Why the concept behind Sonos is basically flawed

  • 7 October 2017
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But having to go into the router to reserve IP addresses or change wireless channels is not what most users will want to do ...
The evidence suggests that this kind of intervention is only really required in a very small proportion of Sonos installations. There are many millions of Sonos users whose systems work perfectly out of the box, without recourse to this forum or any other form of support.

However, if one does encounter issues, this forum is a fantastic resource, with some very knowledgeable and helpful people willing to give up their time to assist.
All good points from @Sjoop1985, @Kumar and @revdv. I suspect most users don't need to reserve IP addresses (I never have), but if a system is experiencing problems, especially after updates, this can be a useful element in tackling the issues.

It seems to me that when users do have problems with Sonos, a large proportion of them result from using Sonos in ways it wasn't originally designed for, but which Sonos has had to make possible to remain competitive, for example:
1. Using it in fully WiFi mode (particularly where extenders are involved)
2. Playing content stored on a mobile device
3. Using Airplay
4. Using line-in for TV audio
5. Voice control

Even in these examples Sonos works well for most users.

One objection I sometimes hear is 'there is nothing wrong with my network, everything else works fine'. This ignores the fact that a Sonos system does make greater demands on a network than 'standalone' devices. Potentially a large number of Sonos and controller devices have to stay in constant touch. SonosNet does that best.

Edit: good point from @pwt too, but our posts crossed!
[quote=pwt]
The evidence suggests that this kind of intervention is only really required in a very small proportion of Sonos installations. There are many millions of Sonos users whose systems work perfectly out of the box, without recourse to this forum or any other form of support.

I am aware of the hospital syndrome, but I am under the impression that not reserving IP addresses is something that will inevitably trip up a Sonos installation - sooner or later - as it goes through its frequent upgrades. Is that not the case? Is it that many who do not do this cope by the power down method used for even computers when things hang?

The other question I have is that in relying on Sonosnet for most stable performance, is Sonos giving up leveraging the improvements in home WiFi tech over the last 10-15 years? It would seem that kit like Echo that offers no such option, is more stable these days than it would have been a decade ago if launched on a foundation of home WiFi tech then prevalent.
A couple of points about IP reservation. These days a number of routers don't simply allocate IP addresses sequentially; they hash the MAC address into the available pool, which tends to result in a device always getting the same IP. (In the event of a hash collision the router would pick the next available IP.) This results in a kind of 'reservation by default', though it's not as guaranteed as a fixed MAC-IP mapping.

