Control & Automation

Yes You Can Turn Off Sonos Wi-Fi: No More Broadcast Storms!

Users hate that Sonos unleashes a Wi-Fi broadcast storm even if you’re not using a wireless SonosNet connection. Now Domotz running on a Luxul router lets you kill the RF.

Yes You Can Turn Off Sonos Wi-Fi: No More Broadcast Storms!
Domotz network monitoring and remote management software embedded in products like a Luxul router can be used to turn off Wi-Fi for Sonos devices when wireless isn't needed, resulting in a cleaner and more secure home network.

Julie Jacobson · December 7, 2017

First rule of Wi-Fi: Shut off the wireless if you don’t need it. Unnecessary traffic can undermine a network and introduce potential vulnerabilities that wouldn’t exist if you just disabled Wi-Fi.

So why won’t Sonos let you JUST DISABLE Wi-Fi?

“It’s a pretty big issue with the integration community,” says Michael Grubb, newly appointed VP of marketing for Luxul, a developer of high-performance networking gear for the professional A/V integration channel.

Many users hardwire their Sonos Connect players to the home network for the best possible performance. Even then, “Sonos doesn’t offer the ability to turn off Wi-Fi,” Grubb says.

The result is an entirely unnecessary “broadcast storm” caused by all those confused Sonos devices trying to connect with each other via the proprietary SonosNet wireless mesh, while already chatting happily over hardwired Ethernet. The dueling networks can create an endless broadcast loop that takes down the whole network.

Grubb knows this scenario all too well, having spent four years at Sonos as a regional sales rep before joining Luxul this year. 

An option to disable Wi-Fi was “probably one of the top five requests we got from dealers,” he says, noting that open APIs and channel conflicts were up there.

The Sonos Wireless Fix

Now there's a simple fix for the Sonos Wi-Fi issue, thanks to software from Domotz, provider of network monitoring and diagnostic software, and parent company of the popular Wi-Fi-sniffer Fing.

Luxul is deploying Domotz in its Luxul Epic 3 Router. Simply open the Domotz app, pull up the Sonos devices and hit the Wi-Fi toggle button. Domotz provides the wireless status of the Sonos devices.

The ability to silence wireless communications has some pretty sweet implications if you consider all the networking devices in a typical home that come out of the box with Wi-Fi blazing.

Domotz has several such tricks in its software suite, often accomplished through reverse-engineering. This hand feature, however, entailed a little bit of luck, according to Grubb:  “We just kind of stumbled across it."

That's what happens when you monitor the volume of network traffic that Domotz does (with a boost from Fing).

The timing couldn’t be better, as countless wireless devices invade the home, packed with auto-discovery and other potentially invasive features that, by default, never rest.

The ability to silence wireless communications has some pretty sweet implications if you consider all the networking devices in a typical home that come out of the box with Wi-Fi blazing -- printers, TVs, major appliances, and even smart-home devices like Nest thermostats that eventually will take advantage of local communications technologies (Thread/Weave in this case).

Domotz potentially could be programmed to disable Wi-Fi after the IoT devices do their online business, and perhaps reconnect every so often as necessary.

Shunting that extra RF traffic, even temporarily, can improve security and provide an all-around “stable, controllable environment,” Grubb says.

No, Domotz isn’t the Only Solution

There are other workarounds for this (potential) broadcast loop. You can kill the wireless chatter by opening the Sonos port on the Wi-Fi network if you can find it, and then issue a direct command-line code from a Web browser, but … meh.

Also, a managed switch with Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) running should do the trick. Luxul ships its managed switches with STP enabled by default, making a wireless Sonos installation plug-and-play, according to Grubb.

In the absence of a managed switch, the Domotz software will soothe some headaches.

Grubb concedes nobody knows how future Sonos updates might affect this handy fix, but Domotz is committed to fixing the fix if Sonos unfixes it.

