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Alexa + Sonos: How it Works


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So you’ve read all about Amazon Alexa working with Sonos and you want to know more. Here’s a rundown of how the integration works.

Your Amazon Alexa devices are listening for you to say the wake word, “Alexa”. When they hear that word, the microphones record what you say and send the audio to the Amazon Alexa cloud to be translated.

That voice line turns into a string of text. The Amazon protocols determine if it’s meant for Amazon Alexa or for a Sonos player. If it’s for Sonos, that text is then sent directly, and securely, over to the Sonos cloud to be turned into a command using our own codes.

Finally, the Sonos intended command goes down to the system.

Want to try it out?

Here are some fun commands to try. I like starting with:

“Alexa, play some salsa in the kitchen.”

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I’ve just come back to sonos and am using Alexa to control my play 5 and 2 play ones.

it might be a silly question but does using Alexa to control Apple Music have any effect on audio quality? I seem to be detecting a slightly lower quality stream using Alexa vs using the sonos app

am I crazy?
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Thanks! I had thought he might have. The invite still stands if he wants to work with a technician to make sure everything is as optimized as it can be. The slow recovery could be due to something local.
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That's odd, jmkingsbury. I'd recommend that you give us a call on our support line if you haven't had a chance yet. They'll help sort it out for you. This could be a conflicting account, or perhaps a problem with naming or the connections.

@Ryan, jmkingbury went into more detail about his situation here
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That's odd, jmkingsbury. I'd recommend that you give us a call on our support line if you haven't had a chance yet. They'll help sort it out for you. This could be a conflicting account, or perhaps a problem with naming or the connections.
So you’ve read all about Amazon Alexa working with Sonos and you want to know more. Here’s a rundown of how the integration works.

Your Amazon Alexa devices are listening for you to say the wake word, “Alexa”. When they hear that word, the microphones record what you say and send the audio to the Amazon Alexa cloud to be translated.

That voice line turns into a string of text. The Amazon protocols determine if it’s meant for Amazon Alexa or for a Sonos player. If it’s for Sonos, that text is then sent directly, and securely, over to the Sonos cloud to be turned into a command using our own codes.

Finally, the Sonos intended command goes down to the system.

Want to try it out?

Here are some fun commands to try. I like starting with:

“Alexa, play some salsa in the kitchen.”



Well it doesn't work on my Sonos Ones (Ive got 3) if I turn them off and back on again.....
When using the Echo Spot with the Sonos Alexa integration, for what sources of music does the Spot show the artwork of the track that is playing?
PS: Duplicated question, please ignore it.
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Close, but no cigar.

I stayed away from another brand that rhymes with scrapple to avoid being limited to the streaming services I had access to. I am sort of bummed that I can only access Amazon music from my echo. The other functions work, but I wish it wasn't so selfish. Sonos uses a lot of streaming services, why does Amazon not allow it to search all of them?


Have you added those same music services to the Alexa app? The Alexa search should follow this order:

1. Your default music source, set within Alexa App> settings
2. Amazon music
3. Any other music service identified within the Alexa App

Or you can force Alexa to a specfic music source by including it within the command. e.g. 'Alexa, play soft jazz playlist from Spotify'
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Close, but no cigar.

I stayed away from another brand that rhymes with scrapple to avoid being limited to the streaming services I had access to. I am sort of bummed that I can only access Amazon music from my echo. The other functions work, but I wish it wasn't so selfish. Sonos uses a lot of streaming services, why does Amazon not allow it to search all of them?


It will either be because the technical challenges in implementing voice search and control for a multitude of music services is far from trivial.

Or it will be because Sonos want to restrict the usability of voice integration by limiting control to one music service.


You decide.
Close, but no cigar.

I stayed away from another brand that rhymes with scrapple to avoid being limited to the streaming services I had access to. I am sort of bummed that I can only access Amazon music from my echo. The other functions work, but I wish it wasn't so selfish. Sonos uses a lot of streaming services, why does Amazon not allow it to search all of them?


I imagine that is a question for Amazon.
Close, but no cigar.

