ehidle

Network Setup Best Practices

26 posts in this topic

Hey everyone, I am the "computer guy" for a friend who has a Control4/Sonos installation. Their A/V company is suggesting that the network setup is the source of some of the problems they're having with the system. I'd like to know if there is a thorough network best practices document that describes in detail the router facilities required by Control4, so that I can make sure the router can meet the requirements. The router is a Linux-based appliance so it is very versatile and can do whatever, but I just need to know what exactly needs to happen for Control4 to be happy.

If this is documented somewhere, that's great.

Thanks in advance!

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My guess would be that the Sonos system is flooding the network.  You will have to provide a lot more detail, if you want a detailed answer to your problem.

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First thing I'd do is make sure only one of the Sonos devices is hardwired to the network and the rest are communicating through sonosnet, which is the mesh sonos creates.  This will get Sonos traffic off your network which absolutely causes issues within a Control4 system and fixes a lot of Sonos related issues.  If you have multiple sonos devices on your network a lot of time spanning tree needs to be enabled to make them work properly and this causes other network issues.    

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First thing I'd do is disable wireless completely on Sonos if at all possible, and hardwire everything...

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I have had great success with the sonos boost as the only hard wired sonos device. 

Control4 uses the network, but relies on direct communication to its devices. Not much the router needs to do. 

 

If you hardwire the sonos products, DO NOT DAISY CHAIN THEM!  Use a single network switch port for each device. 

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Thank you all for your responses. Keep in mind that I'm not the guy actually configuring the Sonos and Control4 systems themselves. I only own the network (and to make things more fun, I manage everything remotely and only visit the site a couple of times every year).

But, for information's sake and to give more details about the network:

Everything is hard wired (almost - buildings on the property are linked with 5GHz bridges, but everything within a building is wired). There are four Sonos devices I can see on the LAN - not sure what they are, but they are small white boxes with a couple of buttons on them. Two of them are in the main house and two are out in another building where the client runs a yoga gym. I believe the A/V company told me at one point that all of the Sonos speakers use the mesh network. The entire property is also covered with dualband Wifi, if that might have anything to do with it. All of the Control4 equipment in the house has its own Cisco switch, which is uplinked to my switch which handles everything else. 

All of the problems have been stuff like a panel in the house not being able to get music into a room. As an example, the other night, I could load up the Sonos control S/W on a PC on the LAN, and then when the owner picked a song with her iPhone, I could see the song get selected in Sonos, but it wouldn't play. The play animation was going on the panel as if the music were playing, but there was no sound, and Sonos did not show the song was playing. If I then manually started the song in Sonos on the PC, it would start playing just fine. The music library is stored on a Win10 PC in the house. 

I admit I know precious little about Sonos/Control4 but it looks like something that will be cool to learn about, so I really appreciate your feedback. 

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Would first check with the AV company to confirm what driver version the c4 system is using to control the sonos devices. Was this all working properly at one time or is this a new installation? Sonos made some changes and that could be a starting point to make sure the system is using the endorsed driver. 

 

Once the song is playing can you pause/play from the control4 panel?

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21 minutes ago, sonic30101 said:

Would first check with the AV company to confirm what driver version the c4 system is using to control the sonos devices. Was this all working properly at one time or is this a new installation? Sonos made some changes and that could be a starting point to make sure the system is using the endorsed driver. 

 

Once the song is playing can you pause/play from the control4 panel?

I will certainly ask them about the driver version. This was a new installation last year and it has sometimes worked but not always. It's hard to say really since I've never actually laid hands on it myself, but I hear of issues frequently and have worked with them making various network changes along the way to try and help. This is actually the second A/V company to be on this job.

I will try the experiment with her to see if Pause/Play will work once the song is started from the Sonos Controller on the PC. Is there a way to check driver revision from the panel? I may be able to get the info sooner if I walk the owner through that.

Thank you!

