Alternatives to Sonos for multiroom WiFi system? Sonos’ wifi connection is terrible – it’s practically unusable

Can you recommend some alternatives to Sonos? Sonos is basically unusable for me: the wifi connection is too unstable and unreliable. The speaker at just 3 metres (10 feet) from the router and with nothing in between keeps getting disconnected; the one upstairs often doesn’t show up at all, while from the very same spot I can stream HD video from a tablet with no issues. This happens even when I use the Sonos app so it’s not a Roon issue.

I am based in Europe. My wishlist is:

  • multi-room like Sonos (I should be able to play different stuff in different rooms)

  • works with Roon but should also be able to play music on my NAS, from Tidal and from internet radio independently of Roon (I don’t want a system that’s unusable should Roon go out of business/shut down)

  • can be controlled from Android phones and tablets; ideally from a PC, too

  • I am not after audiophile-level quality and prices – something in a similar price range as Sonos would be great

  • The stability of the wifi connection and of the Android app are more important than pure audio quality

  • Must be able to work without internet. Sonos works when your WiFi doesn’t have internet access – chromecast speakers don’t.

  • Must work with wifi but ideally have ethernet as a backup

I have read a lot about HiFiBerry used to stream audio, but it’s not clear to me if that supports multiroom, nor how the practicality of installing it would work – having speaker plus HiFiBerry would be a bit of an eyesore.

I have read contradicting feedback on Kef and Bluesound.

Thoughts / suggestions?

Sonos have a reputation, well deserved in my experience, for having very robust performance over WiFi compared to their competitors. So if you are otherwise happy with their products, I think you need to diagnose your network problem. Not always easy, but if you spend money on alternative hardware, you may find that nothing improves.

B&W use their own mesh system apparently.

Could I please ask you to elaborate? What do you mean, exactly? Is there any technical reason (eg different hardware) why Sonos should have better WiFi?
Can you think of specific reviews / tests which showed that Sonos had better signal than other brands under specific conditions?

My impression is that Sonos was a great idea for its time, but keeping backward compatibility has hindered its development big time; I mean, we are almost in 2020 and Sonos does not even support 5Ghz WiFi, come on! Yes, 2.4Ghz is better through walls etc, but 5 is less congested, less interference, etc.

It is hard to be ‘otherwise happy’ with a product that is practically unusable! When it works, am I happy with the sound quality? For the price, yes, but that’s like asking if you are otherwise happy with a car that breaks down every 5 miles!

Well, you are assuming that the problem is my network and not the Sonos kit. If there is a problem with my network, it is one which manifests itself ONLY with Sonos!

Again, one speaker about 3 metres/10 feet from the router, and with nothing in between, often disappears from the Sonos app altogether, or skips when playing music, or sometimes I change song and the player connected to the router via cable changes it immediately, while the one in the kitchen, 3 metres from the router, takes 10 seconds to change it.

Again, no other hardware has ever had ANY issues with wifi.
The Sonos in the bedroom upstairs often doesn’t show up at all. When it does, it rarely manages to play something for more than 30 minutes. From the very same spot, I can stream HD video using lots of devices.

On the 2nd floor, my PC can copy files to my NAS, via wifi, at 30 MB/sec. If I put a Sonos there, it struggles to play a lousy 320kbps mp3!!!

But does it work? Sonos has its own mesh, too, but it doesn’t work. I don’t know if there is a technical reason why Sonos is the only kit that doesn’t work with my wifi, if I was unlucky and got speakers from a bad batch, or what.

Also, do you mean the B&W Zeppelin? That’s in a very different price range

I’m simply saying that from my experience of Sonos, and that of others I know, as well as its reputation in general, Sonos devices generally seem to perform very reliably over WiFi. Clearly, yours is an exception, and I know this is very frustrating, but if you can diagnose the problem, you may find that it can be made to work as reliably for you as it does for many others.