I stayed away from another brand that rhymes with scrapple to avoid being limited to the streaming services I had access to. I am sort of bummed that I can only access Amazon music from my echo. The other functions work, but I wish it wasn't so selfish. Sonos uses a lot of streaming services, why does Amazon not allow it to search all of them?
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Has anyone gotten this integration to work with podcasts from Spotify?

I would like to play "The Vergecast" from Spotify on my Sonos speakers, but Alexa can't find that in Spotify. I know that Sonos supports Pocket Casts, which would be the ultimate solution if Amazon were to introduce support for that, so trying to play from Spotify instead is my current stop gap.
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I highly doubt it given the Sonos One still seems incapable of playing audio for any added Alexa skills. She responds like she will play the request but then you get silence. A bit like the Sonos support team, it looks like they're going to respond to this issue (since October) but then silence...

I'm sure I've responded to this thread and others since October... But we're happy to help where we can.

If you're having trouble with your Sonos One, I'd recommend give us a call on our support line so we can help live. I know some of the basic troubleshooting does seem very basic, "turn it off and on again", but when it comes to getting all the necessary moving parts behind the scenes to snap into alignment, that's often what it takes.


OK I'll call.

Here's an example of what I have experienced. I have an Alexa Skill called Babbling Brook. The skill recommends you try something like "Alexa, start babbling brook". So I did. Here's what happened...

Alexa replied with "Babbling brook will only play for one hour, but if you try saying 'loop on' it will loop continuously until you say 'Alex, stop'. Now playing, Babbling Brook". Then silence.

So I know she heard me. I know the response was correct, but the sound does not play. The Sonos app does not show any sound playing.

I have the BBC set up as my flash briefing, and when I ask for my flash briefing, I get a news summary, but it's playing from TuneIn. I think this works because TuneIn is an native Sonos application.

I've added Podcast skills, and Alexa will respond by saying she's about to play a podcast (if I name the Skill), but then silence. If I ask for the Podcast to played without naming a skill, she'll play it happily from TuneIn. Actually the TuneIn integration is fantastic, beyond brilliant, it really is.

So just now I added a skill called 'Premier League' - it works fine. Why? Because all of the audio is Alexa answering questions, it's not trying to play audio from the app itself.

So for me, I cannot get ANY added skill from Alexa to work that requires audio to be played from anything other than TuneIn or Alexa's own voice.
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I highly doubt it given the Sonos One still seems incapable of playing audio for any added Alexa skills. She responds like she will play the request but then you get silence. A bit like the Sonos support team, it looks like they're going to respond to this issue (since October) but then silence...

I'm sure I've responded to this thread and others since October... But we're happy to help where we can.

Most Alexa skills will work great with the Sonos One, but we've found that some skills that play audio which isn't just Alexa's text to speech could run silent. We're working with the teams involved to get it working great across all skills, so you can count on that to get better over time. Also, if there's a skill in particular that you find is always silent, let me know and I'll pass it along to them to look into.

As to the Echo features of Alexa, many of them are already on Sonos and we're working to bring more as well. Some features, like the Calling, Messaging, and Drop In are only available on some Echo devices at this time and aren't available on other Alexa enabled devices. I can't speak to the future on that one, but if there's any news to share we'll let everyone know.

If you're having trouble with your Sonos One, I'd recommend give us a call on our support line so we can help live. I know some of the basic troubleshooting does seem very basic, "turn it off and on again", but when it comes to getting all the necessary moving parts behind the scenes to snap into alignment, that's often what it takes.
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Great new feature, but I don't see any way to play from my music library. Is that in the works?

Some interesting discussion in this podcast with Patrick Spence: https://www.recode.net/2018/2/2/16961978/sonos-patrick-spence-apple-homepod-alexa-virtual-assistants-too-embarrassed-swisher-goode-podcast

Right around :32 minute mark, he teases about Alexa controlling everything Sonos does, evens hints at Apple Music being controlled by Alexa. Possible? Maybe...


I highly doubt it given the Sonos One still seems incapable of playing audio for any added Alexa skills. She responds like she will play the request but then you get silence. A bit like the Sonos support team, it looks like they're going to respond to this issue (since October) but then silence...


