Why the concept behind Sonos is basically flawed


I thought I would like to share my thoughts on why I would never recommend
Sonos to my friends. After having given it some thought, in my opinion, the whole
concept behind Sonos is basically flawed.

First off, a little about my current Sonos situation. Today I have, and enjoy, a
fully working Sonos system with multiple devices spread across several rooms.
The system is stable, because at some point I decided to cable everything.
The majority of my past Sonos problems could all be related to wireless instability.

Here is why the concept behind Sonos, in my opinion, is basically flawed.

Sonos is sold as a speaker system with flexibility and ease of use as part of its core values.
The idea is simple. The speakers look good, and can easily be moved around
your home in various wireless configurations. I dont doubt that for many users,
this is in fact reality (eventhough the speakers are probably rarely moved around).
However, if you inspect the troubleshooting section of the community, you will see that
many Sonos users are having trouble with the wireless stability of their systems.

The answer from Sonos support is almost always the same - "Your wireless network
is not good enough.. you need to improve or otherwise change it". The user is left
confused, because most often the wireless network is performing sufficiently in all other respects.
Somehow the Sonos system is introduced as the weakest link on your wireless network.
There may be plausible technical reasons for this, but how was the user supposed to know?
And worse: The user has no way of knowing upfront, if this will be an issue on your network.
You may end up lucky, or not, it is a flip of the coin.

The weaksest link in your upcoming Sonos environment, will be the one factor
for which Sonos cant take responsibility - and for which you can never be sure to
fullfill the requirements.

To me this proofs that the whole concept behind Sonos is flawed.

46 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +17
This is not a sonos problem, but a household wifi problem that becomes apparent with wifi hungry kit. This has not and will not flawed sonos in 12yrs.
Exactly the same problems crop up on the SkyQ forum, where sky has to push video around wireless mesh as well as audio.
Do you think SkyQ is therefore flawed as well?
This is not a sonos problem, but a household wifi problem that becomes apparent with wifi hungry kit

I think that it's sometimes difficult for people to believe this, when every other system on the network works perfectly. I have had huge file transfers traverse the network without problems, yet Sonos (which has much, much lower data requirement) was never reliable on my wireless network/Sonos Mesh - despite changing every piece of network kit, every cable, buying a Bridge and using the different wireless connection methods. In the end, we moved house - and still had problems, unfortunately too intermittent to easily track down. In the end, I went wired - even though this meant using EoP adaptors, and now have a fairly reliable system. No-one else I know would have persevered with it.

So no, I wouldn't recommend Sonos to a friend. Knowing (and hearing) a number of the problems that I've had over the past six years has put most of our friends off of getting Sonos anyway, as I'm usually (in my circle) one of the more technically capable people - and they reckon that if I can't get it to work properly, then they certainly won't.

I bought the system as a simple interface to my music stored on a NAS (as I'm not particularly interested in streaming services) so also find that the quality of the UI has actually deteriorated (IMHO, of course) since I bought in to the system. Plus, at the time that I bought it the 65k limit wasn't that obvious. Successive iterations of the controller software have slowly distanced themselves from my preferred usage, so I've dreaded every upgrade since 4.x Even though I've locked the system off as much as I can, sooner or later someone is going to press a button on one of the lesser used devices and the whole thing will kick off again.

I'm still using Sonos - I'll continue to use it until something better comes along. I fully understand, of course, that other people may have very different experiences - I'm very happy for them 😃
Userlevel 7
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I understand a lot of people have problems in their houses.
Iam glad to say sonos is rock solid, as is SkyQ, sometimes used at same time, with fibre broadband, but then it is a 1999 house with paper thin walls 😉
Sonos is basically flawed . . .

. . . proof the whole concept is flawed . . .

And yet "other people" (actually it is an extremely vast majority of Sonos users) have very different experiences? That's a pretty overarching critique to arrive at from analysis of a single installation. And I would tell you things about file transfers lacking the real-time constraints that streaming has, so naturally they are successful regardless of the bandwidth available, but why bother?
...That's a pretty overarching critique to arrive at...

It was meant to be an overarching critique. Sonos is selling you rather expensive products that might not be working (or at least could cause you a lot of headache) from day one. However, the products are marketed on the exact opposite and (for some) false conditions.. ease of setup, no need for technical knowledge, flexible positioning etc..

I hope you are right, that the vast majority of Sonos systems are playing without problems..


