Wireless in older homes

  • 16 February 2009
  • 14 replies

Userlevel 2
Hi, anyone have experience in using the Sonos wireless system in older homes. While from a size perspective, ours should be easy to wire, we think the wire mesh in the old walls interferes with wireless transit. This is what happens to out airport express system, so rooms that are 15 feet (as the crow flies), but through 4 walls have very spotty music streaming. Will the sonus have similar problems, or is there something different about the wireless mesh network that it uses?


14 replies

Basically, it will have the same range problems as regular wlan. However, because Sonos uses a distributed "mesh", the only significant distance is the one to the nearest player. So there is no central "master", as long as a Zoneplayer can reach any single other ZP, it will be a functioning part of the mesh network.

So if you put Sonos in every room, it will work better than when you only have two in distant rooms.
Userlevel 2
The difference with an ordinary wireless network is, that each zoneplayer acts as a relay. So generally the signal has to travel less distance. If this is the case in your setup depends on where you will put your zoneplayers. You can also use Zonebridges for better coverage.

However it uses the same technology as WiFi, so the walls can be a problem. You can of course try and leave the option of wiring open for when you´re not stisfied with the result.


Userlevel 2
ONe thing to consider is the type of file you are streaming. If you stream mp3 files you might be ok but if you stream wav files the bit rate is much higher and you might have a bit of a problem. The best advice I can give you is to set up the system wirelessly and see how well it works. You might find you only need to wire a few zone players as opposed wiring them all.

I live in a 350 year old house with a chimney in the middle of it that is thick enough to use as a missile silo. This has caused me some problems with music dropping out, but they haven;t been insurmountable. It may be that you will need to play about a bit with e.g. the placing of the ZPs (they can be better off on a reasonably high shelf, than on the floor in a camphor-wood box, for example).

Sonos has, I believe, tried to address this with a more robust wireless mesh in the new generation of ZPs (I have no experience of these, but the feedback on these boards seems positive), and the development of a Zonebridge (essentially a wireless relay that retails at a substantially cheaper rate than a Zoneplayer).

Also, Sonos has on-line and phone-support that easily surpasses any other customer service offering I have ever come across.

Ultimately, you also have the option of a no-quibbles 30 day refund.

Userlevel 2
I have a 1932 home with lath and plaster walls. I've been battling the wireless signal issues since I moved in. I jumped into the Sonos late last year and have a Bridge and Zone Player. After playing around for a month I simply pulled an ethernet cord from the Bridge (which is hardwired to my cable modem) to the Zone Player. Got nice and dirty in the old crawlspace.
I use an iPhone to wirelessly run the system and it rocks - no problem since the hardwiring. I've streamed Mp3, Music services, Internet Radio - the whole shebang. I agree that a few more units would probably make the wireless network function fully, but I didn't want to outlay that much cash right now - maybe some time later. The system if wireless between my iMac and the bridge (as the signal is strong enough there).🆒
Userlevel 1
Mine is a terraced house over three floors and built in 1870 so reasonably thick walls. The only time I had a problem was when I had no box on the middle floor, but even then by careful placement I could get it to work. The problem there is that the wireless transmission is optimised for horizontal and not so good vertically.

I have exploited the SonosNet by attaching my standard Wireless-G access point to a zone player on the middle floor which then gives good coverage up and down.
Userlevel 4
Badge +2
My in-laws live in a Victorian home that's pushing 200yrs old. I thought it would be an issue with reception between rooms and, initially, it was.

A quick change of channel though and it's been perfect ever since.
Userlevel 2
I'm having big trouble...
I have quite a large house of which half is about 50 years old, and about 20 years old in other other half.
I have 8 zone players and have added 2 zone bridges and I'm still having issues with signal drop out. It seems to happen that when I'm walking about in the kitchen, the kitchen zone drops out. If I'm sat still it seems ok. I have the zone player on a shelf surrounded by mdf cabinet, I really can't move it to another location easily. It was working absolutely fine until I added the most recent 2 zones, since then my problems have got much worse! Any ideas why this might be? I have a couple of questions also... Can I link the 2 zones upstairs with an ethernet cable, will they still work wirelessly with the rest of the system?
Could it be my router that's the problem, it's a Belken wireless G router.
Thanks for any help, Graham
grdrums, I had just such problems with a kitchen ZP. Moving around nearby would exacerbate the dropouts. It was either interference or the SonosNet mesh readjusting itself. In the end I went for Devolo HS HomePlug adapters to connect that ZP and all is now well. You should be able to use any combination of wired and wireless Sonos nodes.

Hope that helps.

I would recommend you contact our Sonos technical support organization. We can take a look at your current topology and try and understand what options may be available to you to stabilize your environment.

Our contact options are available at http://www.sonos.com/support/contact

Regards, Todd
Userlevel 2
Thanks for the replies! What's a Devolo Home Plug? what does it do and how does it work? Thanks Graham
What's a Devolo Home Plug? what does it do and how does it work?
It bridges Ethernet over the domestic mains wiring. Uses the 4-21 MHz band. See http://www.devolo.co.uk/uk_EN/produkte/dLAN/mldlanhsstarterkit.html

Note, this kind of thing is not officially supported. Given the right conditions it works well. The usual caveats about not forming network loops with multiply-wired Zone Players/Bridges apply. As far as I can see Devolo appears to function like a distributed switch, and passes the bridge protocol frames that Sonos needs to avoid loops.

From your description, the kitchen unit is in a "dark" spot, the focus of lots of multipath reflections, or there is a local wireless interference source. Through the use of very useful diagnostic reports from the ZonePlayers, SONOS support can help diagnose the issue.

SONOS supports any combination of wired and wireless. In this context any SONOS units connected by ethernet over power line are "wired".

Have you changed the RF channel? Make sure that your WiFi and SONOS use separate channels.


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