Question

Will connecting a surround speaker to ethernet fix the drop out issue?

  • 19 February 2018
  • 14 replies
  • 1089 views

Userlevel 2
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I have had a lot of issues with my surrounds and/or sub dropping off my Playbar system. They come back after a minute or so. The system is in my office, and due to the configuration, I cannot avoid having the left rear surround right next to my router. I have a feeling that is causing interference that is causing it to drop (not sure about the sub issue, though...). Would connecting this speaker directly to the router help prevent the surrounds from dropping? I understand this creates a SonosNet 2.4GHz network, but I also thought that the Playbar communicated to the rear surrounds and sub via a point to point 5GHz connection. I'm trying to figure out if connecting the system in this way will make any difference.

Yes, I can and will just try it out and see if it helps. But I usually have only one or two issues a day, and may not be in the room when it happens. I'm mostly looking for some technical insight to understand if this is likely to have any effect. The Playbar with sub and surrounds is the only Sonos equipment I have in the house.

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14 replies

Having a surround speaker as the wired component is not recommended, because of the way in which surrounds connect, as you have described. Is there any way you could Ethernet the Playbar, even experimentally?
Userlevel 2
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Not easily. I don't mind getting a wireless bridge, but if the dropout is related to the 5Ghz connection, I don't want to bother.

I did note that the sub and surrounds are showing as W0 (connected to Boost) instead of W2 (bonded). Not sure if that is expected or desired. Can't hear anything wrong listening to music, but not sure if that will negatively impact surround syncing. All the surround settings look fine in the app.
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Well after about 10 minutes the surrounds and sub dropped off 🙂 So clearly connecting to the router is not going to help. Still interested if anyone else has technical insight on using SonosNet with a surround system or the issue I'm experiencing.

I guess next I'll try to get enough slack in my Ethernet cables to move my router behind my monitors and (close to) a meter away from the Play:1.
I assume what you have just described is with a surround wired. WM:2 indicates bonding in a standard (wifi) setup. In Boost mode the surrounds should show WM:0.

I suggest you submit a diagnostic just after a dropout and post the number back here.
Userlevel 2
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Will do. Tried that once before but didn't get any response. I'm back on Wi-Fi now but I can go back to Boost using the Play:1 if anyone thinks it will make a difference. Thanks for the responses, John!
Userlevel 7
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Hey there, Tiger519. Thanks for posting and welcome to the Community. While experiencing the dropouts, would you mind submitting a diagnostic report and replying with the seven-digit confirmation number it gives at the end? This will help us to get a better idea of the cause of the dropouts and how data is being routed along to Sonos.

Thanks!
Userlevel 2
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Keith, just had a drop, though this was different than the normal ones. Diagnostic number 1201607705. The Playbar itself completely dropped (usually it's just the rear surrounds and subs). When I first checked the network matrix OFDM ANI went from 0 (usual) to 9 on the rear surrounds. After I generated the report RR had gone back to 0 but the LR is still at 5. Hadn't seen any of them above 0 since I started monitoring yesterday.

Usually the drop happens when I'm just listening. I was using a remote to raise the volume level when it dropped this time, though I imagine that was more coincidence than causal.
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@Keith N, Have you had a chance to look at the diagnostics? In the meantime, I was able to set up an old BRIDGE (not Boost) my father-in-law had. Still have a really high OFDM ANI on the Playbar, it didn't seem to affect that at all. I previously had the LR surround connected to Ethernet, which I understand emulates BOOST functionality. Could you please comment on if the BRIDGE is preferred? It was mentioned that connecting one of the satellites to ethernet was not advised, but would like an official recommendation on that. Also, when I had the dropout I was on Channel 9. I since changed to Channel 11 and put the BRIDGE on 6, though 9 is empty and 6/11 are sparse here, so I doubt that was the cause of the issue.

Diagnostic number from the total dropout (all wifi connected): 1201607705
Diagnostic number from the BRIDGE setup (not currently having issues): 1312336717

Can set up using Boost on the LR surround speaker if you think that is a preferable solution to the BRIDGE.
Userlevel 7
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Hey there, Tiger519. Thanks for the diagnostic report. I was able to take a look and while the BOOST configuration may give you a better experience, there are still a few things to address regarding your setup specifically. For instance, the BOOST is experiencing a large amount of physical electronic interference. Since the BOOST acts as your main communication link for the rest of your Sonos system, it is important that this device be able to broadcast with the least amount of interference. Normally, physical electronic interference is created from other nearby devices like electrical appliances or amplifiers. Could you describe the immediate physical area around the BOOST? The "cleaner" we can get the signal from the BOOST, the more robust Sonos will in turn be. Thanks!

For more information, check out this helpful article which explains the benefits of a Boost configuration.

Additionally, if you'd like to troubleshoot in real time I would recommend giving our support technicians a call. They are able to set up a remote session to get a closer look at connectivity on the network.
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Keith, to be clear, this is a BRIDGE, not a BOOST. The bridge is connected to my router, probably about 3ft physically removed from it. The router is on my desk, and I have a cabinet under the desk where the BRIDGE is, along with several other devices: UVerse modem, NAS (hardwired), laptop, Raspberry Pi, a battery backup unit, and a Kevo bridge (hardwired but communicating to my door locks via Bluetooth). The LR surround speaker is right over the cabinet (and about 2-3 feet from the router).

