High Powered Wireless Network for Audio

I have frustratingly low signal strength and erratic performance with the wireless network in my house.

The culprit may be a combination of 1) ordinary Verizon DSL service and 2)a wireless G router? and/or 3) brick chimneys and concrete block within the walls of the house?

To hopefully improve, I am switching to a faster cablem modem service from Cablevision which I will install by my desk for at least a robust connection there.

Could anyone please recommend a wireless router for maximum range and signal strength? Has anyone used any wireless boosting devices? In Stereophile, I have just noticed Gigabit Powerline HD - could this be a better solution?

What is the best way to ensure a robust connection and trouble free streaming on multiple devices?
Your problems could be a combination of things.

1. Make sure you are getting the speed you are paying for by connecting a computer directly to the DSL bridge. If this fixes the problem, then you know your service is good, if not, call them and complain.

2. Upgrade your wifi router to a 802.11n (that's with a "N"). They are much faster and stable. Also (this is important) make sure the router is CLEAN. Seriously, if you have dust and clogged up vents on a wifi router, it can cause it to run hot, and that causes all kinds of problems, especially if your router is using WPA encryption. Trust me on this, it makes a HUGE difference.

3. Use some wifi extensions, hardwired if possible. Concrete and brick can effect wifi networks and you might simply need to have better coverage.

One of the routers that I spec and use most is the Apple AirPort Extreme or Time Capsule, and the AirPort Express for extensions, which also act as a digital audio output if you are using iTunes. The AirPort products can be used with Windows, and of course Apple. They are reliable, stable and easier to install and service.

If you don't want Apple products, Netgear makes some great wired and wireless routers, extentions and power line adaptors.

Let me know how things work out for you. Networks can be a "Black Art". ;)


After several hours on the phone with my ISP, I still have bad results, new, staticky intereference with my cordless phones, and not one but two modems I now have to send back, on my time and at my expense.

Maybe it's just me, but one of the reasons I have participated here for about 10 years now is because I consistently get more detailed and reliable information from fellow enthusiasts than I do from say, a call center in India or the Phillippines.

Ballan, thank you.

This thread relates to another on the Squeezebox Touch, if others might be interested in this well reviewed wireless device.
Your DSL service has nothing to do with the signal strength of the wireless network in your home. It could attribute to network speed, dropouts, performance, etc., but not wireless strength.

Wireless strength is all in the transmission power of the wireless access point (in this case, your router). Look for a router that has significantly greater range than your current router. It likely has more transmission power. Also look for a router that has external antennas and possibly one that has replaceable/optional higher powered antennae. You can also add wireless extenders in your home to increase the reliable coverage area. Lastly, if possible, move your cable modem and wireless access point to an area closer to the majority of your wireless devices.

Good luck!

The only wireless speaker experience that I've had was with my subwoofer. When I had it hooked up wireless I couldn't print with my wireless printer. The subwoofer would also get some interference during internet use, but not a lot.

Is it possible that you're speakers are having some of the same issues?
I agree completely with Ballan's suggestions. Moving from an 802.11g to an 802.11n wireless router will give you greater range and eliminate the interferece from devices like cordless phones and microwave ovens, which use the same frequency band as 802.11g. That means, though, that both ends of the wireless connection have to be 802.11n. Your computer will need an 802.11n wireless card or external adapter to take advantage of the 802.11n access point.

One thing you can try with your current 802.11g setup is to switch the wireless channel. There are 11 channels available for the communication between your computer and your wireless access point and you might be able to get rid of the interference from other devices by switching from the default channel to one of the other ten channels. It won't help if the problem is signal strength but it might help if the problem is interference.

With the Apple Airport Express you specify the channel in the setup utility that is part of the system software. With other wireless routers you'll have to do it through their setup application or through browser access to the setup parameters. They're all different so you'll have to wade through the setup instructions that came with your router.

The notes contained herein on your router being the propulsive engine for your inter home operations is true.

The DSL aspect only would apply to those machines drawing directly from the internet some audio of video stream (s), or other info/data.

