSIDs (e.g. SSID-24 and SSID-5). SSID-24 on channel 1. SSID-5 on channel 36.
  2. Sonos Bridge hard-wired into back of BT router with ethernet.
  3. Sonos Play1 connected to Sonos Bridge using sonosnet. Sonosnet using channel 6. Wifi credentials removed from Play1. Sonos controller indicates Bridge and Play1 are using WM:0
  4. TP-Link powerline adapter plugged in to power socket and connected to BT router with ethernet.
  5. Other end of TP-Link powerline adapter plugged in to power socket on 3rd floor of house. This adapter broadcasting wifi at 2.4ghz using the same 2.4ghz details as the router (i.e. same SSID, password, channel).
I can connect to Sonos using the controller using either individual AP (the router on the ground floor or the TP-Link on the 3rd floor). However if, for example, I'm on the 3rd floor connected to the TP-Link and connect to Sonos with the controller (without issue) but then move downstairs to be near the BT router, the Sonos controller loses connection to the Sonos system. The connection loss seems to coincide with the phone swapping APs. Once the Sonos connection is lost, it doesn't come back unless I move back upstairs and wait for the phone to reconnect with the initial AP (TP-link). At all times, I have a good wifi connection and all other apps on the phone seem to function without issue regardless of AP. I don't want to connect my Sonos devices to the wifi - I want to continue to use sonosnet.

Is there any likely solution to this or is this just the way it is when using multiple APs with the Sonos controller? Is there another powerline to use that doesn't have this issue (have tested with BT powerline adapter but same issue)? Would using a mesh system for the controller be better (BT Whole Home or Ubiquiti Amplifi for example)?

Cheers for any thoughts.

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37 replies

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In case anyone is ever interested, I solved my issue by replacing my existing BT SmartHub Type A router. Before I did this, I managed to get hold of a second BT SmartHub Type A router and tested with that too but had exactly the same issue. So, I decided it was likely an issue related to the specific model of router. I've replaced with an Ubiquiti router and now all is good. Many thanks to all those who offered help and advice.
The BT hubs can be a bit 'loud' in terms of interfering with wireless devices close by (less than 1m) but in the current tests you had the Play:1 wired I believe. Most mysterious. I take it you've tried simply rebooting the router?
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Yes, during testing, the Play1 was wired to the router at all times. I’ve put the Bridge back in place now too as I think that is functioning fine.

I’ve previously rebooted the router but the issue still remained.
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Thanks @ratty for all your advice and help. I think I’m leaning towards swapping the router at the moment...
I suggest you:
  • move the phone from the secondary AP to the BT hub
  • wait until it finally reconnects
  • submit a diagnostic from the phone and note the confirmation number
  • post the number here
There could well be entries in the controller log which shed a bit of light on why it had trouble connecting.
Some APs -- whether powerline-based or wireless extenders -- mangle the MAC addresses of devices either side of them. When you move across the AP this could be leaving stale entries in the phone's ARP table that end up confusing the controller app.

What happens if you:
  • Completely exit and restart the controller app? Does it reconnect successfully?
  • Toggle the phone's WiFi off and on again?
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Thanks for the reply @ratty

I just tested again:
  1. Switched wifi on phone off
  2. Stood next to TP-link on 3rd floor
  3. Enabled wifi (for SSID-24) and got strong connection to the TP-link
  4. Opened up Sonos controller which successfully connected to Sonos
  5. Started to move to the ground floor
  6. On the ground floor could see wifi bars dropping and then suddenly picking up again as it swapped to router AP
  7. Sonos controller open all the time but, once swapped to router AP, the controller could no longer connect to Sonos
  8. At this point, toggled wifi but still no connection with controller.
  9. Then exited controller app completely but still no connection with controller.
  10. Then walked back upstairs seeing wifi bars slowly drop as moved away from router. As wifi bars then picked up again as I got nearer the TP-link, checked the Sonos controller and had a normal connection to Sonos again.
To be clear, when you moved downstairs you toggled the phone WiFi off/on and force-quit/restarted the controller, yet it still didn't connect? How do you normally reconnect to the system when you move downstairs? Something presumably causes it to reconnect. Reboot the phone? Or simply wait a while?

