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Alexa group command

  • 19 October 2017
  • 44 replies
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Can you command Alexa to play music in a group if they have been group on the Sonos app?
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Best answer by PPaulp 30 May 2018, 22:33

Hi All, I have a solution and it works well. It takes some setting up but its worth it.

The added benefit is that you can prefix defferent volumes for each speak whn it becomes a group. This is great for mivies etc.

Download the Yonomi app (free) and set up a command list that plays 5 seconds of silence on all of teh speakers that you want to group. It will then group all the speakers together after the silence finishes. Its important to add the command ‘set repeat to off’ and ‘set shuffle to off’ for each speaker , after the silence (this prevents Sonos from moving to the next song in your playlist library).

FYI, you can find short recordings of silence on line with just a google search. You can also add it to Sonos as a ‘favourite’ by uploading the silence to soundcloud and synching your Sonos and sound cloud account.
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How can this functionality be so broken and marketed to the public already? Sonos is designed as a multi room audio system yet that does not work with this new API? SMH. :@

It is Amazon that doesn't support the inclusion of 3rd party speakers in Alexa groups.


Sorry, you are mistaken, the fault lies with the Sonos API. The Sonos API does not facilitate presenting a group of speakers as a target for Alexa like every single other smart home capable system. Essentially what needs to happen is you need to be able to group your speakers into logical groups and assign it a name, that name needs to show up in Alexa as a target device.
Userlevel 1
Totally agree - this isn't what I was expecting at all.. makes the whole thing currently not user friendly at all and having to mess about in both apps and the voice control... .seems simpler just to use sonos app.
Hi SJW - the problem with creating the group in Sonos is that when you say Alexa play music in [say] family room - it will play on all devices grouped in Sonos. What I would like to be able to do is:

Alexa, play music in Family room - I plays in the family room only.

Alexa, Play music in 'group' - it plays in the group I have set up in Alexa.

I Have three sonos players - Den, Dining room, Family room.

I don't mind is I have to play to all three when an Alexa group. BUT I want to also be selective on which individual sonos I want to play on from time to time.
I've been spending a while playing with the sonos groups and the alexa groups in the smart home option. From what I can see it will always be overridden by the Sonos app. I've groups of speakers in "living room", "bedroom1", "bedroom2" and "kitchen". I have made a group called "everywhere" in alexa which I selected all the Sonos groups . If I group all the rooms in Sonos then tell alexa to play radio 1 in the kitchen it plays to all speakers. If I ungroup all the speakers and say the same command it plays just in the kitchen. If I then say play radio 1 in everywhere it plays through the dot. If I then say "play music in everywhere" it then plays music in all the speakers but it's whatever was last played. So it recognises the everywhere command but doesn't seem to be able to control the content of everywhere. If I try to stop the music everywhere it then says it can't recognise the group everywhere. I've tried combination after combination and my conclusion is you have to group in Sonos first then just ask alexa to play one zone and it will play everywhere. It's a shame the Sonos app doesn't allow to group groups into groups. e.g. kitchen + living room = ground floor. Glad I didn't waste £200 on the new Play 1, I used the £25 off the dot so only wasted £25. Either way alexa app needs updating to cope with groups or the Sonos app does as well.
Userlevel 5
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I think a lot of people forget how limited the Echo was when it was first released a little over 2.5 years ago. It wasn't capable of doing much of anything, and even those things it could do it often did quite poorly. It has certainly come a long way since, although a lot of features people here take for granted are practically brand new. Look at everything Alexa learned to do in 2017 -- while the Sonos One was still in development:

https://venturebeat.com/2017/12/29/everything-amazons-alexa-learned-to-do-in-2017/

The point is, the Echo family of devices are all "unfinished products," as is the Sonos One, and they always will be. But in the little more than two months since the Sonos One was released, I've seen a number of features and skills implemented, improvements in responsiveness, etc. I have little doubt that we're going to see a lot more improvement in 2018. Yes, the process can occasionally be frustrating or painful for early adopters, and I understand why some have been disappointed or chosen to return their units. I certainly have complaints of my own with the One, issues I'm tracking and features I'm hoping will be supported soon, but overall I'm okay with the progress the product has made. .
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I think the problem is a combination of Alexa and Sonos.

I have other smart devices hooked into Alexa, and they pass through rooms to Alexa as devices. (Hue lights) So you can say to Alexa turn off Kitchen lights, and because you've created a Hue room called kitchen, Alexa effectively tells Hue to turn off Kitchen which Hue understands. Alexa has no idea that Kitchen has one or more lights. Alexa can address those lights individually as it sees them as devices too, but has no concept of a room...

Sonos doesn't create groups as a device that Alexa can then see... and doesn't allow you to name your groups and presumably provides no interface to Alexa that allows it to group Sonos devices...