Where IP conflicts do occur, for most devices which simply talk to the outside world it's rather a case of "the internet's slow today". A day later the IP leases have renewed, the conflict's been purged, and the problem is forgotten. Sonos however is more sensitive to IP duplication because the local devices are remorselessly talking to one another, as well as to the controllers. Packet loss due to IP conflict is therefore much more significant. In groups latency is critical for sync, so re-transmission may result in dropouts. And for those who want their music systems to be dependable and instant-on, waiting for a little local network difficulty to clear on its own is all too much.
I am under the impression that not reserving IP addresses is something that will inevitably trip up a Sonos installation - sooner or later - as it goes through its frequent upgrades. Is that not the case?
I would say it is not the case, based on having a large number of friends and family with Sonos systems who have never had problems, despite never reserving an IP address, or even having heard of IP addresses in most cases.
I am under the impression that not reserving IP addresses is something that will inevitably trip up a Sonos installation - sooner or later - as it goes through its frequent upgrades. Is that not the case?
I would say it is not the case, based on having a large number of friends and family with Sonos systems who have never had problems, despite never reserving an IP address, or even having heard of IP addresses in most cases.
This tallies with my comment about 'reservation by default' in some routers. Those supplied by BT in the UK are a case in point.
Sonos however is more sensitive to IP duplication because the local devices are remorselessly talking to one another, as well as to the controllers. Packet loss due to IP conflict is therefore much more significant. In groups latency is critical for sync, so re-transmission may result in dropouts. And for those who want their music systems to be dependable and instant-on, waiting for a little local network difficulty to clear is all too much.
To the earlier point I made, I find Echo response, even in grouped mode, to be good enough for a music system as described above. Is this achieved without the kind of "remorseless" talking to each other where Sonos is concerned? And if so, making Echo less vulnerable to such issues and therefore needing less user involvement? And if yes, I would call that tech progress made by Amazon - which is also to be expected given the time gap between the two product lines, which is huge given the nature of the tech.
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This tallies with my comment about 'reservation by default' in some routers. Those supplied by BT in the UK are a case in point.
Isn't it the case that most routers will repeatedly hand out the same IP address to the same MAC address, provided the lease hasn't expired or been explicitly released? (Subject to the router not having been restarted.)
This tallies with my comment about 'reservation by default' in some routers. Those supplied by BT in the UK are a case in point.
Isn't it the case that most routers will repeatedly hand out the same IP address to the same MAC address, provided the lease hasn't expired or been explicitly released? (Subject to the router not having been restarted.)
Yes, the client would request lease renewal of its current IP. My point was that even with a cold-started router and a cold-started client the same IP address could always be handed out to that specific device.
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Yes, the client would request lease renewal of its current IP. My point was that even with a cold-started router and a cold-started client the same IP address could always been handed out.
What happens in the case of a Sonos player rebooting (e.g., during an update)? Does it relinquish its lease prior to shutdown? Does it record its IP address for use in the DHCP request on restart?
Leaving aside the ongoing discussion about some routers dispensing with need for IP reservation, something I don't fully understand: what is remarkable about Sonos is that 15 years on, via having one unit wired to the router, wireless music play is as stable as the best kit designed and made by others today. Of course, users will validly complain about needing the wiring for best performance and/or IP reservation, because they will only look at the state of the art/world today to compare. But that does not take away from the quality of the engineering built into Sonos back in 2005.
Yes, the client would request lease renewal of its current IP. My point was that even with a cold-started router and a cold-started client the same IP address could always been handed out.
What happens in the case of a Sonos player rebooting (e.g., during an update)? Does it relinquish its lease prior to shutdown? Does it record its IP address for use in the DHCP request on restart?

I've no idea whether it sends a DHCP Release. And one assumes that it has to follow the standard Offer/Request on reboot. I somehow doubt it caches its original IP to use in the Discover. I've never sniffed that exchange.
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But that does not take away from the quality of the engineering built into Sonos back in 2005.
Is this not also a part of the answer to your other question?

Does Sonos have to forego some innovation in their system to cater for backwards compatibility to older devices, whereas Amazon is working with devices that are relatively recent compared to Sonos?

Does Sonos have to forego some innovation in their system to cater for backwards compatibility to older devices, whereas Amazon is working with devices that are relatively recent compared to Sonos?

Good point/question. And one that will become a larger issue for Sonos as there is more tech progress in areas such as advanced voice control and other smart home stuff. I am glad I don't have to make those decisions for Sonos about managing the two pulls in opposite directions!
And for Amazon, because their devices are a significantly lower price point, there is less of a user investment to care about in releasing new kit.
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And one that will become a larger issue for Sonos as there is more tech progress in areas such as advanced voice control and other smart home stuff. I am glad I don't have to make those decisions for Sonos about managing the two pulls in opposite directions!
They have already been forced to start differentiating featurelevels between older and newer devices, like with Airplay 2 support, something, as far as I know, they hadn't done up to that point. At some time they will have no choice but to deprecate something more significant than a controller.

While I understand the outrage at "bricking" a device for the sake of "the ecosystem" tomorrow that is functioning perfectly well today, you could ask if it is really that big of a deal, in this day and age. Try to use a phone or a computer from 2005, you will find it as effective as a brick as well. A lot of people seem to have no issue shelling out ever increasing amounts for a phone every 2 or 3 years, even if their old phone still works fine, so why would it be an issue if a Sonos device gets bricked?

