Laughably buggy and poor Alexa and Sonos integration

  • 5 October 2017
  • 28 replies
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Userlevel 1
Problems encountered so far:

1) Would not recognise my Living Room and play music then randomly did.
2) Says it cannot work in my kitchen even though works fine in Sonos App, and also listed in Alexa App.
3) When I say 'Play (artists) in Living room" it just plays the last song listed on the Songs App. No way at all to select artists via voice command.
4) When asking it to stop etc, have to shout at it.

I know its beta but this is unusable and not like a usual Sonos Beta- very poor quality needs pulling and sorting out first. Fault may be with Alexa which I have generally found next to useless, for example very poor at controlling my Nest Thermostat etc.

Fortunately the Sonos app itself still works fine and never lets me down.

Could it be because we are operating on a Sonos bridge?

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28 replies

Userlevel 7
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Could it be because we are operating on a Sonos bridge?


No. Most unlikely

Probably worth ensuring you've done a system power down and restart (Turn off power to router, Sonos, Alexa, and ALL devices attached to your network. Then restart router, wait a few mins. Start Bridge, wait a couple of mins. Then Sonos units. Then the rest of your network devices.

Then have another play
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Having similar issues. Sonos stated many times over the last year that they will not release this until it satisfies their usual quality and user experience standards but it couldn't have fallen shorter. Terrible, buggy and unusable as it stands. The lack of Spotify is utterly mystifying and can only be some sort of crazy Amazon stipulation. Poor form.
Userlevel 7
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Hi guys, some really great Alexa and Sonos troubleshooting steps to start with here.

@scottreadman, if you missed it elsewhere, we're working with Spotify and Amazon Alexa teams to get voice control for them working on Sonos too. It's just not quite ready yet. We wanted to get this in the hands of everyone as soon as we felt it was ready to be seen. There are still the odd issue, but overall it's pretty great.

The integration will continue to improve over time.
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Very disappointing Alexa integration with Sonos. I had high hope for this, fully expecting that the long wait for Alexa integration was so that Sonos could ensure the typical high quality experience I've gotten used to from Sonos. Didn't expect to be a beta tester. Issues include: 10 second volume decrease after Alexa command is processed, volume control for multiple rooms at one time non-existent, ability to change zones and add a zone not available, no Spotify, no ability to change source, no ability to access personal music files - and this is only after fiddling with this for 15 minutes! I thought that Alexa integration would breath new life into Sonos and keep it a dominant force in the smart home world with respect to whole house audio. The current Alexa integration has me second guessing this!
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Hi guys, some really great Alexa and Sonos troubleshooting steps to start with here.

@scottreadman, if you missed it elsewhere, we're working with Spotify and Amazon Alexa teams to get voice control for them working on Sonos too. It's just not quite ready yet. We wanted to get this in the hands of everyone as soon as we felt it was ready to be seen. There are still the odd issue, but overall it's pretty great.

The integration will continue to improve over time.


I think you know from most of these posts its far from great.
Userlevel 1
Problems encountered so far:

1) Would not recognise my Living Room and play music then randomly did.
2) Says it cannot work in my kitchen even though works fine in Sonos App, and also listed in Alexa App.
3) When I say 'Play (artists) in Living room" it just plays the last song listed on the Songs App. No way at all to select artists via voice command.
4) When asking it to stop etc, have to shout at it.

I know its beta but this is unusable and not like a usual Sonos Beta- very poor quality needs pulling and sorting out first. Fault may be with Alexa which I have generally found next to useless, for example very poor at controlling my Nest Thermostat etc.


I've had a similar experience too, I'm afraid.

If it wasn't bad enough that this release has chopped the head off UK Music Streaming with Alexa, its the way that the lack of functionality makes it worse that when I had it hooked up to my Play: 5's with a 3.5mm jack.

Things like:

Flash briefing - it now comes through the Echo Dot and not Sonos.

Timers - exactly the same as above. It may sound like a small thing but while we cook in our kitchen we like to have our music on and the Alexa Dot cannot be heard over the Sonos.

