Alexa breaking groups (yet again)

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I came back from holiday to find that once again Alexa breaks my Sonos groups (third or fourth time). I have 5 Sonos speakers grouped through Sonos (group created from ‘Living Room’ paired speakers). I also have the same speakers selected as preferred speakers under the Alexa group ‘Living Room’. However if I tell Alexa to ‘play music in the living room’ it only plays through one speaker (bizarrely one named ‘Dining room’ although it is part of the group) and if I go into the Sonos app the group is broken. If I just tell Alexa to ‘play music’ then it only plays through the Alexa device (so the preferred speaker setting is meaningless?)

So far I have checked for an update (there are none), renamed the living room speakers in case there is a conflict, disabled and reenabled the Sonos skill, rerun device discovery (after every change), set the living room speaker as the only preferred speaker (which then works through Alexa) but any Sonos group created is still broken by Alexa. Basically I’ve trawled the forums trying everything I can find to no avail.

I’m going to totally uninstall and reinstall Sonos to see if that works but I'm really getting fed up of having to constantly fix stuff because Alexa and Sonos want to ‘improve the user experience ‘ which adds nothing but breaks everything. I think the app developers just need to justify their salaries. I’m reasonably tech savvy but god forbid if I ever kick the bucket because there is no hope in hell that my wife will ever be able to use this stuff. I’ve now reached the point where I’ve given up on Sonos.

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32 replies

Userlevel 7
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It should be simple but it isn’t. I only have one preferred speaker because if I select more than one it still only plays music on one speaker. This is the problem.

if Alexa played music on all of the speakers I select as ‘preferred speakers’ I wouldn’t have a problem. But it doesn’t.

As John B has said, this is working differently from our experience. As you have made so many changes, can you please carry out these steps and let us know if the situation changes (I know that you've undertaken most of these commands before but I'm not sure of the order):

  1. Ensure that your Sonos Room Names are unique in the Sonos App and change if required, then ask 'Alexa, Discover Devices;
  2. Delete your Alexa Group called Living Room;
  3. Open the Alexa App>Device>All Devices and ensure that no devices are shown as 'Off-Line';
  4. Create a New Alexa Group called 'living room';
  5. Add 'Mark's Echo Dot' as the Echo Controlling Device;
  6. Add any Sonos speakers you want to duck when a command is heard to the Alexa Group;
  7. Add any Sonos Speakers you want Grouped together for Multi-Room Audio in the Preferred Speakers section;
  8. Ask 'Alexa, Play Ed Sheeran' (I'm wondering if asking for 'Music', rather than a Specific Artist or Playlist is also an issue)
What are the results?
Userlevel 7
Badge +17
By Hub uptime do you mean the router? If so, surely the sequence is to shut down the speakers and router, then fully restart router, then the speakers one at a time. Then set the fixed ip addresses.

My apologies if I've misunderstood.
I don't set up the group in Sonos. I just have it set up in Alexa. Then I just say 'play music' to the controlling Echo Dot without specifying a room and Alexa forms the group in Sonos and plays the music.

This achieves what I want perfectly. It sounds as though you are looking for something similar.

I assume you have your Echo device as the controlling device for the group?
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Hi John. Yes that is what I’m trying to do. I’ve had groups running successfully through Sonos and Alexa for a number of years but in the last week or so groups no longer work. I have an Echo Show and have a number of Sonos speakers set as the preferred speakers, but despite this if I say ‘play music’ it plays through the Echo Show and not the Sonos speakers. I also tried the same thing through an Echo Spot with the same result.

Up until a week or so ago I could say ‘Alexa play music in the Living Room’ and it would play music on my Sonos Living Room group created in Sonos, but not any more.

