Wireless Issues - What to Do?

  • 15 September 2013
  • 47 replies
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47 replies

mrjofus1959,

Do you see any spiking of the noise levels? ODFM Weak signal level other than 5 or noise levels higher than about -80 would attract my attention.

/proc/ath_rincon/nf has a histogram of noise floors, but the time stamps don't line up with /proc/ath_rincon/phyerr. I don't know why the time stamps are skewed.

As far as your "old couple" is concerned, don't assume that they are docile. They could have been victimized by some "drive by" technical help (well meaning younger relatives) who installed something ill considered and nasty. Some sort of medical monitor might be deployed.
/proc/ath_rincon/nf has a histogram of noise floors, but the time stamps don't line up with /proc/ath_rincon/phyerr. I don't know why the time stamps are skewed.
Timestamps in /nf look like the end of each 30 second measurement period. Timestamps in /phyerr apparently represent the start of a 60.5 second sampling period.

The two may start aligned but owing to the 0.5 sec they must drift apart. Quite why there are 121 500ms samples in /phyerr is a mystery.
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I ruled out one other possible source of interference that I hadn't even considered before this morning. Sitting in the corner of my study, about 4 feet from my Sonos Bridge, is an AT&T Microcell that's used to create a localized 3G network for our cell phones. I completely forgot it was even there during all of this. So I went in and powered it down thinking hey, maybe this is it!!! But unfortunately it made no difference whatsoever.

I'm almost positive that the interference isn't coming from within our home, but I'm about ready to take this analysis one step further just to be sure. I might just power down the entire house by flipping off all of the breakers except the ones needed to play the music. Does that seem too extreme? I only need 3 circuits on to run my media server, the networking home run in the basement, and the garage speakers with the bridge relocated to the power out there (I'd put the bridge out there first just to be sure that doesn't eliminate the problem).
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I've been considering going to all wired connections for my setup, but in doing so I've found some interesting discussions on whether or not my Netgear GS116 is even compatible with STP and therefore Sonos.

So just to clarify with respect to my present wireless issues, if I only have one Sonos device (my Bridge) connected to the GS116 there should not be any STP issues with the Connect:Amp or the two Play:5s since they're connected wirelessly to the Bridge. Is that correct? Thanks!
So long as you wire only one Sonos component, or daisy-chain them together, STP support in the switch is irrelevant. What matters are any devices along the wired path between Sonos units.

In any case the GS116 isn't listed as causing STP problems. It's a dumb switch, and most will simply forward STP traffic transparently.
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So I'm still at the point where the only way I can reliably get stereo playback on my paired Play:5s is to keep the network cable in place between the L & R speakers. And I've got the radio on the R turned off. But it occurred to me over the weekend that I missed a perhaps interesting, perhaps not, additional data point.

When I first got into the Sonos world back in June I bought the Bridge and Connect:Amp at Best Buy and life was good. Before I bought my first Play:5 however, I actually purchased a pair of Play:3s at Best Buy. I installed them in the garage up on a shelf on the wall. They worked perfectly. But I decided I'd rather go with the Play:5 setup, so I returned the Play:3s and bought my first Play:5, and then a few weeks my second.

So what's the data point? The pair of Play:3s worked flawlessly in wireless mode in my garage for about 2 weeks. Then the replacement Play:5 went in the exact same physical location as the original "left" Play:3. It too worked flawlessly. But when I put the second Play:5 in the location of the original "right" Play:3 that's when my troubles began.

So does anyone know if the Play:3 and Play:5 use the same wireless radio hardware? It seems odd that the Play:3 stereo pair worked fine, but the Play:5 stereo pair crapped out in the same location. I'm not saying there's no source of 2.4Ghz interference, but the Play:3 setup didn't seem to mind.
The Play:3 has a different, dual-band, radio as it's designed to also operate as a Playbar surround. Playbar uses 5GHz to talk to its satellites.

It's not impossible that the interference arose after you swapped the Play:3s for Play:5s.

