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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.”

178 replies

Userlevel 2
Great new feature, but I don't see any way to play from my music library. Is that in the works?
Userlevel 2
It's a bummer that none of this works with my local music library. If all this does is allow you to tell Sonos to play the same streaming sources that Alexa can already play natively, what's the point of going with Sonos instead of simply connecting your Echo Dot to some nice speakers?
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Are you kddding me!!! So you are saying Alexa only works if you are signed up with an online streaming service! I waited 18 months to be told that! What is the point? Unbelievable. I have my own local collection of music precisely because I don't want an online steaming service
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Alexa doesn't have direct connection to the stuff on your local player, like playlists and favorites, though it can change the play state. So if you start a playlist from your Sonos app, or have it in the queue, you can use the "Alexa, play on..." command to start the music, or use Alexa to change the tracks.
Yikes! That makes it pretty much useless for me. I have a great music library, and as a Canadian, I can't use Amazon Music or many other streaming services with Alexa yet.
Will this be available in the future? For me that's the beauty of Sonos, the way it handles the local music library. I can stream crappy sounding content on anything, my Sonos system is all about good quality sound from my collection.
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Is there any way to play Sonos playlists or favourites? Alexa seems to recognise the "playlist" keyword, but doesn't recognise any of my playlists. Alexa is presumably looking for them on the default music service.

I don't use any of the currently supported services other than TuneIn for radio stations (roll on Apple Music support 🙂 ) but in any event, would prefer to use my local FLAC library rather than stream over the Internet wherever possible.
Userlevel 1
It's a bummer that none of this works with my local music library. If all this does is allow you to tell Sonos to play the same streaming sources that Alexa can already play natively, what's the point of going with Sonos instead of simply connecting your Echo Dot to some nice speakers?

This is so disappointing - I live in an area with exceptionally poor internet bandwidth and usage caps and while I can use Alexa fine in my home for other things streaming even music is impossible so have a large local library to make up for this. Are they no plans even for this in the future?
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Apple Music on the horizon?
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Sonos' continued support for their older devices continues to impress me. Where other companies seize upon forced obsolescence to feed their revenue stream, Sonos take the high road and continue to improve functionality on much older yet still perfectly capable hardware, making your Sonos acquisitions a true long term investment which you can grow and enjoy over time.

To answer your question @npompei (though @Airgetlam has already done so above) I'm using an Echo and an Echo Dot to control a Sonos ZP120 (Sonos Connect:Amp before they introduced that new name) and ZP90 (Sonos Connect - before the renaming).
Userlevel 4
It's a bummer that none of this works with my local music library. If all this does is allow you to tell Sonos to play the same streaming sources that Alexa can already play natively, what's the point of going with Sonos instead of simply connecting your Echo Dot to some nice speakers?

Limiting it to only music Alexa directly knows about makes this the most disappointing introduction of a much-anticipated feature of all time. Seems Alexa isn't really talking to the whole Sonos platform.

The major value of Sonos to me is that it is service-agnostic, so this sucks. My Sonos library is searchable via an API - that's how the client does it. This direction won't really be useful to me until Alexa can be like a full client, with search and control of playback of my library, playlists etc.
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I was hoping you'd put something like this:

https://github.com/rgraciano/echo-sonos

On the devices themselves.
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With all due respect not all of us "choose" the way we listen to music...

I do appreciate the lack of planned obsolescence from Sonos overall - I just thought local music would be their first priority.

Semantics. My points all remain.

It isn't logical to me to expect that Sonos would target a smaller, shrinking market first. I will be happy when they do though!


It is still misleading. Sonos is not using Alexa to talk to the sonos devices and control them. It is purely a delivery system that is not agnostic and relies on users being signed and subscribed to a music service. Hat should be made clear.
+1 On the list of people disappointed by the lack of local music support. That's a huge hole that I hope Sonos can plug soon. I already maintain two sets of my music - flac on a NAS for highest quality and a second version for my Apple devices via iTunes match. Now I'd need to upload yet another set to Amazon (or wherever) in order for the Alexa skill to work? ?☹️
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Uh oh, it's probably only a matter of time before I end up with salsa music playing instead of it salsa being added to my shopping list now. 😃
npompei,

Yes, if you have an Alexa device that can hear you, you can control any of your associated sonos devices.
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+1 on the 'Stop Playing" bug. Alexa wont stop playing music on a Sonos player even though she was able to start it.
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Are you kddding me!!! So you are saying Alexa only works if you are signed up with an online streaming service! I waited 18 months to be told that! What is the point? Unbelievable. I have my own local collection of music precisely because I don't want an online steaming service


Why can't you just upload your local music to say Amazon or Google Play? You can do that for free. Then just stream that way? Like, you can upload all of your content and control it once it's in their cloud.


Because I have invested in an external nas.

