The mesh network [Sonos] runs on appears to be much more reliable than a wifi based system
The mesh topography network that Sonos uses is nice for certain installation scenarios, but it doesn't necessarily make it any more reliable than a good Wi-Fi network. In fact, if setup correctly a standard 802.11 Wi-Fi network can be just as reliable as a Sonos network and have the added benefit of actually providing network connectivity for all devices other than just the Sonos hardware.
Here is why:
A Sonos mesh network is just a hidden 802.11n wireless network that utilizes IEEE 802.1D Spanning Tree (STP) for its mesh bridging properties. The reason you can't see the network is because it doesn't broadcast an SSID and its encrypted so non-Sonos devices can't connect to it. It runs over the 2.4Ghz and 5GHZ bands just like normal modern MIMO routers do. And because it runs on the 2.4 and 5Ghz bands, its just as susceptible to interference from other Wi-Fi networks and bandwidth limits. So using a Sonos system in a crowded apartment complex with many other networks isn't going to guarantee a more reliable connection. Read about Shannon's Law
for a technical explanation as to why.
There are several ways that one can setup a robust wireless network just as reliable as the Sonos mesh network but that is not limited to providing coverage to just Sonos devices:
1. Setup a wireless network with multiple access points. Instead of having the router the only device distributing a wireless network, access points can be plugged into the network that extend the network's wireless range.
2. Setup a Wireless Distribution System (WDS
) network. This is where multiple wireless routers or devices interconnect wirelessly with each other to extend the range of the network. Using an Apple Airport Extreme in combination with Airport Expresses makes setting up a WDS network very easy (plus each Airport Express is also an Airplay device!).