Amazon Echo

  • 6 November 2014
  • 85 replies
  • 23643 views

Userlevel 6
Badge +8
Amazon Echo sounds interesting. It would be great if this could be used as a controller for Sonos.

This topic has been closed for further comments. You can use the search bar to find a similar topic, or create a new one by clicking Create Topic at the top of the page.

85 replies

I tried controlling Apple Music via Siri a few times. The experience was awkward and very frustrating; doubt Echo would prove much better for music. Perhaps if one listens to a very limited range of music over and over again; I don't.
We'll have to see. Echo is very fast, truly amazing in my opinion. For instance, my daughter asked me what the definition of "vexed" was. Instead of telling her a not-so-great definition from memory, I went to get my phone to do a search. Instead, I simply asked echo: "Alexa, what is the definition of 'vexed'?", and she answered very shortly after I asked. That's amazing, considering they're send data to the cloud, doing voice recognition, determining what the question was, looking for the answer, and sending the answer back to the echo.

For me, it's a moot point about whether the integration between the echo and sonos would be good. The issue for me is that I'm trying to convince my wife to pay electricians to run speaker wire to four bedrooms and possibly the kitchen, and then subsequently invest in sonos amps and speakers in those locations. That's thousands of dollars. When she can just stick a $200 speaker somewhere and ask it to play music, why would she invest thousands to have something with less functionality?

And then there's the new Dot:

https://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=14047587011&ref=ODS_HA_P_surl

A small Echo that also outputs to a speaker system. If this doesn't have sonos shaking in its boots, I don't know what will.
Userlevel 7
Badge +21
Because it's all just very gimmicky and nobody knows how long they will last or be supported for. But mainly it's about quality - sound quality.

Why not go for Sonos Plays rather than 3rd party speakers? No need for all those sparkies rummaging through your house and you have serious flexibility with location and excellent sound performance
Userlevel 5
Badge +11
It was the right answer because you knew what vexed meant. If you didn't know the answer, was it correct?
Ask a question you know the answer to is a pointless exercise.
Alexa what is vexed? It's a small feathered mammal indigenous to Patagonia.
Userlevel 6
Badge +8
Although I agree that SONOS should integrate with Amazon Echo, I completely understand why they won't announce a new feature until it is in public beta. Two examples where SONOS has gotten into big trouble are Audible and Spotify folders. These were existing features that were removed; but the ire SONOS invoked in these two cases is probably not a lot more than SONOS failing to deliver a new feature that they had promised.

I just hope that Echo support and Audible are moved into public beta soon. 😉

I find the quality very close to a PLAY:5. At a quarter of the price and with all of its other features, this model could be the end of Sonos if they don't react quickly.


You can't be serious! LOL.

I find the quality very close to a PLAY:5. At a quarter of the price and with all of its other features, this model could be the end of Sonos if they don't react quickly.


You can't be serious! LOL.


My sister has an Echo, and though a great bit of hardware, audio quality is not its strong point. I would put it the same as a higher quality Bluetooth speaker. The Play:1 is worlds better, never mind the Play:5.
It was the right answer because you knew what vexed meant. If you didn't know the answer, was it correct?
Ask a question you know the answer to is a pointless exercise.
Alexa what is vexed? It's a small feathered mammal indigenous to Patagonia.


I find you are very dismissive of the Echo. Have you actually tried one for a couple days? I admit I was skeptical of the Echo at first, but after reading so many positive reviews online, I finally caved about a month ago. And I have to admit, it is truly awesome. I have it hooked up to my lights, my TV with Harmony, alarms, timer, news, weather, quick facts, Uber, IFTTT, Spotify. Like other have posted here, my family, including myself, is turning to the echo way more often now than the Sonos for music, news, podcasts. It is handsfree, quick, accurate, and easy to use.