PS. I've attached a very crude drawing of the network topology in case it is helpful

Basic_Network.pdf

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Just confirming they are having issues with the sonos devices in the main house and not just the gym ones that are on the bridge

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5 minutes ago, sonic30101 said:

Just confirming they are having issues with the sonos devices in the main house and not just the gym ones that are on the bridge

Correct. There are no Control4 wall panels in the Gym - she uses the native Sonos App on her iPads and phone to control the Gym devices (the Gym is a separate "system" from the House, and the phone app can apparently only be linked to one of them).

The bridge devices are Ubiquiti Nanobridge 5G22s. 

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Those white boxes with a couple buttons sound like Sonos ZonePlayers.

Sonos devices create their own wireless P2P mesh. Sometimes, they can create broadcast storms because they relay information over both their hardwired and wireless connections.

A common practice is to hard wire 1 Sonos device ONLY and let the others use their own wireless connections.

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16 hours ago, thegreatheed said:

Those white boxes with a couple buttons sound like Sonos ZonePlayers.

Sonos devices create their own wireless P2P mesh. Sometimes, they can create broadcast storms because they relay information over both their hardwired and wireless connections.

A common practice is to hard wire 1 Sonos device ONLY and let the others use their own wireless connections.

 

15 hours ago, mstafford388 said:

Just dug this guy up.  Might be helpful. Sonos Doc NEW.docx

Thank you! All of this is helpful for sure. While the issues don't seem to be with the Sonos part of the system, it's something I can check on nevertheless. The devices are indeed Zone Players. After talking to the owner, there are in fact four zones, two in each separate system. All four ZonePlayers are hardwired to the LAN, and the speakers are connected to the Zone Players by the Sonos mesh network. 

So, here's the ifconfig from one of the ZonePlayers .210 and .211, which are out in the gym, I believe. And from the .211 ZP, it looks like the .210 ZP is creating an internal Ethernet switch (br0) to connect .211 to the network. TX bytes on .211 br0 matches RX bytes on .210 eth1, anyway. Seems logical to me. So the ZonePlayers are daisy-chained, and I seem to remember someone saying not to do that?

running /sbin/ifconfig
ath0      Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr B8:E9:37:93:5F:AB  
          UP BROADCAST RUNNING MULTICAST  MTU:1500  Metric:1
          RX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
          TX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
          collisions:0 txqueuelen:199
          RX bytes:0 (0.0 B)  TX bytes:0 (0.0 B)
          Interrupt:19 Memory:a0000000-a0010000
 
br0       Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr B8:E9:37:93:5F:AA  
          inet addr:192.168.201.210  Bcast:192.168.201.255  Mask:255.255.254.0
          UP BROADCAST RUNNING MULTICAST  MTU:1500  Metric:1
          RX packets:42100270 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
          TX packets:7487822 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
          collisions:0 txqueuelen:0
          RX bytes:4052931382 (3.7 GiB)  TX bytes:2540743858 (2.3 GiB)
 
eth0      Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr B8:E9:37:93:5F:AA  
          UP BROADCAST RUNNING MULTICAST  MTU:1500  Metric:1
          RX packets:51551786 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
          TX packets:15161941 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
          collisions:0 txqueuelen:100
          RX bytes:3583655923 (3.3 GiB)  TX bytes:942572505 (898.9 MiB)
          Base address:0x8400
 
eth1      Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr B8:E9:37:93:5F:AA  
          UP BROADCAST RUNNING MULTICAST  MTU:1500  Metric:1
          RX packets:7740362 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
          TX packets:42390403 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
          collisions:0 txqueuelen:100
          RX bytes:2721077833 (2.5 GiB)  TX bytes:2877955365 (2.6 GiB)
          Base address:0x8500
 
lo        Link encap:Local Loopback  
          inet addr:127.0.0.1  Mask:255.0.0.0
          UP LOOPBACK RUNNING  MTU:16436  Metric:1
          RX packets:322 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
          TX packets:322 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
          collisions:0 txqueuelen:0
          RX bytes:80144 (78.2 KiB)  TX bytes:80144 (78.2 KiB)