Alexa - Has she gone deaf?! I asked for "Blur". It played Blur from Spotify on the Echo Dot. I asked again using Amazon Music and I got "Songs by Bullet", then "Belinda Carlisle". I gave up and asked for "Foo Fighters", which I got on shuffle but it played 1 song 3 times over before I had to say "skip".

Volume control - WOAH! WTF has gone on here?! It was so flakey, after 4 times of asking, I had to break the phone out to turn it down.

It worked better hard wired to the Play: 5's.

Please sort this out Sonos. This should never have been released like this.

Also - Amazon Music: I can't condone this as a music streaming service, it's so limited. "Play songs by DeadMau5e in the kitchen"... "there is no songs by DeadMau5e..."

:?
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Whilst Ive bashed the release for lacking in areas such as local library and spotify, my personal opinion is that the development of these features was hamstrung by the accountants and not the technical ability of Sonos/Amazon.

The voice control adds functionality that we did not have before. Personally its improved our household just by the wife being able to ask alexa to play a radio station on a group of sonos speakers. As she does not always have her phone to hand when she wants to do this, the ability to do it via voice is a big improvement for her.

The lack of grouping via voice seems an omission, but is probably lower down the list of priorities given to the developers.

Spotify and local library imho is a different matter.

Why did Sonos and Amazon partner? Just for the good of the users? Hardly. They believed by partnering they could work together to provide products and services which would be of mutual commercial benefit. The PlayOne is the physical manifestation of this.

People who fill their homes with sonos like their music. People who filled their homes with echos and dots like their technology/smart homes. This coming together was an opportunity to cross sell, and nothing more.

However there are issues with that. Both sides had or have existing offerings that conflict with the other sides business model. This is why in my opinion the coming together of the technologies resulted in some lost features, at least for now.

Why put development effort into retaining the ability to play your local music, when one of the partners sells customers the ability to upload all their music to their service for a mere $25? Same with the spotify feature. Whilst individually the companies offered access to spotify, why bother putting the effort into having this available at release when one partner offers a music stremaing service of their own.

I have no doubt these features will come, but imho they will come when the orders for amazon music dry up from sonos owners, or the competition decides to offer it (google home). Though with google having their google play music service, they may decide to go the same route. There may even be commercial negotiations ongoing with Spotify which are preventing this feature being immediately available, voice control access to spotify via alexa and sonos has to be a big draw for spotify? Perhaps Amazon/sonos want their pound of flesh from spotify in order to bring this online for consumers? Whether this sounds like a conspiracy theory or not, it is entirely plausible imho.
Dear Lord. :8
Userlevel 4
Badge +1
Whilst Ive bashed the release for lacking in areas such as local library and spotify, my personal opinion is that the development of these features was hamstrung by the accountants and not the technical ability of Sonos/Amazon.

The voice control adds functionality that we did not have before. Personally its improved our household just by the wife being able to ask alexa to play a radio station on a group of sonos speakers. As she does not always have her phone to hand when she wants to do this, the ability to do it via voice is a big improvement for her.

The lack of grouping via voice seems an omission, but is probably lower down the list of priorities given to the developers.

Spotify and local library imho is a different matter.

Why did Sonos and Amazon partner? Just for the good of the users? Hardly. They believed by partnering they could work together to provide products and services which would be of mutual commercial benefit. The PlayOne is the physical manifestation of this.

People who fill their homes with sonos like their music. People who filled their homes with echos and dots like their technology/smart homes. This coming together was an opportunity to cross sell, and nothing more.

However there are issues with that. Both sides had or have existing offerings that conflict with the other sides business model. This is why in my opinion the coming together of the technologies resulted in some lost features, at least for now.

Why put development effort into retaining the ability to play your local music, when one of the partners sells customers the ability to upload all their music to their service for a mere $25? Same with the spotify feature. Whilst individually the companies offered access to spotify, why bother putting the effort into having this available at release when one partner offers a music stremaing service of their own.

