How to Fix Network Issues Caused by a Sonos Speaker

Introduction

In This Guide
You'll Learn How To:
  • Troubleshoot and Resolve problems with your home network stopping when you plug in or turn on your Sonos speaker.
Before We Begin:
  • Have access to your Sonos speakers.
  • Have the Sonos App installed.
Sonos

1 Network Storm Explanation

What is a Network Storm?

One way the devices on your network talk to each other is called "Broadcast Messages". A broadcast message is supposed to go out to each and every device on your network, to alert them to some change, available feature or service, or an update.

Example:

  • Your router constantly sends out regular broadcast messages, indicating it takes care of handing out network addresses.
  • A game console may send out a broadcast indicating it has a saved video stored on it.
  • A speaker sends out a broadcast indicating it's available to play your music.

Normally, this works fine, and helps keep your home network working great automatically. Each device on your network sees the message, and either makes the small change needed to work better, shows something new is available, or simply ignores it because it because nothing needs to be done. In most cases, this is something that takes place 'behind the scenes' and won't be something your devices make you aware of, because it's such a frequent occurrence and usually just has to do with the 'nuts and bolts' of connectivity.

Problems can occur though, when that simple broadcast message ends up in a loop. The message gets duplicated over and over again, which ends up taking every last bit of resources on your network hardware, or just creates so much activity that no 'real' traffic can get through. Given how fast our computers and other devices are these days, this type of thing can occur seconds after a network loop is created, which causes the 'network storm' that grinds your network to a standstill.

Understanding and Identifying a Network Loop

The best solution to resolving a problem of this nature is to identify and eliminate the loop on your network. In other words, make sure two networked devices don't create a network loop.

A simple and easy way to understand how this can happen can be demonstrated with a simple unmanaged network switch and a home router.

Unmanaged Network Switch
Unmanaged Network SwitchCommonly used at home to expand a wired network. They allow you to add more Ethernet ports to your home network to connect more wired devices.
Home Router
Home RouterYour Internet connection connects here first, then is distributed to the rest of your network. It has a small network switch built in; that gives you the four or more Ethernet ports on the back.

Loop Example

In this example, the loop will be easy to see, because it's made by physical wires.

Network With Loop
Red XIn this example, there's two Ethernet cables going from the router to the switch. A broadcast message will come from somewhere, enter the router, get duplicated, sent to the switch, get duplicated again, forever, until everything comes to a halt.Network with loop causing network storm
Network Without Loop
Green CheckIn this example, there's only one Ethernet cable going from the router to the switch. A broadcast message will come in from somewhere, enter the router, get sent to the devices there, get duplicated again by the switch and sent to devices there, then stop.Network without loop

Sonos Network Loops

By default, Sonos speakers will create a separate Wi-Fi network between themselves called Sonos Connect. This is normally a good thing; you can move speakers farther away than you'd normally be able to, there's better integration between them, less traffic to your own home network in general, and they're easy to setup and expand your Sonos system.

The majority of Sonos speakers also offer two separate ways to connect; using an Ethernet connection, as well as with Wi-Fi. Each Sonos speaker has networking hardware inside that makes it act, in many ways, like a switch.

Unfortunately, the nature of coming equipped with both of these connection methods allows for the creation of network loops, because the Sonos speaker has two separate ways to 'get back' to your home network.

Example

Single Speaker With Two Connections
In this example, a single Sonos speaker has both an Ethernet connection, as well as a Wi-Fi connection to the home router. This will end up causing the network storm.Single Sonos Speaker with an Ethernet and a Wi-Fi connection
Two or more Sonos Speakers with Sonos Connect
In this example, two Sonos speakers are connected using Ethernet cables. On top of that, they've connected to each other using Sonos Connect; forming a loop on the network that can cause the same problems.Two Sonos speakers each with an Ethernet connection as well as a Sonos Connect connection

Solution

The goal of this guide is to help you identify a potential network loop, and eliminate it.

In general, the goal is always to remove an unnecessary Wi-Fi connection; Ethernet connections are always faster and less prone to problems.

? How many Sonos Speakers do you have?

  1. One
  2. Two
  3. Three or More

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In This Guide
You'll Learn How To:
  • Troubleshoot and Resolve problems with your home network stopping when you plug in or turn on your Sonos speaker.
Before We Begin:
  • Have access to your Sonos speakers.
  • Have the Sonos App installed.
Sonos

What is a Network Storm?

One way the devices on your network talk to each other is called "Broadcast Messages". A broadcast message is supposed to go out to each and every device on your network, to alert them to some change, available feature or service, or an update.

Example:

  • Your router constantly sends out regular broadcast messages, indicating it takes care of handing out network addresses.
  • A game console may send out a broadcast indicating it has a saved video stored on it.
  • A speaker sends out a broadcast indicating it's available to play your music.

Normally, this works fine, and helps keep your home network working great automatically. Each device on your network sees the message, and either makes the small change needed to work better, shows something new is available, or simply ignores it because it because nothing needs to be done. In most cases, this is something that takes place 'behind the scenes' and won't be something your devices make you aware of, because it's such a frequent occurrence and usually just has to do with the 'nuts and bolts' of connectivity.

Problems can occur though, when that simple broadcast message ends up in a loop. The message gets duplicated over and over again, which ends up taking every last bit of resources on your network hardware, or just creates so much activity that no 'real' traffic can get through. Given how fast our computers and other devices are these days, this type of thing can occur seconds after a network loop is created, which causes the 'network storm' that grinds your network to a standstill.

Understanding and Identifying a Network Loop

The best solution to resolving a problem of this nature is to identify and eliminate the loop on your network. In other words, make sure two networked devices don't create a network loop.