Merely playing video or audio files from some networked drive on the premises and conveying it to some other networked pc or mac, has noting to do with DSL speeds, thru put, etc. that’s all on your NIC cards/wireless adapters in your various wirelessly connected and networked hardware.

Please see:


80211G is fast enough to handle most any file type, IF CONFIGURED PROPERLY in the network adapter of the computer or device itself… and there’s no physical barriers to overcome via the signal broadcast freq.

What I think you need is either a stronger signal producing wireless router, or maybe, just a better antenna for the one you now have… or for the units trying to cnnect to it.

I’d also look into repositioning my wireless router. I’ve used D link in the past with pretty good results. I’m with FIOS and now have their Westell all in one router, modem, etc. only right in my office will I experience any issues usually…. That’s where the Westell unit resides. Otherwise, I can stream/watch DVDs off a NAS drive via every pc I own now, any place inside or within reason, outside the home smoothly…. Even with my 1.8GB CPU laptop running Vista!

For a time, I had a desktop using a D link USB wireless device. it was fine too in terms of connectivity and responsiveness.

Think about moving the router first, instead of replacing it. Look into the better antenna idea too. going up to N also means changing out NIC cards in each networked device… if that is possible to begin with… and not just the router itself!

Good luck.

In addition to the excellent suggestions offered above, you may want to consider the idea of having a wired router, and a separate wireless access point, which in turn would be wired to the router. Depending on the physical locations of your networked devices, it may be very helpful to have the greater flexibility that would provide in terms of wireless access point positioning, and perhaps antenna orientation as well.

I too use Cablevision's Optonline service, btw, and it is fabulous. I pay a bit extra for their Optimum Boost option, which advertises 30 mbps downstream/4 mbps upstream. At my location in Connecticut it handily betters those speeds, usually giving me about 32 and 5, as measured via the Speakeasy.net speed test. As you may be aware, Cablevision also offers 100 mbps downstream speeds (!), although at much greater cost.

Keep in mind also that with an always-on high speed cable connection, firewall protection (via either hardware or software) assumes added significance. I prefer a hardware firewall, in part because it eases the burdens on the computers, and in part because the models from SonicWall are extremely good, although relatively expensive.

My home network pre-dates -N, and is all 54G. I use a SonicWall TZ170 hardware firewall/wired router, which cost about $450 a few years ago. Comparable current models, at similar or lower prices, are considerably more powerful than the TZ170, which has served me beautifully. See the listings and prices at NewEgg.com.

I use a 54G wireless access point and signal amplifier from Hawking Technology, which I have also been very pleased with, in terms of range, speed, and the ability to handle multiple wireless devices simultaneously. I have no knowledge of their -N products, but I would expect them to be well worth looking into.

Best regards,
-- Al
I had much improved results going to an Airport Extreme (which is wireless N) from a G router. The N router has different wave lenghths (compared to the G) that allow it to pass through walls more easily. Before I had very little signal upstairs, and after the switch I have a very strong signal upstairs.

802.11g is fast enough (45Mb/s). Even 802.11b would be OK (11Mb/s) for internet since the best you'll get from DSL will be in 3Mb/s range. I noticed that my microwave frequency is identical to one of the router frequencies. When microwave is working - wireless doesn't. I moved to next channel and everything is fine now but moving to 5GHz range, as suggested by Ballan, is perhaps right move. Unfortunately my MACmini works only with G. PC is easier since you can change wireless card easily.
Hi Kij,

The 45 and 11 mbps numbers you mentioned for 802.11G and B are highly theoretical, and useful for advertising purposes only. In practice getting 1/3 of those numbers is doing well.

That is a common point of confusion, in part because many (or all?) computers, depending on the operating system, will misleadingly indicate G connections as being connected at 54 mbps (the theoretical maximum), and B connections as being connected at 11 mbps (also the theoretical maximum).

To get an idea of the real speed, either measure the time required to transfer a large file over the wireless link, or if you have a high speed cable connection to the internet compare internet speed test results (such as those provided at Speakeasy.net) from a wired computer with those you get from a computer that is wirelessly connected to the same router and cable modem.