Basically no no matter what I do in Alexa or Sonos I can no longer play music in a group of speakers - only in a single Sonos speaker or the Alexa device.
Hi. I am not sure if this is significant, but my Alexa group name is different from any of the Sonos speakers and my Dot. Is that so in your setup?
Also, you said originally thst you had grouped the speakers in Sonos. I am ssying you should not have them grouped in Sonos and should not specify a location to Alexa. Is thst whst you are doing?
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I’ve tried renaming the Sonos speakers to a different name and it didn’t work. If I have no groups created in Sonos but select the Sonos speakers as preferred speakers in Alexa then if I say ‘play music’ the music comes from the Alexa device or if I say ‘play music in the living room’ then the music only comes from one Sonos speaker (even if all of them are selected as preferred speakers in Alexa).

My conclusion is that preferred speakers is not working properly in Alexa. If I select just one Sonos speaker as a preferred speaker then ‘play music in the living room’ plays music on just that Sonos speaker but if I select multiple speakers then it plays on whichever speaker is first in the list.

I guess it’s time to disconnect everything and start from scratch

PS there is a positive - I’m hearing lots of interesting radio stations as when I say ‘play music’, Alexa picks some random station - and I’ve said ‘play music’ a lot today...

PPS deleting the skill, forgetting all Sonos devices and setting them again up from scratch made no difference. It still doesn’t work
Userlevel 5
Badge +11
The groups need to be made in your Alexa app. My groups have worked fine for months set up like that.

When you say you have a living room group do you mean two matching speakers paired? Alexa shouldn't be able to unpair them?
This still works perfectly for me. There is nothing generically wrong with the operation of 'preferred speakers '. Do you want to post screenshots of your Alexa group setup?
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Yes I have groups set up in Alexa. Ignore my comment about paired speakers - it’s not the issue.

There may be no generic issue with ‘preferred speakers’ and indeed it’s been working fine for me for months but for reasons probably not even understood by Sonos/Alexa it stopped working. Unfortunately as with a lot of Sonos/Alexa issues not everyone experiences the same problems.

However, I sort of got it working again. I added my Sonos Beam (TV Speaker) as an additional Alexa controller (with the microphone turned off so that I can still use the Echo Show as the main Alexa device) and then set the Sonos Beam up as the preferred speaker. I then created a group in Sonos based around the Sonos Beam and it seems to work. I’ve only tried it out once so I’ll let you know tomorrow if it holds up - but as the TV speaker decouples from the rest of the Sonos group when I turn on the TV, this is by no means a permanent solution.

I have absolutely no idea why this works but then I have absolutely no idea why it stopped working in the first place.

'I then created a group in Sonos'

Why? As I said before, I don't create groups in Sonos. I let Alexa create the group on the fly.
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Hi John. Because it’s the only way it works. Without the Sonos group it only plays on the Sonos Beam (if I say ‘play music in the living room’) or on the Echo Show (if I say ‘play music’).

I fully understand that this isn’t how it should work but it is how it is working.
This should be simple. An Echo device as the sole Alexa controller device. Speakers you want to duck as the selected speakers. The speakers that you want to group and play set as the 'preferred speakers'. Name the group differently from any speaker. Don't do any grouping in Sonos app. Speak to the controller device and don't name a room for play.
Why do you have only one speaker as preferred speaker?
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It should be simple but it isn’t. I only have one preferred speaker because if I select more than one it still only plays music on one speaker. This is the problem.

if Alexa played music on all of the speakers I select as ‘preferred speakers’ I wouldn’t have a problem. But it doesn’t.
Good advice, @UKMedia. I would sdd 'ensure none of your speakers is grouped in the Sonos app initially '

I also wondered about the 'play music' command but tried it on my system and the preferred speakers did group. I still agree thst it would be better to test with a specific artist.
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I actually think I’ve got it working but unfortunately I can’t remember the exact sequence of what I did to make it work. From what I recall I added all the Sonos speakers to preferred speakers, ungrouped the Sonos group then removed the Beam as a preferred speaker. It now works if I say ‘play music’ (I’m reluctant to test ‘play music in the living room’ in case it all falls apart again)!

I could have left the Beam as a preferred speaker but it seemed ‘safer’ to remove it and it also needs to be at a much higher volume for the TV so blasts your ears off as a music speaker.

The key to get this working seemed to be adding the Beam as an Alexa control device (although the mic is off so it doesn’t respond to commands) - prior to that nothing I did made any difference.

