Sonos - Arc and Amp - Easy Way to Optionally Choose to Play through Both or Just Arc

  • 28 September 2023
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Looking to help my brother with a Sonos set up. He has a Sony TV in his living room and two ceiling speakers in his adjacent kitchen (wired to basement). He would like to be able to say, for example, to his Alexa device (Echo or Refrigerator) to play the sound from the TV into the Kitchen.  How can this best be done?

I was thinking he may need to get a Sonos Arc for the TV room and a Sonos Amp to power the ceiling speakers. The Arc could always be used for when watching TV and he could optionally enable the Sonos Amp / ceiling speakers in the kitchen when he wants to. 

Is there an easy way for him to be able to enable/disable playing the TV through the kitchen speakers? (It is not really practical to run new / additional cables.) And it would be ideal to be able to say Alexa play the TV through the Kitchen speakers or something like that.

Thanks in advance for your support and ideas.

 


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There are a couple of ways this can be achieved, the easiest is with Sonos Voice Control https://www.sonos.com/en-us/sonos-voice-control

It is possible using Groups with Alexa and maybe with Google Assistant but I’m a bit rusty with regards to the latest changes to GA .

From a Sonos perspective, He would need any Sonos Soundbar and any other Sonos speaker.  There will be a slight delay playing audio from the TV to other Sonos speakers but if they are in different rooms, this will probably not be noticeable.

There are a couple of ways this can be achieved, the easiest is with Sonos Voice Control https://www.sonos.com/en-us/sonos-voice-control

It is possible using Groups with Alexa and maybe with Google Assistant but I’m a bit rusty with regards to the latest changes to GA .

 

 

Not for TV audio though.  You can create Alexa groups, and probably something similar in GA, to play streaming music to a group of Sonos rooms, but not TV audio.  Sonos Voice can do this though .

 

From a Sonos perspective, He would need any Sonos Soundbar and any other Sonos speaker.  There will be a slight delay playing audio from the TV to other Sonos speakers but if they are in different rooms, this will probably not be noticeable.

 

I’m thinking the delay is going to be a deal breaker, since the kitchen is adjacent.

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There are a couple of ways this can be achieved, the easiest is with Sonos Voice Control https://www.sonos.com/en-us/sonos-voice-control

It is possible using Groups with Alexa and maybe with Google Assistant but I’m a bit rusty with regards to the latest changes to GA .

 

 

Not for TV audio though.  You can create Alexa groups, and probably something similar in GA, to play streaming music to a group of Sonos rooms, but not TV audio.  Sonos Voice can do this though.

 

As long as Ungroup on Autoplay is turned off it works well.

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Thank you, UKMedia and melvimbe for your suggestions.

For this to work, we would like it to be very simple to use for his whole family. The idea was that when making dinner, for example, they could also be in the adjacent kitchen listening to the TV sound playing over the ceiling speakers (while some of the family watches and listens to the TV/Sound bar in the Living Room). It would be important that to have all the sound in sync -- after all, that is one of the features that draws us to Sonos in the first place.

I looked up a bit about Sonos Voice (having never used it myself).  Could I ask (wrt your notes above): 

  1. Why would playing TV audio through the Sonos sounder and Sonos amp together yield a delay in one or the other? I thought that the technology was such that they would be in Sync.
  2. Why would Ungroup on Autoplay being turned off impact things wrt sound being in sync?
  3. With Sonos Voice would one just say to the Sonos Sound bar, for example, “Hey Sonos, group the living room and kitchen” or “Hey Sonos, play everywhere”, to listen to the TV audio on the Sonos sound bar and the Sonos Amp/kitchen ceiling speakers? And when done, just turn off the TV (would this automatically cancel the grouping?) or simply say to the Sound bar, “Hey Sonos, Ungroup”?
  4. With the Sonos skill on Alexa, can you do the grouping and ungrouping similarly via Alexa? (That way they could cancel the grouping without leaving the kitchen, just by speaking to their Echo.)

Thanks again for your support on this.

In surround sound, the TV audio is a hardwired ARC or optical connection, and the surround/Sub connection is a low latency direct 5 GHz connection from the soundbar to the surrounds/Sub.  This low latency connection is fast, so it can be synced with the video, but it's not robust enough to go through walls, ceilings or floors.

For grouping, 2.4 GHz is used.  It's not low latency, so it must be buffered more, but it is robust enough to travel to other rooms that are grouped together.

 

There are a couple of ways this can be achieved, the easiest is with Sonos Voice Control https://www.sonos.com/en-us/sonos-voice-control

It is possible using Groups with Alexa and maybe with Google Assistant but I’m a bit rusty with regards to the latest changes to GA .

