A friend of mine and her husband host a killer Christmas party every year at their house. Plenty of tasty tidbits, a well-stocked bar and great music … well, sporadically great would be more accurate. It’s not that they have bad taste in music or even a bad audio system. The issue, I recently learned after a conversation with custom electronics professional Leon Shaw of Audio Advice, Raliegh and Charlotte, N.C., most likely stemmed from a poor Wi-Fi network.
We were discussing the merits of wireless whole-house audio systems, when he mentioned how crucial a solid Wi-Fi network is to its operation. Without a reliable, robust communications path, control signals from iPhones, iPads and other portable devices get held up en-route. Note: because the Sonos system establishes its own network for streaming music, the ability to play music is not affected; the ability to control the music is (Check out our Sonos PLAYBAR review here).
When 40 or people show up to a party, a good percentage of them toting their iPhones, confusion on the network ensues, making even a great system like my friends’ Sonos, basically inoperable. “Your system might work flawlessly when it’s just the family at home, but when there’s a crowd of people there, and their iPhones start connecting to your network, it can get pretty embarrassing for the host of the party,” says Shaw.
The solution would be to add wireless access points (WAPs) to the system, says Shaw, but not just any WAP. He recommends enterprise-class WAPs, like those from Cisco, Ruckus and Pakedge, which are engineered and designed to handle heavy Wi-Fi traffic. These high-performance WAPs cost around $200 each and usually require some extra programming, but can be the difference between a good party and a great one.
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.