By the way, what's the model number of the TP-Link devices?
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@ratty Diagnostic number is 1470592764
Note that ratty is a community member, but not a Sonos employee, so he wouldn't have access to that diagnostic. I would expect a Sonos Community moderator to come along eventually, to look at it.

Or you could contact Sonos Support to discuss it. I suggest the phone folks, they have more tools available because they're on the phone with you, but they are only available Monday through Friday during business hours. Both the Twitter and Facebook support folks are available 24/7.
@ratty I tried to wire the BT Mini Hotspot directly to the router (and ignore the powerline side of it) but it didn't want to work like that and I just couldn't connect to it properly. So, I plugged it into a socket as a normal powerline extender. The TP-link was happy to be directly wired to the router (as in the previous test).

With this setup and toggling between SSID-BT and SSID-TP, I was able to connect to Sonos on both SSIDs. Toggling to SSID-24 (the BT router) and the controller lost connection again. Toggling back to and between SSID-BT and SSID-TP everything was okay again. Toggling back to SSID-24 and the controller lost connection again.

There does appear to be some kind of interaction with the BT Hub. It's difficult to imagine why, unless the Hub's taking umbrage at the controller's discovery traffic after it flips over.

To be honest at this point I'd probably be considering a simple workaround, such as hanging an AP off the router and disabling the latter's WiFi.
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@Airgetlam Yes, I understand. I've already been in contact with Sonos support and sent other diagnostics previously but to no avail. I've had this issue many months but thought I would have another attempt at trying to find a fix.
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Looking through the forum at similar historic issues, it looks like moving between multiple APs can sometimes cause problems for the Sonos controller app. With only one AP, the problem obviously goes away. Would using a mesh help (the theory being the treatment of moving between APs would be more seamless)? Does anyone have any direct experience of using a mesh and moving between APs successfully with a Sonos controller app on the iphone?
The BT hubs are generally good but a few things....

Many automatically reboot after 14 days, not all but worthwhile rebooting the router regularly and as a first port of call if you have any network issues.

Firmware updates can cause issues and the hub can also go “weird”, factory resetting is probably the next best thing to try, you can backup your settings prior to doing so.

I have a BT Smarthb and use it with Apple access points and swap between APs without issue. I also have TP homeplugs... they work but need a weekly power cycle otherwise strange things happen.
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@Belly M Thanks for the reply. Yes, for this specific issue, I've tried restarting the BT router and the tp-link but neither makes a difference. The BT router is actually very stable and we've had no issues at all with it. It looks like it auto-updated the firmware 10 days ago and so I imagine it's on the latest version or thereabouts. Out of interest, what Apple APs are you using?
I use the Airport Time Capsule (4th Gen) and Airport Extreme (5th gen) they are all the "n" versions and look a bit like an old Mac Mini.

I would Factory reset the BT Hub, a pain I know but worthwhile, mine also updated around 10 days ago but needed a reboot as it did not pickup the BT DNS servers IP's.
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@Belly M I've now done a factory reset of the BT router. I also did a reset of the Sonos controller after that. Unfortunately, neither has made a difference and the issue still exists.
Another experiment for you to try:
  • wire the BT Mini Hotspot directly to the router (ignore the powerline bit)
  • flip your phone between the TP-Link's SSID-TP and the Mini's SSID-BT
I just read through again, and ratty is probably the person to come up with a solution (no pressure 😂)

a couple more...

Try in iOS, Settings, General... at the bottom reset. Reset network settings.

I use the same SSID on 2.4 & 5 Ghz, yeah I know many people have issues not splitting.
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@ratty I tried to wire the BT Mini Hotspot directly to the router (and ignore the powerline side of it) but it didn't want to work like that and I just couldn't connect to it properly. So, I plugged it into a socket as a normal powerline extender. The TP-link was happy to be directly wired to the router (as in the previous test).