 

running /sbin/ifconfig
ath0      Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr B8:E9:37:93:5F:DF  
          UP BROADCAST RUNNING MULTICAST  MTU:1500  Metric:1
          RX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
          TX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
          collisions:0 txqueuelen:199
          RX bytes:0 (0.0 B)  TX bytes:0 (0.0 B)
          Interrupt:19 Memory:a0000000-a0010000
 
br0       Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr B8:E9:37:93:5F:DE  
          inet addr:192.168.201.211  Bcast:192.168.201.255  Mask:255.255.254.0
          UP BROADCAST RUNNING MULTICAST  MTU:1500  Metric:1
          RX packets:41481156 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
          TX packets:7740913 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
          collisions:0 txqueuelen:0
          RX bytes:2241887386 (2.0 GiB)  TX bytes:2699618232 (2.5 GiB)
 
eth0      Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr B8:E9:37:93:5F:DE  
          UP BROADCAST MULTICAST  MTU:1500  Metric:1
          RX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
          TX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
          collisions:0 txqueuelen:100
          RX bytes:0 (0.0 B)  TX bytes:900 (900.0 B)
          Base address:0x8400
 
eth1      Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr B8:E9:37:93:5F:DE  
          UP BROADCAST RUNNING MULTICAST  MTU:1500  Metric:1
          RX packets:42391928 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
          TX packets:7741080 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
          collisions:0 txqueuelen:100
          RX bytes:2878484513 (2.6 GiB)  TX bytes:2699670303 (2.5 GiB)
          Base address:0x8500
 
lo        Link encap:Local Loopback  
          inet addr:127.0.0.1  Mask:255.0.0.0
          UP LOOPBACK RUNNING  MTU:16436  Metric:1
          RX packets:326 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
          TX packets:326 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
          collisions:0 txqueuelen:0
          RX bytes:82013 (80.0 KiB)  TX bytes:82013 (80.0 KiB)

 

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Okay this is crazy. I can't wrap my head around this. 

So I checked the other two ZonePlayers. They both come into the same port on the cisco switch, and I've been able to map them out as follows:

Cisco GE Port ----> .212 ZP ----> .213 ZP

So I looked in the mac tables for Cisco Port GE 5 and there's a third device on that port, and there is traffic on .213's eth1 port, indicating this mysterious third device is getting on the network through .213's bridged Ethernet connector. 

I looked up the MAC address in the DHCP lease file on the server, and...

Drum Roll Please....

It's an android device of some kind, probably a phone. 

So we have

Cisco GE Port ----> .212 ZP ----> .213 ZP ----> Android Phone?!?!

What the what??? This can't be right. 

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Sure it can, someone set sonos to allow android to use it as a wireless network.

Turn off wifi on all but one zone controller, and of course leave wifi on the speakers. Better yet, get a boost instead of leaving one zone player on wifi, but it should work. Make sure to check and disables any settings for android phones in sonos as mentioned above.

 

 

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While the issues don't seem to be with the Sonos part of the system

Right, the Sonos itself may work, but it's indeed the source of the issue. They do all sorts of special networking sauce that wreaks havoc on devices that try to operate normally.

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2 hours ago, Cyknight said:

Sure it can, someone set sonos to allow android to use it as a wireless network.

Turn off wifi on all but one zone controller, and of course leave wifi on the speakers. Better yet, get a boost instead of leaving one zone player on wifi, but it should work. Make sure to check and disables any settings for android phones in sonos as mentioned above.

 

 

Stupid question (remember I know almost nothing about this system)... Is there a difference between a Zone Controller and a Zone Player? I only see ZP devices on the network (did I mention that I'm looking at this from 800 miles away and have no physical access? haha)

Are these settings in the PC software or is there a magic URL? (or both?)

