Tips: Running Sonos wired and wireless in a pure Unifi (Ubiquiti) network environment

  • 20 September 2018
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Background:

I live in 4 floor concrete house a wifi dead zone. I run a full Unifi setup with one access point per floor(AC-PROs). I have Sonos in 4 rooms. With all 4 rooms wireless I had a few issues. I was suffering with dropouts, rooms would disappear. It sucked.

So I hardwired a speaker. Stability improved massively. No more missing rooms some dropouts. However, I noticed that all of my Sonos speakers were connecting to the network via the single speaker which was sub optimal.

So next I wired up a few more speakers but they refused to connect over the wired cable preferring to mesh with their buddy. So after much gnashing of teeth and lots of pawing through community pages I did some tweaking on the spanning tree settings. Below are some tips for running a mixed wired and wireless setup.

My Network Topology:

A) Service provider fibre modem -> USG -> US-8-150W -> Sonos One {hardwired}
😎 Service provider fibre modem -> USG -> US-8-150W -> US-8-150W -> Sonos One (or Sonos Beam) {hardwired}

Configuration tips for Unifi and Sonos:

- Unifi Access Point settings
- Multi-AP environment settings
---> Transmit power 'medium' or (better) 'low' never 'high' and not 'auto'(auto sets high by default)

- Switch settings
--> Services
---> Spanning Tree set to 'STP' not 'RSTP'
---> Priority '4096'

What the settings above do:

Switches - Without getting into spanning tree. Changing the switch settings on the managed switch means that a wired Sonos device will connect via the wired connection then if it can't it will connect wirelessly via an access point or via Sonos mesh(through a visible wired Sonos device).

APs - Access points have powerful radios(loud voices). Most devices using Wifi don't(quiet voices). By dropping Transmit power down to 'low' or 'medium' it means that a wireless device will (most of the time) chose the closest Access Point. This prevents the following scenario: a Sonos speaker(quiet voice) on the second floor hearing and connecting to a basement AP(loud voice) but not having the power to broadcast to the basement AP.

9 replies

Try a search on Ubiquity or STP (spanning tree protocol) here or use an external search engine if the forum's search is failing. There has been a good bit of troubleshooting done on setups like yours and the solutions should work for you too.

Thanks Stanley, most of the issues are addressed by playing with STP settings on the switch, as my switches aren’t managed I don’t have the ability to change those settings.

I did change a setting on the UniFi to allow the controller to be discoverable on L2 networks and touch wood it seems to have been more stable since.
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Try a search on Ubiquity or STP (spanning tree protocol) here or use an external search engine if the forum's search is failing. There has been a good bit of troubleshooting done on setups like yours and the solutions should work for you too.
Hi all,

I need some help please.

Ive got a UniFi WiFi network, Sonos and a couple of connected switches.

Sonos setup the older Sonos amp which is hardwired due to having two non-Sonos surround speakers in the ceiling, the other Sonos devices I assume are using SonosNet as they are not hard wired and you cannot run Sonos on WiFi when you have the old amp involved for surround speakers. Other devices are a couple of Play 1, Play 3, sound bar and sub.

The switches I have are not managed/smart.

The issue I’m having is pretty constant broadcast storms causing the network to grind to a halt.

Im really not sure how to go about fixing this without investing in managed switches or the newer Sonos amp (which means I can run everything on the WiFi).

Suggestions welcome!
If any of the players have a Ethernet connection, SonosNet will be used.
How have you moved the system completely over to standard wifi from SonosNet. Sorry, new here, and have been doing a ton of reading, but it seems that there is always some level of "sonosnet" magic going on...
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After running my sonos with Sonosnet for months/years, meddling the STP tree of both unifi and sonos, I have now tested moving my entire sonos system into standard wifi.
This decision was driven by the fact that I have a number of devices communicating on 2.4GHz along with wifi, zigbee, BT and other more low power proprietary protocols (also neighbors) which were having a hard time finding room on the spectrum. A spectrum analyzer scan showed me that sonosnet was generating an enormous amount of noise and was completely saturating the channel (40MHz width) both in terms of hit frequency and amplitude it was assigned to, especially when playing. This generated a huge amount of RF power... much more than most wifi routers running broader channel widths and even 4x4 routers at max power and is a health concern.