According to earlier posts you witnessed substantial phyerr counts in the 5000 column, not only for the Play:5s but also for other units. Is this still the case?
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Yes that's still the case. Seeing some more in the 1000 column at times. Saturday morning I had green boxes in the left column for my bridge and both play:5s, but I realize that's only noise floor, and it still didn't work in stereo mode wirelessly.
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I'm not sure if the Play:3s can use 5 GHz when paired or if they use the same 2.4 GHz radio in that case. If they use the 5GHz, that would easily explain the difference. However, they probably have different radio cards altogether, and the location of the antennas inside the players could also make a difference.

I'm curious about whats in the wall that are in between the players? I see a lot of cables in the bottom.
Yes that's still the case. Seeing some more in the 1000 column at times. Saturday morning I had green boxes in the left column for my bridge and both play:5s, but I realize that's only noise floor, and it still didn't work in stereo mode wirelessly.
I can't help feeling there's something else going on that we haven't yet thought of. Incidentally I just sampled my setup and nothing significant appeared beyond the 100 column, except for Playbar which was mostly in the 1000 column. It sits near a DTT/IP TV box.

Have you actually asked Sonos Support to take a look at the logs? The anacapa.trace and dmesg logs might contain something of interest.

I'm not sure if the Play:3s can use 5 GHz when paired or if they use the same 2.4 GHz radio in that case. If they use the 5GHz, that would easily explain the difference. However, they probably have different radio cards altogether, and the location of the antennas inside the players could also make a difference.
Play:3s use the regular 2.4GHz SonosNet mesh when paired. The 5GHz is for Playbar to talk to its satellites, an operation master-minded by Playbar using a conventional hub/spoke architecture.
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I'm curious about whats in the wall that are in between the players? I see a lot of cables in the bottom.
The column between the player has the AC service feed to the breaker panel and most of the circuit feeds to the main floor of our house. But note that the stereo pairing issue also occurred when both players were up on a shelf to the right of the column.
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Have you actually asked Sonos Support to take a look at the logs? The anacapa.trace and dmesg logs might contain something of interest.

I have not contacted Sonos. If I replicate the failure and 'Submit Diagnostics' will that include anacapa.trace and dregs logs?
I have not contacted Sonos. If I replicate the failure and 'Submit Diagnostics' will that include anacapa.trace and dregs logs?
Yes. And that's 'dmesg', not 'dregs'. ;)

These are the two main logs in each Sonos node. dmesg is the operating system log, including reports related to the radio modules and lower level networking. anacapa.trace deals with the higher level application functions.

If you replicate the failure be sure to submit a diagnostic within 10 minutes of the outage. The /phyerr history only covers the last 20 minutes; /nf 15 minutes.
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Yes. And that's 'dmesg', not 'dregs'. ;)

These are the two main logs in each Sonos node. dmesg is the operating system log, including reports related to the radio modules and lower level networking. anacapa.trace deals with the higher level application functions.

If you replicate the failure be sure to submit a diagnostic within 10 minutes of the outage. The /phyerr history only covers the last 20 minutes; /nf 15 minutes.


Chalk one up to the iPad auto correct!

I'll catch and send later today. Thanks.
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Play:3s use the regular 2.4GHz SonosNet mesh when paired. The 5GHz is for Playbar to talk to its satellites, an operation master-minded by Playbar using a conventional hub/spoke architecture.


I think it would have made sense that the "slave" node of a stereo pair is directly associated with it's master (or atleast lowest path cost, and not through the STP root), since it's only function would be to stream from the master. Can't help thinking that it's a design flaw in that case. Maybe that's not possible if it relies solely on STP to discover network paths though.

I'm not sure how power lines affect wireless, but I would consider the proximity to a big central power line point to be a potential issue.
I think it would have made sense that the "slave" node of a stereo pair is directly associated with it's master (or atleast lowest path cost, and not through the STP root), since it's only function would be to stream from the master. Can't help thinking that it's a design flaw in that case. Maybe that's not possible if it relies solely on STP to discover network paths though.
The current scheme can indeed result in two wireless 'leaves' communicating via a distant 'trunk'. Even with an interconnecting cable, if the wireless root cost difference between them is less than 10 they'll ignore it.

To use local 5GHz between the pair would require the Play:3 to operate in simultaneous dual-band mode (2.4GHz being necessary to talk to the mesh) and Playbar is the only unit which can currently do this. Once it's bonded as a satellite a Play:3 becomes 5GHz-only. Moreover both channels would need to operate in dual-band mode: the right (slave) unit could be much better placed to pull the stream from the mesh than the left (master). Play:5 of course is stuck with 2.4GHz.

