First impressions getting Alexa on Echo Dot to work with Sonos

  • 19 October 2017
  • 3 replies

Used the Sonos coupon to get a Dot for half price. 😃 Set up and tried the Dot last night for a short period. This is what happened; hope it's useful to others.
TL;DR --- There appears to be some significant bugs in the software... It will work, but Buyer beware!

My Sonos setup:
Two Play:5s
One Sonos Sub
Sonos/Alexa/Amazon Music apps are on a Galaxy S7 cell phone.

I use Amazon Music (NOT their Unlimited service).
I mainly use Spotify but my understanding is that doesn't currently work with Dot/Sonos.

Problem 1) While doing the Dot setup, set up failed and must be restarted when I multi-tasked (two windows open side-by-side) the Alexa app and the Gallery (pictures) app. I wanted to see a photo I took of my wifi router's label to easily read the wifi password. Bad move. Alexa stopped responding and I had to press the "action" button for 5 seconds to start the setup process over. So much for multi-tasking. I wrote my wifi password down on paper and continued.

Problem 2) After completing setup, music could not be sent to Sonos, it only played on the small Dot speaker even when specifying the Sonos room name in the Alexa voice command- "lounge", in my case.
2a) After confirming all settings looked good, I opened up the Amazon Music app, and Alexa suddenly was able to send music to Sonos. I don't know if running the Amazon Music app in the background will always be required; we'll see.

While experimenting with various Alexa commands, I noticed some quirks.
3) First of all, you will need to use this command often: "Alexa, STOP!".

Here's how to confuse Alexa:
4) I have two tracks with similar names- Ice Cream Man by Tom Waits and Ice Cream Man by Van Halen.
"Alexa, play Ice Cream Man in the lounge" will result in Alexa selecting the first track it can find with that name. It won't ask you to clarify which track you want in the case of a duplicate. So you say this, instead:
"Alexa, play the song Ice Cream Man by Van Halen in the lounge". Unless you want to hear Tom Waits, of course.

Problem 5) Play/Pause commands are somewhat dicey. I actually got TWO streams playing simultaneously, one on the Sonos, one on the Dot.
Here's how to confuse Alexa:
"Alexa, play 'song 1' on the lounge". It starts playing. Then say "Alexa, play 'song 2' ". Notice I forgot to say "in the lounge". 'Song 2' begins playing on the crapalicious Dot speaker!!! Now, I couldn't get the streams to stop playing by saying "Alexa, pause", which worked for a single stream. Back to "Alexa, STOP!". Alexa's behaving like an unruly child and refusing to obey unless I am stern with it!

Problem 6) Like I said, play/pause commands are sometimes dicey. I started a song playing on Sonos, then said "Alexa, pause". The music stopped playing. Good. I then played a different song and said "Alexa, pause" and of course it stopped. Good. I then said "Alexa, play" and it started playing the FIRST track, not the current one. This has to be a BUG. Why wouldn't it pick up where it left off? :? Completely unexpected.
So I learned that instead of saying "pause" and then "play", I say "pause" and then "RESUME". This will continue playing the current track where it left off, as expected.

Whether the software is buggy or I need to get more familiar with Alexa commands, or both, I can't really say at this point.
I just may need some practice. It all seems to work but I don't know if most people will sort these things out (I am a software programmer and can approach software problems in a methodical manner; I think most people would have gotten frustrated and maybe given up or sent the Dot back to Amazon). It is a bit of a bother to set this stuff up and learn how to work it. It isn't seamless, for sure.

******************************** not really related to Alexa, but in general...
I've posted before about how the Sonos/Spotify apps refuse to work together properly on my phone. I have Spotify Premium and love it but the Spotify app will only play a few tracks and then after hearing songs I know aren't in my Spotify playlist I find that the Spotify app is no longer in play mode---the Sonos app has taken over playing Spotify tracks, and sometimes in an unpredictable manner.

To their credit, Sonos did try to help me and determined I had "network congestion". Ok, but nothing I do seems to help that. Their software still insists on taking over/managing playback duties from Spotify. Sonos is relentless and keeps butting in and taking over, like some kind of software bully. And Sonos doesn't support my 5G wifi network, which is on a less crowded frequency and might relieve the claimed "congestion", so there's that. And Spotify support is non-existent.

My hope is that Spotify will eventually work on the Amazon Echo Dot/Sonos setup and I'll just use that mostly, especially if it will have FULL support for Spotify, like the stations. The Sonos app, sadly, can't access a lot of Spotify features.

I really love the Sonos speakers but the software needs work (or maybe the back-end servers). Friends are amazed at how great they sound. But I know they will get frustrated with the software if they buy them. Me? It's lonely being an early adopter.

Worst case scenario: I start using the line-in input on the Sonos, and forget all about wireless connections. One step forward, ten steps back I guess. Sigh. 😞

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3 replies

1 - Sounds like an issue with your phone, not Sonos, maybe not even the Alexa app
2 - Kind of sounds like you 'jumped the gun'. This is cloud based, so it's not too surprised for it to take a little bit for everything to get in sync.
3 - Yes, very true. But that's an issue with Alexa or maybe voice control in general. It takes you literally, or what it think you said, and can't really derive what you meant to say...right now.
4 - See #3.
5 - See #3. Although hopefully someday, you configure your echo dot to always play music in a particular sonos zone without you saying the zone name specifically.
6 - That one is a little weird. Does sound buggy. Kinda feels like it would be an Alexa issue though. If you run into the same issue when playing music on the dot, not the sonos speaker, then you know it's a sonos issue.

In general I agree with you. Voice interfaces are not anywhere near as intuitive and slick as it could eventually be.
I also bought the dot at a discount and have a similar experience with Amazon Music like your problem 5. Alexa plays music on the sonos and stops on command, but when I say play some other music, it says that Amazon Music is already being streamed on another device and should it stream the music on the dot instead. It seems you always have to say the sonos name because Alexa cannot understand when the sonos is on all subsequent music commands relate to the sonos. Nevertheless Alexa is quite useful and we will just have to train it or us better.
Badge +2
Yes I brought one yesterday, many times of trying setting up, lost WiFi connection, so many times did factory resets , given up and sent back for refund, why bother it all works get from my iPhone