Alexa itself doesn't support rooms. so for example it doesn't let you define a room that then has say an Echo device, a light and a Sonos speaker in it. If it did you might expect that Alexa knows you're in that room as it can tell which Echo you're closest to, and you could then say turn on lights, or play music and that would happen by default in the same room... that would be cool.

But Alexa needs to add that support for rooms and allow you to place an Echo device (or Sonos One) in a room, and then Sonos needs to expose a grouping interface to Alexa for either fixed name rooms, or creating them on the fly and naming them so it can manipulate them later.
I just took advantage of the $25 coupon on the Echo Dot and the problem I am having is when I create a group of Sonos speakers in the "Smart Home" section Alexa just tells me she doesn't know that group. For example, I made a group called "House" and then added all the Sonos speakers inside my house (not the ones in the yard) but if I say "Play the Beatles in the House" Alexa just comes back with she doesn't know of a group or device called "House".

The other thing is if I say "Play music in the kitchen", if the kitchen is currently part of a group on the Sonos app, it plays music on not just the kitchen but all the speakers kitchen is grouped with at the moment.

Disappointing. Hope this stuff gets fixed.
Userlevel 1
I've been spending a while playing with the sonos groups and the alexa groups in the smart home option. From what I can see it will always be overridden by the Sonos app. I've groups of speakers in "living room", "bedroom1", "bedroom2" and "kitchen". I have made a group called "everywhere" in alexa which I selected all the Sonos groups . If I group all the rooms in Sonos then tell alexa to play radio 1 in the kitchen it plays to all speakers. If I ungroup all the speakers and say the same command it plays just in the kitchen. If I then say play radio 1 in everywhere it plays through the dot. If I then say "play music in everywhere" it then plays music in all the speakers but it's whatever was last played. So it recognises the everywhere command but doesn't seem to be able to control the content of everywhere. If I try to stop the music everywhere it then says it can't recognise the group everywhere. I've tried combination after combination and my conclusion is you have to group in Sonos first then just ask alexa to play one zone and it will play everywhere. It's a shame the Sonos app doesn't allow to group groups into groups. e.g. kitchen + living room = ground floor. Glad I didn't waste £200 on the new Play 1, I used the £25 off the dot so only wasted £25. Either way alexa app needs updating to cope with groups or the Sonos app does as well.
Userlevel 1
How do you create a predefined group of speakers in the sonos app please? I have 2 speaker in 1 room and want to group them together so I can tell Alexa to play to that group?? FYI, if you have 2 speakers in one room, you may want to ‘pair’ them vs ‘grouping’ them. You will get much better sound and it will be truly left right stereo sound. Settings > Help & Tips > Using the Speakers > Create a Stereo Pair to watch an educational video on how to accomplish.
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How can this functionality be so broken and marketed to the public already? Sonos is designed as a multi room audio system yet that does not work with this new API? SMH. 😠
Userlevel 1
I keep reading comments on the forum that go along the lines of “Do you want to Voice control Alexa for feature xxxx? Then switch to the controller, do the thing manually and then instruct Alexa to play in that room”. What exactly is the point of this? If I buy a voice assisted player that does something on top of my existing Play:1, then I want, at the very least, that is able to group rooms, play my library (not just Amazon’s catalogue). I think that Sonos are simply selling an unfinished product.
Hi All, I have a solution and it works well. It takes some setting up but its worth it.

The added benefit is that you can prefix defferent volumes for each speak whn it becomes a group. This is great for mivies etc.

Download the Yonomi app (free) and set up a command list that plays 5 seconds of silence on all of teh speakers that you want to group. It will then group all the speakers together after the silence finishes. Its important to add the command ‘set repeat to off’ and ‘set shuffle to off’ for each speaker , after the silence (this prevents Sonos from moving to the next song in your playlist library).

FYI, you can find short recordings of silence on line with just a google search. You can also add it to Sonos as a ‘favourite’ by uploading the silence to soundcloud and synching your Sonos and sound cloud account.
The you simply tell Alexa “turn on ‘group lounge’”. It will then run the yonomi command that will group your lounge speakers together. After that, just ask Alexa to play whatever you want and it will be grouped to the speakers you want.

My explanation was a little rushed so please as ask any questions as needed.
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Ron, I tried this and it didn't decouple the room. I had three group together, requested a song - played in all three rooms. Then stopped music and requested song in Kitchen - it played in all three rooms. Any thoughts?

Check out this thread. I think things are still changing, but improvements seem to be happening.
https://en.community.sonos.com/amazon-alexa-and-sonos-229102/about-ducking-time-6806444
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Ron, I tried this and it didn't decouple the room. I had three group together, requested a song - played in all three rooms. Then stopped music and requested song in Kitchen - it played in all three rooms. Any thoughts?

