Amazon Echo

  • 6 November 2014
  • 85 replies
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Amazon Echo sounds interesting. It would be great if this could be used as a controller for Sonos.

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So I have 8 sonos speakers and love it but I have to tell you that I recently acquired an echo for my kitchen and placed it right next to play 5. I'm finding I use the echo more than the sonos as I don't have to locate my iPhone or iPad to select some music. All my iTunes library 3500 songs have been exported to Amazon music. All I have to do is so Alexa play, and she does. I was considering the sonos sound bar but I really think sonos is missing the boat here. They really have not innovated except for some new speakers but are missing the market on voice activation and a gal Friday type of interface. IMHO.
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.
I have an Echo and love it. I have 4 zones in my Sonos system, but compare

"Alexa, play Steely Dan"


to:

take out my iPhone. Fire up the Sonos app, Wait a second or two for it to find my components. Maybe there's a software update I have to deal with. Search for Steely Dan, select a zone, and hit play.


When the phone rings, "Alexa Stop" versus the same remote control fumbling.

Sonos should seriously add voice control. I'm not especially expecting them to integrate with Echo. I doubt Amazon has an open API to do so. But if Sonos isn't careful, Echo or the inevitable imitators will steal your customer base. The $99 intro special attracted me, and the sound quality of this bluetooth speaker makes it worth it by itself. Add the voice commands, and it's become my favorite tech purchase of the past few years.

At each Sonos zone (until you build it into future models), add a voice command component that connects to the ethernet port. I'd rather not pay $99 per zone, but I'd probably pop for $49 and would definitely go for all 4 zones for $100. I don't need the AI search components of Echo (although that'd be nice), but to be able to simply say "SONOS, play some Leo Kotke in the kitchen" would be a winner.
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Amazon Echo now supports IFTTT.

Sonos?


+1 for IFTTT
wow - I bet some wish they could take back their posts on this one

or maybe I have a different view of things - sonos is nice but its no platform to base anything on other than listening to music or maybe a book - if you are willing to pay a ton of money for fake surround sound, add tv to the list

sonos has announced they are happy where they are - no support for surround sound - their target market is simplicity seekers - and its a valid market - simplicity does not offend me until I have to sacrifice function - but that is just me

I won't be expanding my sonos any more - but would like to use what I have with echo - and it can be done, but the process is clunky and less than elegant

seems to be two ways to interface products to echo - with 'skills', you would say 'alexa, tell sonos to...' or 'alexa, ask sonos to...' - it might sound like a small thing, but its the camel's nose under the tent - the goal is to know what to do using a casual speaking style - not formulaic structures to listen to your sonos - I suspect 'skills' are hosted on amazon

my home automation interfaces without using skills - 'alexa turn off the family room lights' does turn off all the lights in the family room without 'alexa tell izzy to turn off the family room lights' - but 'alexa set the den lights to off' works - and many other iterations of the phrase - ecobee has taken this path too for its thermostats

I look at electronics with an eye to their ability to seamlessly integrate with other electronics - I started down the sonos path after learning it could be integrated with my home automation, even though it was somewhat clunky - with echo, my focus has changed from basing life on my home automation controller to echo - some people are satisfied to have several 'apps' on smartphones and tablets - that is not George jetson - fact is, jetson was a nudist and had nowhere to stash devices - and most people don't pick up their phone when going to the kitchen for a beer - so the answer to 'what could be simpler than (walking to the speaker and) pressing a button?' is 'alexa play...'

echo is a very young product - and already has vendors in production and others working on it - one problem for integrating with sonos (or any sound product) is that blasting tunes on sonos might prevent echo from hearing your 'alexa stop' - or change sources - or grouping/ungrouping speakers - or lower the volume - until next week, I only have one echo - not sure how wedded multiple devices will be but if I am speaking to alexa in my bedroom, I'd like her to act on the speakers in my bedroom without saying 'alexa play blahblah in my bedroom' - not sure that is possible yet because echo might not know where she is (oh no - I hope she only responds locally when I talk to her and not on all the echos)

sonos should never install voice recognition into their devices - there are platforms better at it than them and more appropriate - the array of microphones are very good in the echo and no one wants to walk over to their speakers to use them - sonos said they will not dip into video even enough to support functions directly related to their product's purpose; producing sound - if they are wise, they would not venture into areas that are secondary to the purpose of their products - especially when others have invented that wheel and provide an easy interface into it

adding echo integration to their product would be a nice value added feature without requiring them to venture into technology outside their core products - echo is not trying to compete with sonos - any sonos customer would prefer to hear the quality sound sonos produces but might settle for the sound of echo in the kitchen rather than chasing down a phone or ipad to hear a few minutes of tunes while preparing lunch

amazon, google, etc. are big and rich because people want their products and services - and are willing to pay for them - nothing sinister in that - echo is not a device designed to screw you out of money by ordering products from amazon - nor is it an altruistic act designed to raise money for funding cancer research - no one has to hate sonos because they like the echo - I would bet sonos has discussed integration with echo - I would not be surprised to see at least a 'skill' if not closer integration - some people rule out products that don't integrate - I do - wish I found echo before I found sonos

my guess is that we will see sonos integrate with echo with limited functions initially - and expanding into a mature integration over time - there will be problems to solve ('alexa play Pandora...' over sonos or echo?) - but those can be overcome