 

 

Not for TV audio though.  You can create Alexa groups, and probably something similar in GA, to play streaming music to a group of Sonos rooms, but not TV audio.  Sonos Voice can do this though.

 

As long as Ungroup on Autoplay is turned off it works well.

 

I read the requirement as the user wanted to use voice control to group (turn on) TV audio in both the main room and the kitchen.  You can do that with SVC, “Hey Sonos, group Main Room and Kitchen”, but no such command exists for Alexa.

 

With Alexa you can setup a group containing both Main Room and Kitchen (call it Happy Hour), and then make command like “Alexa, play def leppard on Happy Hour”.  Alexa does not handle TV audio, only streaming, so it can’t a command for that.  Likewise, there is no command to just group to rooms together without changing what’s playing.  And Alexa does not have that concept.

Another way to look at it is that Amazon built Alexa to control echo devices, and does not contain commands that echos can’t handle.  SVC is built for what Sonos speakers can do.

 

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Thanks.

But do you think there will be a delay in one of the devices (sound from sound bar or sound from amp/speakers) when playing TV audio through the group? Whatever solution we look at would have to be able to be in sync. And, can you enable both SVC and Alexa on a Sonos sound bar, or only one of them? 

 

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You get delays of TV sound through multi-Room Groups.

You do not get delays of TV sound from your 5.1 Room’s speakers.

By definition built in to the software, you will get a delay between the Sonos Home Theater ‘room’ and any grouped rooms. This is a function of the way the Sonos software works, any ‘grouped’ room will be subject to at least 75ms. You can moderate this, by delaying the playback slightly in the initial room, but you’re always going to be affecting the lipsync.

Alexa and Sonos Voice control can co-exist, it’s only Google and their voice assistant that has the rule that no other voice control system can be operative at the same time. 

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Thank you all for your support. I will have to keep on looking. Sonos, if you are listening, it would be a good idea and much appreciated by loyal users to have all grouped speakers in sync even if listening to TV audio. (And, as an aside, it will be great when somebody implements an automatic in-sync TV voice-picture system using AI or something.)

Thank you all for your support. I will have to keep on looking. Sonos, if you are listening, it would be a good idea and much appreciated by loyal users to have all grouped speakers in sync even if listening to TV audio. (And, as an aside, it will be great when somebody implements an automatic in-sync TV voice-picture system using AI or something.)

 

I’m afraid the laws of physics prevent syncing grouped rooms with the TV source.   The low latency, one way, 5 GHz connection between the TV source and surrounds/Sub allow for them to be in sync with the TV video, but the signal has trouble passing through walls or floors.  The more penetrating 2.4 GHz signal used for grouping can pass through walls and floors, but it is not low latency, and thus needs a larger buffer. The larger buffer is what adds the 75ms delay. 

Thank you all for your support. I will have to keep on looking. Sonos, if you are listening, it would be a good idea and much appreciated by loyal users to have all grouped speakers in sync even if listening to TV audio. (And, as an aside, it will be great when somebody implements an automatic in-sync TV voice-picture system using AI or something.)

Sending ‘demanding’ PCM stereo (uncompressed) TV audio across a wired/wireless LAN to play on ‘grouped’ rooms is always going to need a certain sized buffer - Sonos uses ~75ms by default which works for most (not all) users & their home networks… To keep things in A/V sync, you need the ability to buffer/delay the video on screen to be aligned with the grouped playing speakers - there are some TV’s/devices already that can help achieve these things. Apple-TV and some LG & Sony TV’s have lip-sync features, but really it needs the A/V industry to come up with a firm solution.

That said ‘bonded’ Sonos players over a 5Ghz ad-hoc network seems to be able to achieve lip-sync with two surrounds and up-to two Subs for the majority of users, but more than that amount of players may perhaps prove difficult.

Anyhow, lip-sync is really only necessary if all the ‘grouped’ Sonos players are in the same physical room - if they are placed elsewhere in the Home, then the delay often does not become an issue… and for me a current Sonos HT setup with surrounds and Subs is plenty for most folks viewing locations in a majority of Homes in any event. So I’m not sure the A/V industry would want to invest in having more than say a 7.2.setup in a room.

If this does ever happen, I suspect it may be years, rather than months, before we see it.

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Thank you again for the insights.

From the audio side, I understand (from other online comments from users) that Sonos sync works by distributing the audio asychronously, then coordinating buffered playout via a shared clock. I also read that the Sonos systems are always self-correcting for synchronization to keep things aligned within 1-2ms alignment (not really discernible to the human ear). It seems like Sonos grouped systems should be able to coordinate these elements to play back TV audio signals as well.  Sonos Engineering -- please take up the challenge (if you have not done so as yet)!