Best regards,
-- Al
54 or 45 - Hey, 5 out of 4 of us are dyslectic. I agree that these numbers are theoretical but sustained 3Mb/s DSL speed is also not obtainable by perhaps most of the people.

Thanks for Speakeasy.net - my DSL shows 2.6Mb/s


I will make this recommendation since although the consensus to get a better router is a very good one; I will say your idea to switch from DSL to cable is a good one. When they come to your place to install the cable, make sure you are there and ask them before they do the install what are the minimum signal strength to OK your install. Cable gives you the opportunity to make sure of good signal. With any router, gunk in, gunk out.
To help answer the question of whether it's your wireless router or your internet service that's the problem you could use one of the bandwidth-test add-ons for the Firefox browser.

Trying it both with the computer wired directly to the router and wirelessly from your usual work location should show you if it's your wireless signal strength that's the problem.
Boss302 makes a good point. I'll add that incoming signal strength can be monitored at any time, by interrogating the cable modem. You may wish to do that in the future if performance problems arise.

That can be done from any computer in the house that is networked to the modem, by entering a certain 192.xxx.xxx.x (local) address into a web browser program.

The address to enter depends on the particular modem model, and can usually be readily determined by Googling the make and model number. A password may have to be entered as well, which will also be indicated in some of those search results if it is needed.

-- Al

I'll add to your comments by adding once you get into the 192.xxx.xxx.xxx domain you are only checking your internal (LAN) network and not the (WAN) network you are connecting to. I was project manager with installing AT&T data circuits and it is the signal from your cable provider to your router that I'm talking about. DSL does not give you as much capabilities in monitoring the incoming signal as cable does. Although you have to depend on the provider for this. Just make sure that when they install the cable modem that it exceeds the minimum for the cable company. I would actually try for above level performance.

Hope this helps.

Thanks, Boss302. But, yes, I was referring to the strength of the signal that is received by the cable modem from the outside cable. I have had several cable modem models, of at least two different makes, and in each case I was easily able to determine how to interrogate the modem via a web browser, and obtain an indication of the incoming signal strength on the WAN side of the modem. And also an indication of the signal strength being transmitted to the outside by the modem.

DSL may very well be different in those respects, as you indicate.

Best regards,
-- Al
Here are links to info about acceptable/desirable signal strengths for cable signals:



And this page provides links to info about many cable modem models, including their default ip address (at which, in many or most cases, status information including signal strengths can be viewed), and user name + password if required:


Best regards,
-- Al
This is all very helpful and thanks everyone.

Last night I was able to test the new cable modem using speedguide.net while hard wired to my computer via the ethernet cable.

It confirmed I was achieving the upload and download speeds as promised by their salesperson, who assured me that my new service would be blazingly fast compared to my Verizon DSL service.

The bad news is that - at least using my Lenovo netbook - Pandora and Youtube videos still stumble and pause from time to time, leaving no apparent improvement in my service, despite the "upgrade".

Therefore, maybe my problem was not my wireless network and only 1 bar of wireless signal strength, but rather, the wimpy processor and only 1 GB of memory in my netbook?

Every time I inquire about high powered PCs with extra memory primarily for general internet use, someone always chimes in and tells me that streaming audio and video is kid's stuff, no big deal and I am wasting my time and money on a big computer.

Perhaps other things running in the background are draining memory including my Kaspersky anti virus software?

Thanks again.
I have a netbook and it's very slow compared to any other current vintage computer. I like it for what it is, but wouldn't suggest using it for an audio application. The only computer that I use that is slower is my govermnet provided unit at work. I think it's the governments way of enforcing minimal production to create more jobs.
CW -- I would guess that Kaspersky is not responsible, as my (somewhat vague) impression is that it is not as resource hogging as some of the more popular anti-virus programs. In any event, you should be able to tell for sure by entering its settings panel and temporarily turning off its real-time (background) protection.

What operating system does the netbook run? XP? Windows 7? Other?

Have you defragmented the hard drive on a regular basis (say
once every month or two)? If not, that would be one of the first things I would do. Also, how much used and unused space is there on the hard drive?

