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Sonos Solved by Support Superstar

It's a few years since the name Sonos crept into my business vocabulary. It is very much the home audio system of choice for our clients who want music all round the house. For most of our works its been an absolute dream, we convert our clients CDs, load the digital files into their iTunes library, Sonos picks up the tracks from there.

Happy iTunes, happy iPod, happy Sonos - everyone's happy.

From time to time though it does go wrong, so a couple of times I've had to reinstall the Sonos computer controller and reboot the music library. And in one notable case our client's system just stopped working. Anyway yesterday we were called in to sort out the pesky Sonos, once and for all. Three hours into the task and not getting very far I did more digging around the main Sonos website and found mention of support over internet chat. I crossed my fingers and hit the button. A few minutes later I was chatting to Gordon.

Gordon is my hero.

One of the things I found out is that Sonos has a diagnostic facility. Using the main controller facility you create a file which you send to Sonos. As the file is submitted you get a code number, I sent that to Gordon and in a few seconds he had some suggestions. With his help we got the malfunctioning hand controller back working, loaded the latest software in the main Mac, updated the software in four of the five Zone players. In a few moments of joy I blasted some Bach over the rooftops of London.

Along the way I learnt a few mini-lessons that I think will help me should we be faced with this knotty problem again. First, update the controller software running on your PC or Mac. Then use that to load music into the Sonos library and maybe link into internet radio stations. Make sure that works properly.

Second, tackle the nearest Sonos device first. This is the unit that has to be hard wired to your router. Its should be an easy matter to press the mute and volume up button which reboots the unit. Check with the Sonos desktop controller to make sure this unit has been found. I'd also suggest moving the Sonos off its default channel, I think I put this on 1 rather than 6.

Sonos runs its own network in which each Zone Player links to the next. It doesn't matter how well your home wireless network works, how good the signal is, Sonos ignores this and does its own thing. Sadly its own little world can be screwed by your home mobile phone, the baby alarm or a radio doorbell. Hence try to get it away from any likely source if interference. Having got the first Zone Player working move onto the next closest because that's daisy chaining the network around your house.

This is what we did, progressively updating each Zone Player software as we went. We also updated the software in the handheld Sonos controller. Having spent a couple of hours getting to this stage we hopped round the house in minutes setting the other three units. When we got to the last unit we could see where the problem was - simply no signal this far down the house. On previous visits we'd started here and tried to solve this unit's malfunction, obviously a hopeless task that was never destined to work.

We were left having to explain only one thing to the client. Why did it work originally and not later? Well, Zone Players are brick like units. They don't look great on display in a very well decorated house so my client had them tastefully put away in purpose built cupboards with nice, close fitting doors. Add soft furnishings, carpets, rugs - the signal that rattled round the empty house just gets soaked up in a furnished home. So the final part of the solution has to be installing a Sonos Bridge unit, this doesn't play music but it boosts the signal, I hope, enough to reach the far rooms of the home.

Thanks Sonos, I understand. And thanks Gordon, wherever in the world of Sonos you may be.
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