I have no doubt these features will come, but imho they will come when the orders for amazon music dry up from sonos owners, or the competition decides to offer it (google home). Though with google having their google play music service, they may decide to go the same route. There may even be commercial negotiations ongoing with Spotify which are preventing this feature being immediately available, voice control access to spotify via alexa and sonos has to be a big draw for spotify? Perhaps Amazon/sonos want their pound of flesh from spotify in order to bring this online for consumers? Whether this sounds like a conspiracy theory or not, it is entirely plausible imho.


Excellent analysis.

Why did Sonos partner with such an obvious competitor?

Sounds like corporate suicide.

It could have something to do with Sonos not having to think to much about the competition in the past because it just wasn't there.

Unfortunately it's breathing down their necks and they are in bed with one ofthe biggest and most capable.
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There is the possibility that it was Amazon that courted Sonos for a partnership.

Think abaout it from Amazons perspective, they developed Alexa and Google were hot on their heels with their home assistant. What would have happened to the Amazon Alexa market if Google partnered with sonos first? With Googles voice recognition, search engine and multiple other platform backends, if they broke into multiroom home audio by partnering with Sonos, then Alexa would suddenly look quite isolated in the market.

Sonos already had an established userbase and certainly a product line up that provided good quality multiroom home audio. Rather than develop ther own line of competing speakers, it makes more sense to partner and push your technology into that existing userbase.

How many households with multiroom sonos are currently without any form of voice assistant?

How many households are early adopters of the alexa/echo/dots but have not invested in true multi room audio to date?

These companies can now cross sell to each others user bases - and for those that fit into neither household above, we have the first born device of the marriage, the PlayOne.

I wouldnt be surprised if there were some form of contractual arrangement or exclusivity which bars the sonos tech from working with google home for at least a period of time, probably the same period of time that will see the alexa/sonos integration without access to spotify. What better time to draw in a load more customers from spotify than just before your competitor announces they have a voice controlled multiroom audio solution. No thanks Google, Ive already invested $X,000 in alexa and sonos. Thats what I think their plan is.
Userlevel 1
Seriously though, who cares who done what?!
Just fix the issues. My Alexa (which is under debate right now as to be an ebay item or not) is useless with my Sonos system.
Userlevel 7
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The one major factor the analysis above ignores is Sonos's strategy to partner also with Google Home, and potentially other smart services in the future. This is characteristic of the agnostic approach they adopt with 3rd party services in general, evidenced by the large number of streaming services that integrate with Sonos.

This, among other things, is a differentiator for Sonos. Whether the strategy will prove successful is another matter; there is no commentator on this forum who can know.

Right now, for all the agitation around speakers from Amazon, Apple and Google, there is nothing from these companies that can replicate the experience I obtain from the Sonos equipment I own today.

Perhaps I should also note -- back to the topic of the thread -- that the Sonos/Alexa integration is working fine for me, but I agree that it is currently feature-sparse. The big effort with these integrations is getting the foundational pieces in place. There could be relatively rapid feature evolution from now on.
I dont understand the anger people have with the Alexa integration. It's a BETA people! There are going to be issues. Companies release beta updates to allow users to report issues.
I have an issue in that when i name my device in the kitchen, 'Kitchen' i get all sorts of errors. If i rename it to 'Den' for example, it works fine. Did i cry and come on here reporting how rubbish the update is? No, i report it and help Sonos to iron out the bugs. Come on people, help out.
I dont understand the anger people have with the Alexa integration. It's a BETA people! There are going to be issues. Companies release beta updates to allow users to report issues.
I have an issue in that when i name my device in the kitchen, 'Kitchen' i get all sorts of errors. If i rename it to 'Den' for example, it works fine. Did i cry and come on here reporting how rubbish the update is? No, i report it and help Sonos to iron out the bugs. Come on people, help out.


Meh, it's like this every major release. Some people live for new features, others live for tearing them down. There is something about knocking the efforts of large corporations and those who work for them that charges the juices for a significant portion of the populace. Most of the complaints are legit, but the loudest voices are usually those who wouldn't be happy if the CEO personally delivered a solid gold Sonos One to their front door.

