Mesh network or not - what if I want to force 5Ghz?

I’ve been told by Roon my Apple Airport Extreme is %$££** (several times! :blush:) so I want to upgrade the wifi as easily as possible (I’m an apple user remember!). I see lots of positive posts for the Eero mesh network, and wifi satellites seem a good idea as bedroom coverage is a bit flaky at present, except it seems you can’t tell these Mesh networks to only use the 5Ghz band?

I live in a an apartment block, 2.4Ghz is totally useless for me, everyone uses it and the clashes and drop outs are constant. 5Ghz solved all those issues for me when I bought the Airport Extreme so what to do? Does the mesh system help with these dropout anyway, is that why you can’t force them to one band or another?

Any help from experienced mesh users or otherwise gratefully received! :blush:

I just purchased and installed the Tp-Link M4 Deco mesh system, and you can in fact force which band you want to use. Excellent coverage and rock solid performance so far.


I have the Eero system you posted about. It has truthfully changed the wifi coverage in my house for the better. Two months now without a hiccup.

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Another very satisfied Eero user, though as I live far from other interference I use 2.4 as that gives wider coverage.

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Excellent, that’s useful feedback chaps - I wonder if anyone else is using a Mesh network in an apartment building where interference from others can be an issue? Maybe the clever Mesh technology sorts this out now? I would really like to get one ASAP as Amazon have some Black Friday deals on! :blush:

Curious to know what your space (sq/ft) is that your are seeking a mesh solution? Everyone’s wifi req are different in so far as sq/ft, structure, interference’s etc… I would personally look at a good enterprise AP. Keep in mind, mesh v.s. an AP are very different and depending on the number of hops you’ll have in a mesh setup, your bandwidth will be “haved”.

Additionally, for anything audio I would recomend hardwire the components back to a decent switch without question. But I understand that is not always possible nor is it something you may not want to tackle. I will say though, that getting dedicated network items like a individual modem, router and wifi can solve a lot of issues as opposed to “an all in one” device ISP’s push. Again not for everyone but just something to think about.

If you’re in an apartment I would think a good AP would be way more than enough => Ubiquiti Nano HD or AC AP Pro. My $.02

Hi @Swisstrips - well I wouldn’t know the space, it’s average two bedroom apartment, the lounge is nice and big and the stud walls are plasterboard so no internal brick or block. What I’m finding with Roon is first the bedroom - the 5Ghz I have separated into it’s own network can barely make it into here (the 2.4Ghz is fine but I am in an apartment block so plenty of competition and I don’t use it). I don’t want to run wires, it’s rented and I would have to make holes in walls! :blush:

Secondly in the lounge (where the router is maybe 10 feet away and barely obstructed) I keep getting Roon ‘lost connection’ errors as I’m listening to music, and Roon blame the Apple Extreme for dropping me off the network. Last night for example the music just stopped and the iPad lost connection and showed me the ‘connect to another Roon core’ screen. I quickly went onto Safari and checked the Rock web page - all up and running, all ok, then I checked the Allo DigiOne and it wasn’t there - didn’t come back for ages. So I thought, maybe a newer (the Airport is probably 12 years old now?) more up to date router would do the job in the lounge at least.

I don’t really want to run a cable to the Pi - that sort of defeats the purpose and convenience of wifi doesn’t it? But I do understand what you are saying, and it seems obvious when I think of it now that the Pi dropping connection is probably the start of the chain of events. Maybe Roon doesn’t mean it has lost connection for the iPad to the core, but that the core has lost connection to the playing device?

Anyway, I have been using an old Airport Express to extend the network (wirelessly) into the bedroom and this works surprisingly well - so long as I make sure I switch off wifi on all devices when I boot up the Express then let them connect to that as they don’t switch automatically from the main router. But still I get occasional ‘lost connection’ issues - usually when I am surfing the web whilst listening, everything grinds to a halt and dies! So that’s why I thought maybe a Mesh network could get the bedroom connected better, without roaming issues, and also being a newer bit of kit help with the lounge as well?

(PS. the modem is a BT issue Hub 6 and has the wifi switched off, purely sat next to the incoming telephone line and working in modem mode and connected to what BT call infinity - which is about 60Mbits or so internet.)