Domotz and Legrand are exhibiting at CES. Register for the Ultimate CES 2018 Preview Webinar.

More Luxul News

Luxul, a division of Legrand, has said over the past couple of years that it wants to be the network infrastructure for add-on services like Domotz. Several leading competitors in the CE channel, including Pakedge (with BakPak) and SnapAV's Araknis (OvrC), have their own network-monitoring and remote management tools.

Grubb reiterates this mission, saying the company will incorporate other solutions from different providers as well. Luxul started this initiative last year, incorporating Router Limits parental controls and network-monitoring to its routers.

Grubb says Luxul plans a “reinvigoration” of the company’s XWC wireless controller campaign, promoting that scheme – with proprietary Roam Assist technology – as the go-to architecture for most custom-oriented networks.

Meanwhile, Luxul is working with Domotz (and others) to add networking smarts to other products in the Legrand family, which includes NuVo Technologies (multiroom audio), OnQ (home-control, communications, structured wiring) and Middle Atlantic (A/V racks, power management), Vantage (home automation, lighting controls), QMotion (motorized shades), and WattStopper (lighting controls).

First up will be an line of intelligent power-distribution products from Middle Atlantic to be released in the next couple of months.

Legrand recently launched its Eliot program to develop an interoperable IoT ecosystem based on the Samsung Artik Cloud platform. In the past, the company has demonstrated solutions incorporating Artik and IBM's Watson AI technology.



  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]

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  Article Topics


Control & Automation · Automation · Networking & Cables · Networking · Audio/Video · Distributed Audio · News · Products · Domotz · Legrand · Luxul · Remote Management · Remote Monitoring · Sonos · All Topics
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Comments

Posted by AlexChisholm on December 8, 2017

This is not new… it’s been available for some time.

Posted by rocFusion on December 8, 2017

None of this is actually new, anyone serious about Sonos already has this on their installation checklist.  Luxul is just pulling on the chains of the newbie, yet another marketing trick.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on December 7, 2017

Thanks for the link gblasko. I should have included it in the story reference where I suggested this technique as an option. The problem is ... it’s complicated. And of course if you need to toggle on/off the wireless every so often for whatever reason (moving from indoor to outdoor and back, for example), it’s a pain.

Posted by gblasko on December 7, 2017

Or even easier, every Sonos has a API interface that can be accessed via http. Follow instructions here. https://bsteiner.info/articles/disabling-sonos-wifi

Posted by Julie Jacobson on December 7, 2017

Maybe we need to create a “naughty” list for the holidays?

Posted by Bjorn Jensen on December 7, 2017

I can’t think of any good reason for Sonos to use the same MAC on both.  Only downsides.  The downside being potentially creating a broadcast storm.  I started writing a lot about it for you and then decided there may be a good animation of it out on the internets so a quick YouTube search found the following handy explanation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=se-pVwapTic

What the animation doesn’t show is the exponential growth of frames being forwarded throughout the network.  This exponential increase in frames will most likely eventually bring the network to its knees and make it freeze up altogether.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on December 7, 2017

(edited)
Thank you for the comments Bjorn and Bruno. I will add the MAC address issue to the story. Bjorn, it is entirely possible that I misunderstood Luxul’s comments on STP, as this is certainly not my area of expertise. I’‘ll get some clarity.

On another note ... Is there a good reason for Sons’ using the same MAC addresses for wired/wireless? Any downsides for using different addresses?

Thanks again for taking the time to enlighten us.

Posted by Bjorn Jensen on December 7, 2017

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the article states that STP, which is enabled by default in the Luxul switches, can be used to fix the loop in the network.  This is true, but what happens is the port the Sonos unit is on OR the port on the switch which the access point that feeds the Sonos unit will end up being blocked by the switch to remove the loop and prevent a broadcast storm.  At best this will just negate the hardwire on the Sonos unit.  At worst it will disable the access point it’s connected to.  If you’re going this route an easier solution is to just not hardwire the Sonos in the first place.

