WiFi vs. BOOST vs. Ethernet

  • 5 October 2018
  • 7 replies

What is the difference in how my SONOS devices connect (or how they can connect when I add devices)?

I have a Playbar in my main room, a Play:One in my office, Beam in the Master, and a Connect:Amp in the basement for my kitchen ceiling speakers... All are connected via Ethernet to my network because I was always concerned about wifi traffic.

I happened to see the Boost device, which seems to make its own wireless network for only Sonos devices, which sounded good... Then, I read somewhere that the devices themselves can go into BOOST mode, which means they would create their own separate wifi network (?) if at least one was wired... So you don't need to buy the extra device. Then I read somewhere that ethernet-connected and BOOST-connected devices can't group/talk to each other.

The reason I ask for clarification is that there does not seem to be anything posted that really explains all of these methods of connectivity in detail all together. I am trying to piece it together and have no idea what is true. I may want to expand my network of devices at my house, but I may not have ethernet readily-available in a few places I would want to put a device. I would not want to add a bunch of devices to my already burgeoning wifi network, although my Netgear Orbi devices seem to be doing just fine.

If I wanted to put devices in the guest rooms and kids rooms in my house, can they all be connected via "BOOST" off my other devices which are already connected via ethernet and have those serve as "boost access points"? Would I want to get an actual boost device? If I did that, will it be able to connect and group all my speakers?

I have been blown away by the quality of sound, software, etc of the Sonos system... So much more seamless than the old conventional theater and receiver-controlled setups I was used to. Any help understanding this all would be appreciated. If I missed an FAQ on this site somewhere that spells this all out, please let me know, but I did look...


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7 replies


Ethernet is essentially Boost setup, with the added caveat that STP is in play when you have more than one Sonos unit connected via Ethernet.


To answer your questions, no you do not specifically need a Boost device. Any Sonos device can act as the wired component.
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There is no difference to the operation or functionality and with most modern homes, Wi-Fi (Standard Mode) is sufficient to connect Sonos devices.

But some older houses with solid thick internal walls can struggle with a good enough wireless signal. My current home has some walls 3ft thick and made up of solid stone and so I use SonosNet (Boost Mode). This means connecting a Sonos Device via an Ethernet cable to your Router and then removing the Wi-Fi details in the Sonos App. A Sonos Boost device can help in most circumstances and will increase the strength of the SonosNet signal. Your Sonos system will then connect it's devices using it's own mesh network whereby all Sonos devices are daisy chained together. This is especially useful if you have a long house and the Router is not centrally located.

In my house, I also use an Ethernet connection to one of my Sonos devices (PlayBar) as even with SonosNet I was still experiencing some drop outs which this fixed.

I obviously type to slowly - jgatie beat me to it. 🙂
So.... If I ever decided to add some Sonos devices to rooms where ethernet was not available, and I did not want to connect to my main wifi that all my other devices use, that is possible? I get confused because when I read the prior link jgatie posted (before I ever wrote this question originally) it said to specifically only connect one device via ethernet and then others could "talk" to it via boost/sonosnet... So, I buy another Play:ONE, throw it in an extra bedroom, would I need to disconnect my other devices from ethernet (all, but one of them)?
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Sorry I see that you've expanded your post and asked some specific questions.

Yes, you can mix Ethernet connected devices and SonosNet connected devices within the same set-up without issues - I have this set-up working fine as my previous post explained (Two devices connected via Ethernet and the remaining 8 via SonosNet). I would try without a Boost device first and there's no need to disconnect the other Sonos devices.
UKMedia: Thanks. I saw you said you connected your Playbar via Ethernet, so I wondered if that was the only device. This makes more sense to me now. So, I buy the extra speaker and just go through the setup, tell it to do it wirelessly, and it should see my other devices without me having to configure anything special, or enter details of my home wifi... I was also worried that since I use a Netgear Orbi setup which is technically "mesh", that if I had to use my wifi setup it may pose problems, based on some other posts I saw about mesh wifi in homes.

We just built a new house and I THOUGHT I dropped enough Ethernet in the right places for TV's, Sonos, etc... I guess you can never have too many drops...
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Yes, that should work fine. If you get Wi-Fi interference between Orbi and SonosNet, you can change the SonosNet channel within the Sonos App.
So, I buy the extra speaker and just go through the setup, tell it to do it wirelessly, and it should see my other devices without me having to configure anything special, or enter details of my home wifi.
You don't have to tell a new player how to connect. Just go through the 'Add a Speaker' routine. If it's wireless it will simply talk to the nearest wired component via SonosNet.