With this setup and toggling between SSID-BT and SSID-TP, I was able to connect to Sonos on both SSIDs. Toggling to SSID-24 (the BT router) and the controller lost connection again. Toggling back to and between SSID-BT and SSID-TP everything was okay again. Toggling back to SSID-24 and the controller lost connection again.
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@Belly M
Try in iOS, Settings, General... at the bottom reset. Reset network settings.

Yes, will do

I use the same SSID on 2.4 & 5 Ghz, yeah I know many people have issues not splitting.

Yes, we seem to need them split otherwise we have issues on the 3rd floor (guessing idevices trying to hang on or connect to the weak 5Ghz when there's a better 2.4Ghz but possibly swapping between for some reason).
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To be clear, when you moved downstairs you toggled the phone WiFi off/on and force-quit/restarted the controller, yet it still didn't connect?


Yes, that's right.

How do you normally reconnect to the system when you move downstairs? Something presumably causes it to reconnect. Reboot the phone? Or simply wait a while?


There seems to be a few different ways: go back to the original AP where Sonos connection was okay and it seems to reconnect straight away; or, stay near the router and wait for several minutes and the controller then usually eventually reconnects (this seems to work for either SSID - that is, if I stay on SSID-24 or swap to SSID-5 it usually doesn't connect straight away but after a few mins does); or, reboot the phone (as a last resort) although I don't usually do this so can't remember whether this works every time.

By the way, what's the model number of the TP-Link devices?


The adapter at the router end is a TL-PA4010 and the adapter on the third floor is a TL-WPA4220
What phone is it?

Unless it's a problem of stale cached addresses it seems as though something could be causing packet loss somewhere. Whenever a Bridge is involved alarm bells start to ring, as their power supplies can lose voltage with age. This would cause various connectivity symptoms.

In an attempt to isolate where things could be going wrong I suggest you temporarily:
  • wire the Play:1 in place of the Bridge
  • wire the TL-WPA4220 directly to the router in place of the TL-PA4010
  • change the TL-WPA4220's SSID to a unique value
Try deliberately switching the phone back and forth between the router's SSID and the TL-WPA4220's.
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What phone is it?


It's an iphone 7 but my daughter has the same issue on her iphone 8

In an attempt to isolate where things could be going wrong I suggest you temporarily:
  • wire the Play:1 in place of the Bridge
  • wire the TL-WPA4220 directly to the router in place of the TL-PA4010
  • change the TL-WPA4220's SSID to a unique value


Okay, made the suggested amendments as above.

Toggling between the SSIDs in the following order:

  1. TP-link SSIS (SSID-TP) connected to Sonos okay
  2. BT router (SSID-24) connected to Sonos okay
  3. BT router (SSID-5) connected to Sonos okay
  4. TP-link SSIS (SSID-TP) connected to Sonos okay
  5. BT router (SSID-24) did not connect to Sonos
  6. BT router (SSID-5) did not connect to Sonos
  7. BT router (SSID-24) did not connect to Sonos
  8. TP-link SSIS (SSID-TP) connected to Sonos okay
  9. BT router (SSID-24) did not connect to Sonos
  10. Left phone connected to SSID-24. After 5-10 mins, BT router (SSID-24) connected to Sonos okay
  11. BT router (SSID-5) connected to Sonos okay
  12. TP-link SSIS (SSID-TP) connected to Sonos okay
  13. BT router (SSID-24) did not connect to Sonos
  14. TP-link SSIS (SSID-TP) connected to Sonos okay
Well, that eliminated a few possible causes. So it's only when going from the TP-Link SSID to the BT box that the problem occurs. Presumably the phone has a successful internet connection and other apps work.

You should be able to poke around in the phone settings to find out its IP address. Does this change between the TP-Link SSID and the BT SSID?

By the way, are you using 'WiFi Assist' on the iPhones? If so, try turning it off.