Any tips on how the problem can be diagnosed, and specifically on how to determine if the issue is with Sonos or with my wifi? The fact that EVERY single other piece of hardware works fine and that Sonos is the only one which has issues would suggest the problem is Sonos, but I am open to options.

BTW, Sonos’ customer service is useless. They have specifically told me they will not replace a speaker that can connect to wifi but then drops out - they only replace speaker that never connect. This is outrageous - it’s like saying that a car dealer won’t replace a car that breaks down every 5 miles because it does start up! Also, I don’t know in the US, but in Europe it is against all consumer protection laws not to replace a faulty product under warranty.

In a way, the real test of how reliable a company is is not so much how often issues arise, but how the company deals with them. On this front, Sonos sucks - there is no other way to put it.

If you have multiple Sonos devices that behave the same way it likely speaks towards the speakers conflicting with something in your network infrastructure, rather than something being physically defective with multiple speakers.

If it were me I’d start with checking what type of transmit/receive rate your devices are connecting at with your wireless infrastructure. For example one of my Naim devices is consistently around 144/144 Mbps whereas my Kef speakers will hover around 1/50 Mbps. Audio doesn’t have astronomical bandwidth needs but connection rates are theoretical maxes so it makes sense that a 1 Mbps transmit would occasionally lead to hiccups on higher bitrate files.

Once you have confirmation that something isn’t ideal then you try to optimize your infrastructure and hope you can achieve better results without impacting anything else. Test different channels, different power outputs, track when the issue occurs maybe it’s when you or your neighbors use the microwave, etc.

How do you check the transmit rate of the Sonos speakers?

So far I have tried with and without the Sonos mesh (one of the 3 speakers is wired to the router, and it’s the only reliable one), tried changing channels, tried switching the speakers with one another, nothing.

I honestly cannot think of a single reason why a WiFi device should have connection issues when placed 3-4 metres (10-12 feet) from the router, with nothing between them (no walls, nothing). I just can’t. It’s beyond me. It’s also beyond me why in almost 2020 Sonos doesn’t support 5Ghz but that’s another story.

I haven’t identified any specific pattern. The speaker that’s close to the router sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t. It has nothing to do with any appliance being or not being in use. It has nothing to do with the Internet as it happens when streaming files stored locally on my NAS, too.

The protocol families you are looking for (besides Sonos) are Chromecast (the Google speakers and various 3rd-party speakers), HEOS, DTS Play-Fi, and Apple’s AirPlay. There’s the NAD Blu family too, but little selection. Roon works with (in addition to its native RAAT) Chromecast, Sonos, and AirPlay, and it recently leaked that they’re working on HEOS. So you could get equipment from any of those families and be able to work with Roon, but not be Roon-dependent.

Personally, I’ve got those little $50 Google Home Mini speakers all over my house, and I sometimes play music over them as a group. I’ve got other better stuff, too, but if you’re not paying too much attention to the music, they do just fine with their little 2" speaker. There’s a switch on them if the microphone bothers you; you can turn it off.


I am running 6 Sonos One as well as 1 Beam in my appartment without any issuse over wifi.
I know this does not help you. But if I were you I’d try the following things:

  • Looking into the router what speed the Sonos are connected with
  • Looking into the router for settings that prioritise certain traffic in your network. E.g. my tv runs over IP. So I set up my router to always prioritise this device over others
  • Looking into the router’s logfiles if any issues occur while your Sonos lose connection
  • Looking if your 2,4Ghz network setting conflict with other wifi signals in your area
    E.g. AVM’s Fritzbox can automatically adjust certain settings to avoid conflicts
  • Reset all Sonos completely and set them up as new devices
  • Looking if any DLAN adapter are used close by ( neighbour or youself ) as these can interfere with WIFI signals sometimes
  • Is the speaker firmware up to date? I always install all latest updates and never ran into any issues. The same goes for the controller app on your PC or smartphone
  • I would connect all Sonos speakers directly to the router instead of using the Sonos mesh.
  • how old is the router? Maybe it is too slow to handle all the traffic

Hope I made everything clear as I am not a native English speaking person.
Cheers & good luck from Germany.

