How to select content to Sonos via Alexa - Confused

  • 28 December 2021
  • 8 replies
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Userlevel 6
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Afternoon all and an early happy inbound new year to you.

Have established the Alexa / Sonos relationships by room and our Show 15 correctly communicates with Sonos infrastructure rather well.

What I’m finding less easy to understand is the content choice method …. how to get what we need playing. 

Having established the relationships and said ‘Alexa Play Sonos in Kitchen’ got the most bizarre selection of music that it apparently thinks I like. To say it was random would be an understatement.

My question is, how to select the music we actually want to listen to in an efficient and easy way?

We have Spotify, Amazon HD, Tidal Hifi and our own NAS of content. If I read right Tidal does not work within the Amazon infrastructure but I’d appreciate any links or quick look up or instructions how to select artists, albums, playlists or indeed radio channels. 

Many thanks in advance


8 replies

The link below has a lot of information about commands, and links to additional resources, but it doesn’t answer your more specific question.

https://support.sonos.com/s/article/3514?language=en_US

Generally speaking, just say what you want.  Whatever you don’t say, Alexa will use defaults or make assumptions to fill in the gaps.

So if your default service is Amazon HD, but you want to play Spotify, then say Alexa, play X in Y on Spotify”...where X is what you want to play, and Y is the room you want to play in.  X could be a particular song, playlist, radio station, artist, or some sort of description of what you want to play.  So you could something like “play christmas music in the kitchen on Spotify”.  X can also be just ‘music’, which will get you something random or what Alexa guesses what you like.

One important thing to remember is that Amazon/Alexa is doing all the work here.  Your command goes to the Alexa cloud, which processes the request and sends it to Sonos.  So you can’t do any command that Amazon wouldn’t understand on an Amazon Echo.  Which means you can’t request music on a streaming service Sonos supports, but Amazon does not  Youtube music for example.  Amazon does not support your  local NAS library.  I believe Amazon does support Tidal, though I have not tried this.

That said, you can do basic playback commands for anything...pause, resume, volume up/down, etc regardless of what’s currently playing.

Best thing to do is experiment. Maybe change your defaults, playlists, room names, etc to find out what works best for you to remember and that Alexa understands accurately.  Look into using Alexa groups and routines to simplify more complex tasks that you perform most frequently.

Userlevel 7
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You need to set up a few things.

In the Alexa App set the default Music service.  This is what will play if you don't specify.

Or you can just say “Alexa Play Pink Floyds Album the Wall from Spotify in the Kitchen”

If you have added Your Sonos speakers as default Music players in a room and you are in the room you can omit the last part.

 

For tunes on Tidal or your NAS you will need to use the Sonos App.  Hower once playeing you can use Alexa to play next or previous or stop or adjust volume.

Userlevel 6
Badge +10

The link below has a lot of information about commands, and links to additional resources, but it doesn’t answer your more specific question.

https://support.sonos.com/s/article/3514?language=en_US

Generally speaking, just say what you want.  Whatever you don’t say, Alexa will use defaults or make assumptions to fill in the gaps.

So if your default service is Amazon HD, but you want to play Spotify, then say Alexa, play X in Y on Spotify”...where X is what you want to play, and Y is the room you want to play in.  X could be a particular song, playlist, radio station, artist, or some sort of description of what you want to play.  So you could something like “play christmas music in the kitchen on Spotify”.  X can also be just ‘music’, which will get you something random or what Alexa guesses what you like.

One important thing to remember is that Amazon/Alexa is doing all the work here.  Your command goes to the Alexa cloud, which processes the request and sends it to Sonos.  So you can’t do any command that Amazon wouldn’t understand on an Amazon Echo.  Which means you can’t request music on a streaming service Sonos supports, but Amazon does not  Youtube music for example.  Amazon does not support your  local NAS library.  I believe Amazon does support Tidal, though I have not tried this.

That said, you can do basic playback commands for anything...pause, resume, volume up/down, etc regardless of what’s currently playing.

Best thing to do is experiment. Maybe change your defaults, playlists, room names, etc to find out what works best for you to remember and that Alexa understands accurately.  Look into using Alexa groups and routines to simplify more complex tasks that you perform most frequently.