Thanks,

Thank you again for the insights.

From the audio side, I understand (from other online comments from users) that Sonos sync works by distributing the audio asychronously, then coordinating buffered playout via a shared clock. I also read that the Sonos systems are always self-correcting for synchronization to keep things aligned within 1-2ms alignment (not really discernible to the human ear). It seems like Sonos grouped systems should be able to coordinate these elements to play back TV audio signals as well.  Sonos Engineering -- please take up the challenge (if you have not done so as yet)!

Thanks,

 

As I said, it can’t be done.  Part of the sync process is that a buffer is built up, so that any missed/corrupted packets can be requested again, or any intermittent wireless interference can be overcome by the time the buffer runs out.  Using the low latency direct 5 GHz connection for surrounds and Sub, that buffer can be small, small enough to not affect lip-sync with the video.  That small buffer can’t be used for grouping, because dropouts would occur due to the harsher conditions of going room to room and floor to floor, so the buffer has to be larger, and the signal has to be 2.4 GHz instead of 5 GHz.

So until the industry standardizes on a method to delay the video 75 ms in order to get all units to sync up, there’s nothing Sonos can do.  Physics wins every time.

Typically in the source device video processing lags behind audio. Some TV’s and source devices allow audio delay adjustment. You may be able to work with all of these adjustments and the SONOS adjustment to arrive at a reasonable compromise. In some cases you can skew the soundbar and source adjustments to deal with the 75ms Group latency without seriously compromising lip sync. Of course your mileage will vary.

A big annoyance in the US is that lip sync may vary from one TV program to the next. Typically the music channels are more consistent. From discussions I’ve read here in the Community, it seems that this is not a big issue in Europe.

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Thanks again all. It is also an annoyance in Canada too. And taking advantage of the video delay relative to the audio (due to TV video processing), I am pretty hopeful that Sonos Engineering can look into this sync issue in the Sonos groups to avoid the resultant echoing that so many users describe in their groups when playing TV audio. That may take a bigger effort - but hopefully just some fancy firmware/software updates on our end and maybe a new Sonos “box” we buy that takes the video and audio signals together, holds them up appropriately and gets the audio aligning across the speaker groups and feeds the video at just the right time to the TV to keep lip sync right. With feedback and audio alignment self correcting ongoing and auto-adjusting for poor sound/video alignment program by program. (Hopefully without having to have yet another box with a camera and microphone that “watches” and “listens” and sends feedback to the first box.) We’re counting on you Sonos Engineering.

You’re still missing the whole ‘physics’ thing that @jgatie is discussing. There’s a strong doubt here that any amount of Sonos engineering can overcome the natural laws of physics. No matter how hard they try. 

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On the contrary, with Physics and Engineering, I believe that this is all very do-able. The first part - defining the problem - is already done. The need is identified. The challenge is on!

Sigh.

It’s clearly an issue of Sonos not being motivated enough to rewrite the entire underlying network design of their software. Anything can be done in software!

It’s clearly an issue of Sonos not being motivated enough to rewrite the entire underlying network design of their software. Anything can be done in software!

 

Or to rewrite the laws of physics so radio waves behave the same way through solid walls and floors as they do through air. 

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From Sonos website blog:

“Although Sonos is perceived as a maker of audio hardware, at its core lies a million-line codebase, with vast cloud operations, highly-optimised embedded code developed by a team of hundreds of brilliant software engineers, and a track record of innovation spanning 20 years and 500 patented inventions.

Our team, Sonos Advanced Technology, is focused on future-facing innovation and R&D within Sonos. We are an interdisciplinary group with backgrounds spanning physics, computer science, acoustics, studio production, sonic arts, and machine learning, working together to explore open problems with a 5-year horizon. It's an amusing paradox that, given the team’s background in solving some of the world's hardest problems - from astrophysics to animal auditory processing to AI-driven drug discovery - our unifying goal is to create experiences that are as simple and as effortless to use as possible.”

They can do this.

They can do this.

Maybe, with a flux capacitor🤔?

Otherwise Sonos will have to find some way to delay the video display on screen.

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Dark matter cables routed through a black hole to get the time dilation effects?

About the latency: if everything which is part of the “grouping “ is hard wired (ethernet), would that be a solution?

 

in my case: TV connected to Arc. Sonos AMP in the basement with 2 ceiling speakers near TV. Both Arc and Amp will be ethernet wired.

 

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