Wireless Issues - What to Do?

  • 15 September 2013
  • 47 replies
  • 8219 views

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So I've been a happy Sonos owner as of about 3 months ago when I purchased a Connect:Amp and Bridge. Everything has worked fine without any connectivity issues. Then at the beginning of August I purchased a Play:5 for the garage (brewery, furniture refinishing, car parking). With the one speaker everything seemed to be working just fine. Then I added a second Play:5 and that's where things got interesting.

I created a stereo pair and things seemed to be working fine. But then the right speaker kept dropping out. I went through the reset-to-fix path, checked the wireless channels on my router vs the Sonos, etc. Nothing seemed to fix the problem, and the Bridge was just on the other side of the wall inside the house.

So I made an assumption that the new Play:5 was defective, returned it to Amazon, and they sent me another one. At that point I had the pair sitting on my keezer (kegerator/freezer) and everything was working just fine. But yesterday I finally got to mountig the speakers up on the wall in the garage, and after just a few minutes the right speaker started dropping out again.

No matter what I tried I couldn't get the wireless setup to work. So as a last ditch effort I grabbed a network cable and connected it between just the pair of speakers and to my surprise that seems to have fixed the issue!

So does this even make sense? It seems the left speaker never has wireless problems, and I'm assuming that now it's switch is acting as a source to the right speaker, with the right speaker giving preference to the wired connection over its sketchy wireless connection?

Juist wondering if anyone has seen anything like this before? I'm a little bummed about having a network cable hanging across the wall in our newly remodeled garage, but at least it seems to be working fine this way.

47 replies

Userlevel 2
NOTE: All of my Sonos devices has reserved IP addresses on my network, so it's definitely not an address conflict as has been suggested in another Play:5 thread.
mrjofus1959,

When in diagnostic mode I will never say that "it must be [...]" or "cannot be [...]", else I could easily be blind sided. A while back I changed routers, reset everything, reserved all of the IP addresses, and everything was fine -- for a while. Some days later it seemed that an aging NAS was failing because it would drop from the network, possibly while a track was playing. I'm too smart to be victimized by a duplicate IP address, right? I was spinning my wheels trying to diagnose the thing, but I finally swallowed my pride and checked for duplicate IP addresses, bingo! I had forgotten about a tiny little device hidden away, the only device on my network using a fixed IP address. During the reconfiguration I had moved the DHCP range, which now included the fixed device. It was only a matter of time before the little guy came online and conflicted with something, in my case it was the NAS.

I do follow the probabilities. My first failure hypothesis will not be the 0.1% case.

In your case a duplicate IP address will not be at the top of my list. Most likely you have a wireless range or interference issue. Start by investigating RF channels. Your WiFi should use channel 1, 6, or 11, avoid "20MHz" or "Wide" channels and use a different channel from the SONOS system. Changing the SONOS channel might help.

If you don't mind getting your hands dirty, investigate the Network Matrix at the bottom of the diagnostic report found at http://[x.x.x.x]:1400/support/review. x.x.x.x is the IP address of a player. This is an undocumented area, but we have figured out a few things. You can search the forums for some of our observations.
The left unit of a bonded pair is the 'coordinator'. It pulls the stream and sends it to the right unit. The two units must maintain a very tight timing sync in order to sustain a stable stereo acoustic image.

The paths taken by traffic across the SonosNet wireless mesh are determined by the Spanning Tree Protocol, and it's not always the case that traffic between the paired units will follow the most direct route. Under some circumstances it can loop via a much more distant node, and if wireless conditions are a bit borderline this can trigger problems.

The obvious answer is to try running a cable between the stereo pair as you've done. (In relatively rare cases even this is ignored.)

An alternative is to steer the topology of active wireless links, such as by changing the 'root' unit in the system though this may result in unwelcome side effects in other parts of the system. Sonos Support would be the people to consult about such a change as it's not a documented user option.
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Buzz - Fair enough on the absolutes in my IP statement. 🙂 I just double-checked my router's DHCP client table though and that's all clear. I have tried swapping around the wireless channels but that didn't seem to help. Right now my wifi is on 11 and Sonos is on 1.

Thanks for pointing me to the page with the Network Matrix. That looks interesting, so I'll have to do some forum searching.

One other thing to note is that I could play the "right" speaker when it wasn't paired for stereo with no apparent problems for an extended period of time. It only seems to have an issue if it's paired, either as the slave unit to the left Play:5 or as the coordinator.

After my last full wireless attempt when it quit working I just reconnected the cable from the L to the R and play resumed normally in a couple of seconds.
Take a screen grab of the network matrix, scrub out the MAC addresses, upload it somewhere and post the link. We can evaluate the situation in terms of SonosNet topology and the signal strength snapshot.
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Badge +14

One other thing to note is that I could play the "right" speaker when it wasn't paired for stereo with no apparent problems for an extended period of time.


This could be explained by the fact that your right speaker is probably connected to your bridge through a wireless link, and your your left is also connected directly to the bridge. Because of that, your right speaker will stream from the left speaker, through two wireless links. This could probably be adjusted by moving around which player that is the root bridge, but that would of course affect your Connect:AMP, maybe negatively.