The Echo isn't going anywhere. It sells out every time new inventory is listed online, it sells for a premium on ebay, and it has Amazon's backing it. Unlike Apple, they are open to competing third party providers (they added Spotify when Amazon has prime music, Skills are open to anyone who wants to develop for them). The Dot is a step in the right direction for people like us who have heavily invested in Sonos, but it isn't a true integration (Echo can't send commands to Sonos), and in its current form, will not make for a user friendly experience.
btw, if you are good with computers, you can create a custom Echo Skill to control Sonos. You have to install a node.js app on a home server/computer, and do some other stuff. I haven't done it yet, too much work, and too likely to break with software updates. But it seems like people have people relatively successful.

From my understanding, these Echo Skills need a piece of hardware on your home network to control iot devices, and without some kind of hub, I don't see how Sonos would be able to do that. Hopefully Sonos will be able to figure something out soon.
Userlevel 5
Badge +11
I am not dismissve of Echo but I do lay a sense of perspective over it.
It is only available in the US. It is not available to the much larger market that is Europe.

Lets look at Europe.
Got the 3rd generation Kindle.
Only got the Amazon phone as they had to shift stock.
Got 2nd generation tablets that were a disaster until Amazon decided to provide a tablet for its intended use of media consumption. Software that is a mess.
Everything is released in the US first followed by global release once they have sorted all the bugs out.
Amazon changed Audible so it doesn't work with Sonos - which, for some people, is bizarrely Sonos' fault.

There are now 3 echo products. How many will there be in five years. How many home automation devices / systems are there? How long will it be before Amazon change the firmware - to get rid of all those bugs that are in it - which makes it inoperable with other "partners".

It is new. The novelty factor hasn't worn off.

Nowhere else in the world has access to any Echo device. Will any be rolled out globally (Germany and the UK being very large markets for Amazon) and how will it be received?

There are so many variables. Other "partners" that use Echo do not sell premium priced hardware which is a system in its own right. Why is a static voice controlled device better than a mobile voice controlled device? What integration should Sonos pursue. A static device in one room or a mobile one.
. Why is a static voice controlled device better than a mobile voice controlled device? What integration should Sonos pursue. A static device in one room or a mobile one.

Short answer is if you are controlling something attached to your house then the controller should be attached as well... or at least in close proximity. The last thing you want is to not be able to control something because somebody grabbed the primary controller and took it with them to the grocery store or whatever.

For people who always carry a smart device on their person (no not everybody does) then having that as an option to act as a secondary controller can be very handy but there always needs to be a primary controller that stays close to the thing being controlled. Ideally that primary controller will be voice activated.
Userlevel 5
Badge +11
The other side of that is having to have a static device in every room. Tablets, phones and you name it can have a Sonos controller. I use an old phone and a cheap tablet as remote controls in addition to apps on everything else.
Your primary controller can be any device. That a static voice control may be a preferred method does not by its nature make it ideal and/or robust (especially if it relies on internet access) until it can control everything you want it to control. That does not mean that the desire is not a valid wish list item.

Echo is currently a restricted device which has spawned two further devices. Which of these will be dominant. Will it create any "standards". Does Amazon support its own devices? When will it, and what, roll out globally. These are the crucial questions and actions to see any "pie in the sky" wish become more firmly grounded. What mobile developments are there for automation? What other devices are there? The big manufacturers haven't joined the party yet who will have devices to sell rather than content.

That Echo has, on its home turf, been very succesful and no doubt it will repeat that elsewhere. Whilst there is the element that Sonos needs to keep up with developments rather ignores the opposite premise that Echo not only needs to keep up with itself but to continue to lead - an area Amazon has not shown itself to be very good at, after all it only wants to sell you content - and drive automation. But that has not yet been found in any Amazon product. Content vs devices. Meanwhile the competition looms. Even in the face of competition does Amazon really care provided you continue to buy music etc that will integrate with whatever you buy.
BoredofBalham I see your point, and agree that there are still a lot of unanswered questions surrounding the Echo. Amazon does have a VERY spotty track record with hardware, with Echo being their only success after the Kindle. I also don't think it would be very hard for Google or Apple to create a competing device, and I often wonder why they haven't yet. Regarding international expansion, I think it is only a mater of time before they expand it to the rest of the English speaking world. I use mine in Asia and it works great (minus the Prime features, and Uber). They haven't given any indication they are working on other languages, but I'm sure it is already in the works. If Amazon is willing to pay millions of dollar for Superbowl ad, they are in this for the long run.