I hope you are right, that the vast majority of Sonos systems are playing without problems..


That could easily be answered by looking into the average number of daily customer support requests related to network-related playback issues.
As these figures are not publicly shared, we will never know though.
...That's a pretty overarching critique to arrive at...

It was meant to be an overarching critique. Sonos is selling you rather expensive products that might not be working (or at least could cause you a lot of headache) from day one. However, the products are marketed on the exact opposite and (for some) false conditions.. ease of setup, no need for technical knowledge, flexible positioning etc..

I hope you are right, that the vast majority of Sonos systems are playing without problems..


Your critique is the thing which is flawed. To give an overarching critique of Sonos performance, you must be in possession of overarching performance data, of which you have nothing but a single personal anecdote. Which means either you don't understand the term "overarching", or your post was mere melodramatic nonsense based on your anger over your particularly flawed network.

I know which one I'm going with.


I hope you are right, that the vast majority of Sonos systems are playing without problems..


That could easily be answered by looking into the average number of daily customer support requests related to network-related playback issues.
As these figures are not publicly shared, we will never know though.


Or, one could simply look at the dozens of professional reviews, which are overwhelmingly positive. Or the customer reviews at Amazon, Play Store, Best Buy, etc, which are also overwhelmingly positive. Most people love their Sonos, and have very few, if any, issues. Most issues can be traced to the home wifi network, which can easily be avoided by using a Boost.
Userlevel 5
Badge +12
My Sonos works flawlessly with Virgin Media Super Hub 2 and would recommend it without hesitation.

If you think about all the systems out there, and the small number of fault reports on here it paints a pretty good picture for Sonos.
I'm with you mate. The system is crap. It doesn't make any difference whether I'm using it wirelessly or hard-wired in. It's working one minute and defunct the next usually with a message saying that my music file can't be found. It worked ok for a while and then suddenly seemed to develop problems. Sonos support couldn't help. They even took over my pc and couldn't sort it. I only use it now to play Spotify and I'm thinking about just getting a decent bluetooth speaker and selling the lot.
Oh, yes. And I'm using it with a Virgin Super Hub. Makes absolutely no difference. If it was a stable system then nobody would be having any problems.
*YAWN*

What a logical fallacy - "If it was a stable system then nobody would be having any problems."

Just as absurd as saying "If a Volvo was really a safe car, nobody would ever get in an accident while driving one!"

The vast majority of problems with Sonos can be traced to networking problems or WiFi interference, neither of which Sonos can do anything about, unless you want them to configure your network for you or violate the laws of physics. Fact is, the systems that are not stable are very rare, though it does seem the owners are prone to both hyperbole and temper tantrums.
I agree that there is some merit in the opening argument, but the conclusion is incorrect, IMO. It is the state of home WiFi networks in general that leads to these issues, so if one had to say something on the lines argued it would have to be that EVERY home audio wireless system is basically flawed for relying on that foundation. The uptime is not as good as wired kit for any make out there. And ALL may need occasional housekeeping of the network.

That said, I also don't know any make that betters the Sonos uptime that is north of 99% in a robust but typical home WiFi set up. With just one wired unit, Sonos also bypasses issues of busy home networks. And there are many that fall short of this standard.

Finally, while the uptime may not approach the 100% of wired legacy kit, this is more than offset by the many advantages of multi room wireless.
I will chime in as someone just starting out. I would call myself a recovering audiophile. I spent way too much time measuring and not enough time listening. I don’t think Sonos sounds as good as my Thiel but I’m listening to more music. So what does that mean? I know that I’m enjoying music and not as concerned with specs. I started this journey because I found myself listening to my Bose soundlink mini instead of my carefully positioned Thiels. So I went to a few local stores. Every dealer I inquired about wireless multi room sound felt Sonos was the most stable trouble free system. Play Fi was recommended to me for flexibility and Denon and Bluesound were both positioned as great sound with some ease of use issues. One shop in particular really pushed Bluesound but a little research showed a general trend toward great sound with technical glitches.

I’m still in the beginning stages but I don’t see another wireless system that is better when easy of use, backwards compatibility and sound quality are put into the equation.

If you search you will see all the other brands have the same issues and no have this amazing forum.
Userlevel 3
Badge +2
I have to say that I love my Sonos but I do think it can be sold too often as a simple system which works wirelessly without problems, with pushy sales men in the likes of John Lewis selling it as the easiest system to install and maintain.