 

Many thanks Melvimbe, a very helpful assessment for us beginners. That saved me a lot of grief. 

I’ve manged to get the relationship between room/alexa & Sonos done and getting the bones on the play instructions quite well. And in fairness it seems be performing quite.

I don’t think Tidal is on the approved services list unfortunately. It definitely works nicely with Spotify and Amazon HD. And also Audible is spot on. From what I read, Apple and Deezer also work.

I’m still struggling get radio channels such as BBC Radio 4 to work. It keeps trying to find SW1 radio and then says it’s not available. Maybe I have a wrong default service or suchlike. 

I’ve not tried the groups yet but well after getting the basic navigation with the Kitchen area. 

Thanks again for the steer. if anyone can recommend a default radio service that allows access to all the mainstream radio channels such as BBC Radio 4 I’d be interested to hear about it.

 

 

 

 

Userlevel 6
Badge +10

You need to set up a few things.

In the Alexa App set the default Music service.  This is what will play if you don't specify.

Or you can just say “Alexa Play Pink Floyds Album the Wall from Spotify in the Kitchen”

If you have added Your Sonos speakers as default Music players in a room and you are in the room you can omit the last part.

 

For tunes on Tidal or your NAS you will need to use the Sonos App.  Hower once playeing you can use Alexa to play next or previous or stop or adjust volume.

Hi bockersjv and many thanks for taking the time to share the knowledge.

That single instruction has proven very useful in opening the door to this new Alexa world (well new to me) after some months of playing and failing. 

Just to check on the room and defaults, do you mean that if I define Sonos speakers to room and have an Alexa device in the same room that it will logically assume to use that room without the last part? If that’s the case I think it may be time invest in a few new Alexa devices …. is good that.

And just to ask based on yours and Melvimbe’s support, I think I’m right to say you cannot play a Sonos stored playlist? That the music source has to be within Spotify or Amazon HD? I guess based on that you could create and store a playlist in one of those default music sources and request that?

Userlevel 7
Badge +20

 

Just to check on the room and defaults, do you mean that if I define Sonos speakers to room and have an Alexa device in the same room that it will logically assume to use that room without the last part? If that’s the case I think it may be time invest in a few new Alexa devices …. is good that.

Yes, that's right. 

 

You could go for Sonos Ones or even a Roam/s (so long as it’s on a charging base) rather than Amazon Units, although the Sonos “Works with Alexa” units do not have the full Alexa functions.  I have a Sonos Move in my garage which works well with Alexa for music playback.

BBC Radio can be hit and miss with Alexa, especially the plethora of Radio 4 options. By the time I’ve managed to get her to play a station running BBC Test match special England have normally lost the game :cry:

 

No you can’t initiate Sonos Playlists, but can skip songs once they have started via the app.  Maybe You could duplicate your Sonos lists on Amazon or Spotify?  Depends how big they are:hushed:

 

 

Userlevel 6
Badge +10

 

Just to check on the room and defaults, do you mean that if I define Sonos speakers to room and have an Alexa device in the same room that it will logically assume to use that room without the last part? If that’s the case I think it may be time invest in a few new Alexa devices …. is good that.

Yes, that's right. 

 

You could go for Sonos Ones or even a Roam/s (so long as it’s on a charging base) rather than Amazon Units, although the Sonos “Works with Alexa” units do not have the full Alexa functions.  I have a Sonos Move in my garage which works well with Alexa for music playback.

BBC Radio can be hit and miss with Alexa, especially the plethora of Radio 4 options. By the time I’ve managed to get her to play a station running BBC Test match special England have normally lost the game :cry:

 

No you can’t initiate Sonos Playlists, but can skip songs once they have started via the app.  Maybe You could duplicate your Sonos lists on Amazon or Spotify?  Depends how big they are:hushed:

 

 

I have AMP’s with subs in each room to otherwise great B&W in ceiling units but unfortunately they don’t have the benefit of the Sonos One’s functionality. And a bought a Roam the day of release and lost the bloody thing somewhere ….. within a week!!! Still not shown up. 

Yes having played a good bit with the Alexa/Sonos relationship this morning I’m definitely inclined to agree. 