I am using home plugs and although not recommended by Roon both the tp link av1200 and currently devolo magic 2 with wifi too (end points use the Ethernet connection) work flawlessly.

The devolo piggy back your router so wireless passwords etc remain the same.

If you have an airport express V2 and are in the UK, I would be interested.

I have managed to get airports to work but OMG, are they hard work.

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I just upgraded to wifi6 with Netgear Orbi. It plays nice in my all-Apple household and is super-robust in a long thin home with 14” thick cotswold stone walls. Expensive but as future proof as these things get

I have the original WiFi 5 Orbi devices and they work nicely with Roon (and Sonos) after disabling (or enabling as it was a long time ago) the IGMP Snooping. Work’s great with everything and has three radios so you get dedicated backhaul channel, which tends to make it fast. EERO pro has this but not other models.

Overall I generally recommend a three channel system, but most mesh systems now are pretty capable and a recommendation for most user’s who struggle to reach all parts of the house.


I’ll probably keep the Express @lawrence_Baker as I have brought it back into use at least three times now, usually for airplay streaming duties when I needed a source away for the main system! I would certainly flog you the Extreme however as that will be completely redundant… :blush:

Thanks all, well I grabbed a 2 pack Tp-Link M4 Deco mesh system (at a really good price) and sure enough as @Charles_Tidwell said I can turn off 2.4Ghz and go with 5Ghz - that’s sorted that! Although initially it couldn’t find the Raspberry Pi in it’s Ikea Besta open cupboard behind the sofa. I now realise I am pushing things with that one, but it did make me think the Extreme wasn’t so bad after all, it had no problem? Maybe just the Pi being picky on it’s first boot on the new wireless network - in the end I put it on the table next to the router and properly configured it there - no problem since, in cupboard or not!

Funny thing is I got the Mesh network so I could wirelessly expand the range into the bedroom, which the second Deco did very simply, but now I don’t like the idea of wifi signals cooking me as I sleep - so I’ve turned it off! Haha :rofl: :joy: We will see if it connects ok when I turn it on this morning for some headphone listening off my bedroom Pi!

(Edit: I see the manufacturer has been fielding calls for a timer feature to turn off wifi at certain times, especially for those not wanting to sleep in the same room - it’s been on the cards now for over a year apparently)

I moved from the Airport Extreme to a Synology mesh system a few months ago.
Night and day difference to both LAN and WIFI speed & stability.
The airport extreme served its purpose back in the day but it’s old hat now. I don’t think Apple even support the product anymore.

I have the TPLink Deco P9 setup, which uses powerline backhaul. It’s a complex setting - I have two buildings (a house and a barn), and I have ethernet connecting the two buildings, but don’t have internal wiring in either the house or barn, and they’re both reasonably large buildings. So I use ethernet backhaul to link the two buildings together, and powerline backhaul to create the mesh within each of the buildings. I have 6 access points there. Which works great most of the time - basically I’ trying to create a large scale network, and I’m trying to make it seamless. Ignore the 2 building / ethernet thing — it’s a good consumer set-up. Based on friends’ set-ups, the Eero Pro (eg, the set-up where you have all Eero Pros) is some better at (a) maintaining a wireless backhaul connection, and (b) speed of connection at some distance. For your use case, this might be better. What I like about the TPLink is it’s fairly stupid-proof, though I will admit that upgrading firmware is a total PITA to get all the units flashed. And when you roam across 2 APs, you occasionally lose connection briefly, which is almost unnoticeable except when you’re on a WiFi call or FaceTime. So that’s one place.

My second place, I wired the whole darn thing and I have the best set-up in the universe (unless I lived on a corporate campus). I have Ubiquiti UniFi- a USG, a Cloud Key, a core 24 port managed switch and a couple subsidiary managed 8-port switches and a bunch of AP-PROs. That system is absolutely rock solid. It’s not for the faint of heart; you need to learn a bit about networking. But when you are on WiFi calling and you walk around the whole house, you never notice losing a connection for a second - it is just plain as good as anything I’ve ever had at work - solid. It’s also more than most people would spend on home networking. But that is the gold standard in my mind to compare from a performance perspective, and they’ve started to come out with more consumer-friendly gear.

Of course you can’t really compare these two set-ups apples to apples; one has a country internet connection, the other one a near-in suburban one (though both from the cable company). One is all-wired for backhaul, the other one is using powerline and WiFi backhaul. So YMMV.