A simple and easy way to understand how this can happen can be demonstrated with a simple unmanaged network switch and a home router.

Unmanaged Network Switch
Unmanaged Network SwitchCommonly used at home to expand a wired network. They allow you to add more Ethernet ports to your home network to connect more wired devices.
Home Router
Home RouterYour Internet connection connects here first, then is distributed to the rest of your network. It has a small network switch built in; that gives you the four or more Ethernet ports on the back.

Loop Example

In this example, the loop will be easy to see, because it's made by physical wires.

Network With Loop
Red XIn this example, there's two Ethernet cables going from the router to the switch. A broadcast message will come from somewhere, enter the router, get duplicated, sent to the switch, get duplicated again, forever, until everything comes to a halt.Network with loop causing network storm
Network Without Loop
Green CheckIn this example, there's only one Ethernet cable going from the router to the switch. A broadcast message will come in from somewhere, enter the router, get sent to the devices there, get duplicated again by the switch and sent to devices there, then stop.Network without loop

Sonos Network Loops

By default, Sonos speakers will create a separate Wi-Fi network between themselves called Sonos Connect. This is normally a good thing; you can move speakers farther away than you'd normally be able to, there's better integration between them, less traffic to your own home network in general, and they're easy to setup and expand your Sonos system.

The majority of Sonos speakers also offer two separate ways to connect; using an Ethernet connection, as well as with Wi-Fi. Each Sonos speaker has networking hardware inside that makes it act, in many ways, like a switch.

Unfortunately, the nature of coming equipped with both of these connection methods allows for the creation of network loops, because the Sonos speaker has two separate ways to 'get back' to your home network.

Example

Single Speaker With Two Connections
In this example, a single Sonos speaker has both an Ethernet connection, as well as a Wi-Fi connection to the home router. This will end up causing the network storm.Single Sonos Speaker with an Ethernet and a Wi-Fi connection
Two or more Sonos Speakers with Sonos Connect
In this example, two Sonos speakers are connected using Ethernet cables. On top of that, they've connected to each other using Sonos Connect; forming a loop on the network that can cause the same problems.Two Sonos speakers each with an Ethernet connection as well as a Sonos Connect connection

Solution

The goal of this guide is to help you identify a potential network loop, and eliminate it.

In general, the goal is always to remove an unnecessary Wi-Fi connection; Ethernet connections are always faster and less prone to problems.
  1. Open the Sonos app on your smartphone or tablet.
    Sonos
  2. Select More.
    More
  3. Select Settings.
    Settings
  4. Select Room Settings.
  5. Select the room you have setup.
  6. Select Advanced Room.
  7. Select WiFi.
  8. Select Disable WiFi.

If you ever decide to move your Sonos speaker somewhere without an Ethernet connection, remember to turn Wi-Fi back on before disconnecting it.

The next step depends on if each of your speakers has a wired connection.

Take a look at your speakers, and determine of each has an Ethernet cable connecting to the speaker to a switch or router.

 

  1. Unplug the power cable from your Sonos device and wait 30 seconds.
    Unplugging power cord from speaker
  2. Plug the power cable back into your Sonos device. Allow up to two minutes for it to boot up and connect to the network.
    Plugging power cord back into speaker
  3. Once connected to the network, the light on the top of your Sonos device should light up a solid white color.
    Indicator light on top of speaker

The next step depends on if each of your speakers has a wired connection.

Take a look at your speakers, and determine of each has an Ethernet cable connecting to the speaker to a switch or router.

 

  1. Open the Sonos app on your smartphone or tablet.
    Sonos
  2. Select More.
    More
  3. Select Settings.
    Settings
  4. Select Room Settings.
  5. Select the room you have setup.
  6. Select Advanced Room.
  7. Select WiFi.
  8. Select Disable WiFi.

If you ever decide to move your Sonos speaker somewhere without an Ethernet connection, remember to turn Wi-Fi back on before disconnecting it.

This is not a simple solution, and will require you to tailor a solution specific to your needs. This information can only provide guidance.

STP-Enabled Network Hardware

STP, or Spanning Tree Protocol, is used by the Sonos speakers to help identify, and solve network storm issues. Managed switches, routers, and other higher-end business-class networking hardware support this protocol, and will resolve this problem.

This involves sourcing and purchasing hardware specifically for this purpose, and may be the best solution if you're using Sonos speakers in a business setting.

Without such hardware, you need to manage this yourself, to lessen the chance of a network storm happening.

Single "Broadcast" Speaker

The goal in this is to disable Wi-Fi on all but one of your Wired Sonos speakers. That wired speaker will automatically provide connectivity to your Wi-Fi Sonos speakers over Sonos Connect.

Example

Sonos Network Prone To Storms
This network diagram shows that each Sonos speaker has the Sonos Connect turned on (the dotted blue line), and some have Ethernet cables (the green lines) going back to the router. There's a number of loops in this network, and will, over time, experience a network storm situation.Large Sonos network prone to network storm situations.
Simplified Sonos Network
This shows the same general network, but two of the wired speakers have had their Wi-Fi turned off. A link still exists to the two Wireless speakers from the one Wired speaker. There's still some chance of a network storm, but it's much less, and does not have as many points where it could happen.Large Sonos network with some speakers with disabled Wi-Fi

Mapping Your Sonos Network

  1. Sketch out your Sonos speakers, and how each is connected. Specifically, note which speakers have wired connections.
  2. Choose one of your speakers that has an Ethernet connection; this will be the speaker that sends Sonos Connect Wi-Fi to the un-wired speakers.
  3. Disable Wi-Fi on all but one of your Wired Sonos speakers.
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