It is a shame about the Radio 4 being problematic. That you would think would be a solid ‘go-to’. Would very much like to get that up and running in a robust format.

I always do my playlists in Sonos but I guess a shift to one of the music platforms should not in theory be so painful ….. sounds like this afternoons homework :-) ….. but it would be great if one day this sort of integration could be shared between platforms.

 

No you can’t initiate Sonos Playlists, but can skip songs once they have started via the app.  Maybe You could duplicate your Sonos lists on Amazon or Spotify?  Depends how big they are:hushed:

 

If your Sonos playlist, or anything really, is already in your Sonos queue, then resume playback will work.  I honestly never do this though, as I generally don’t remember what was playing last, and tend to prefer just giving the hard buttons a long press.

 

I have AMP’s with subs in each room to otherwise great B&W in ceiling units but unfortunately they don’t have the benefit of the Sonos One’s functionality. And a bought a Roam the day of release and lost the bloody thing somewhere ….. within a week!!! Still not shown up. 

 

 

This is where Alexa groups works really well for Sonos.  You can get a cheap echo dot in the same room as Sonos, then  create an Alexa group where a command to play music to the echo dot automatically plays on Sonos instead.  I have a couple echo dots permanetly mounted outside for this purpose.  Works wonderfully.

 

I always do my playlists in Sonos but I guess a shift to one of the music platforms should not in theory be so painful ….. sounds like this afternoons homework :-) ….. but it would be great if one day this sort of integration could be shared between platforms.

 

I think we are a longs ways a way from that sort of integration.  For one thing, Amazon is cloud based primarily.  Do you really want to give Amazon access to your local files so it knows what tracks you have?    Although it could reach a point where Amazon just passess the command to Sonos without processing it or anything, but that would also mean it would complicate things in ways Amazon isn’t really interested in.

However, Sonos is rumored to be working on their own voice assistant, so I wouldn’t spend too much effort migrating playlists at this point.

Userlevel 6
Badge +10

 

No you can’t initiate Sonos Playlists, but can skip songs once they have started via the app.  Maybe You could duplicate your Sonos lists on Amazon or Spotify?  Depends how big they are:hushed:

 

If your Sonos playlist, or anything really, is already in your Sonos queue, then resume playback will work.  I honestly never do this though, as I generally don’t remember what was playing last, and tend to prefer just giving the hard buttons a long press.

 

I have AMP’s with subs in each room to otherwise great B&W in ceiling units but unfortunately they don’t have the benefit of the Sonos One’s functionality. And a bought a Roam the day of release and lost the bloody thing somewhere ….. within a week!!! Still not shown up. 

 

 

This is where Alexa groups works really well for Sonos.  You can get a cheap echo dot in the same room as Sonos, then  create an Alexa group where a command to play music to the echo dot automatically plays on Sonos instead.  I have a couple echo dots permanetly mounted outside for this purpose.  Works wonderfully.

 

I always do my playlists in Sonos but I guess a shift to one of the music platforms should not in theory be so painful ….. sounds like this afternoons homework :-) ….. but it would be great if one day this sort of integration could be shared between platforms.

 

I think we are a longs ways a way from that sort of integration.  For one thing, Amazon is cloud based primarily.  Do you really want to give Amazon access to your local files so it knows what tracks you have?    Although it could reach a point where Amazon just passess the command to Sonos without processing it or anything, but that would also mean it would complicate things in ways Amazon isn’t really interested in.

However, Sonos is rumored to be working on their own voice assistant, so I wouldn’t spend too much effort migrating playlists at this point.

 

Yes 100% that melvimbe, take your point on all those. 

I read up on the Sonos voice assistant and all the hints are indeed there that this is not so far away.

I wonder if that could be announced at CES? Seems a few other bits maybe as well including the long sort after wireless headphones.

No you right, there is nothing that a small change of approach cannot sort. In fact I always do a playlist for Saturday nights with Mrs Attacama and although a day early, tonight is that night and will try do that via Amazon HD and see how we get on. I see no reason why that will not work. 

But the Sonos voice assistant would be perfect to see land the next few months. I see both as co-existing rather nicely.

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