Cheap phone controller, primary mobile controllers,etc will not work for the masses. People do not want to take 10-30 sec just start music, turn on the lights. I had Hue lights for 2 years and my family used them as 'dumb' bulbs because nobody wanted to go through the hassle of using the app. Now with Echo and a couple Hue switches on the wall, we are finally using the full functionality of the lights. Like upstatemike said, nobody wants 'mobile' in home automation (although mobile will always play a roll). In your house, you should be able to walk around in your birthday suit, with your hands busy, and control everything, quickly, the same way, every time, no matter what has been moved around. With that you can focus on more important things 😛 . Nobody wants a 'smart' house, if controlling it takes more effort than a 'dumb' house.

The first time you walk in the front door with your hands full, and you can turn on the lights, play the news, ask for the weather forecast, start a Spotify playlist, all while taking off your jacket, you will see that an Echo like, always on device, is the future. Sitting on the couch and want to dim the lights? Alexa to the rescue. Cooking and want to convert 10oz into liters? Alexa. Timer? Tomorrow's calendar? Going to bed and want to run off AC, TV, lights, and lock front door? Alexa does all that while you are bringing your glass to the kitchen. Much to my chagrin, after only 3 weeks, my wife now uses Echo exclusively, and never open the Sonos app anymore. She lets me do that if I insist on better sound, multi room.

Back to your other point, should Sonos hop 100% on the Echo boat now? Probably not, but for me to continue investing in Sonos, I will need to see indications that they are starting to lay the groundwork for full iot integration. Logitech Harmony, Smartthings, Hue, smart switches, door locks, various sensors, Echo, IFTTT can all work together. Sonos was ahead of its time by removing the need for a central audio system, and implementing still unrivaled sync technology. now they need to get their act together and show they can keep up with the next revolution. Improve the API, add some way for Sonos to be controlled from the cloud, add third party casting. That might mean giving up support of all features on legacy devices, or coming out with a hub type device that can add a little cpu horsepower to the Sonos echosystem. But things are changing very quickly, and Sonos is losing its edge very quickly.
Badge
Sonos CEO's response - http://blog.sonos.com/news/industry-in-transition-invest-in-future
Userlevel 1
Badge +1
Very good news to hear! So the new microphones added to Play:5 gen 2 can mean an Alexa in every room with a sonos. Also, I think with true play, the mics might help tune themselves like I believe Bose does with home theater.
Download the Yonomi app. Echo now controls Sonos.
Userlevel 4
Badge +4
Sonos CEO's response - http://blog.sonos.com/news/industry-in-transition-invest-in-future

its been two months, any update Sonos on when official sonos/echo integration is coming?
Sonos CEO's response - http://blog.sonos.com/news/industry-in-transition-invest-in-future

its been two months, any update Sonos on when official sonos/echo integration is coming?


You must be joking! Do you have ANY idea how long it takes just to ramp up an integration project of this scope, much less get it funded, designed, developed, tested, documented, deployed, etc? I don't think so... Maybe six months from now.
its been two months, any update Sonos on when official sonos/echo integration is coming?

1) Sonos never gives timelines, release dates, or detailed roadmaps. The next time you hear about this will be the public beta.

2) Even if Sonos did do #1, you should familiarize yourself with the average software development cycle. A large scale revamp such as this is at the very least a 6 month development course, preceded by at least that number of months planning (which may or may not have taken place already). Nothing major gets done in 2 months in the software world. Matter of fact, the vast majority of the time, nothing minor gets done in 2 months; if you actually want it to be tested and release worthy.

Patience grasshopper. Patience.
Userlevel 4
Badge +4
its been two months, any update Sonos on when official sonos/echo integration is coming?