The behavior of the Sonos Grouping of Rooms is now driven by the Preferred Speaker within the Alexa App Group when music is started via Voice Control.

Sorry for the long post but I've tried to explain some process, as well as some of the terminology:

Alexa Group Set-up

Ques 1 – What is your Controlling Alexa Device?

1.1 – From your list of Alexa devices, both Sonos and others, choose the Controlling Device;
1.2 – Create an Alexa Group, named after the room that the Controlling Device is located in and select the chosen Alexa device. (If you select a Sonos device as the controlling device, this device can only be included as the Controlling Device in one Alexa Group);

Ques 2 – What Sonos devices do you want to reduce their volume on when Alexa is triggered (Ducking), so that the command can be heard by Alexa more easily?

2.1 – From your list of Sonos Rooms/Devices choose those that you want to duck when an Alexa Command is being given;
2.2 – Include all of these Sonos devices by adding them to the Alexa Group.

Ques 3 - What Sonos ‘Rooms’ do you want the requested music to be output on for Multi-Room Music?

3.1 – Within the Alexa Group set-up, select ‘Preferred Speakers’ and select all of the Sonos Rooms that you want to be grouped together for Multi-Room music.
3.2 – Save the Group

Please repeat for all other rooms which contain an Alexa Device that you want to control Sonos players.

Notes:

1 - It is still advisable to create Groups, Devices and Routines with unique names.
2 – It is also possible to create an ’Uncontrolled Alexa Group’. In this case an Alexa Group is created but with no Controlling Alexa Device (Section 1) or Grouped Rooms (Section 2) defined. These must be referenced with the Group name included within the command – See Scenario 2

Scenarios

Controlling Device: Echo Dot in Kitchen (Alexa Device name: Kitchen Echo Dot)
Grouped Sonos devices to be ducked: Kitchen Playbar + two Play:1’s as surrounds (Alexa Device Name: Kitchen Sonos), and Dining Room Stereo pair of Play:1’s (Alexa Device Name: Diner Sonos)
Preferred Speakers: All Sonos Rooms
Group Name: Kitchen

Scenario 1 – Auto Group Sonos Players

Start state: Only Kitchen Sonos playing music

Command to Kitchen Echo Dot: ‘Alexa, Play Soft Jazz’

Result:
1. Current music to Kitchen Sonos stops;
2. All Sonos Rooms group together and shown as such in the Sonos App;
3. Soft Jazz output to all Sonos Rooms

Command to Kitchen Echo Dot: ‘Alexa, Play Piano Chill Playlist’

Result:
1. Kitchen Sonos & Diner Sonos volume reduced on the trigger of hearing ‘Alexa…..’
2. All Sonos Rooms remain grouped;
3. Piano Chill Playlist is output to all Sonos Rooms

Scenario 2 – Play Music to a subset of Sonos Speakers from any Alexa Device

Controlling Device: N/A
Grouped Sonos devices to be ducked: N/A
Preferred Speakers: All Sonos Rooms Downstairs
Group Name: Downstairs

Start State: No music playing

Command: ‘Alexa, Play Soft Jazz on Downstairs’

Result:
1. All downstairs Sonos Rooms group together and shown as such in the Sonos App;
2. Soft Jazz output to all Downstairs Sonos Rooms.

Commands

Ques 1 – How do I play music to a single room?
Command – ‘Alexa, Play Soft Jazz on [Sonos Room Name]’
Ques 2 – How do I play music to my standard multi-room group of Sonos Players?
Command – ‘Alexa, Play Soft Jazz’
Ques 3 – How do I stop music being output to a single room (e.g. to answer the phone) but continue to play music in the other rooms?
Command – ‘Alexa, Mute’

This explanation is still in draft form, so please let me know if you don't understand anything or you think I haven't covered something.
Tell Alexa to play in any one of the grouped rooms and the entire group will play. For instance:

Group of Living Room + Kitchen + Dining Room.

Alexa, play smooth jazz in Living Room.

Smooth jazz will play in Living Room + Kitchen + Dining Room.
Also with the latest software release you can add a device to an active group by simply pressing and holding down the Play/Pause button for a few seconds. The inactive device will then join in with the active group.
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Thank you - but how do I give it a name e.g. "Lounge" which contains say 2 speakers.. and can save that name "Lounge"?

You can't.

