A properly functioning home network ensures that Roon performs as expected, with remotes connecting and loading content quickly as you browse, and audio devices that are free from dropouts and other playback issues.
More complex network setups will require more in-depth knowledge, but for most people setting up your network properly should be easy. This article will walk you through the basics and go over our recommendations, along with providing some details about what to avoid and how to troubleshoot networking issues.
There are many factors to consider when it comes to making sure you get the best out of your home network. Due to varying sizes, building materials, and potential line of sight issues, there’s no single solution for every need, home type or network layout. With that in mind, here are some suggestions for architecting an optimal solution for your home:
For apartments to medium sized homes
If your home can be covered comfortably with a single WiFi access point, that is what we recommend. This is a simple setup that rarely goes wrong. Find a powerful 802.11ac router with a WiFi access point built-in, and if possible, try to configure it in a central location.
This solution works best in homes where the wall construction does not significantly block WiFi signals.
For homes that require multiple access points
If your home requires multiple access points in order to achieve good WiFi coverage, there are two main approaches: a mesh network like Orbi, Eero, or Lyra, or a “traditional” router + several access points, such as Ubiquiti’s Uni-Fi products.
The most scalable and high performance solution is the traditional option: combine a router with several access points. These networks can scale to hundreds of access points and tens of thousands of devices if deployed properly. The main downside is that it can be a little bit more expensive, are usually more complex to configure, and require that each access point has a wired connection.
Mesh networks are a middle-ground that covers the majority of home networking scenarios while still achieving good performance. Mesh networking hardware provide WiFi access in rooms that cannot be hardwired, and some products can even expose Ethernet ports in those locations. This “WiFi backhaul” functionality makes these products fundamentally different from (and better than) WiFi Range extenders.
If a mesh network is installed with Ethernet connections between each of the nodes, the network will perform just like a traditional Router+APs setup. If WiFi links are used between the nodes, the probability of WiFi-related issues increases. Nonetheless, if you have no other option than to link your access points with WiFi, mesh is the best way to do it.
For all networks
No matter what your network setup is like, there are important factors to keep in mind to ensure you are getting the best out of your Roon experience:
- Your Roon Core should always have a wired connection
- If your library is stored elsewhere on the network, always ensure that both your Core and storage location are using a wired connection. Avoid WiFi between your Core and media storage at all costs.
- Avoid connecting high resolution/high performance audio devices to Roon via WiFi to ensure optimal performance.
- A wireless connection from your remote device to your Core is perfectly acceptable and expected in most cases.
Avoiding Common Network Troubles
There are a lot of factors to take into account when troubleshooting WiFi difficulties. To ensure that you are getting maximum performance out of your network, consider these common factors:
WiFi networks sometimes have difficulty because the line of sight between the router and devices attempting to access it is disrupted. While WiFi can traverse walls in many cases, some building materials are friendlier than others, and just about anything interrupting the path of the signal reduces the effective range of the WiFi network.
- WiFi interference can also cause issues, particularly in dense urban environments. This is best resolved by using a 5GHz connection when possible and by using different WiFi channels than your neighbors. Some microwave ovens interfere with the 2.4GHz channels. When this is occurring, you may experience decreased performance or things that simply don’t work at all.
- Poor quality or underpowered routers can play a major role when it comes to networking difficulties. 802.11n was superseded by 802.11ac five years ago, so at this point, 802.11n routers should be considered obsolete. Furthermore, the performance difference between early 802.11ac routers and current models can be substantial due to differences in CPU/RAM allotments. ISP-provided routers are often underpowered and poorly behaved. Finally, we strongly recommend against using Apple network devices such as the Apple Airport Extreme and Airport Express (note: it’s fine to use the Airport Express as an Airplay device). To ensure the best performance, we recommend against using these devices.
- Misconfigured access points can cause a number of issues. It is important that all of your access points use the same SSID and credentials, otherwise your devices may lose and regain network connectivity when switching from one to another, and this will interrupt remote connections or audio streaming each time it happens.
- WiFi Range Extenders are a poor solution to the problems they attempt to solve, and we strongly recommend against using them for any reason. If you need to extend wireless access to a room and running a wire is simply impossible, a mesh network is a better option because it uses separate WiFi networks for “backhaul” (the connection back to the router) and for serving WiFi clients.
- Multiple Subnets are not supported. All devices must be on the same IP range.
- IPv6 has been known to cause issues with network communications. Some ISPs have started rolling out IPv6 support, and customers in those regions have had issues communicating with our services. We recommend disabling IPv6 on the router and all devices.
Troubleshooting Network Issues
Improperly configured networks or bad networking hardware can contribute to a wide range of problems, including:
- Audio Dropouts
- Remotes that don’t connect to the Core
- Audio devices that don’t show up in Roon
- Skipped tracks and playback interruptions.