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Sorry, no not a stupid question at all, that's just me mixing terms up - it's ZonePlayer (or Connect as the newer ones are called but they still show up with the ZP identifier on scanners).

The android stuff is in the software - never looked at it with PC, but for sure is there on android phones. The wifi options are simple browser commands (see the linked word doc in the thread) just need to be on the network.Take care doing it remotely though, as doing the wrong one (ie one of the wireless speakers) you WILL shut it down and you'll have to get it hardwired.

 

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Yeah I am not that brave with doing things remotely that can't be undone remotely :) My mission right now is just to understand how the system works and uses the network. I am not sure the Sonos ZPs even talk directly to the speakers? There are all kinds of C4 equipment there, including a 16 channel amplifier and all sorts of other things - I have about a dozen IP addresses for C4 stuff. In any case, I think the speakers may actually be driven from this 16 channel rackmount amp that is there, but I'm not certain as I've never actually seen it in person. 

There is an auditor from a third A/V company going out there this afternoon to look over the system and see the state of things. It's a bit of a mess. The owner called C4 directly and the person there told her that they should be using the routers and switches that C4 sells (you don't say)... so now "omg it's the network that is causing everything." Ugh. 

In any case this is all incredibly helpful so I really am grateful for your time. I've learned quite a bit in the last couple of days!

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If they are Sonos Speakers, they are selfpowered and won't be attached to the 16 channel amp, though it being in place begs the question if they are Sonos speakers.

 

The common issue Sonos creates is that Sonos devices (can) link wirelessly over there own network, SonosLink. This is a separate wireless network created by the Sonos devices. Where this causes issues (in C4 but also outside of it) is that it can create broadcast storms because devices are trying to talk to each other over both a wired network and SonosNet - espeically if more than one device is hardwired AND using SonosNet at the same time.

 

I doubt they told her to use the gear that C4 sells - more likely the gear C4 has a well tested recommended list for (which to be fair is good advise unless the C4 dealer has people that know networking well). Just because a router/switch/etc work perfectly fine (Consumer or Pro gear) in and of itself does NOT mean it is suitable (or setup properly) for a C4 setup.

I'd expect saying 80% of calls to C4 support are network related issues are fair estimates - so all to often it IS

Quote

"omg it's the network that is causing everything."

;)

 

Note that if it IS the case that all you have for Sonos is several ZP's/Conects feeding a matrix amplifier, it would be best to at least turn wifi off, and rewire not to daisy chain one to the next. You can always test without 'persist' and the devices should go back to enabled on a power cycle.

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It could very well be that the speakers themselves are not Sonos speakers, I just need to find out. 

 

Quote

The common issue Sonos creates is that Sonos devices (can) link wirelessly over there own network, SonosLink. This is a separate wireless network created by the Sonos devices. Where this causes issues (in C4 but also outside of it) is that it can create broadcast storms because devices are trying to talk to each other over both a wired network and SonosNet - espeically if more than one device is hardwired AND using SonosNet at the same time.

Yep, broadcast storms are definitely a bad thing, but STP are enabled on the switch and the Sonos ZPs, and indeed the wireless on one of the Sonos ZPs that is on the network is in a blocking state, so there is definitely not a loop. 

Quote

I doubt they told her to use the gear that C4 sells - more likely the gear C4 has a well tested recommended list for (which to be fair is good advise unless the C4 dealer has people that know networking well). Just because a router/switch/etc work perfectly fine (Consumer or Pro gear) in and of itself does NOT mean it is suitable (or setup properly) for a C4 setup.

Just relaying what the owner said, which of course may have been paraphrased or not entirely accurate, or maybe I heard wrong. I'm sure there's an "approved list" that they've tested on, but I would really hope a pretty high zoot managed Cisco PoE switch would be up to the task. But again, this goes back to my original question, is there a networking best practices document that states on no uncertain terms how a switch/router must be setup in order to function with C4?

I will actually be up there in a couple of weeks for other business so I will have a chance to switch things up when I am there. 