Somewhat off-topic maybe, but something to think about when contemplating the merits of the concept that is Sonos, especially on the point of the wireless technology it employs and the evolution thereof.
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In regards to the performance of echos in multi-room speaker situations, I think the content it's capable of playing is also a big factor. Echos can only play streaming audio. The do multiroom audio from any other source. Echos have bluetooth yes, but when you use them as a bluetooth speaker, the bluetooth source cannot be shared with other echos. Likewise, their new Echo links have line in connections, but again, it cannot be shared wirelessly.

Of course, Sonos has supported sharing of line in sources from the very beginning, not to mention local libraries. In my limited understanding, this means that Sonos cannot 'afford' to have a large buffer, while echos can buffer to the limit of their on board memory essentially. They can afford to get ahead of the stream so to speak, possibly even to the next scheduled track if need be. Other speakers in the network can likewise get ahead. Sonos doesn't have the same luxury as their devices can't get advanced audio data from a line in source.

And I'm not a network or even really much of a hardware guy, but that's the obvious difference I see. Maybe echos aren't taking of advantage of their ability to buffer content, but I would guess that they do. It would certainly allow them to hide any temporary interference in the network.

And I think Sonos could possibly take advantage of using a larger buffer when the source is streaming. However, their older units probably don't have the memory to do this as effectively, so coding logic would have to consider not only the source, but the units involved in the group currently....which can change on the fly. It could also be that the existing API between Sonos and streaming sources isn't built to handling streaming with a larger buffer, not sure on that. All of this potential changes which would really only a small percentage of customers in some situations.

One other thing worth noting, as I hinted at above, Sonos allows you to regroup speakers on the fly, while echos do not. You cannot add or remove echos from a group once you've initiated streaming. I'd imagine echos are like that because it wasn't considered a high priority feature, and complicated buffering/syncing.

I actually both echos and sonos speakers can be the right choice depending on your needs. If you only want to stream audio, don't care as much about speaker quality, and are unsure about the quality of your network, echos is probably the better choice. Sonos is the better choice for others.
I’d agree with the OP the system is flawed especially when Sonos and our local electronics retailers push how simple the system is to use. Our Play:1 did work flawlessly for about two years (purchased 2017) until the slew of useless voice related updates (even though our does not have voice capabilities) bundled with “bug” fixes were pushed to our system. The Play1 has since been unusable. Same wifi network same devices no upgrades. The rest of our devices have full wifi reception throughout our three story home and work flawlessly. Our wifi capable Denon AV receiver which sits in the basement can be controlled without a hiccup from our second story rooms. But the apparently “wifi hungry” Sonos which has sat comfortably in our second story bedroom for more than two years can no longer play a single piece of music off of Spotify without stopping and skipping tracks randomly. We’ve isolated it on its own IP address via its MAC address as well as changed the wifi channels as Sonos recommends to no avail. So now via recommendations on this forum we are forced to splurge on a Sonos Boost in hopes that it’ll get our now six year old piece of defunct tech working again?
I’d agree with the OP the system is flawed especially when Sonos and our local electronics retailers push how simple the system is to use. Our Play:1 did work flawlessly for about two years (purchased 2017) until the slew of useless voice related updates (even though our does not have voice capabilities) bundled with “bug” fixes were pushed to our system. The Play1 has since been unusable. Same wifi network same devices no upgrades. The rest of our devices have full wifi reception throughout our three story home and work flawlessly. Our wifi capable Denon AV receiver which sits in the basement can be controlled without a hiccup from our second story rooms. But the apparently “wifi hungry” Sonos which has sat comfortably in our second story bedroom for more than two years can no longer play a single piece of music off of Spotify without stopping and skipping tracks randomly. We’ve isolated it on its own IP address via its MAC address as well as changed the wifi channels as Sonos recommends to no avail. So now via recommendations on this forum we are forced to splurge on a Sonos Boost in hopes that it’ll get our now six year old piece of defunct tech working again?....and after all those many many years of problems, you have just decided to suddenly join this forum to mention such things for the very first time ever!... you must be having a laugh!