It must be your pleasant attitude when dealing with people on the forum - Reap what you sow!


Interesting theory. So you're saying that my antagonistic posts are the cause of the Sonos One not working as advertised? Wouldn't that cause a temporal paradox? How would they know I would respond that way when they're not working, and how can I be sure my response was not triggered by the fact they're not working? Maybe Alexa can time travel?

Yes guilty m'laud for some snippy posts, but there are several threads asking about this, some have been going since October, and in at least one of those it is stated that this functionality indeed does not yet work on the Sonos One (see below).

https://en.community.sonos.com/amazon-alexa-and-sonos-229102/sonos-one-not-playing-alexa-output-6792472

Despite this, there are other threads that suggest if you get the silent treatment from Alexa, reset everything and delete everything, and disable and re-enable everything, clear your caches, browse in private mode and change your social security number and... it won't change a thing!

So that was the reason I was grumpy... honestly I am not a complete douche, but it's kind of like when you call tech support for your internet service provider and they make you clear your cache, reset your browser (and forget everything) and reinstall Windows/macOS and buy a new laptop and go on a diet for 3 weeks... and then after you've tried everything they ask, they finally say "there's an outage in your area"... If that doesn't frustrate you, I bow to your superior disposition, I really do.

-Peace
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Great new feature, but I don't see any way to play from my music library. Is that in the works?

Some interesting discussion in this podcast with Patrick Spence: https://www.recode.net/2018/2/2/16961978/sonos-patrick-spence-apple-homepod-alexa-virtual-assistants-too-embarrassed-swisher-goode-podcast

Right around :32 minute mark, he teases about Alexa controlling everything Sonos does, evens hints at Apple Music being controlled by Alexa. Possible? Maybe...


Thanks for the link. He said they are doing work into tying (alexa) into all the services that sonos supports and that alexa does not have access to itunes & apple music but sonos does and so they are hoping to deliver this later this year, we think we can bridge that gap we are working on this right now. This is good news if it happens and makes sense because sonos already has all the hooks into itunes and apple music they just need to make a recipe for alexa to link into the sonos code that controls this. Once this happens I will be buying my first alexa device (probably a dot, already have 3 sonos's)Since apple seems unwilling to open siri up that much to 3rd parties, they will push me to get one that does.
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Great new feature, but I don't see any way to play from my music library. Is that in the works?

Some interesting discussion in this podcast with Patrick Spence: https://www.recode.net/2018/2/2/16961978/sonos-patrick-spence-apple-homepod-alexa-virtual-assistants-too-embarrassed-swisher-goode-podcast

Right around :32 minute mark, he teases about Alexa controlling everything Sonos does, evens hints at Apple Music being controlled by Alexa. Possible? Maybe...


I highly doubt it given the Sonos One still seems incapable of playing audio for any added Alexa skills. She responds like she will play the request but then you get silence. A bit like the Sonos support team, it looks like they're going to respond to this issue (since October) but then silence...


It must be your pleasant attitude when dealing with people on the forum - Reap what you sow!
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Great new feature, but I don't see any way to play from my music library. Is that in the works?

Some interesting discussion in this podcast with Patrick Spence: https://www.recode.net/2018/2/2/16961978/sonos-patrick-spence-apple-homepod-alexa-virtual-assistants-too-embarrassed-swisher-goode-podcast

Right around :32 minute mark, he teases about Alexa controlling everything Sonos does, evens hints at Apple Music being controlled by Alexa. Possible? Maybe...


I highly doubt it given the Sonos One still seems incapable of playing audio for any added Alexa skills. She responds like she will play the request but then you get silence. A bit like the Sonos support team, it looks like they're going to respond to this issue (since October) but then silence...
Great new feature, but I don't see any way to play from my music library. Is that in the works?

