What is the minimum internet speed for sonos?

  • 10 February 2017
  • 10 replies

I live in a rural area and the highest internet speed currently available is 1.5 Mps. Would really like to get Sonos but worried internet is too slow.

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10 replies

Thanks for the additional clarity, ratty, Kumar and John B!
Again there could well be differences in buffering strategy. One would also need to check that the native app was using the same bitrate settings as Sonos.

Sonos will try and obtain the best quality to start with. As it happens I think Spotify on Sonos will fall back to a lower bitrate if the top rate struggles.
What about trying on a iOS or Android phone/handheld?
Hard to say. The sustained rate requirement is the same either way, but a computer might be able to provide a lot more buffering than a Sonos player and hence be able to ride out larger perturbations.
There were certainly times when the actual available speed fell far short of 4Mbps. Every situation is different, of course. Although it would be an imperfect experiment, maybe the OP could just take a free trial to one of the streaming services and see how it performed on a computer? I'd be interested to know whether @ratty thinks that would be more likely to give a false positive or false negative for how it would be on Sonos, or if impossible to say.
4Mbps on the actual home connection ought to be more than sufficient for Spotify. Maybe their rural access scheme involved a nasty contention ratio somewhere which effectively choked their pipe at busy times.
Given that 1.5Mbps would be the maximum, with a fair bit of fluctuation, and given the overheads referred to by @ratty, I would be quite pessimistic about reliable streaming on Sonos in those circumstances. Friends in rural Devon with a maximum speed of 4Mbps found that Spotify was OK at low demand times but completely unusable when they actually wanted to listen to it. They still used Sonos for locally stored music. (They have now moved to a town, but that's a fairly drastic solution.)
What is more important is how much you get consistently without interruptions; this may be lower than the stated and perhaps nominal 1.5 Mbps. If the latter is what is actually available, a service like Apple Music ought to work quite well if that is all the usage at the time.
Qobuz (and Deezer Elite and TIDAL) stream lossless FLAC, which requires anywhere from around 0.7 to 1.5Mbps. Allow for protocol overhead plus traffic bursts and Sonos recommend 2.5Mbps per stream, plus an extra 2.5Mbps presumably to enable fast buffering at the start of play,

Other services have more modest requirements. Spotify and Google stream lossy at 320kbps, Apple at 256kbps. This is the content bitrate, so again scale up by a factor of 2-3 to allow for overhead and buffering bursts.

Radio stations vary widely, from 320kbps down about as far as your ears can tolerate. Basically a 1.5Mbps internet pipe should cope with one lossy stream okay, more streams for low bitrate radio, but won't work with lossless services.
It depends on what streams you're going to be listening to, or more precisely, where is your music coming from. If you're listening to music stored locally, the internet speed outside of your home has absolutely no effect, you'd be using your own wifi network, and not reaching across that 1.5 Mps.

Looking at the random FAQs for bandwidth usage, I note that the one for Qobuz (yea, never heard of them either) claims to be uncompressed streaming music at 320kpbs. That would be well under your 1.5Mps. I'd assume most streams would be the same, or even lower on their streaming usage. There's a post somewhere around in which jgatie or ratty have detailed information on the requirements, but it's not popping up easily in my search for the information. But as I said, you should be fine, unless you end up streaming 5 different streams simultaneously.