People are not fooled by such obvious trolling.

I’d agree with the OP the system is flawed especially when Sonos and our local electronics retailers push how simple the system is to use. Our Play:1 did work flawlessly for about two years (purchased 2017) until the slew of useless voice related updates (even though our does not have voice capabilities) bundled with “bug” fixes were pushed to our system. The Play1 has since been unusable. Same wifi network same devices no upgrades. The rest of our devices have full wifi reception throughout our three story home and work flawlessly. Our wifi capable Denon AV receiver which sits in the basement can be controlled without a hiccup from our second story rooms. But the apparently “wifi hungry” Sonos which has sat comfortably in our second story bedroom for more than two years can no longer play a single piece of music off of Spotify without stopping and skipping tracks randomly. We’ve isolated it on its own IP address via its MAC address as well as changed the wifi channels as Sonos recommends to no avail. So now via recommendations on this forum we are forced to splurge on a Sonos Boost in hopes that it’ll get our now six year old piece of defunct tech working again?....and after all those many many years of problems, you have just decided to suddenly join this forum to mention such things for the very first time ever!... you must be having a laugh!

People are not fooled by such obvious trolling.


Heeeey! I’ve successfully awaken the trolling Sonos Fanboy Ogre from under the Sonos Forum bridge! Woohoo!

Sonos Admins take note: “These” are your acting brand ambassadors...

If you decided to read the post “properly” rather than joining the bandwagon of Sonos Fanboys, who jump at the first sign of an “attack” on the Sonos brand - I wrote the Play:1 worked flawlessly for two years (purchased 2017) which means as of 2019 it has ceased to work properly. Not “after all those many many years.”
Scrub off those soda glasses.

Sonos support will disavow any community advise relating to Static IPs or other complex IT solutions, and only stand behind their product’s performance in a vacuum. Integrate Headphones, a Bluetooth/Wifi audio receiver from a different manufacturer, employ Airplay2 with older Sonos Speakers so that Airplay2 works throughout the house? You are on your own, and the simplicity of the system that attracted you to it vanishes, replaced by conflicting community support that Sonos themselves disavows. Ironic that technological advances like Sonos are accompanied by such real-life incompatibilities that are not addressed properly by the company selling itself to the masses.
Sonos support will disavow any community advise relating to Static IPs or other complex IT solutions, and only stand behind their product’s performance in a vacuum. Integrate Headphones, a Bluetooth/Wifi audio receiver from a different manufacturer, employ Airplay2 with older Sonos Speakers so that Airplay2 works throughout the house? You are on your own, and the simplicity of the system that attracted you to it vanishes, replaced by conflicting community support that Sonos themselves disavows. Ironic that technological advances like Sonos are accompanied by such real-life incompatibilities that are not addressed properly by the company selling itself to the masses.
I’ve never seen advice against setting static IP's from the Staff here, personally speaking. Nor have I seen them try to turn people away from integrating other 3rd party devices, but it’s true that you are somewhat “on your own” with such things, as such things are quite often beyond the scope/remit of Sonos Support, which is geared entirely to their own products only.

Sonos Support are not going to start altering your router configuration pages and changing the DHCP Reservation Table etc, that’s something for the local network administrator to sort out and I would also never expect the Staff to provide support for 3rd party devices either, such as Bluetooth Transmitters or Receivers and so on and so forth and requests for support in that area should usually be directed to the device manufacturer.

I don’t think any company, worth it’s salt, will provide support beyond their formal remit.

Community users here however, are often “experienced users” and are not bound by company rules and guidelines and therefore the advice provided here, will and does sometimes vary from time to time based on their own 'hands on' experiences. It’s for you, as another user/community member, to read the advice provided and take whatever action that you deem necessary, or are capable of doing, to perhaps help resolve what are most often local network configuration issues.

Like I said, these are “quite often” things a local network administrator needs to resolve for themselves, rather than it being anything within the Sonos Support remit.

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