I know how to sort out most problems that come along and if I don't I come on here or contact support directly. But if you go beyond the basics of a couple of speakers then it can become a technically demanding environment. Of course one chooses to go down that route but if you live in a smallish two bedroom flat/apartment you might hope not to deal with regular dropouts, having to regularly check on the best channel to run the system on, weekly failures of library updates (including the loss of all playlists), regularly having to reposition speakers and finding that the Boost does absolutely nothing to help.

For me this can be slightly frustrating but I did go in with my eyes open. But I think there are a number of people that don't do the research or buy Sonos as a simple solution, which I don't think it necessarily is.
I have to say that I love my Sonos but I do think it can be sold too often as a simple system which works wirelessly without problems, with pushy sales men in the likes of John Lewis selling it as the easiest system to install and maintain.

I know how to sort out most problems that come along and if I don't I come on here or contact support directly. But if you go beyond the basics of a couple of speakers then it can become a technically demanding environment. Of course one chooses to go down that route but if you live in a smallish two bedroom flat/apartment you might hope not to deal with regular dropouts, having to regularly check on the best channel to run the system on, weekly failures of library updates (including the loss of all playlists), regularly having to reposition speakers and finding that the Boost does absolutely nothing to help.

For me this can be slightly frustrating but I did go in with my eyes open. But I think there are a number of people that don't do the research or buy Sonos as a simple solution, which I don't think it necessarily is.



You are correct. Due Its wireless nature Sonos will have some issues. To many different wireless scenarios out there to avoid every problem.

However I do think Sonos is easier to setup and than the other systems. I’ve spent a good bit of time on avs and other forums and Bluesound, Play Fi and Heos all have the same complaints I see on here. Quite a few folks who have had prior experience with Sonos proclaim that it was much easier to use and maintain. They seem to feel the other systems provide a advantage with the higher sample rate.

I only have experience with Sonos. I do know that when you start combining hardware and software among different companies like Play Fi does you are asking for trouble. Support will be a nightmare as each company in the chain blames the other.

Paradigm which uses Play Fi has very few reviews out and they are all positive from a sound standpoint, but you will find a high number complaining about the unusability of the app, crazy support and the constant reboots.

I don’t believe Heos and Bluesound support Apple Music which is big for our family and Bluesound’s $1000 soundbar doesn’t even do surround. It’s PCM only.

Sonos has issues and I hope someone from the company watches this site and heads the complaints.

Sonos has a 10+ Year head start but it will not take the Denon group and others long to pass.

I’m still on the fence but for now Sonos is the recommendation I would make with a few caveats
Quite a few folks who have had prior experience with Sonos proclaim that it was much easier to use and maintain. They seem to feel the other systems provide a advantage with the higher sample rate.

Sonos has a 10+ Year head start but it will not take the Denon group and others long to pass.

I’m still on the fence but for now Sonos is the recommendation I would make with a few caveats

The easier to use thing is the usual set of complaints with an app refresh and has nothing to do with the red herring of higher sample rates. Conflating the two - I learnt that word from Matt Damon talking about degrees of sexual exploitation and how some of that isn't as bad as others, and was waiting to use the word:-) - is wrong.

Sonos may well be surpassed but I doubt it will be Denon. My bet is on one of Apple/Google/Amazon, if that were to happen on the new fronts of voice+home automation+music services as a one stop shop. Not that Denon isn't good - their mini/midi systems are some of the best as are their bluetooth portable speakers. But they are behind Sonos on multi room WiFi.

My only caveat about Sonos still remains the one about having a stable WiFi. And needing all its features, of course.

Sonos has a 10+ Year head start but it will not take the Denon group and others long to pass.