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but I would really hope a pretty high zoot managed Cisco PoE switch would be up to the task.


^_^ Ahh but you see that is exactly where things go wrong, because "what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander" does NOT apply to networking and C4.

Don't take this the wrong way please - but I've dealt with so many 'IT guys' that are convinced that their network setup should be great for C4 that I can't begin to count them and guess what - from the perspective of a C4 system/a C4 dealer - the network WAS the problem every single time (to be clear - I'm from an IT background doing corporate network setup and management many, many, moons ago and had to learn that myself).

That's not saying the existing network is a 'bad network' by conventional means, or that the hardware is bad at all. It's just that it may not work when you throw a C4 system in the mix.

You mentioning a managed switch is the first red flag - in general managed switches are not recommended to begin with.

11 minutes ago, ehidle said:

STP are enabled on the switch and the Sonos ZPs, and indeed the wireless on one of the Sonos ZPs that is on the network is in a blocking state, so there is definitely not a loop. 

Well you see now - that may actually be a large part of the problem right there. Spanning tree is supposed to be OFF on the switch for C4. See what I mean?

 

14 minutes ago, ehidle said:

is there a networking best practices document that states on no uncertain terms how a switch/router must be setup in order to function with C4?

Sure here it is: set multicast on wifi to enable, set routers to uPnP - and dumb managed switches down to non-managed switches s much as possible(including disabling any mulitcast filtering by the way), or better yet, avoid them at all. Oh and shut down any SIP ALG settings while you're at it.

Yep, that's right, take you managed switch and shut all the management off. :rolleyes:

 

Mind you, managed switches CAN be used in C4, but there's a whole lot of testing and tweaking involved and it'll differ by brand if not model of switch - which is why C4 states to just not use them because they cannot support every last one. This has MILDLY changed since they acquired pakedge in that they'll support Pakedge managed products (I still believe they made that move in order to have some managed switch solutions available, I'm not disputing that there are potential advantages to managed switches!), and SNAPAV support there own brand for C4 setups as well and works with C4 for it (araknis) but that is about it.

Again, understand that there are numerous good reasons to use managed switches, even within a C4 environment, but most of those situations ought to be left to dealers that have a knowledgeable person in house on both C4 and networking in general.

As mentioned, I believe C4 doesn't WANT to publish much more than what I mentioned above because they do not want/need the extra headache of having to support it - if they publish it, they have to support it. That's my personal opinion mind you - not a C4 statement.

For specific setup help of Cisco managed switches, your best bet may be to look up SethJ or KevinL on these forums, or look up Blackwire Designs - they do a lot of work with Cisco and Luxul switches to work within C4 (as part of JAP solutions). Ask nicely and they may be able to provide you specifics. :D

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Hey I totally understand. I don't just assume that my stuff is good, and I've stated here several times that I know very little about this system, and I appreciate the learning!

The managed switch was installed by the first integrator at the insistence that my unmanaged switch was the problem. That was all them, and I just picked it up after they were fired for not being able to make the system work (a decision I had no part in). I haven't changed any of the switch settings since I inherited it (and luckily the first integrator didn't change the default login on the switch). There is nothing in this network that I do that requires STP at all, so I'll turn it off and see what happens.

See, This is why I am asking for a document :) But, I understand their hesitance in providing one. 

Router already supports uPNP (although secure uPNP, as I will not allow a host to set a forward for another host, and I don't let anybody open privileged ports), and we turned on Wifi multicast long ago. 

We'll see what happens.

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The managed switch was installed by the first integrator at the insistence that my unmanaged switch was the problem. That was all them, and I just picked it up after they were fired for not being able to make the system work

:blink:

 

Boy, sometimes....any half-decent unmanaged switch usually won't create issues unless it's a bottleneck issue...

 

There is a small document available (not that it tells you much more than what I said, but it's under the dealer info section, so I cannot share it (not that I believe there's anything problematic with it). :ph34r:

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