My (not inexpensive) new soundbar hates my WiFi setup, which hates it right back. Please help!

I recently bought the Sony HT-ST5000 soundbar, which is quite a beast, with much excitement. Unfortunately, I have not been able to enjoy it to its optimum as it refuses to play nice with my home setup.

The issue seems to be a result of the wireless link between the soundbar and the subwoofer, as a result of which the subwoofer makes random crackling/fluttering sounds. I saw other people (who also seem to be using an Orbi system as I do) run into the issue and the solution they suggest, of turning on the Secure Link setting on the soundbar and specifying a band, helps the problem a great deal (in my case the 5.2GHz Channel 3 works best). The problem is not entirely mitigated though and I am still able to hear the occasional crackle. However, now I have a new problem, which is that every time my soundbar is powered on the WiFi on my MacBook Pro breaks down to the point where downloads crawl and it is practically impossible to surf the web.

I’ve been playing around with fiddling with settings on the Orbi (like changing the 5GHz channel, lowering the power on the 5GHz band etc.) but to no avail. Switching off the WiFi on my MacBook helps but is clearly not ideal. I am also trying to learn the ropes on the excellent WiFi Explorer app but still have a lot to learn.

I’d be very glad if someone here could provide any helpful suggestions about what I can do to resolve these issues. The soundbar seems nice and I would love to be able to make the most of it. Also, the return window closed before I had the time to notice these issues :-/ Unfortunately the soundbar and the subwoofer cannot be wired and seem to connect on RF channels 1, 2 or 3 on either of the two RF bands, 5.2GHz or 5.8GHz. I would love to know how I could amend my home network to not interfere with these. I was also wondering if the dedicated backhaul on the Orbi could be the culprit.

Here is the gear that I have:

  • Sony HT-ST5000 soundbar
  • Orbi RBK-50 mesh router (15-20 feet away from the soundbar)
  • MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015)
  • Apple TV 4 (not 4K)

Many, many thanks for reading all of this!

EDIT: I think I may have found the crux of the issue thanks to this post by Nakamichi customer support, which is just as applicable to my Sony soundbar. It seems that the dedicated backhaul on the Orbi, which operates on channel 157 at the 5.785 GHz frequency, prevents me from using the 5.8GHz link between the soundbar and the subwoofer and forces me to use the 5.2GHz link instead, which interferes with the 5GHz WiFi network. So the main question now becomes which channel should I use for the 5GHz WiFi network (since I cannot change the channel for the backhaul)? The Orbi only offers a choice between channels 36, 40, 44 and 48 :thinking:

Thanks for the recommendation for the WiFi Explorer.

As for the channel settings and random noise, I might suggest to set the broadcast channel on devices that you can control to a value uniquely outside of any neighboring devices. For example, with the WiFi Explorer, I immediately found two broadcast devices from the local neighbors that were the same as the channel (157) for my main WiFi 5G broadcast. I therefore moved my router channel to a different, non-used channel.

As for the network slowdown, do you have Quality of Service (QoS) control on the router? If so, have you considered setting the QoS for the MBP to a higher value?

I cannot otherwise imagine what draws down the network when the sound bar runs. Are you using the new sound bar to play high-band width, 4 channel sound downloaded to the Apple TV from your router via WiFi and then streamed back to the sound bar through the router via WiFi? (just kidding … of course you have the sound bar and the Apple TV and your home 4K TV all running as WIRED not WIRELESS … right?)


Just wanted to add to this post, in case it is of help to others facing the same issue, that there is finally a solution that resolves the issue completely! It involves changing the wireless backhaul channel to 100 to keep the higher frequency channel free for the soundbar and the subwoofer to communicate on. Here is a step-by-step walkthrough for how to do so on the Orbi. I am sure it is possible to make a similar change on other routers too.

Heads up: While these instructions are relatively straightforward, they do require you to make changes via Telnet and have very basic familiarity with Terminal. Please take a backup of your router settings before making any changes so that you can revert back to a stable state. In case anything goes catastrophically wrong or your router gets bricked then please don’t hold me responsible!

  1. Install Telnet. The easiest way to do so would be via Homebrew. This post refers to instructions on how to do so on Mojave or High Sierra but the process should be identical for more recent versions of macOS.
  2. Go to the debug page for the router via ROUTER.IP.ADDRESS/debug.htm (in most instances it is likely to be and enable Telnet.
  3. Open Terminal and log into Telnet with the command telnet ROUTER.IP.ADDRESS . This would be telnet for most users. Log in with the username and password for your Orbi.
  4. Check the wireless backhaul channel with this command and make a note of it: config get wla_2nd_hidden_channel
  5. Set the wireless backhaul channel to 100: config set wla_2nd_hidden_channel=100
  6. Save the new configuration: config commit
  7. The Orbi will reboot. Let the light indicators stop pulsating and the Orbi sit for a good 10 minutes. After that restart the router and satellite/s for good measure.
  8. Enable a Secure Link connection between the soundbar and subwoofer on Band 5.8GHz, Channel 3.
  9. Enjoy your soundbar and your Orbi working nicely together for the first time!

In case you want to undo the changes made above then perform steps 5 through 7 and replace channel 100 with the original value noted in step 4.

This thread on the NETGEAR forums discusses this issue and is helpful.