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Bluesound devices are a solid choice from my experience of swapping them out from previous Sonos. They sounds great, have proven reliable and include RAAT protocol support so I can group them with the main stereo. I couldn’t do this with Sonos due to Roon having to use Sonos protocol and, understandably, not allowing mixing of protocols in a group.

I have a home-wide Sonos system (6 devices in all). My house is steel framed with concrete block and has three floors. I had LOTS of Wi-Fi problems, in the beginning.

For Sonos, I connected via Ethernet directly to my home router one of these:

…and all of my Sonos issues vanished. Since you already have a collection of Sonos speakers and you like them (outside of connectivity issues), $99 is not a lot to spend to see if this resolves your issue.

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That’s the easy one: 5Ghz bandwidth is not needed for shifting around CD-quality audio streams – and 2,4Ghz gives better performance over longer distances / less than ideal conditions. Sonos does use 5Ghz for device to device connections (say: soundbar to surrounds) – but that’s another story. :wink:

What does your Network Matrix look like? (You can access this via http://ip-address-of-your-Sonos-device:1400/support/review). Here’s mine for reference:

And yes – the Boost is a nice device that will most likely cure your woes.

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How is Sonos Boost different from a bog standard wifi repeater you can buy on Amazon for 1/5 of the prize? It’s a genuine question, not a rhetorical one.

One of my 3 speakers is wired to the router; I understand this creates a Sonos mesh, so it’s very similar, if not identical, to what the Sonos boost does. The kitchen speaker is about 3 metres from the wired speaker and 4 metres from the router, with no obstacles nor walls in between. If Sonos requires a booster to cover 4 unobstructed metres, it means it’s the worst wifi product ever!

Even assuming a Sonos booster were required, finding where to put it wouldn’t be banal: wall? ceiling? right in the middle between the speakers means in the middle of the living room - unfeasible.

Edit: I see you do have one unit wired. When you then set up the additional speakers, did you try to connect them to your wifi, or did they auto detect the sonos mesh?

I’d suggest stepping through the setup procedure again, resetting all speakers and making sure you start with the connected one and go from there.:

I have some experience with this from both a Sonos and IT experience. Sonos does indeed create its own mesh, but it relies on at least one unit being hard wired. If you haven’t got a single unit hard wired to your network, then this simply doesn’t work.

That of course means you’re at the mercy of the quality of your own wifi. With the Sonos mesh, the signal only has to reach the next nearest speaker, not your router.

I’ve implemented many sonos installations for friends and family and can report its incredibly robust if done properly.

I tried both with and without the Sonos mesh. No difference - the connection is unbelievably bad in both cases.

To be honest, I have lost count of the number of times I have redone all these steps over and over again.
The approach of Sonos’ tech support seems to be: “there is no chance in hell we’re ever going to replace this poor sucker’s speakers, so let’s just wear him down by getting him to try everything once more, till he finally realises this is not worth his time and gives up”.

How many is “many”? Unless you have installed hundreds of Sonos systems in environments of all kinds, I’m not sure personal experience can ever be considered to be representative or statistically significant.

Let’s try to bring the discussion back on topic, please.
The question was about alternatives to Sonos, it wasn’t “please help me troubleshoot”

So is Bluesound the only set of speakers that are roughly in my kind of price range, ie something not much more expensive than Sonos? The KEF seem great but are pricey. Same for the Naim.

Have you tried a different speaker as the connected unit?

BOOST only handles Sonos traffic. It doesn’t generally extend WiFi.

One of your Sonos devices should be wired to your router (i.e. Ethernet). That device becomes the “master”, so to speak, and holds your playlists and account setup information for all Sonos devices.

For me it was convenient to have the Boost plug into my router, because my speakers are all scattered elsewhere throughout my home and I wanted at least one SonosNET mesh endpoint directly connected to my router. I’ve read on the Sonos support forum that the more Sonos devices you have plugged in to Ethernet the better - as long as you follow the one-Lan rule.