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Will a Sonos System Affect Wi-Fi Speeds?

Sonos speakers are the ultimate wireless speaker experience. You can connect multiple speakers throughout various rooms in your house and set up a stereo surround sound layout in a home theater. Typically Sonos speakers work seamlessly together through a mesh network setup without affecting your home WiFi speeds. However, unaffected WiFi network speeds may not always be the case. Do Sonos speakers affect WiFi speeds?

Sonos speakers might affect your WiFi speeds. However, it’s usually because the Sonos network is interfering with your WiFi network and not from using its bandwidth. Fixing these speed issues can be done by changing the router’s or the Sonos system’s wireless channel.

Channel interference is the most common reason for Sonos speakers slowing your network. If your router and Sonos system is operating on the same channel, they will try to “talk over” one another, which can slow things down, regardless, they’re still an excellent choice for home theaters as we argued in our guide. Other interference causes include electronics like microwaves and LCD monitors or smart home device hubs and baby monitors. Whatever is causing the interference, the fix is relatively easy in most cases. Read this entire article to learn about all the ways Sonos systems’ can affect WIFi speeds and how to fix them!

The Effect of Sonos Speakers on Your Wi-Fi Speed

The function of all Sonos speakers is to stream audio – whether it is music, movies, podcasts, audiobooks, or sports. You can rest assured that they do not take up a whole lot of bandwidth. Unless you have a WiFi network with super low bandwidth, to begin with, the Sonos speakers streaming audio is very likely not the cause of your WiFi speed issues. 

The bigger problem that typically occurs is channel interference. If your Sonos speakers and your WiFi router are transmitting on the same wireless channel, it could mirror a lack of bandwidth on your WiFi network. To elaborate, all Sonos speakers, like this Sonos One SL two-room set (on Amazon), put up their own WiFi network to communicate with each speaker and play audio from the internet. If the network of the Sonos speakers and the WiFi router is on the same channel, that could slow the WiFi speed. 

How Wi-Fi Channels Work

All WiFi routers work by communicating on a WiFi frequency band. The bands are used by all the wireless devices on your WiFi network to send and receive data to and from the internet. Typically, routers have WiFi bands of 2.4Ghz or 5 GHz, but sometimes they are dual-band and can establish networks on both frequencies. 

WiFi channels are smaller frequency bands within the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz frequency bands. Depending on the frequency band of the router, you’ll have a different number of channels: 

  • Routers with 2.4 GHz frequency have 11 WiFi channels
  • Routers with 5.0 GHz frequency have 45 WiFi channels 
  • Dual-band routers with both 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz frequencies have 56 WiFi channels

WiFi channels take up about 20 MHz of the WiFi band. For reference, 20MHz is equal to just  0.02 GHz. Some of these smaller bands or “channels” are more likely to get interference from other devices and get interference. There are two typical types of channel interface: 

  1. Co-channel interference– multiple devices or networks are competing with other devices on the same channel.
  2. Adjacent channel interference– devices on channels that overlap are clogging up the channel right below or above. 

In both cases, these interferences can cause the WiFi speeds to crawl, especially if there is a lot of interference. If you think you are experiencing channel interference, you can change the channel in your router settings. Alternatively, some routers are capable of automatic channel selection, which prevents interference or use all channels instead of just one to maximum data transfer efficiency. 

Think of a channel as a highway and the WiFi transfer as traffic on the highway. The less traffic there is on the highway, the easier it is for traffic to flow fast. If you get a lot more traffic on the highway, traffic can slow and even result in a traffic jam. The same is true for WiFi channels. If there are too many networks on the same channel, all the data can get in a “traffic” jam. 

How Sonos Speakers Can Interfere with Wi-Fi Signals

Now that you know what WiFi channels are and how channel interference can reduce WiFi speed, it should be easier to understand how Sonos speakers can cause channel interference. As stated earlier in this article, Sonos speakers work by creating their own WiFi network. If the WiFi network of the Sonos speakers is on the same channel as your router’s WiFi network, you can get channel interference. Obviously, this could cause slow WiFi speeds. 

How to Fix Slow WiFi from Sonos Speakers

If the WiFi speed issues are being caused by Sonos speakers using the same WiFi channel as your router, you will have to change the wireless channel of the Sonos products or your WiFi network (more home theater troubleshooting tips in our guide).

  • Change Sonos device’s wireless channel.
    • Open the Android or iOS Sonos Controller mobile app.
    • Go to settings, select System, then network, then SonosNet Channel
    • Change the wireless channel to 1, 6, or 11
  • Change your router’s wireless channel
    • Enter your IP address into your web browser or load the router’s software to open the router’s configuration settings.
    • Locate the settings page and change the wireless channel. Sonos recommends switching your router to channels 1, 6, or 11 and disabling the “auto” channel setting. 
    •  Save the changes, and restart the router if the configuration page recommends it. 

Most of the time, you will just have to change the Sonos device’s channel or the router’s wireless channel and not both. However, you can change both if you wish but make sure you don’t set them to the same channel. In other words, if you set the router’s channel to 1, you should set the Sonos devices channel to 6 or 11 (instead of both to the same number). 

You can also get channel interference from things like microwaves, electronics, and smart device hubs. In this case, it’s best to use channels 1, 6, or 11 to reduce the chances of channel interference from these devices. Also, be sure to place your router and Sonos speakers at least 3 feet away from these interference-causing devices as well.