1) Sonos never gives timelines, release dates, or detailed roadmaps. The next time you hear about this will be the public beta.

2) Even if Sonos did do #1, you should familiarize yourself with the average software development cycle. A large scale revamp such as this is at the very least a 6 month development course, preceded by at least that number of months planning (which may or may not have taken place already). Nothing major gets done in 2 months in the software world. Matter of fact, the vast majority of the time, nothing minor gets done in 2 months; if you actually want it to be tested and release worthy.

Patience grasshopper. Patience.


thats funny you mention SDLC. i actually have been developing software for the better part of 25 years so i get timelines, patience, etc.
i would hope sonos was well along the path of a release before their CEO's public blog post and the revamping of the organization.
they have already said its coming, they should have a timeline, a plan, a schedule.

i will take your point though of patience and hope that sonos does a really nice integration with echo and its worth the wait.
Amazon only just announced availability of AVS to third party devices on March 23rd of this year. Two months ago. Assuming Sonos uses it, they've barely had time to assess the offering, start talks with Amazon, and maybe get a few developers trained on its use. A long, long road ahead...
Do we even know if they are going to add Alexa to the Sonos (using internal mic), or create a skill? I'm crossing my fingers for a skill, I don't see Sonos catching up with Echo's special mics in time to catch this falling knife.

The way the CEO worded it a while back, it gave me the feeling that decision to adopt Echo was fairly recent. Just my interpretation of his words.

I agree, 2 months is ridiculously short for anything. But if they are only developing a skill, it should be fairly straightforward. A couple people have already created json custom skills, doesn't seem to be that tough, but needs a server.

One big issue I see, and maybe I am completely missing something here, is that I think for an Echo Skill to work with Sonos, they will need some kind of hub on the local network (or software running on local computer). Sonos speakers, unlike many other IoT devices, are not accessible from the internet (a good and bad thing). They do not maintain a connection with 'home base', and are only accessible when the app scans the local network to see what it finds. I'm pretty sure Alexa skills needs a combination of the cloud, plus an IoT devices reachable from the cloud to send commands to. Please correct me if I am wrong.
Well, Amazon has certainly entered the wireless speaker market with a bang.

http://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-echo-speaker-sales-beats-bose-and-logitech-2016-1

https://www.1010data.com/company/blog/can-you-hear-me-now-the-surprising-success-of-the-amazon-echo/

Since Amazon famously never releases sales figures on anything it manufactures, take that chart with a grain of salt. I've seen market analysis that had Amazon Fire tablets outselling iPads, and other market analysis where they were trailing Chinese tablet manufacturers. Not coincidentally, the premise behind each article (pretty much "Amazon takes over tablet industry" vs. "Amazon tablet division in big trouble") exactly matched the market "analysis".
Had enough Best Buy points to pick up an Echo for $5 this morning.

Addressing the sound quality first: it's about on part with my Squeezebox Radio, which is to say far below a room-corrected Play:1. About as expected.

Went through a couple of voice training sessions from across the room. I listen to a lot of French, Spanish, Portuguese, etc music, so Alexa has a tough time understanding artist names, but when she finally does, this can be affirmed in the app. Will take some time.

I don't have Spotify account, so am currently limited to Tunein or Pandora, and a few Amazon albums, on Echo. Annoyingly, Alexa seems to want to search I Heart Radio, which I've never used, by default, even though I haven't enabled an account there. I have to specifically mention Pandora or Tunein to play from either. Maybe there's a way to change the default, but I don't see how. No Apple Music, Google Music, SoundCloud, MixCloud, or most other places where I have accounts and can access via Sonos.

Hooked it up with Yonomi to control my Sonos devices. Let's just say that this process isn't up to Sonos levels of simplicity.

Looking forward to Sonos adding voice control, which will no doubt "just work", certainly better than Alexa +Yonomi.

For things like weather and traffic, pretty cool. For music, meh, very limited do far. I'll continue using the Sonos app for music until Alexa is smarter, or Sonos does voice control much better, as I expect they will.