Sonos support would have a better understanding of this.

If it were me, I would make one of the players in the stereo pair the root bridge, the one which has the best signal strength to your bridge. That way, the pair would speak directly to each other, hopefully. The Connect:AMP would perhaps connect to that Play:5 instead, which may or may not become a problem.

If you are adventurous you could give it a try, you can just revert it if it becomes worse.
If it were me, I would make one of the players in the stereo pair the root bridge, the one which has the best signal strength to your bridge. That way, the pair would speak directly to each other, hopefully. The Connect:AMP would perhaps connect to that Play:5 instead, which may or may not become a problem.
Hence my comment about possible 'unwelcome side effects' in tampering with the root bridge location without an understanding of what the network matrix is displaying. Shoving the root bridge off to one side of the property (in the garage) might not be a good idea.
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Badge +14
Hence my comment about possible 'unwelcome side effects' in tampering with the root bridge location without an understanding of what the network matrix is displaying. Shoving the root bridge off to one side of the property (in the garage) might not be a good idea.

Yeah, I didn't reallysee the garage part, although I got hung up on this: "Nothing seemed to fix the problem, and the Bridge was just on the other side of the wall inside the house. "

I assumed that most of the stuff was close by. Personally I'm all for trial and error though 🙂 Worst case scenario he would need to factory reset everything and set it up once again if he can't restore the root-STP changes.

Considering that it's just on the other side of the wall, maybe it is located such that wiring it might be an option.
Userlevel 2
Thanks everyone for the feedback and suggestions. I have captured images of the Network Matrix for both the "wired" config (cable between Play:5s) and "wireless" config. They can be viewed on Flickr (I hope) at:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/101899258@N03/9838524106/ (Wired)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/101899258@N03/9838524536/ (Wireless)

One thing I noticed as I kept refreshing the page on my iPad while watching TV last night was that periodically the 4 devices on the left would sometimes show degradation of the signal, including the "Deck" Connect:Amp that's on 15' away from the Bridge in our family room. So it would seem that perhaps there's some sort of interference being generated somewhere nearby???

For the time being I have the network cable strung between the 2 Play:5s in my garage, and I went one step further to turn off the wireless in the right speaker so that it only gets its data from the left speaker.

And just for reference here's a link to a pic on the speakers up on the wall - http://www.flickr.com/photos/101899258@N03/9774574843/. You'll notice there are plenty of fluorescent light fixtures out there, but hopefully that's not an issue. And also note that when the 2 speakers were sitting on the freezer below they worked perfectly for several days with no dropouts.

Thanks again for your help and comments. I'd love to not have a cable between the speakers at some point...
mrjofus1959,

On each of your PLAY:5's look at /proc/ath_rincon/phyerr. This is a histogram of wireless errors over the past 20 minutes. Each complete row will total 121. Entries in the left three columns are not interesting.
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mrjofus1959,

On each of your PLAY:5's look at /proc/ath_rincon/phyerr. This is a histogram of wireless errors over the past 20 minutes. Each complete row will total 121. Entries in the left three columns are not interesting.


Buzz - I'll take a look at that this evening when I get home from work. I'm assuming it'd be best to first remove the cable after enabling the wireless on the right speaker?
I'd love to not have a cable between the speakers at some point...
A flat white Ethernet cable, run at the top of the wall, would probably disappear into the shadows.
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A flat white Ethernet cable, run at the top of the wall, would probably disappear into the shadows.

Funny I was just shopping for one... 🙂
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mrjofus1959,

On each of your PLAY:5's look at /proc/ath_rincon/phyerr. This is a histogram of wireless errors over the past 20 minutes. Each complete row will total 121. Entries in the left three columns are not interesting.


Hi buzz,

What should I expect to see with this? I swapped the 2 speakers physical location in the garage after re-enabling the wireless in the former "right" unit. I did a factory reset for each on power up, and then re-added them to my setup. They've both been up for 20 mins now and there's a 121 in the 5000 column all the way through.

I have not yet recreated a stereo pair but I'm about to give that a shot.

Thanks!
mrjofus1959,

Odd that the 5000 column is so regular. I've had players and routers sitting beside each other or piled on top, and I don't see that level of errors. What else is in the area? Interference candidates are 2.4GHz cordless phones, wireless security cameras, rogue routers that hog the band, some microwave ovens, and 2.4GHz baby monitors.

By the way, factory reset clears the diagnostic area. Prior to your reset, you could have found diagnostic messages going back several days or more. This is why we discourage routine factory resets.

Keep a written log of events because you may discover an unexpected correlation.
Userlevel 2
Buzz,

Thanks for the heads up on the factory reset. I'll try to avoid that from now on.

So then the 5000 column is bad then? All of my devices seem to be heavily in that column. We don't have a land line, so no cordless phones. No baby monitors, security cameras, etc. Bluetooth is off on our iPads. The only wireless device I can think of is the Roku 2 here in our family room, but it's using a wired connection.

