Wireless connection problems


Userlevel 2
I've been with SONOS for about 7 years now and have, like many of you, made a significant investment in kit and so now run a 6 zone house. I always had the occasional drop out but the frequency and the length of the drop outs has increased massively over the last few months - now the pleasure of music has all but left me, i listen to anything now in horrid anticipation of the point that the next drop out will occur. Its ruined one of the great pleasures of my life.

I've tried time and time again to deal with the UK support people and whilst helpful and patient they seem incapable of identifying the problem. I've moved most bits of kit in my house multiple times, i've shifted where by phones locate, i've changes channels countless times and nothing ever changes. I'm at my wits end.

I get a regular message (but not the only one) which says "Unable to play XXXXX - network connection speed insufficient to maintain playback buffer." yet I have a very fast home network and fibre connection to Virgin Media.

This weekend I even have had the radio drop out on me countless times, previously my problems have been limited to my NAS storage music library.

Before I start a very expensive bonfire in the street - has anyone some new advice?

Regards
AGKD

15 replies

AGKD,

Please describe your network for us. Include EVERYTHING on your network (computers, printers, TV's, Blu-ray, SONOS, Thermostats, etc.). What is wired? What is wireless? What model router are you using?

Start keeping a written log of events because you may discover an unexpected correlation with other events in the environment.
Userlevel 2
Thanks Buzz.
OK - 4 story house standard brick exterior walls and wood floors and walls.
top floor = VirginMedia Hub Router connected to 60Mps fibre internet connection which delivers phone and cable TV services to the house.
SONOS Zone bridge hard wired direct to Virgin router.
Next floor down one wireless connected ZP120 plus speakers.
Next floor down another ZP120 and speakers and a ZP90 delivering content to DAC/Power amp set up.
Last floor down another ZP90 optically feeding a pair of active AVI speakers plus a pair of linked Play:3's.

Other kit in the house: 1xiMac, 2xPowerbooks, iPad, smart phones.
One HP printer hard wired to ethernet switch which is inturn hardwired to the Virgin router.
2x LaCie NAS devices: one (5Tbyte RAID) holds all my music library (ripped 300 uncompressed classical CD's plus a tonne of 256 iTunes downloads), the other (3Tbyte) holds all Mac backups and other files.
4 Siemans Mobile handsets.
A base unit and two remote Devolo 500mps powerline (dLAN®️ 500 AV Wireless+) repeaters one hardwires the DVD and TV to the net, the other (wifi) unit strengthens signal to lower house and garden.

Here is what we have tried over the last 18 months:
1- Physically separated the phone base station from one of the ZP's - no effect.
2- Reorientated most of the mesh nodes (ZP's etc) - no effect
3- Moved the Zone Bridge some metres away from the Virgin wifi router and now directly over the ZP player on the floor below - no effect.
4- submitted system diagnostic (on many many occasions) to SONOS support - the only thing that did have an effect for a few months was that one of these diagnostics showed that rather than the mesh network sharing the distribution of the streaming data almost all of the traffic was routing through a single node (Sitting Room), the analyst spotted this in some matrix he was looking at and he made some changes (after taking over my machine at home) and after running new diagnostic he told me the distribution was much better balanced. this dis have a positive effect which lasted a few months but now worse than ever.
5- We've checked channels on all other devices in the house and have swapped between 1, 6 and 11 on countless occasions.

It is impractical (and unsurprisingly this was one of the key reasons I started down this sorry SONOS path) for me to physically connect more than the Zone bridge to the home network. I can connect other ZP's to to dLan Devolo power line adapter but the support people say this wont work - I dont know why?

I'm lothered to buy any more kit until i feel we have found the source of the problem but no seems to be able to tell me what that is? Surely the message "network connection speed insufficient to maintain playback buffer" means something?
Although this is not the only error that occurs, I often just get the sound dropping out yet the time counter on the track that is being played keeps going and no error message. I also get "xyz not found" when its obviously there because when you try it again you find the track. Other messages include: "xyz not encoded correctly" when it played perfectly the day before and perfectly the day later.

It just drives me mad.

I'm thinking the whole gig is a massive con and the business model is designed to hook you into their set-up then forget about the fact that the platform just does not do what they advertise - AND CONTINUE TO ADVERTISE that it does do. IT DOES NOT.

Your help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

regards
AD
AGKD,

You'll see I've moved your posts to their own thread.