Your point about the beta is correct, though. I'll never get over the fact people get perturbed by bugs in a beta. I've actually seen posters in a beta thread get mad because they are expected to test Sonos' product for them. Well . . . duh!
How is this a beta? You opt into a beta. I downloaded my version 8 from the App Store which is therefore release candidate. If this is beta than give me the option to downgrade as it is awful. What they are really saying is that they have released a version full of bugs that needs to be addressed.
How is this a beta? You opt into a beta. I downloaded my version 8 from the App Store which is therefore release candidate. If this is beta than give me the option to downgrade as it is awful. What they are really saying is that they have released a version full of bugs that needs to be addressed.

The Sonos release is general release, the Alexa skill is a beta, and is clearly marked as such when you choose to opt into it.
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The Alexa skill is a beta. It says it when you log into your Sonos account to enable it. It will have bugs. It will still have features that aren't fully polished. A few things...

Flash briefing/sports update and similar features... Amazon doesn't allow directing these to other devices. They will play on the device that the command was received on. It would be up to Amazon to make changes to these functionalities to allow them to be played through Sonos. For example, if they created a setting so that any audio commands on an Echo Dot could be directed to another audio device by default, that would likely make that work.

Devices/room names... if you have other devices with a room name - like Hue lights, Lutron switches, etc., you may want to change names a bit. Alexa isn't too smart if there are two devices with the same name. Example... a Hue room called Living Room and Sonos zone called Living Room... when you say "Play music in the Living Room" and you get "Living room can't play music", that's because the Living Room Hue room can't play music. Maybe make the Hue room be called "Living Room Lights" instead.... then you could go "Alexa, turn on Living Room Lights" and the lights will turn on... and now you should be able to "Play music in the living room" and it should also work.

Local library... there's a feature request for this, but IMHO it won't happen unless Sonos creates a secondary skill that requires being addressed (i.e. "Alexa, tell Sonos to play Don Henley from the music library in the Bedroom". Whether they can even make it work with that, I don't know. There might need to be info about your music library uploaded to Sonos and/or Amazon to make it work so it knows what's there and what isn't, so it can respond properly if something is asked to be played that doesn't exist in the library. Not sure how many want to do that though.

Spotify... in the works, as mentioned in the announcement.

All Alexa-supported music services... you need to make sure to set up your music service accounts through Alexa, even if you already have them added to Sonos. Alexa only knows about what you've told her. If you've added SiriusXM to Sonos but not Alexa, then Alexa doesn't know your account info to play stations from SiriusXM, even if you're asking for those stations to be played through a Sonos device.

Artists with unusual spellings... Deadmau5 (pronounced "deadmouse") is one... if you asked Alexa to play as it should be pronounced, she would likely look for an artist or album called "dead mouse". Chvrches (pronounced "churches" but spelled with a v instead of a u) would likely be another fail. Classixx (pronounced "classics") would probably be yet another. I'm sure there are plenty of these.

Volume... there are lots of variations to volume commands. Make sure to specify the room name though! Otherwise it will adjust the volume of your Echo Dot, not the music being played! "Alexa, louder/softer in the [room name]"... "Alexa, turn it up/down in the [room name]"... "Alexa, set the volume to 3 in the [room name]"... etc.

Even on the outside. MANY features have been added to Alexa as Sonos' development of the skill was going on. I'm guessing that many of those things will be factored into future updates of Sonos' skill, but only Sonos and Amazon know what's ahead. Grouping, for example, would likely be one of them, something that was recently added to Alexa's own devices.
Working perfectly for me, fully meeting expectations. Only issue I've had so far is when i ask it to play albums that don't actually exist on Amazon Music. For example, asked Alexa to play the album Playboys by Art Pepper and Chet Baker. Sadly, Amazon only has it as a 2-fer with another album, so had to resort to the Sonos app to kick that off. It's been finding and playing most of the albums i ask for otherwise, to the Living Room or Office. Pretty slick integration, Sonos!
Userlevel 1
The Alexa skill is a beta. It says it when you log into your Sonos account to enable it. It will have bugs. It will still have features that aren't fully polished. A few things...

