Alexa Muting All Speakers

  • 31 October 2017
  • 6 replies

I'm experiencing a frustrating aspect of Alexa and Sonos integration whereby I have a number of speaker groups and using Alexa mutes all groups.

So for instance last night I was upstairs listening to music on a single PLAY:1 (playback initiated via the Sonos app), and downstairs my children were getting homework help from Alexa in the kitchen. Each time they summoned Alexa playback upstairs was muted.

Is this normal? Is there a setting to stop Alexa muting Sonos playback?

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6 replies

Just thinking about this, if I buy an additional Echo Dot for upstairs and only associate the upstairs devices with that Dot, and delete them from the Dot downstairs, will that work?
Userlevel 4
Badge +1
No unfortunately...

It's a current feature/restriction/bug* (delete as applicable.. 😃 )

Amazon are in the process of rolling out an update to allow you to associate an Alexa enabled device (Echo, and presumably Sonos One) to a smart group in the Alexa app, with the intention that this will in turn allow you to simplify what you say. So for example, if you have an Echo and a Sonos speaker in your lounge, and you put them into the same group, you should be able to say "Alexa play music" and because Alexa knows that the responding device is in the same room as a Sonos speaker it should use that speaker... Once Alexa is able to tell what group it is in, and what devices are also in that group I would hope Sonos can update their skill to only mute any Sonos devices in the same group too. As it stands IMO, the current implementation is useless in a busy family home where Sonos is in use in different rooms to Alexa.

Which in turn will highlight the next flaw in the process, which is being able to tell Alexa which device to prioritise for some tasks such as playing music. If you have an Echo, or Echo dot in the same room as a Sonos speaker, saying "Alexa, play music" will cause Alexa to play music on the Echo device by default.. which isn't what you want... On a Sonos One, that might not be an issue.

Given that Amazon are only just rolling out this group functionality it's hard to blame Sonos for the current issue, but it would be really nice if someone from Sonos could confirm they are looking at this with Amazon to fix it really soon using this new capability. 🙂
Thanks for your detailed reply Ian, I tend to agree with your statement about the current implementation being useless where Sonos devices are used independently of the Alexa system. I guess my only option at the moment is to remove the upstairs Sonos speakers from the Echo Dot.
Userlevel 7
Badge +26
There's a comment here about what you're experiencing, it is a feature called Ducking, but unfortunately it has some issues for people using a Dot with a line-out to a Sonos player.

We're looking into ways to improve ducking, but I don't have any specifics yet that I can share. It's a bit of a moving target so I don't want to give you any details that might change yet.

The Sonos One handles ducking differently. When you ask Alexa on the Sonos One a question, only the room that player is in will duck. If it's part of a surround system, all of the players in that surround setup will duck. Also, when you ask another Alexa device a question in the house, the Sonos One will continue playing without changing volumes, since it knows you're not in that room.

As to the Alexa grouping, we haven't made any official comments on that one. We'd love to bring as many features as possible to the Sonos and Alexa integration and will continue to develop that to bring you more and more all the time.
Ryan, thanks for the info! Seems you are a bit in the know. Need SW update to enable simple Sonos commands such as group, play in a specific content is a specific room, control volume by group/room... basically the top line commands in the Sonos app. I am sure you are aware and working on these things... so far lots of trouble w my Sonos One. EX: Today no response other than wake up sound until I started up speakers from my iPhone. Last night, Play Pandora repeatedly no response, of course after waking it up w Alexas...

Do you know what we get w the Sonos One that we don't get w just a Play 1 and a dot? Thanks again for your expertise!
Userlevel 7
Badge +26
Do you know what we get w the Sonos One that we don't get w just a Play 1 and a dot? Thanks again for your expertise!
The obvious would be targeting and quality for Alexa replies. You don't have to tell the Dot where to play every time, or where to adjust volume. The Sonos One knows you're talking to it. Also, ducking is much better on Sonos Ones for the same reason.

Then, of course, you get the simplicity of only having one device in the room versus two.

In the future, there's going to be even more reasons for the Sonos One, like being able to pick your voice assistant, as the Sonos One will support Google Assistant and it'll also have Airplay 2 support, so you'd be able to use Siri on your iOS devices to play right to the Sonos One.

We're going to keep on working with Amazon to bring new features to the Alexa skill for Sonos too, so you'll see that integration get better over time. I'd suggest for any of those playback troubles, that you tell the Sonos One to discover devices.