However, what I think in your use case if you want the absolute best and don’t want to go crazy is to look at the UniFi Dream Machine (which incorporates a router, basic switch, cloud key) and get 1-2 extra AP PROs. If you can possibly manage to wire the backhaul to 1 or both of them, then you’ll have a set-up that’s functionally the same as my bomber one. If you rely on wireless backhaul I don’t know how great it’ll be, but I know that UniFi makes a product that is WAY more sophisticated than any of the consumer companies. But it’s a bit like Roon - forum / community support, frequent updates, you gotta get to know it. If that sounds awful (because it is more technical than Roon; though if you can install a ROCK you can do this, promise) then stick to the consumer grade stuff.

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For many the if it ain’t broke don’t fix mantra holds strong and I guess for many the Airport Extreme is good enough still.
I have a number of friends who have sworn by them until they tried something modern and then they could not believe the difference having stuck with the Express for so many years.


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I have a number of large scale Unify deployments (30+ AP’s) and they are really amazing but I am not sure they are the best for home use, especially when the simple TPLINK, ORBI and EERO type simple mesh systems exist.

There can be lots of tinkering involved, but the Dream Machine (and the pro which I have) work great and I do recommend them to people who have the need for them.


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I have a number of large scale Unify deployments (30+ AP’s) and they are really amazing but I am not sure they are the best for home use, especially when the simple TPLINK, ORBI and EERO type simple mesh systems exist.

That is totally fair. I had to do a bunch of tinkering in the first year. UniFi has come a long long long way in making it more stupid proof; things like WiFi AI (which tune the antenna strength and orientation within each AP) are big contributors to why it’s so magically transparently rock solid for my family - meaning it just does its thing in the background. And frankly I haven’t touched the set-up for more than 3 years, except to add an outdoor access point during the pandemic(!). If you haven’t seen the UniFi Dream Machine, check it out - it’s getting close to having the best of both worlds (simple consumer set-up, pro features if you want them), albeit at 2x the price (vs. 4x the price for my UniFi setup). For me, treating WiFi as a “project” was something that was totally worth spending a bunch of headspace on a while ago to “get it right” was absolutely worth it, and since then it’s been simpler than anyone else’s I know — everyone with one of the mesh systems I know has some amount of fiddling - restarting APs, moving them, etc. even after they’ve had it a while. I haven’t had to do any fiddling at all after a bigger lift to get started.

However, gotta admit that I’m basically 100% agreeing with you that the consumer stuff is getting better and better and it’s right for most people with a reasonable size home, some interference, challenging backhaul. I tell all my friends who aren’t going to / don’t want to think of WiFi as a “project” to get the Eero Pro (3 of the Pros, none of the beacons). And if they have a challenging set-up (longer distances, absolutely can’t wire with ethernet) and the Eero Pro isn’t hacking it after 3 weeks, I tell them to return it to Amaz*n and try the TPLink Deco P9.

But… I hope you’ll agree that for some things where consistency is critically important (like Roon endpoints where drop-outs are a bad thing) wired is WAAAAY better than wireless. I know it’s easy for me to say - I’ve wired everything already. But I find that kind of fiddling just exasperating - because the technology is just not meant to support the demands we’re placing on it. That to me is the most important piece of all this; get the best WiFi set-up you can support financially and in terms of headspace. But wire the endpoints that matter to you if they really matter to you. I’m not saying WiFi can’t work, just that if it doesn’t, it’s tough to say “my WiFi sucks”, because all WiFi sucks in that regard - the use case is just way too demanding. Dunno, maybe that’s controversial.

Johnny If Unify was where it is now when I bought my Orbi system there is no doubt I would be using it, but too expensive to swap out.
I pretty much agree with every statement you made there and all good sensible advice for those getting into Roon and making it reliable.

All my RasPI Endpoints are Ethernet connected, but the Sonos are half and half but are rock solid reliable after early issues between SonosNet and Mesh network (long since sorted, but it was fun getting there).

Though with the dedicated back haul on the Orbi some of them are wired into an Orbi base station, but that is not the home WiFi and they think they are Ethernet and never have an issue with it so yes I have to agree home gear is getting so much better.