Alexa responding on different speaker groups at different volumes

Userlevel 1

Wondering if anyone else has experienced this. I'm having a weird issue with using Alexa for random queries, wherein the nature of the question (rather than which speaker I am closest to) seems to determine which speaker responds and how loudly it does so.

For background, my Sonos system is using a Boost setup. I have a Playbar and two Sonos One's in a surround setup in one room. Also, as I'm sure you're probably aware, Sonos speakers do not currently have separate volume settings available for music and Alexa volume, which results in situations where I have the volume at about 40-50% which is just right for TV-input or Music, but if I ask Alexa a question then her response is so loud it is like she is shouting at me. In order to get Alexa to a reasonable volume, I would have to drop the speaker to about 20%, at which point the TV audio via the Playbar would be barely audible.

Anyway, if I ask Alexa a basic question on one of the Sonos Ones, such as "Alexa, what is the temperature outside", then she will give me a near-instant answer (extremely loudly!) out of that single Sonos One. However, if I ask a different type of question, such as "Alexa, are there any Hockey games on today", then her response will take about 2-3 seconds delayed, and the answer will come (much more quietly) out of the entire surround setup (Playbar + both surround Sonos Ones providing ambient noise).

The difference in volume, as well as the fact that the entire surround setup (Playbar + both Sonos Ones) are involved, as well as potentially the 2-3 second delay, seems to indicate that the responses to more detailed questions are being handled like TV/Music audio, rather than a more basic Alexa response.

Anyone else experienced this, and/or have a fix?


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5 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +20

That's an interesting issue! 🙂 Can you submit a diagnostic just after this happens and post the number within this thread?

Firstly, I agree with you, there needs to be a way to set the Alexa audio-level independent of the main Sonos One output. I haven’t found a way to do that either. Some, here in the community, have said adjust the volume with the buttons on top of the speaker when music etc. isn't playing through it, but that doesn’t seem to work.

I 'think' the reason that sometimes you get audio from just the one single speaker is the case that a 'response' is just received direct back from Alexa, but on a few other occasions, if the response is from an 'Alexa Skill' and that 'Skill' is on the 'Works with Sonos' list, then the returned audio comes back to the actual main Sonos speaker and any other speakers that are 'grouped', 'paired' or 'bonded' with it. Please note this is just my personal theory of what maybe happening here.

There are a list of Alexa Skills that are Sonos compatible shown in this thread, if you want to perhaps test this theory to see if this is the reason:
Userlevel 1
Diagnostic number: 2075397256

Yeah, that theory makes sense. I figured that as soon as it got more complicated, that it might be treated as audio as opposed to just a basic Akexa response, and that is why started coming out of the playbar. The fact is coming out of the play bar is more of a curiosity really (I don’t really care where the sound comes from), and I guess the real ultimate issue is basically that it’s at a dramatically lower volume since Alexa and other audio seem have dramatically different volumes that I can’t separately adjust.
Userlevel 7
Badge +19
Hey there, Dave-M. Thanks for posting about this! Ken_Griffiths is right on the money. Depending on the question asked, Alexa will pull back much more rich and detailed information on par with a Flash Briefing. I tested this out at home while listening to a group containing a pair of Sonos Ones. When I asked the local temperature, the audio was still ducked and playing in the background. When I asked "What soccer games are on today?", all grouped audio stopped and it began giving a much more detailed response with full schedules. After it finished, I tapped the Play button on the Sonos One and it would repeat the response from Alexa as if I asked the question again. I had to give another command to restart Sonos, which tells me that the content coming back to Sonos was an audio stream (played on the room level) rather than a quick response (played on the unit asked).

The relationship between Alexa audio and player volume is linear. Just as you described, if you turn the speaker down Alexa volume follows. If you have quiet audio that needs to be raised, Alexa will be "shouting" as it too, is having it's volume increased. I run into this issue from time to time and can see the benefit in a feature that would manage separate volume levels. As such, I will be tagging this topic as a feature request and forward it to the team. The more feedback we have about things like this, the more likely we are to get them addressed.

Thanks again!
Keith N,

Thanks very much Keith for your post. It’s really helpful to fully understand these audio issues and to know that they are 'by design' and that the Support Staff are able to replicate them.

Also appreciate that you are passing along the Alexa/Player linear-audio issue to the development team for their future consideration.

Thank you ?