(vizio has a 5.1 real surround sound soundbar that integrates will with vizio televisions - since vizio tvs DO pass surround over optical - and have for years)
((snicker - my little dig))

(((now we need an I/r blaster with wifi - simple integration to echo with that)))
I'm trying to convince my wife to install speaker wire and multiple channels of sonos into our (already built) house. We just received an Amazon Echo, and now I can control my Insteon lights using it. My wife now no longer uses the sonos in the living room (we have an open floor plan so the system in the living room is basically the system we use for the kitchen) and instead uses the Echo to play music. Without Echo/Sonos integration, there's no way for me to convince her to spend thousands to put in wiring, speakers, and sonos. Even I would rather talk to the Echo than find our iPad, open the Sonos app, find what I want, and play it. I'd much rather say "Alexa, play dinner music playlist on sonos in living room".
I have the same challenges in my house. Echo is easy to use. Sonos is not just harder to use than Echo it is harder to use than it used to be. I am desperately trying to replace the failing CR200s and "family rejected" iPad controllers with used CR100s to try to win people back to Sonos but I don't know if it will work. I will probably end up keeping just a few zones of Sonos for when I want to crank things up but for day-to-day listening even I am drawn to the ease of using the Echo, especially as I get more comfortable using it to manage lights, read books, give me the news, etc. It's just a more natural user experience.

The implementation of an Echo control for Sonos would certainly be well received in my house.
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This thread shows another example of Sonos users looking to expanding the possibilities of their speakers by integration with other solutions. Personally I can think of 3 or 4 integrations I would like to see without much thought. Home Automation or IOT is clearly the future direction of technology within our homes. The question is does Sonos realize this and will they be complacent or will they fight to maintain their leadership in the market?
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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?
Consumer Reports, one of the very few magazines that still reviews equipment objectively, gives the Echo a "good" for sound quality, while Tap gets a "Fair".

http://www.consumerreports.org/wireless-speakers/amazon-tap-sound-quality/

Want the very best SQ a wireless speaker can deliver? Get a Play:5. Better, get a stereo pair.

http://www.consumerreports.org/wireless-speakers/best-wireless-speakers-right-now/
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That's interesting.
More tick box pain for sonos, makes sonos look like a 10 year old product....
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I just got the ECHO and am enchanted. While I love the ability to tell Alexa what I'd like to hear, the sound quality is not even close to that of my 2 Play 5s and sound woofer. Actually, in comparison it is not tolerable. Alexa is good for other things but not as a music speaker.

I URGE Sonos to take advantage of the free API and let Sonos interact with Alexa! It would make my Sonos experience even more awesome than it already is.
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"Sonos announce to the entire house that dinner is ready."

Or when the phone rings, "Sonos, pause playback". Then, "Sonos, resume playback".

Or just have Sonos pause, while Alexa tells you how many pints in a quart.
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Sonos should just integrate the likes of Google Now, or Siri (Apple depending) into the Play 1.

I can just imagine walking into my kitchen to make breakfast in the morning to ask what my daily schedule is, then followed by reading my emails, then listening to some tunes from Play Music.

Just partner up already and be done with it.
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The Play1 has no microphone (and I don't want one!!), so that will not work.
I am curious how the speakers will sound with music. I have the Fire Tv and the voice commands using the remote are VERY handy when compared to always having to type. Would love to have it control Sonos but for $99, I can see having one in the kitchen (weather, lists, music, etc) and bedroom (alarm, light music, lists, weather, etc)
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.
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The Echo is nice and I'd really like to have it control my Sonos gear.

I also agree that t's worth $100 but not $200.

As for Sonos adding voice control, that would be great. However, Amazon has an incredible amount of processing power behind the voice recognition in the Echo. I'm not sure Sonos has the resources to provide that.
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.

Your praise is much higher than this review:
http://www.theverge.com/2015/1/19/7548059/amazon-echo-review-speaker

To say it could be the end of Sonos.... well, count the threads on here about other "Sonos-killers" that have come and gone!
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I SERIOUSLY doubt it's even near the quality of a Play 1.
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I don't feel the Echo sounds anywhere near the sound quality of a Play:5. Not even a Play:1 to my ears (but we all hear differently).