But your rogue router comment rang a faint bell in my brain - I just got a new DSL modem from CenturyLink last week. And while I'm not using its wireless capability I just checked and it was on using channel 1, same as my Sonos system. Maybe that's it?! I just shut down its wireless radio and went out to try the garage Play:5s in wireless mode. It was working for about 30 seconds and then crapped out again. So back to cable between the pair and it's back to working.

I did recheck the phyerr values and they're still running in the 5000 column even with the new DSL router's radio shut off.

Hmmm... What to try next?

CORRECTION! The Connect:Amp phyerr values are now 100+ in the 1000 column with the balance in the 5000 column. It's only 20 feet and one floor from the DSL radio that was turned on, so perhaps that explains that device. But the Bridge and Play:5s are still riding the 5000 column.
mrjofus1959,

Do you have any wireless process control devices or monitors associated with your brewery?

We have two clues that we should attempt to correlate with something. The regularity of the 5000 column is odd, suggesting that a device (possibly at a fixed position) is regularly sending out reports or a beacon while attempting to hook up with something. And, the PLAY:5's seem to work OK when moved down from their perch. At that freezer location the PLAY5's seem to be shielded from the interference source. Do you have any 2.4GHz wireless speakers?

I don't pay too much attention to iPad and iPhone. I have a couple little apps, FING and WiFi Analyzer on my Android that are very useful for network and WiFi snooping. FING is available for iOS. You will not be able do discover cordless phones, Bluetooth and such, but WiFi access points will show up -- if they are on the air while you scan.
Userlevel 2
buzz,

Nothing in the brewing setup is wireless, and it's been powered down as well. The only wireless sources in our house I can think of are the Directv remotes on 3 of our DVRs, but those are rarely transmitting. There is a SmartMeter on the side of the garage recently installed by the city, but from what I've heard those are rarely energized. And if it were the meter I'd expect it would impact the freezer location as well as the wall mounts.

I dusted off an old Asus Netbook this morning and got it fired up with inSSIDer running. There is very little showing up on Channel 1 where I have the Sonos network set. Just a couple of neighbors wireless but the signal level is way down there. There are a few Channel 6 setups that appear to have only 20Mhz wide settings, and a lot of networks on Channel 11, most at 20Mhz but a couple at 40Mhz. Again, all of those are weak signals at our house.

I was seeing more phyerr values in the 1000 column this morning, even on the Garage players. So there's clearly something that happens at times that's kicking it up to 5000.

I'm going to see if perhaps our IT folks here at work have a Wi-Spy or similar I could borrow to check things out at home with Channelizer.

Any other ideas on how to chase this?

Thanks!
I was seeing more phyerr values in the 1000 column this morning, even on the Garage players. So there's clearly something that happens at times that's kicking it up to 5000.
A crazy idea but does it make any difference if those fluorescent tubes are on or off? They're very close to the P:5 wall-mount positions.
Userlevel 2
A crazy idea but does it make any difference if those fluorescent tubes are on or off? They're very close to the P:5 wall-mount positions.

ratty - The lights were off while I was getting those 5000 column hits last night. But it's certainly worth while to try again just to be sure, i.e. I'll start playing with the cable disconnected and lights off, to see how that goes. Thanks.
mrjofus1959,

A real spectrum analyzer would be handy. The WiFi card re-tool apps can only discover devices that look like WiFi.

Be sure to keep a log. Even from my chair, it seems like your issue varies, maybe by time of day.
Userlevel 2
mrjofus1959,

A real spectrum analyzer would be handy. The WiFi card re-tool apps can only discover devices that look like WiFi.

Be sure to keep a log. Even from my chair, it seems like your issue varies, maybe by time of day.


Yes I've been trying to see if I can get my hands on a spectrum analyzer, but no luck so far...

And I do agree that this seems to track somewhat with time of day. I just have no idea where to look for the source of interference. The neighbors adjacent to our garage are an old couple, so besides perhaps having 2.4Ghz phones I don't imagine they're cooking up much in the way of wireless interference. And as far as actual wireless networks go there are only 2 showing up on channel 1 using inSSIDer and they're both very low level.
The neighbors adjacent to our garage are an old couple, so besides perhaps having 2.4Ghz phones I don't imagine they're cooking up much in the way of wireless interference.
Might 'cooking' be the operative word here by any chance? If the interference is spasmodic a bad microwave oven could be to blame. Been there, done that.

Other sources which have registered on Sonos phyerr logs, some with fatal severity, include 2.4GHz wireless mice, audio senders and wireless headphones.
Userlevel 2
The dim bulb in my head that is knowing I have a Microsoft Desktop 3000 setup on the PC in the study finally lit up... I'll shut that down this evening when I get home to see if by chance that's causing any issues. Here's hoping...
Userlevel 2
The dim bulb in my head that is knowing I have a Microsoft Desktop 3000 setup on the PC in the study finally lit up... I'll shut that down this evening when I get home to see if by chance that's causing any issues. Here's hoping...

The keyboard and mouse are not the problem... bummer. I remain baffled, but at least the speakers work with the cabled solution, with the right speakers wireless shut off.

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