There are ways to manage STP so it doesn’t block an entire ports data from being forwarded, such as using PVST, but that will just keep it from blocking all VLANs, but will still block the traffic on the VLAN it finds the loop.

I applaud Domotz for always being forward thinking and adding this simple, yet effective feature to their system.  It would keep me from having to remember the URL to use on the Sonos units.  Bruno is also correct that this specific looping problem could be fixed by having a separate MAC address for wired and wireless but it’s still good to disable the internal wireless radio on the Sonos units so that you eliminate unnecessary RF interference.  Just my two cents.  If there is something I misread in the statement about STP I apologize.

Posted by Bruno Napoli on December 7, 2017

One of the biggest problem of Sonos it that it share the same MAC address in WiFi and in Ethernet.
This cause huge loop in the network.

Posted by Bruno Napoli on December 7, 2017

One of the biggest problem of Sonos it that it share the same MAC address in WiFi and in Ethernet.
This cause huge loop in the network.

Posted by Bjorn Jensen on December 7, 2017

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the article states that STP, which is enabled by default in the Luxul switches, can be used to fix the loop in the network.  This is true, but what happens is the port the Sonos unit is on OR the port on the switch which the access point that feeds the Sonos unit will end up being blocked by the switch to remove the loop and prevent a broadcast storm.  At best this will just negate the hardwire on the Sonos unit.  At worst it will disable the access point it’s connected to.  If you’re going this route an easier solution is to just not hardwire the Sonos in the first place.

There are ways to manage STP so it doesn’t block an entire ports data from being forwarded, such as using PVST, but that will just keep it from blocking all VLANs, but will still block the traffic on the VLAN it finds the loop.

I applaud Domotz for always being forward thinking and adding this simple, yet effective feature to their system.  It would keep me from having to remember the URL to use on the Sonos units.  Bruno is also correct that this specific looping problem could be fixed by having a separate MAC address for wired and wireless but it’s still good to disable the internal wireless radio on the Sonos units so that you eliminate unnecessary RF interference.  Just my two cents.  If there is something I misread in the statement about STP I apologize.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on December 7, 2017

(edited)
Thank you for the comments Bjorn and Bruno. I will add the MAC address issue to the story. Bjorn, it is entirely possible that I misunderstood Luxul’s comments on STP, as this is certainly not my area of expertise. I’‘ll get some clarity.

On another note ... Is there a good reason for Sons’ using the same MAC addresses for wired/wireless? Any downsides for using different addresses?

Thanks again for taking the time to enlighten us.

Posted by Bjorn Jensen on December 7, 2017

I can’t think of any good reason for Sonos to use the same MAC on both.  Only downsides.  The downside being potentially creating a broadcast storm.  I started writing a lot about it for you and then decided there may be a good animation of it out on the internets so a quick YouTube search found the following handy explanation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=se-pVwapTic

What the animation doesn’t show is the exponential growth of frames being forwarded throughout the network.  This exponential increase in frames will most likely eventually bring the network to its knees and make it freeze up altogether.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on December 7, 2017

Maybe we need to create a “naughty” list for the holidays?

Posted by gblasko on December 7, 2017

Or even easier, every Sonos has a API interface that can be accessed via http. Follow instructions here. https://bsteiner.info/articles/disabling-sonos-wifi

Posted by Julie Jacobson on December 7, 2017

Thanks for the link gblasko. I should have included it in the story reference where I suggested this technique as an option. The problem is ... it’s complicated. And of course if you need to toggle on/off the wireless every so often for whatever reason (moving from indoor to outdoor and back, for example), it’s a pain.

Posted by rocFusion on December 8, 2017

None of this is actually new, anyone serious about Sonos already has this on their installation checklist.  Luxul is just pulling on the chains of the newbie, yet another marketing trick.

Posted by AlexChisholm on December 8, 2017

This is not new… it’s been available for some time.