Also, with no programs open, open up Task Manager, go to the Processes tab, and let us know how many processes are running (the total number is indicated at the bottom of the Task Manager window). And if it is not too inconvenient, list the names of any processes that are listed as consuming large amounts of memory (say 50K or more).

Also, indicate the total cpu utilization %, as indicated at the bottom of the Task Manager window, and the names of any processes that are listed as consuming more than a few percent cpu utilization (while all programs are closed).

In Windows XP, Task Manager can be called up by pressing the Cntrl, Alt, and Delete keys simultaneously. I'm not sure how to do it in Windows 7.

Finally, check the color quality setting of the display on the netbook. If you are running XP, right click on any part of the desktop screen that does not have an icon on it, select "properties," and then the "settings" tab. If "color quality" is listed as "32 bit," change it to "16 bit," or even less if a lower setting is available.

Best regards,
-- Al

You are the man on this topic.

I am running XP and no, have not defragged the drive. So probably a lot of housekeeping I could do and thanks for tips. The color setting is a new one for me.....

When I look at the task master, I can see 49 processes running, with my Thunderbird application the biggest at 70K.

Nonetheless, only 3% CPU usage.

But one thing seems clear: Kaspersky was indeed hogging resources or doing something because shutting it down speeded things up considerably.

This is curious, however, because it seems surfing around the web is when virus and malware protection is most necessary?

It has kept my PC pretty clean, but had no idea it might be the culprit.

I am now on a wireless DSL connection but will test again hard wired to the new cable modem later.

Switch to MAC - no need for anti-virus anymore. After two years of usage no single hang-up or need to defragment of my MAC-Mini. Zero problems. Unfortunately I still have to use PC/Windows at work.
CW -- That's interesting about Kaspersky. Perhaps the reason my suspicions were otherwise is that pretty much all of the anecdotal indications I've seen were based on experience with laptops and desktops, not netbooks.

If you end up deciding to go to a different av program, I would suggest obtaining a free 30-day trial of ESET's NOD32. JUST the anti-virus program, not the complete "Suite." I don't recommend any complete protection "Suites" by any manufacturer -- they are in most cases replete with resource hogging bloatware.

I use NOD32 on all of my laptops and (homebuilt) desktops, and as far as I am aware it provides the best overall combination of effectiveness and low resource utilization of any av program. The main reason for that is it is programmed in "assembly language," which is much more cumbersome to program in than the "high level languages" that are more commonly used, but has the advantage of running much faster. Despite that, it is no more expensive than most competitive programs, other than the free ones, especially with respect to renewal pricing.

Several years ago I set up an XP system on Optonline for a relative, using NOD32 and XP's built-in software firewall, without even a router, and there were never any infiltrations. Presumably your router provides NAT (network address translation), which provides an added layer of protection. As I indicated in my earlier post, my own preference is to have a business class SonicWall hardware firewall/router, for the added security and performance it provides, but that is probably overkill for most home users (unless they have kids who visit file-sharing and other unknown or questionable sites, in which case there is no limit to how much protection may be necessary!!!).

The 49 processes sounds within reason, if not ideal. And 1gB of RAM should be fine for XP, as long as you don't run several memory intensive applications at once.

If by any chance you are using the Firefox browser, make sure you are using the latest version (currently 3.6.10), or at least 3.6.something. Some early versions were known to have "memory leaks," which would gradually build up their memory usage as long as they were left open. If you are using 3.6.x, you are ok in that respect, but anything less than the latest 3.6.10 may have unpatched bugs or security flaws.

If you are using Internet Explorer in a version earlier than 8, I'd suggest updating. And perhaps trying Firefox as well.

Re being "the man" on this kind of stuff, thanks. It happens that I build my own high-powered desktop computers, and I serve as a moderator (under a different screen-name) at an internet forum for computer enthusiasts and builders, abxzone.com.

Good luck!