We know Sonos are working with Amazon to enable better grouping or handling thereof via Alexa but at the moment it's a work in progress.
I really wish there were a way to group my Sonos speakers with Alexa devices (dot, echo, etc.). My intention is to be able to stop yelling things like "Dinner Is Ready" to everyone in the house. It would be nice to be able to tell Alexa to do that, and have a track play on all Sonos and Alexa devices, because there are Sonos speakers in main rooms, and Alexa dots in the kids' rooms. Basically, I would like an old-fashioned home intercom, but just in one direction.
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I just took advantage of the $25 coupon on the Echo Dot and the problem I am having is when I create a group of Sonos speakers in the "Smart Home" section Alexa just tells me she doesn't know that group. For example, I made a group called "House" and then added all the Sonos speakers inside my house (not the ones in the yard) but if I say "Play the Beatles in the House" Alexa just comes back with she doesn't know of a group or device called "House".

The other thing is if I say "Play music in the kitchen", if the kitchen is currently part of a group on the Sonos app, it plays music on not just the kitchen but all the speakers kitchen is grouped with at the moment.

Disappointing. Hope this stuff gets fixed.
Have exactly the same problem, does not recognise the group I set up in Alexa (which is all of my Sonos speakers throughout the house)
I really wish there were a way to group my Sonos speakers with Alexa devices (dot, echo, etc.). My intention is to be able to stop yelling things like "Dinner Is Ready" to everyone in the house. It would be nice to be able to tell Alexa to do that, and have a track play on all Sonos and Alexa devices, because there are Sonos speakers in main rooms, and Alexa dots in the kids' rooms. Basically, I would like an old-fashioned home intercom, but just in one direction. there is an app on play store called sonofy, you might have to sign up to beta versions of apps in settings, it does exactly that and can notify of call etc on Sonos. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=co.sonofy.smartroomsolutions
Userlevel 7
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How can this functionality be so broken and marketed to the public already? Sonos is designed as a multi room audio system yet that does not work with this new API? SMH. :@

It is Amazon that doesn't support the inclusion of 3rd party speakers in Alexa groups.
Userlevel 7
Badge +20
How can this functionality be so broken and marketed to the public already? Sonos is designed as a multi room audio system yet that does not work with this new API? SMH. :@

It is Amazon that doesn't support the inclusion of 3rd party speakers in Alexa groups.


Sorry, you are mistaken, the fault lies with the Sonos API. The Sonos API does not facilitate presenting a group of speakers as a target for Alexa like every single other smart home capable system. Essentially what needs to happen is you need to be able to group your speakers into logical groups and assign it a name, that name needs to show up in Alexa as a target device.


You obviously know better than me and:

https://sixcolors.com/link/2017/08/amazon-adds-multi-room-audio-for-echo-dot-and-show-third-party-support-on-the-way/

https://www.tomsguide.com/us/amazon-echo-multi-room-music-setup,review-4634.html

http://uk.pcmag.com/news/90941/how-to-set-up-a-second-alexa-enable-multi-room-playback

But it is coming soon...
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How can this functionality be so broken and marketed to the public already? Sonos is designed as a multi room audio system yet that does not work with this new API? SMH. :@

It is Amazon that doesn't support the inclusion of 3rd party speakers in Alexa groups.


Sorry, you are mistaken, the fault lies with the Sonos API. The Sonos API does not facilitate presenting a group of speakers as a target for Alexa like every single other smart home capable system. Essentially what needs to happen is you need to be able to group your speakers into logical groups and assign it a name, that name needs to show up in Alexa as a target device.


You obviously know better than me and:

https://sixcolors.com/link/2017/08/amazon-adds-multi-room-audio-for-echo-dot-and-show-third-party-support-on-the-way/

https://www.tomsguide.com/us/amazon-echo-multi-room-music-setup,review-4634.html

http://uk.pcmag.com/news/90941/how-to-set-up-a-second-alexa-enable-multi-room-playback


Clearly. Since you are showing articles written by other people, talking about a feature that does not work correctly with the immature Sonos API. Sure this is another way to accomplish this, also not working.

My way is easier allowing for greater control within Sonos, the way you highlighted affords greater control in Alexa.... however more importantly that ease within one app or the other I highly doubt Sonos will ever allow it to work this way, as it would enable users to group together other brand smart speakers forming a hybrid sort of system... NO way Sonos lets that fly.
I keep reading comments on the forum that go along the lines of “Do you want to Voice control Alexa for feature xxxx? Then switch to the controller, do the thing manually and then instruct Alexa to play in that room”. What exactly is the point of this? If I buy a voice assisted player that does something on top of my existing Play:1, then I want, at the very least, that is able to group rooms, play my library (not just Amazon’s catalogue). I think that Sonos are simply selling an unfinished product.

Yes, the Alexa skill for Sonos' 3rd party multi-room speakers is indeed a work in progress and is waiting for broader support for features such as grouping which are coming in an SDK next year. This was made clear by the "Beta" status of the skill. If you do not wish to participate in a beta program for the Alexa skill for Sonos speakers, I suggest you disable the skill.