Denon Heos' parent company just lost a major patent infringement lawsuit brought by Sonos. Sonos is now going for an injunction to prevent them from selling their devices. Jury awarded Sonos $2 million, should have been much higher. Looks like Sonos might go after a few other companies, since Sonos owns all the basic multi room patents (they hold more patents in the electronics industry than anyone except Apple). Will be interesting to watch. By all rights, all these companies should be licensing Sonos' technology.
@tphren :i agree with the post, I have brand night hawk router with a download speed of 300 mbps . my play 5 sound use to break frequently while airplaying from my MacBook. Yes, it works better when playing through the Sonos app directly using the iPhone. to get rid of this issue I had to hardwire the network and now its working fine. the other issue is being such an expensive speaker they only support 2.5 GHz network which is basically shaming. I also have Bose Soundtouch 30 gen 3 and I find it a lot better and simple than Sonos play 5.
Userlevel 1
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Well I would have agreed with the original post until 2 days ago. I was having endless daily problems until coming on to the forum and getting some help - I was ready to trash the whole lot. However, some IT ninja stars here helped sort it out. Now the wireless channels are separated, my phones are using SonosNet so they are much easier to use as controllers and have much more signal all round the house. We live in an old thick-walled 3 story house.
Yes there can be problems that Sonos support don't always seem to handle well. I would now (again) happily recommend to friends!
@tphren :i agree with the post, I have brand night hawk router with a download speed of 300 mbps . my play 5 sound use to break frequently while airplaying from my MacBook. Yes, it works better when playing through the Sonos app directly using the iPhone. to get rid of this issue I had to hardwire the network and now its working fine. the other issue is being such an expensive speaker they only support 2.5 GHz network which is basically shaming. I also have Bose Soundtouch 30 gen 3 and I find it a lot better and simple than Sonos play 5.To condemn Sonos because it doesn't work well when airplaying from a Macbook is almost funny. For marketing reasons Sonos had to add Airplay, having long resisted this unreliable technology. And it doesn't matter how fast your router is if there is wireless interference, for example. With a bit of effort, your Sonos system could have worked fine with just one Sonos device wired (to invoke SonosNet) or maybe even fully wifi. That is how I, and millions of other users worldwide, happily run our systems. A flawed concept? Not at all.

There are very good reasons for using 2.4GHz for a multiroom system - better range and wall penetration than 5GHz, in particular. For Sonos HT setups, where low latency is crucial, and wall penetration isn't, Sonos uses 5GHz. Shaming? Not at all. Deliberate and technically justified.
Userlevel 5
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What I find interesting as well, is that while it will always have the inherent vulnerabilities of a wireless system, the added issue of relying on the home Wifi environment was also brought on by public demand.

What is now called "boost mode" was once the only way to go, you were required to use a Bridge or wire at least one device. This had the advantage of always using SonosNet, which (by the accounts read on this community) has always been the more stable option. It was also relatively easy for Sonos to troubleshoot through their diagnostic system. I've run my Sonos in "boost mode" ever since I bought it, without any significant performance issues, besides my network misbehaving. I'm in the Netherlands where, like in the UK but unlike the US, most houses are brick and concrete resulting in a less than friendly home for wireless signals.

Because people were being put off buying Sonos due to the "it's not truly wireless!" claims and competitors advertising with "no bridge required", they were forced to implement the Wifi mode, and with that expose the user experience to the unpredictive nature of the users home Wifi.

Because people were being put off buying Sonos due to the "it's not truly wireless!" claims and competitors advertising with "no bridge required", they were forced to implement the Wifi mode, and with that expose the user experience to the unpredictive nature of the users home Wifi.

Good point; WiFi mode was a marketing tick the box to address this issue. Wiring one Sonos unit to the router is still the only way to go for stable performance where more than one/two zones are involved. Even where this unit needs to be a Boost, the per day cost of it over a 5 plus year useful life is peanuts compared to what it delivers.
And the other thing that needs doing for stable performance doesn't involve any cost - reserving IP addresses in the router for all Sonos units including controller hosting devices.
Userlevel 1
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[quote=Kumar]
And the other thing that needs doing for stable performance doesn't involve any cost - reserving IP addresses in the router for all Sonos units including controller hosting devices.


Yes. And my system over 3 floors in an old, stone house (v bad for wireless) is now rock-solid, having had so much input here from the community. Changing channels, using SonosNet, buying a Boost and reserving IP addresses has stabilised everything. But having to go into the router to reserve IP addresses or change wireless channels is not what most users will want to do (but totally worth it). Another advantage of having the phone controllers use SonosNet is that phone wifi coverage is so much better all over the house! No dead spots.
However: in parallel I also use Echo/Dots around the house, some that are wired to the line in sockets on Sonos. While none of them play in stereo paired mode, or in grouped mode except on rare occasions, I find music play from them to be just as stable with nothing wired to the router, nor any IP reservation done for the units.
Whether this indicates a technology edge that has been eked out by Amazon over Sonos isn't something I have an answer for. I would not use any such progress if made by Amazon to say that the Sonos concept is basically flawed seeing that it was first deployed fifteen years ago. But it does indicate that there needs to be less user involvement for Echo to deliver stable music play.

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