Since Sonos uses a modified form of STP maybe they could artificially reduce the wireless path cost between a bonded pair. This could potentially have the same effect on the local topology as stringing a cable between them. In fact Playbar satellites see a path cost as low as 50 instead of the 2.4GHz minimum of 150. Depressing the path cost between the pair could however have unwanted side-effects on the topology where more distant nodes rely on either of the pair for their active connection.
I'll catch and send later today. Thanks.

Be sure to followup with an email or phone contact referencing the diagnostic number to generate an actual support action. Diagnostics that appear without reference are eventually discarded.
In fact go to https://sonos.custhelp.com/app/ask to file a formally ticketed support request.
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I submitted my issue via the "ask" system yesterday, so now I guess I wait for a response. I noticed it can sometimes take days for a response looking at other postings original time of submission versus the first Sonos response so I'll be patient! :)

One more data point from a brief experiment last night... I separated the stereo pair out in the garage, and then selected the "right" speaker to create a new stereo pair. But instead of selecting the speaker that's physically on the left as the "left" speaker I used the speaker physically on the right as the "left". The network cable between the two speakers was disconnected. I started playing a Pandora radio stream and everything seemed fine for a bit. But then once again the right audio channel, which was being played through the speaker physically on the left, dropped out and stayed out. Reconnecting the network cable fixed the issue afters a few seconds.

So what' the point? There's nothing specifically wrong with either speaker's ability to play a music stream I believe. Either of them can play as a solo/non-stereo-pair device without any issues. But when I created a stereo pair the right audio channel drops out in wireless mode, regardless of which speaker is physically selected as the left audio channel. So I assume this is related to my noise floor/phyerr issues and some sort of inability on the system's part to maintain left-right communications through the bridge.

One more question - when two speakers are paired as stereo are the left and right audio channels split by the bridge and sent separately to each speaker? Or is the full stereo stream sent to both speakers and each speaker selects the appropriate L/R channel to play?
One more question - when two speakers are paired as stereo are the left and right audio channels split by the bridge and sent separately to each speaker? Or is the full stereo stream sent to both speakers and each speaker selects the appropriate L/R channel to play?
The latter. The Bridge is just a .... Bridge. It forwards traffic at the link layer (i.e. below the IP network layer) so it has no idea what it's sending to and fro.

Speaking of the Bridge, one of the interesting logs may be the Bridge's dmesg. Whilst we wait for a response from Sonos Support, have a look in the 'dmesg' item of the Bridge's section in http://x.x.x.x:1400/support/review and see whether it contains a lot of "TX jammed" messages.
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The latter. The Bridge is just a .... Bridge. It forwards traffic at the link layer (i.e. below the IP network layer) so it has no idea what it's sending to and fro.

Speaking of the Bridge, one of the interesting logs may be the Bridge's dmesg. Whilst we wait for a response from Sonos Support, have a look in the 'dmesg' item of the Bridge's section in http://x.x.x.x:1400/support/review and see whether it contains a lot of "TX jammed" messages.


Thanks Ratty, that makes sense.

I'll look at the bridge dmesg file when I get home from work this evening.
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So what' the point? There's nothing specifically wrong with either speaker's ability to play a music stream I believe. Either of them can play as a solo/non-stereo-pair device without any issues. But when I created a stereo pair the right audio channel drops out in wireless mode, regardless of which speaker is physically selected as the left audio channel. So I assume this is related to my noise floor/phyerr issues and some sort of inability on the system's part to maintain left-right communications through the bridge.


The setup works the way that the "left" player is always the coordinator, and the right player "streams" from the left player. IT doesn't surprise me that you experience this, since both player will find a network path which will have the "least" cost to the STP root. In the case of a stereo pair, this will force the right channel player to traverse multiple wireless links (right player -> bridge -> left player), since it doesn't care about what the target is.

With that in mind, your stereo pair might work if your left player was promoted as STP root, but that would however force your other players to go through your wireless left speaker which might not be what you want (I think it's almost always preferable to have the wired unit as STP root). If you only had that pair and a bridge, it would be a different matter.

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