One of the most frustrating experiences you can go through is having your wifi speakers cut out right as your favourite part of a song comes on. It’s the audio equivalent of the hated buffering notices on streaming video. But why is it happening? You set up your speakers with no problems, your WiFi seems to be working fine on your phone and computer, yet your WiFi speaker keeps cutting out! Before you end up throwing your speaker into a wall, try some of the following troubleshooting tips to help your connection.
One of the challenges in diagnosing a connection issue is that there are many points along the chain that could be causing problems. For example, if you are streaming music from Spotify, controlled by your phone, and then ultimately to your speaker, the connection problem could be ISP related between Spotify & your phone, or an internal network error between your phone and the speakers.
1. What’s your internet connection speed?
First, you will want to double check what your speed is from your Internet service provider. Typically a download speed of 25Mbps (note: Megabit per second, not megabyte) should be more than enough to stream music & video from the internet. If you’re under 10Mbps you will want to consider upping your service level from your provider, which may solve the problem right away. To check your internet speeds, connect your computer to your modem/router by ethernet cable and visit http://www.speedtest.net/ and run a test. Make sure that you are actually getting the speeds that you are paying for! It can also help to run this test at different parts of the day, as your internet speeds can be affected by your neighbour’s usage, especially with cable internet plans. Lastly, pay attention to what else is happening on your network when the speaker cuts out. Did someone else in your home start streaming video right before the drop? If you have 4 or 5 people, each with their own smartphone, tablet, and/or laptop connected to the same WiFi network, you may need to bump up to a 50Mbps plan to keep things running smoothly.
2. Check your WiFi router
Speedtest.net has an app for both iPhone and Android, download it and then stand near the speaker that’s cutting out and run the speed test from your smartphone. Ideally, you should be getting close to the same speed as you previously got with a hardwired connection. If your speed is significantly slower than you want to move the speaker and WiFi router closer together. If this doesn’t help then there may be some other networks interfering with your WiFi.
3. Check your WiFi Band & Type
Conflicting networks may be causing a problem with your home network, causing your speaker to keep cutting out. To help diagnose this you will have to use a WiFi Scanner application on your computer.
Mac Users: OSX has a wifi scanner built-in to the operating system. To access it, hold down the Option button and click the Network symbol at the top of the screen, and click Open Network Diagnostics.Once opened, Select Window (Next To File, Edit, etc) > Scan to test your current WiFi network.
PC Option: There is a free scanner app called “WiFi Analyzer” available to download from the Microsoft store.
What To Look For: There are a few things we can investigate here to fix our WiFi speaker connection problems. First, check whether your WiFi network is a 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequency, and then check your speaker to make sure it is compatible with the one that’s chosen. For example, Sonos speakers utilize the 2.4GHz frequency, but the Paradigm Wireless can accept either 2.4GHz or 5GHz. You may experience problems if you are trying to connect a 2.4 GHz speaker to a 5GHz router. If your speaker can accept both frequencies, 5GHz has a much faster data transfer rate, however, has less range than 2.4GHz frequency.
Aside from frequency, there is also the channel your WiFi is operating on, and it may contain a lot of interference, especially for those living in Apartments.
If your network is overlapping with other nearby networks, consider picking a lesser used channel to reduce interference. For Mac users, your network diagnostics will simply tell you which are the best channels to use on 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequencies.
Do You Need A New Router?
If you have a large house, and your router is several years old it may be time to consider upgrading. The new WiFi routers with the AC standard are up to 3x faster than the previous N standard. Now, most wireless speakers do not support the AC standard, however, your connection can still benefit from a new router through beamforming technology. Unlike older routers that disperse WiFi in an equal radius out from the router, newer AC routers detect which devices are using the network, and directs the WiFi signal towards them. The result is much faster speeds at farther distances from the router. This could also help with speaker connection issues.
Image from Netgear
4. Special Solution For Sonos Users
Sonos has their own solution for connection issues called Boost Installation. When setting up your speakers, you can choose a Boost installation. This involves hardwiring one of your Sonos speakers, which then creates its own Sonos specific WiFi network to which the rest of your speakers will connect. This is also helpful if your router only supports 5GHz which is not supported by Sonos. Another benefit of this installation is it allows you to place speakers further away from your WiFi router, as they only need to be in the range of another speaker.
5. When To Seek Professional Help
At this point, we’ve looked at your internet connection speed, Wifi router speeds, speaker placement, WiFi network frequency, and interference from other devices. If you are still having connectivity issues, it may be worth contacting your Local AVU to have a networking professional take a look at your system. Every home is unique and there may be something related to the construction of your home that’s causing the interference that can’t be easily diagnosed. Our installers have experience with smart home automation and providing network access to each corner of a house so they will be able to tell you exactly what needs to be done to ensure maximum connectivity. Click here to find your local Audio Video Unlimited in Canada.
We hope this article has helped you figure out why your Wifi speaker keeps cutting out and has given you the tools you need to fix it. Did you try something else that fixed the problem? Spread the word in the comments below!