Flash briefing/sports update and similar features... Amazon doesn't allow directing these to other devices. They will play on the device that the command was received on. It would be up to Amazon to make changes to these functionalities to allow them to be played through Sonos. For example, if they created a setting so that any audio commands on an Echo Dot could be directed to another audio device by default, that would likely make that work.

Spotify... in the works, as mentioned in the announcement.

All Alexa-supported music services... you need to make sure to set up your music service accounts through Alexa, even if you already have them added to Sonos. Alexa only knows about what you've told her. If you've added SiriusXM to Sonos but not Alexa, then Alexa doesn't know your account info to play stations from SiriusXM, even if you're asking for those stations to be played through a Sonos device.

Artists with unusual spellings... Deadmau5 (pronounced "deadmouse") is one... if you asked Alexa to play as it should be pronounced, she would likely look for an artist or album called "dead mouse". Chvrches (pronounced "churches" but spelled with a v instead of a u) would likely be another fail. Classixx (pronounced "classics") would probably be yet another. I'm sure there are plenty of these.

Volume... there are lots of variations to volume commands. Make sure to specify the room name though! Otherwise it will adjust the volume of your Echo Dot, not the music being played! "Alexa, louder/softer in the [room name]"... "Alexa, turn it up/down in the [room name]"... "Alexa, set the volume to 3 in the [room name]"... etc.


Thanks for pronunciation of the artists names... I was sick of shouting "Dead Mow Five" at Alexa...

My point was: Amazon Music doesn't seem to have Deadmau5 in its library (to name but a few), either that or Alexa can't match up with the very music library she was intended for. Either way - very poor.

Anyway, with all that you have pointed out, I guess Alexa just isn't for me. Off to ebay she goes!

And here endith my contribution to this thread. Balance is restored! 🙂
It is very confusing, rooms start playing randomly. Stations change on their own. Players mute with no commands. It appears to have been given a life of its own. It gets even more crazy when you choose multiple rooms. Far from the finished article or indeed useable at this stage.
It is very confusing, rooms start playing randomly. Stations change on their own. Players mute with no commands. It appears to have been given a life of its own. It gets even more crazy when you choose multiple rooms. Far from the finished article or indeed useable at this stage.

To add to my previous. It is now very annoying. It won't connect in any room, Wonder if there is a way to undo the last update so I can get back to what I had. If anyone from Sonos monitors this, I must say that it is rubbish and needs sorting out quickly.
It is very confusing, rooms start playing randomly. Stations change on their own. Players mute with no commands. It appears to have been given a life of its own. It gets even more crazy when you choose multiple rooms. Far from the finished article or indeed useable at this stage.

To add to my previous. It is now very annoying. It won't connect in any room, Wonder if there is a way to undo the last update so I can get back to what I had. If anyone from Sonos monitors this, I must say that it is rubbish and needs sorting out quickly.


You may not be used to the instability and bugs present in a beta release. That's ok, beta is not for everyone. Disable the beta Alexa skill and you will be back to the general 8.0 release. No way to go backwards from the general release, but at least that is fully tested.


Anyway, with all that you have pointed out, I guess Alexa just isn't for me. Off to ebay she goes!

And here endith my contribution to this thread. Balance is restored! :)


I would hold off on the ebay. Alexa may be for you, you may just be frustrated with the beta. Wait for the general release before losing money on your investment.
Having similar issues. Sonos stated many times over the last year that they will not release this until it satisfies their usual quality and user experience standards but it couldn't have fallen shorter. Terrible, buggy and unusable as it stands. The lack of Spotify is utterly mystifying and can only be some sort of crazy Amazon stipulation. Poor form.

How could you have possibly missed that Spotify integration is expected soon?
Damn, some people cannot be satisfied. You were GIVEN a new FREE functionality with your existing Sonos speakers, and you find every which way to complain that Sonos F'd it up. So then go back to using the Sonos the "old way" and pretend like it never rolled out. Will you be happy then?

Oh, and please tell us which alternative is out there to get Wifi whole home audio that has perfect Alexa integration? Any? No? Ok.