Can you please do the following:
- go to About My Sonos System in any controller
- note the IP address of one of your Players (not the Bridge)
- point a browser to http://x.x.x.x:1400/support/review, substituting your Player's IP for x.x.x.x
- click on Network Matrix
- take a screen grab and blank out the MAC addresses (00:0E:58:xx:xx:xx)
- upload it somewhere and post the link
Userlevel 2
https://www.dropbox.com/s/8nc5frn9va23dze/Screen%20Shot%202013-06-10%20at%2014.38.14.png

done when nothing was playing anywhere.......
You might want to blank out the MAC addresses in the screen grab, for privacy reasons.

The ZoneBridge signal to Family Room is a bit close to the edge, as is that for Garden (L). Garden (R) is apparently seeing a lot of ambient RF noise from somewhere or other. It's chosen to connect with a good signal to Dining Room, so the traffic between the Garden bonded pair has a bit of a roundabout route: Garden (L) - ZoneBridge - Dining Room - Garden (R).

Which zones are the problem areas?

I know you've tried different wireless channels, but have you also done a survey of neighbours' channel usage with inSSIDer?

If your wireless conditions are really difficult then the Devolo powerline adapters could help. Yes, they're officially unsupported but I've used the old 85Mbps models from time to time with mostly decent results. The 500Mbps jobs ought to give good service, so long as you keep an eye on their data connection rate using the Devolo supplied PC tools.

There have been enough stories about the Virgin SuperHub to leave a suspicion that your problems may not be entirely wireless related. If you have another router to use instead -- putting the SH into 'modem mode' -- then it would be worth a try,
Userlevel 2
Now thats really interesting.
I don't have single problem zones, when the drop out occurs it happens across all zones. I've tested this a number of times in combinations and in "Party - All Zones" mode, when it drops it drops in all zones and at the same time, now I've told SONOS support this a number of times but to me it tells me that it isn't about signal strength at the mesh nodes its about overall delivery to the SONOS world - hence my regular error message of "network connection speed insufficient to maintain playback buffer" - i don't know exactly what that means.
Although I had problems with an older router too, the frequency of problems has increased with the Virgin SuperHub.

Instead of having the initial ZoneBridge ethernet connected direct to the router - do you know how would I configure things so I can try having the ZB connected via the Devolo 500mps in a more central location?

a most helpful discussion.
thanks a million
rgds
AD
In 'Party Mode' (or any other zone grouping for that matter) one Player pulls the stream and sends it to the others. As a result (a) if the 'coordinator' Player has a dodgy connection then it will struggle and (b) all the group is likely to fail at once.

Stepping back a moment, what music sources give you grief? Temporarily wire the NAS which hosts your music library to the Bridge's second port and see if that behaves itself, and on which Players. If that works okay then connect the NAS to the router.

If Internet sources are the problem, then maybe it's those services or the VM network which is the problem.

As for placing your ZoneBridge more centrally, all you'd need do is wire it to another Devolo adapter. There's already one hung off the router, serving the one at the TV. Yes, this connection wouldn't be 'officially supported' but it would be worth a try.

BTW, your SuperHub is I trust configured not to use 'wide' (40MHz) channels and is set to a channel clear of Sonos.
Userlevel 2
My main music library is on a 5terabyte LaCie RAID NAS, I've also set up a small share on a secondary and newer NAS just to see if the drop outs happen on both - they do. I'm also getting drop outs on internet radio now, a new development.

I'll try the NAS wired to the second port on the ZB tomorrow.

Yes we've checked the VM Hub for both those issues.

Do you do this support out of interest or does SONOS pay you for it, as your help is greatly appreciated!
Along with the other regulars here we moderators are enthusiasts/volunteers.
If you are getting the drop outs on more than the local network.... it's possible the VM router could be contributing....

If you have access to another router, it might be good to use it for the internal network traffic, with the uplink port connected to the VM. It might give you better control over the wifi channels, and options. With the VM one disabled, I would be curious to see if you can do the internal streaming without drops.... (no radio to try in that test of course)
Userlevel 2
Wow - well thats bloody good of you mate! Really appreciate it.