If you take a look at the first diagnostic number (without the Bridge in place), I'm still getting a ton of interference on the Playbar, which is 15ft away from the router and cabinet (but in the same room). The only devices by the Playbar are the non-internet-connected TV and an AppleTV. The subwoofer is in the corner by the Playbar, about 8 ft away and the surrounds are ~20ft away.

Would there be any benefit to connecting the LR surround speaker to Ethernet (to get a BOOST setup) instead of the bridge? It would be almost in the same position as the BRIDGE. I didn't actually look at any diagnostics when I had it set up that way; I changed it back because I still experienced a drop while in that configuration.

Lastly, I know all of this is focusing on the 2.4GHz network (either SonosNet or my wifi network without a BRIDGE/BOOST in place). I have a suspicion that the issue is between the Playbar and the surrounds/sub, as usually I don't lose connection to the Playbar, I just get those other components dropping for anywhere from a minute to 5+ minutes (or sometimes even needing to power cycle the Playbar). Not sure if there is anything else I should be looking at from that perspective. My router is operating on channel 48 for 5GHz signal.
Userlevel 7
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Apologies, these naming conventions can get a bit confusing (using a BRIDGE for a BOOST configuration... :P)

The router is on my desk, and I have a cabinet under the desk where the BRIDGE is, along with several other devices: UVerse modem, NAS (hardwired), laptop, Raspberry Pi, a battery backup unit, and a Kevo bridge (hardwired but communicating to my door locks via Bluetooth). The LR surround speaker is right over the cabinet (and about 2-3 feet from the router).
Precisely my point. When connected via BRIDGE, the issue becomes the immediate physical surroundings. Putting all of those devices in a cabinet is akin to trying to have a phone conversation in an elevator with 5-6 other conversations happening. Most smart home devices are point-to-point and rarely rely on syncing audio playback at multiple locations. This is why Sonos can seem a bit pickier in regards to interference and it's surroundings. Note, the problem is not wireless broadcasting interference, but rather physical electronic interference. This is created when the BRIDGE (or any Sonos player) is near/on top of other electronic appliances like amplifiers or large power supplies.

When the BRIDGE is removed from the equation, the PLAYBAR is experiencing a different type of interference. This is caused by a fluctuating noise floor. Imagine having a conversation with another person and the ambient sound level (noise floor) fluctuates 4-5 dBm approximately every 30 seconds. In this case, moving to a BOOST configuration would be ideal. However, as I earlier stated, that alone will not solve the problem. You will also need to address the physical electronic interference issue.

As others have advised, it's not ideal to wire in a surround if at all possible. It's certainly possible and we have done that for testing purposes. However, it isn't the best use case. Essentially any signal being sent to Sonos would be sent to the (wired) surround speaker, then over 2.4GHz wireless to the PLAYBAR and back (over 5GHz wireless, this time) to the surround speaker.

Ultimately, I think the best solution here is to switch to a BOOST configuration (using the BRIDGE) and address those physical errors by moving the BRIDGE out of the cabinet with all the other electronic gear. Perhaps down the road, after moving the BRIDGE, you may want to replace that with a speaker that isn't bonded to the PLAYBAR as a surround speaker (the biggest "problem" with connecting a surround speaker to the router) and can act as a main hub point for the entire Sonos system.

Hope you find this helpful!
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Thanks, Keith. I appreciate your replies and the clarification on the nature of the interference. I'm still trying to put all of the pieces together, and will probably make a call to your support technicians, but I have a few more questions if that's ok. When you mentioned physical electronic interference, I realized that even though I don't have a smart TV, the PLAYBAR sitting right in front of it could be causing the issue. But then I checked the phyerr reading (I assume that's the relevant metric) and with the bridge in place that is MUCH lower without changing anything else. But the high phyerr rate (1000) now sits with the BRIDGE. I'm confused as to why that would be. I would think the same interference would be present regardless of if it's SonosNet or my home wifi.

If I am unable to move the BRIDGE, it almost seems like I should go back to wifi. The noise floor doesn't seem to fluctuate more than 1db per minute and I'm getting really good readings (and was before the BRIDGE) of -100db or better. But I've already experienced daily drop outs with that setup, so the numbers alone aren't telling the whole story. I guess I'll listen to the system a few days with the BRIDGE and see if the drops stop (if phyerr on the PLAYBAR is indeed causing the surrounds and sub to drop, then the reduced values with the BRIDGE may be just what I need).
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Well scratch that comment about lower phyerr on the PLAYBAR. Back up averaging around 900 when I checked first thing this morning. Being consistently low for 30 minutes I can't imagine it's random variation. There must be something else at work. As for the BRIDGE, it's much worse this morning too, averaging around 2600. If I can't reduce the interference on the BRIDGE, should I drop it? I have a router satellite (using Orbi system) in the dining room that, if I can use an extension cord or something, I can plug the BRIDGE into and see if that makes a difference, but I don't think that will resolve the phyerr on the PLAYBAR if that's related simply to physical electrical interference. But I'm confused, because overnight the TV was not on, and the only other electrical device in the vicinity is the AppleTV (which was there and on even during the prolonged period of low phyerr).
Userlevel 7
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Hi, Tiger519. Thanks for following up on this. The difference in PHYERR's can be caused both by proximity to other devices and also WiFi related interference. Adopting a BRIDGE setup changes the operating channel of the Sonos system, which is undoubtedly the cause for this interference having shifted. I think it'd be best to get in contact with our phone support team. It seems a lot of troubleshooting has been undertaken already and we are keen to get you up-and-running as soon as possible.