- Error messages including:
- “Roon lost control of audio device”
- “An audio file is loading slowly...” or “TIDAL media is loading slowly...”
- “Too many failures. Stopping playback.”
- “Playback has failed due to an unexpected error communicating…”
- “Unable to connect to this channel. Check your internet connection”
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you can save a lot of time and headache by running some basic tests on your network. The following steps will help you to troubleshoot and pinpoint the root cause of the problem.
Start out your troubleshooting process by power cycling your Core machine, networking hardware, and any affected endpoints and remotes. This can sometimes fix the issue by itself, but even when it doesn’t, it helps to get everything into a known, replicable state so that you can proceed with troubleshooting.
Simplify then Rebuild
This is one of the most powerful troubleshooting tools available. With enough care and determination, you can figure about why just about any piece of technology in your life is broken.This can be labor intensive, and it’s surely not fun to drag gear around the house just to troubleshoot a problem, but the effectiveness of this approach makes it worth it. When done carefully, this almost always generates invaluable information about exactly where things are going wrong, which often helps us make progress on tricky issues.
Repeat these steps until you identify the root cause of the problem:
- If you’re still having the problem, simplify until the problem goes away
- If you’re not having the problem, add elements back into the system one at a time until the problem re-appears.
Assuming that you are able to make the problem disappear and re-appear, you will eventually figure out the cause.
For example, if you’re experiencing dropouts, you might try connecting your audio device and Roon Core directly to your router (bypassing WiFi, any switches, Ethernet over Power, etc.). Assuming this resolves the issue, you would then start re-adding the removed elements one by one until you find the element that triggers the problem.
Some Roon users opt for more advanced networking setups, including enterprise-grade routers, managed switches, and ethernet-over-power.
We have many users who have successfully configured their networks using this gear, but note that in some cases this gear requires more in-depth knowledge of networking, and these technologies can make troubleshooting more involved.
If you are having issues with Roon and you are using any of the networking technology listed below, we may ask you to temporarily simplify your network to help us rule out common stumbling blocks.
Managed switches can be very robust, but they are often designed for professional installation, so in many cases the out-of-box configuration is not right. If your switch has a “flow control” setting, please make sure that it is enabled. Also, make sure that the switch is not performing any sort of throttling that might impact communication between cores, storage, remotes, and/or audio endpoints. Finally, ensure that the switch is configured to pass multicast and broadcast traffic. If in doubt about any of this, try temporarily replacing your managed switch with a “dumb” switch to see if things improve.
Unmanaged switches are preferred over Managed Switches, but something to keep in mind is that some Unmanaged Switches still contain IGMP Snooping/Proxying settings or Flow Control/Quality of Service (QoS) settings in unmanaged mode. One example of such a switch is a D-Link DGS-105. These settings can cause issues on Managed Switches, and may cause issues on "fancier" Unmanaged Switches as well.
Ethernet Over Power (EoP)
The quality of Ethernet Over Power solutions varies quite a bit, and generally it will be less reliable than Ethernet. There are times it can work well, but if you're having a problem and powerline ethernet is involved, we recommend temporarily replacing the ethernet over power connection with a real ethernet cable to see if things improve.
Windows Server 2016
Windows Server 2016 by default has a "teredo tunneling pseudo interface" that can cause issues with Roon Remote connections. It is suggested that this interface be disabled if not in use by going to device manager -> view -> “show hidden devices” and disabling it under the Network Adapters section.
Router Specific Settings
Some routers have settings that can cause interference with Roon's communication to endpoints and Remote devices. Below are some of the common configuration changes that have been required for some routers to function properly with Roon.
Netgear Orbi Routers
If you’re making use of an Orbi router, we recommend unchecking Disable IGMP Proxying in your router’s settings. This setting can interfere with the ability for Roon Remotes to connect to the Roon Core.
We've seen that some technicolor routers cause Roon to have difficulties communicating to networked endpoints. This can be resolved by adding exceptions for Roon and RAATServer to the router's IPv6 firewall settings.
Some Motorola routers have a setting called Energy Efficient Ethernet. This setting has previously been known to cause occasional dropouts during playback to networked endpoints. Disabling this setting can help alleviate these dropouts.
FRITZ OS 7
The FRITZ OS 7 update includes a feature called "Software Packet Acceleration" that can cause issues with remote connectivity. We recommend disabling this setting from the FRITZ GUI.
We recommend enabling "Enable Multicast Routing" option in settings.
We recommend disabling the "Enable Smart Connect" setting.
We recommend enabling "IGMP Proxying" and/or "IGMP Snooping"
Getting Further Help From Roon Support
If you’re in need of further troubleshooting assistance, get in touch with our team by posting details in the Support section of Community.