The side effect of doing this is that I no longer have to deal with the sonos STP and was able to switch all my unifi RSTP. RSTP priority is the problem with sonos as the priority coding is completely different from STP and the sonos don't dynamically convert their priority number.
Another side effect of doing this has been the elimination of my amcrest camera problems: My amcrest wired cameras used to intermittently crash their ethernet interface forcing me to reboot them. I am sure this is a problem between amcrest and unifi as I have other brand's camera not having this problem and various updates to unifi firmwares have made differences in this behavior. Long story short, this problem has been eliminated.

Not having the mesh has not appear to so far impacted the performance of my sonos setup (15 speakers) as I do not have wifi coverage issues. I have actually now bridged a number of them through ethernet to wireless bridges so fewer of them use their onboard wifi and the overall 2.4GHz spectrum is significantly cleaner.
I have also tested the RF pollution coming out of the speakers and the level has been cut to about half. (makes sense since they no longer have to mesh... They only communicate with the wifi AP and don't need to retransmit to other speakers).
On the other hand, the freed spectrum has enabled all my smart home devices to be a lot happier, and overall the house is consuming less power.

Now the question: The sonos speakers still generate a lot more EMF than my unifi AC HD running full power. Granted it is no longer 2-3X, more like 1.2-1.5x. I can see that the signal strength from the sonos speakers are also way up there and therefore negatively affecting the performance of my wifi network. (though it is much better than sonosnet). Is there any way to modulate the transmit power of the speakers? Probably a feature request?

For reference:
https://metis.fi/en/2017/10/txpower/
https://www.smallnetbuilder.com/basics/wireless-basics/32228-an-experiment-in-wireless-power-and-range
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Thanks for recommendations. Had been exploring RF scan with other devices, but ill give it a shot using APs. Wise advice on channels.

I like the secure VLAN idea for Sonos, No actual work yet, but exploring putting all ER traffic behind VPN, in my case PIA:

https://medium.com/@mbmccormick/put-your-home-network-behind-a-vpn-using-private-internet-access-and-an-edgerouter-x-741c84a44e42

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9dXiKhDVl0

Thx
- CK
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Congratulations. Unifi and Sonos is awesome. I love my setup. I need to update this post I left a few things out. Good point on the downstream switch priority. As you state that needs to be set to 8192. Yep no RSTP support.

Can I recommend two things to you? Do an RF scan using the AP. Then set the AP channels manually not auto based on what's not in use. Also try and stick with non-DFS channels for both 2.4 and 5 ghz

I'll add in some stuff on putting your SONOS on secure VLANs later as well.
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Did some vetting with Sonos Support today on new network design. To be clear, I'm a hobbyist in this regard and have a design approach now, but this will need validation on set-up. Grateful for any comments, particularly if design may be or is broken.

Ubiquiti environment will look like following link except there will be two POE (US8-150W) serial switches after EdgeRouter X (ERX) on port 4 to allow multiple UAP-AC-IW/LR/PRO:

https://github.com/mjp66/Ubiquiti/blob/master/Ubiquiti%20Project%20Brochure.pdf
Reference: https://github.com/mjp66/Ubiquiti/blob/master/Ubiquiti%20Home%20Network.pdf

Sonos implementation:

Connect one Sonos Player and one Sonos bridge to ERX port 3. Player needs hardwire ethernet internet connection and Sonos bridge expands Sonosnet based on Sonos Support advice.

Configure Sonos units using Sonosnet (not wireless network). Set/force Sonosnet to use one of 2.4GHz channels, other 2.4 GHz devices on remaining channels. Use 5GHz as much as possible on other devices that have 5GHz capability.

On the switches, disable RSTP, enable STP, first switch set at 4096, second serially attached switch at 8192. Sonos Support staff stated they are not aware that RSTP is supported

Kudos to all those who have posted or made these resources available.

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