I have a similar setup for the kitchen so now the challenge is to see if that also works.

However, the issue still exists that this is the third time this year that I have had Sonos/Alexa problems with groups and it’s becoming pretty frustrating having to fix these issues

And I do understand that Alexa is often the issue not Sonos but it is the Sonos product that stops working.
Userlevel 5
Badge +11
I have groups of Sonos speakers set up on the Alexa app. eg. "everywhere" and "downstairs". So when I say "Alexa, play radio 2 on everywhere" she sets the group up and starts playing.

I have a living room group, with my play 1s, philips hue, tv, dot. I have kitchen with my connect amp and dot. They have the preferred speaker set up. So if I give Alexa a command in the living room, only the living room sonos ducks. But then I have other groups set up as groups of speakers in the Alexa app, so I can tell any dot to start playing something on any group and Alexa performs the grouping tasks within Sonos.

Does that make sense?
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As suspected trying to set up the kitchen broke everything.

I have done a reinstall as suggested by @UKMedia including forgetting all the Sonos speakers and reinstalling the skill for both Kitchen and Living Room. I also selected all Sonos speakers as preferred speakers.

After doing this saying ‘play music’ worked. But (there’s always a but), saying ‘play music in the living room’ (old habits die hard ) broke it with music only coming from one speaker (dining room speaker).

So I renamed the Alexa Living Room group to Lounge. Now when I say ‘play music on the living room’ Alexa is quite happy but there is no music playing. If you then say ‘play music’ Alexa says that ‘music is streaming on another device do you want to stream to dining room instead’ (dining room is the first Sonos speaker alphabetically so I assume this is why it chooses this one). If you say yes it then plays music to all the preferred speakers ie works as intended.

I looked for other devices called living room trying to work out where Alexa thought it was streaming to but there is only a Nest Thermostat with that name (I did rename it but that made no difference). I have a sneaky suspicion that the Dining Room speaker in a previous incarnation might have been called Living Room and this still shows up if you run a new speaker install on it (I’ve had to do that a couple of times over the years).

So the short version is that it works if I say ‘play music’ but gets confused if I say ‘play music in the living room’
@mvosloo . I think you have now ended up pretty much where the rest of us are and I am glad it now seems to be working for you.
I am totally unconvinced about the significance of adding the Beam with mic off, but whatever......

Edit: forum glitches have delayef some posts. I posted this without having seen your latest.
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Well what do you know - it's stopped working (yet again). Why does it not surprise me in the slightest...
Userlevel 7
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Are you using reserved IP addresses? If not, might the groups be breaking when IP addresses are renewed?
It is not really helpful having lights called 'Living Room Lights' and a speaker called 'Living Room' as those will likely clash. It is important to have unique names for devices/rooms/groups etc... Note if you have registered Sonos speakers as accessories in Apple HomeKit they will need to be renamed in the iOS Home App.

Smart lights and any plugs can be changed in their native App, like Philips Hue or TP-Link Kasa Apps, just as examples.
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Are you using reserved IP addresses? If not, might the groups be breaking when IP addresses are renewed?

No I'm not but I didn't think I had to. I'll give it a try but I think its more likely the recent update broke it again and I'll just have to set SONOS up afresh with Alexa. TBH I'm fed up babysitting SONOS/Alexa this is the 4th time this year.
Badge +2
It's like a recurring nightmare or maybe Groundhog day...

Every few weeks it seems SONOS has to release an update which immediately breaks my Alexa/Sonos and I then spend a few frustrating days trying to get it all back up and running. And to make things even more exciting, it never works immediately after I delete and reinstall rooms/skill/devices/preferred speakers it waits a few days before deciding whether it will work or not - just in time for the next update to break it again.

I have over £1000 of SONOS devices. I'm also adding an extension and was going to put in another £2500 of SONOS devices but I have now given up on them.

I jokingly asked my wife how she was going to cope with this Alexa/SONOS fiasco if I died and she replied 'I'll just use the Bose...' Maybe she has a point.