It doesn't seem to have nearly as much bass response and the clarity is much superior in the Play devices.
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No, the Echo does not sound nearly as good as a Play 1.

The Echo's voice recognition is very good though.
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As for Sonos adding voice control, that would be great. However, Amazon has an incredible amount of processing power behind the voice recognition in the Echo. I'm not sure Sonos has the resources to provide that.

Why not just integrate with Google Now? Google isn't short on processing power. The voice recognition works great for me.
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I saw an email from Amazon about opening the Echo up to folks who want to develop new applications.

I have a feeling they will put limits on what they might allow (especially regarding competing products), but I'm looking forward to seeing what comes up.
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I have 5 sonos zones in my home, I'm an amazon prime member so thought "why not" and signed up to get an Echo for $100.. Great the first 5 days, then I mellowed out and understand that it has it's limitations. It's good at a few, it sucks at some also. I dont know if I speak with an accent or am just too softly spoken but I have to repeat myself on occasion. With 7 mic's it should hear me better..on the other hand, with 7-mic's is it hearing 'everything' and feeding the servers and recording, sorting and analyzing my daily goings on back at HQ? (if you are prone to paranoia, it could exacerbate it somewhat)

Must admit that the entire time I was wishing it could be linked with Sonos.

In the meantime the room that has the Echo (office) now exclusively plays my iheart, tune-in radio, and my modest amazon music from the device. It's not a room where I generally 'blast' music from anyway.. Amazon owns audible, I am an audible junkie..the day amazon links audible with Echo...sonos is gonna be in trouble with me.

Echo sucks at using it to find meaningful information. It's okay at basic very general 'stuff'..like wikipedia or google one line search-type stuff and basic math problems.

I suspect that Amazon's primary intent with Echo is information on customers. With Echo, we have gleefully walked into our homes a device that listens to our every word, we just cross our fingers and hope nothing beyond our tolerance is going to develop with this device, it is always connected, it is always listening, it could very easily perpetually record...easily.. if it isnt doing that already. That's my paranoid side talking.

As it stands its awesome to simply say "alexa, play bbc world service", or "alexa- set alarm for 6pm", or "alexa, stop". It would be awesome and threatening if/when Amazon starts connecting it to other music services beyond the three it has now. Already on Echo I used iHeart radio more than I've ever used it on Sonos. Primarily because most of my owned music is via mp3 or iTunes, and what I bought from Amazon is very small in comparison to my rather vast collection, so when I say "alexa, play Rick James", it's not in my amazon collection and plays it from iHeart OR a useless 30-second sample from Amazon music. have not taken the step and copied my music across to amazons music service where I suspect this issue will go away. Not yet..if ever...I dont know. Echo is new and it to me is plainly a version .8 device.

I think Amazon is using it's deployment as an proactive tool to figure out what else to offer and monetize from it's customer base. I think for the fun and coolness Echo brings to the customer right now, I think it's giving the analytics, marketing and services team back at cyberdyne...oops..I mean Amazon HQ a lot more, and after a time and further information gathering, brainstorming and some guessing, it'll decide further what it will do.

I am likely an ideal owner, I shop from Amazon all the time for both work and home. The only items I dont buy online are lumber and food. If Amazon sold whiskey and ammo, I'd buy them there too.. I am and have been using amazons services and devices since they came live. I live a quarter mile from a major mall, I have not stepped foot in it since 2006...easily. No need to, UPS comes to my front door. Bought all my sonos devices from Amazon.

Curious to see what this Echo will flesh out to be, also listening out to hear if there is any misbehaving in this the age of the surveillance state.

There lingers this potential that this device seems like it should integrate into the Sonos system as well. I have spoken to a few people I know that have a sonos system and each and everyone has said something to that effect. Seem's plain to me that lots of folks are thinking the same thing.

I dont know if it will happen...Amazons 'brain' is a hosted cloud service, Echo is just an endpoint device that sends the data back and forth, all the thinking is done elsewhere. Sonos is essentially a stand alone entertainment system, itself and endpoint to third party hosted services and local resources with an onboard indexing capability tethered to the device. I think a voice interface will be welcome but to use someone elses might involve giving up much development control over the device to other parties with their own separate interests and obligations.

We'll see what the future holds..hopefully Sonos will develop another device that is the voice interface control that knows a number of key commands and can reference the index to play music in our collection. That might be a starting point...and later..the cloud. Think Ford Sync....BUT... a fully debugged and working Ford Sync. (or other system that automobiles come with, I just say ford because that's the one I'm familiar with)
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Just received an email from Amazon.com that contained this:

WeMo and Philips Hue products now work with Amazon Echo.

You can now use Echo to switch on the lamp before getting out of bed, turn on the fan or heater while reading in your favorite chair, or dim the lights from the couch to watch a movie—all without lifting a finger...or even raising your voice.


Let's keep our fingers crossed for SONOS support.