Now - if you are still there. I've done quite a few things since my last post.
1- I've consolidated my music library into only 2 shares on the same NAS, my laCie Big 5 RAID. then updated the libraries.
2- Instead of that being connected to the ethernet via the Virgin Super Hub, I did as you suggested and plugged straight into the second ethernet port on the SONOS bridge.
3- I changed the location of the Bridge back to its original position in the house.
4- I rebooted everything a couple of times (but I'd been doing that quite frequently since these problems became unmanageable)

Results, well remarkable really. I've built day long queues of uncompressed classical and itunes downloads and played the system all over the house and room by room for 3 days and until this morning only one drop out - thats friggin extraordinary so we must have done something right!

Until this morning, where I started getting drop outs with the usual error message, i.e. "Unable to play 'Cups' - network connection speed insufficient to maintain playback buffer."

First time I did nothing and repeated the track, same again but at a different point.
So, I rebooted just the virgin router - no difference, still dropout again at a different point and same message.
So, next time I rebooted the SONOS bridge - and it seems to have settled down.

Do you know what that message "Unable to play 'Cups' - network connection speed insufficient to maintain playback buffer." actually means?

What do you make of the above?

I tell you one thing - its immensely frustrating to have had to deal with SONOS support and tried dozens of things before we made any progress on this and all that came from your advice not theirs!

Best regards
AD
The "network connection speed insufficient to maintain playback buffer" message means just that. Something is interfering with network comms and the Player has run dry of audio data, hence the dropout.

There can be various causes, including Internet congestion when playing online sources. On the local network the culprit could be wireless signal strength and/or interference, but also potentially a duplicated IP address.

You said you rebooted just the SuperHub. If you don't reserve fixed IP addresses in it for key components like Sonos you've now raised the possibility of IP duplications. In the absence of such reservations, when they're rebooted home routers usually forget which IP they've given to which device. Sooner or later a new device comes along, requests an IP and is blindly assigned one that's already in use. Result: traffic confusion.

If you don't reserve IP addresses then you should now go around turning everything on the whole network off and on again, to ensure that all devices get fresh, unique addresses.

The fact that restarting just the Bridge apparently resolved things may simply be because it picked up a fresh IP address.

However it also makes me wonder whether that Bridge -- or more possibly its power supply -- actually has a problem. There has been a tendency for some Bridge PSUs to lose voltage, causing intermittent communication problems. Under such circumstance a Bridge reboot can cure things for a time.

If you're handy with a voltmeter, unplug the Bridge PSU from the Bridge and measure its DC voltage. Be careful not to short it out if when you stick a probe into the end of the plug. It should put out about 5.1V DC.
Userlevel 2
the soup thickens.....

there is one thing that I'm increasingly sure of which is that none of this is related to the locations and orientations of the various SONOS mesh nodes in the house - which is what SONOS support seem to have focussed on. Changing them around did little to solve problems historically and these latter experiences suggest a problem at the core kit not once things start transmitting around the house.

I don't have a voltmeter but thats a fascinating thought.

Is it easy to assign fixed IP addresses? Advisable?
Userlevel 2
heres another thought.
to test the PSU of the zone bridge, why dont i take one of the Zone players in the house and set it up as the zone bridge and see if that cures things.... that would work wouldn't it?
I don't have a voltmeter but thats a fascinating thought.
Simple digital multimeters are not expensive. Or perhaps you could borrow one.

I'm reluctant to suggest trying a different PSU unless/until the current one is proved faulty, but in theory a PSU of the same nominal voltage/current should do the job.

Is it easy to assign fixed IP addresses? Advisable?
How easy depends on your router's configuration.

Advisable? Yes. Essential? No.

Duplicated IP situations -- which a router reboot could easily cause -- should work they're way out of the system eventually, usually within 24 hours. In the meantime however a lot of hair pulling goes on, which IP reservation should avoid.

Why do IP dupes affect Sonos and not regular web surfing? Actually they do affect everything, including web access. It's just that with the latter things go a bit slow and maybe you have to hit browser refresh a few times. With Sonos, which depends on local communications for transmission of time-critical music data, it's easily fatal. The music stops.

heres another thought.
to test the PSU of the zone bridge, why dont i take one of the Zone players in the house and set it up as the zone bridge and see if that cures things.... that would work wouldn't it?

You could try it. However the Bridge is currently the spanning tree root bridge. In its absence the wireless topology will be quite different, as the remaining units will elect a new root: the one with the lowest MAC address (which in Sonos terms more or less equates to the serial number).

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