Not everyone wants to upload their stuff into the cloud and be forced to rent music via paying for a streaming service. I like to own my music and have ability to play it when and where I want
This has no effect or change for me. I don't have the Amazon music services so I'm stuck with the same old thing. I use Apple Music and can't do a single command non are recognized. I'm a little discouraged as I play around. It's not what was told to us as a group. We were and continue to be sold on the idea that we can control our music with our voice. It seems only with amazon music will this work. Not till today did we find out the limitations of this partnership. Guess I should have seen it before hand. However sonos kept saying control your music with Alexa. Not control your amazon music account via sonos with Alexa. Guess I sit around for another year waiting for Apple to be brought in to the loop. Ugh!!!! Was excited for this until realization hits home.
Yes, this is version 1.0 of the release. They've stated rather clearly that they're continuing to work on adding features. Would you have preferred if they didn't release it until everything was ship shape and tidy for every user? I'd look at it this way, all the people (like me) who are using it right now are making it better for you when it gets released for Apple music. Think of all the bugs we'll be able to discover, features that we can suggest, before you get your Apple music. It'll be perfect by then!

To be honest, I don't stream much, but I play a lot from an NAS, which isn't yet fully supported by this release. But I'm pleased. I can do 90% of what I need to do via voice, and the rest works in the controller, the same as it did before. As has been pointed out, volume, next, previous, start, pause, all work via voice, if you've already started playing on the app.

Is it perfect right now? Nope, don't think so. But it's a huge step forward, and what they're going to learn based on the thousands/millions of users now using it will be very helpful in the long term.

I hope you can wait it out to bear the benefits.
After waiting over a year i have to say this is a letdown. I dont understand how Sonos can spend a over a year and they have NOTHING for local libraries. A quick simple search shows others have done it in much less time, without breaking anything else and without being affiliated with Sonos.

https://github.com/rgraciano/echo-sonos

https://emby.media/community/index.php?/forum/174-amazon-alexa/

I'll put this down on my list as a FAIL.
Ok, I'll forgo griping about the minimal feature set introduced with this initial release and stick to a glaring issue... In a multi-room/multi Alexa setup ANYONE INVOKING THE ALEXA WAKE WORD IN ANY ROOM MUTES THE PLAYBACK IN EVERY ROOM. Further, the music is muted through Alexa's answer.

So, if I am in the living room listening to music and my son is in his room and says "Alexa, what is the weather today", playback in the living room is muted until Alexa is done answering which can take up to a minute.

This is completely unacceptable, in a home with 7 rooms and 5 Alexa devices someone is alway interacting with Alexa and the music is constantly stopping. I guess I'll be disabling this skill until it is ready for prime time.
Cool! how do you start the external input i.e. TV connected to my playbar?
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Cool! how do you start the external input i.e. TV connected to my playbar?
I don't believe that's supported yet. Alexa doesn't know what the line-in is on the PLAYBAR. But the skill will keep getting better over time, so that may show up one day. You could always enable autoplay and the PLAYBAR will automatically start playing that line in.

Apple Music on the horizon?
You never know. We don't have full details to share on what services are coming, though Spotify is on the horizon.
This is more of a hardware question - for people with in-ceiling speakers where you have say a Connect:Amp, will the new Alexa integration benefit you as well? Or is this only for the physical Sonos speakers?

So for example: I am running a connect amp, into a receiver which powers my in-ceiling speakers. I also have an echo/dot somewhere in the house. Can I say, Alexa, play "xxx" in the kitchen?

Because in theory, Alexa now communicates via wi-fi to the Sonos cloud. So does that work with the amp? Or only physical speakers? Hopefully this makes sense?
I'm confused. I have the newer play5s. Both grouped as Living Room. I updated my app. I updated my Sonos system. I even scanned devices in Alexa app (but not sure if Sonos should show up there or not (it does not). I say things like "Alexa, play jazz in the living room" and she says things like "I cannot do that in the living room" and other versions of "no".

I have Hue bulbs that are grouped as Living Room too. Any ideas what I should be saying? How I should be saying it? Or why I am having problems?


More than likely it is defaulting to the bulbs. Name the bulbs "Living Room Lights" or something similar (or name the Sonos "Living Room Sonos".
Userlevel 4
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It's a bummer that none of this works with my local music library. If all this does is allow you to tell Sonos to play the same streaming sources that Alexa can already play natively, what's the point of going with Sonos instead of simply connecting your Echo Dot to some nice speakers?

Limiting it to only music Alexa directly knows about makes this the most disappointing introduction of a much-anticipated feature of all time. Seems Alexa isn't really talking to the whole Sonos platform.

The major value of Sonos to me is that it is service-agnostic, so this sucks. My Sonos library is searchable via an API - that's how the client does it. This direction won't really be useful to me until Alexa can be like a full client, with search and control of playback of my library, playlists etc.


Agree 18 months for supposed sonos integration. It in fact it's only integration with streaming services supported by amazon. It doesn't talk to device at all.

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