-- Al
Same problem! Question: Would Powerline Internet create noise on the powerline that will affect the sound quality of my stereo?
Add some repeaters around the house. I have a few made by link sys. They plug into our ac outlets and retransmit the signal throughout the house. Concrete does impede the signal.
Use a Ethernet cable connection instead of WiFi! The cable is cheap and no powerline interference!
You should go to the Linksys website for a complete tutorial. I had difficulty getting a wireless signal from one side of my house to the other, so what I did was get 2 routers, one for each side connected by a wire with the routing function disabled on the second router, turning it into a switch with wireless access point. I gave both routers the same SSID so my computer(s) could choose the one with the best signal depending on location. I tried a range expander but that made things worse, I think by creating reflections that were difficult to discern. Be mindful that any and all wireless devices share 1 port, whereas each wired device gets the port it's plugged into. So if you had 4 computers plugged in to ports 1-4 and a 4 computers wireless , each wired port gets 20% (1/5th) of the "signal" and each wireless computers gets 1/4 of the remaining 20% allotted to the wireless access. With my setup, I have 2 access points, so not as much competition for "air time".
I'd like to offer a few recommendations. My employer makes one of the high end routers for home use. I manage the Engineering dept. and have tested WiFi performance in various configurations.

My house is about 3,300 sq-ft and I use my router to stream audio to 3 Squeezebox devices wirelessly with good results. The entire house has good reception with only 1 router.

Let me clarify some myth first. Your Squeezebox Touch is a 11B/G device. No 11N router with the same output power and setup can improve the performance.

These WiFi routers are FCC certified with certain antenna design. Getting a higher gain antenna may improve the performance. But it may exceed the allowed emission limits.

Even though my router is located at one corner of the house, it is desirable to put the router in the center of the house. The WiFi performance degrades as the distance increases and/or more walls to penetrate.

Now come to the most important part of tuning the WiFi performance. You need to figure out which of the 11 channels would give you the best performance. Some of the higher end routers can automatically select the best channel. However, most of them do not select the best channel for a number of reasons.

There are two types of interferences: WiFi interference (e.g., other routers) and Non-WiFi interference (e.g., cordless phone, microwave, etc.) If you can do an air scan, you can see what other WiFi routers are around and the channels they use. Pick one from 1, 6, or 11 that has the least amount of routers/APs. It is harder to detect non-WiFi interference. So you may have to trial and error.

If you don't want to do the above, try channel 11. Let me know how it works for you.
I have ATT DSL and run nine different wireless devices without issue. I have a Linksys "N" router located in one corner of my 2800 sq ft house, but I am fortunate not to have any immediate neighbors (I can detect two other networks, but they are very weak). I can listen to my squeezeboxes and/or watch netflix movies through a PS3 and surf the net at the same time, etc. I honestly can't remember the last time I had "drop out" while listening to my Squeezebox. As Vett93 point out. the key to good wireless service seems to start with a relatively "clean" environment, followed by proper configuration of your router, firewalls, etc. If you're getting a lot of external interference, you probably need to look at a wired solution.
Your router may be just getting tired. I had an access point that seemed to put out less signal as it aged. I went with 2 access points because I have a lot of foil faced insulation in my house as well as duct work which I think created shields. The line of sight from my den to my patio is completely blocked by my house causing occasional dropouts. Placing the router in the center of the house was also not a great option for me.
Whatever router you choose, I would recommend the gigabit ethernet variety (10/100/1000) as opposed to an N router that only does 10/100. Linksys makes 2 types of dual band models, one where you choose either high or low band and use only one band at a time, and another that puts out 2 bands at the same time. BTW-the bands have nothing to with channels. You would still choose the channel for each band with the less interference.
I'd like to clarify one more issue. Among the 11 WiFi channels, there are only 3 non-overlapping channels. They are CH 1, 6, and 11. In other words, if you see WiFi routers on CH 2, 3, 4, and/or 5, CH 1 and 6 will get interferences. Additionally, if you see WiFi routers on CH 7, 8, 9, and/or 10, CH 6 and 11 will get interferences too.

Each of these 11 channels is 5MHz wide. Also, the signal transmission is 20MHz wide. So it will impact two adjacent channels on each side of the spectrum. For example, if you set the WiFi router on CH6, you can see its signal in CH 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.

This shows that it can be tricky to select the best channel for WiFi use.