Some interesting discussion in this podcast with Patrick Spence: https://www.recode.net/2018/2/2/16961978/sonos-patrick-spence-apple-homepod-alexa-virtual-assistants-too-embarrassed-swisher-goode-podcast

Right around :32 minute mark, he teases about Alexa controlling everything Sonos does, evens hints at Apple Music being controlled by Alexa. Possible? Maybe...
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So you’ve read all about Amazon Alexa working with Sonos and you want to know more. Here’s a rundown of how the integration works.

Your Amazon Alexa devices are listening for you to say the wake word, “Alexa”. When they hear that word, the microphones record what you say and send the audio to the Amazon Alexa cloud to be translated.

That voice line turns into a string of text. The Amazon protocols determine if it’s meant for Amazon Alexa or for a Sonos player. If it’s for Sonos, that text is then sent directly, and securely, over to the Sonos cloud to be turned into a command using our own codes.

Finally, the Sonos intended command goes down to the system.

Want to try it out?

Here are some fun commands to try. I like starting with:

“Alexa, play some salsa in the kitchen.”


All I want is my new Alexa Play One to allow me to group speakers with a voice command, and play to those speakers I have grouped. Setup: Sonos One, Playbase with 2 Play 1's as a stero pair, and one other Play-1. Maybe this is available by now, if it's not throw it to the top of the list.
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I listen to music via RadioTunes, which is not a music service listed by Sonos as is Pandora, etc. My RadioTunes stations were added via the "Manage" + "Add radio station." These stations wind up in the "My Radio Stations" menu. Will the Dot be able to call up these added stations, or do commands work only with the built-in music sources provided by Sonos?

No, play cannot be initiated via voice control for unsupported services. However, once you initiate playback via the Sonos app, basic play/pause/skip/volume controls work via voice for any service and or source.


I asked the question above 3 months ago. Has Alexa changed in any way that would change the answer to my question? I would still like to be able to change stations I have added to "My Radio Stations" via Alexa. TIA for any updates.
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Update: when everything is working normally, I can trigger the non-responding volume commands issue by asking Alexa to "set volume in Living Room to 1.5". (I guess she doesn't support half-step volume changes yet?). Normally I can ask for any number between 1-10 and it works fine, but asking for half steps seems to lock out any further volume commands from working until I restart the Spotify session and initiate it from my Sonos app.
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Unfortunately renaming didn't resolve it! The issue with unresponsive volume commands to "Living Room" grouping of Playbar/sub/Play:1 surrounds is still popping up fairly frequently. Any commands related to volume seem to get either a "Living room doesn't support that" or a blue light ring and boop noise on the Echo dot (failed command I believe?). Oddly, I can ask it to jump to next track on the Spotify playlist and that works fine, even while the volume command issue is present. Is there any chance this is because I'm using the US-only Sonos Alexa skill from Canada?
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I don't think it has to do with naming, as my Sonos group is called "Living Room", while the Echo itself is called "Echo Living Room". Recently when I ask Alexa to increase/decrease volume in the living room, it occasionally works, but most often she replies either that "living room isn't responding", or "living room doesn't support this". The issue is both while using TV input to the Playbar, and also while listening to Spotify on this speaker grouping.

Oddly, if I ask Alexa to change track etc in Living room, that works fine. Anyone else encountering similar issues, or have any suggestions?

EDIT: changed echo names to "echo 1" and "echo 2" and it seems to be completely resolved. Guess you were right - thanks jgatie!
Are you guys able to ask Alexa to change volume while playing from TV input source on the Playbar grouping (“Living Room” with Playbar, sub, 2 play1 surrounds)? I could’ve sworn this functionality used to work, but recently she only seems to be able to change volume in that same Playbar group while playing music from Spotify etc. Now she just replies “Living room doesn’t support this” when asked to increase volume during TV playback.

Usually that is a sign of more than one smart device with the same name. Check in your Alexa app under smart devices for any duplicates.
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Are you guys able to ask Alexa to change volume while playing from TV input source on the Playbar grouping (“Living Room” with Playbar, sub, 2 play1 surrounds)? I could’ve sworn this functionality used to work, but recently she only seems to be able to change volume in that same Playbar group while playing music from Spotify etc. Now she just replies “Living room doesn’t support this” when asked to increase volume during TV playback.

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