Question

Limitations of Alexa in SONOS One

  • 26 October 2017
  • 34 replies
  • 23748 views

Userlevel 1
The Sonos One webpage states "Everything that Alexa does -
Play songs, check news and traffic, manage smart devices and enjoy all those other helpful Amazon Alexa skills using a single Sonos speaker." However, reading the forum and other sites, this doesn't seem to be quite true.

We've be using an Amazon Echo Dot for a while, and find it to be really useful. I was looking for a multi-room speaker solution for an extension that we are building, and was considering Sonos Play:1 until I saw the Sonos One. However, I am concerned that if the functionality of Alexa is limited, this will irritate us.

I realise that Sonos will be able to add software updates and new features, but we don't have a roadmap as such. Could we reasonably expect that the Alexa integration in the Sonos One will reach parity with Amazon Echo, or will it always be a poorer cousin?

This topic has been closed for further comments. You can use the search bar to find a similar topic, or create a new one by clicking Create Topic at the top of the page.

34 replies

Userlevel 1
Ok so looks like I dropped into the Sonos One at the correct time. A very nice Christmas present that has integrated perfectly into my existing set up. No issues with commands as I have read earlier and a joy to hear all of Alexa's comments now in glorious Sonos sound. A few bits missing from my dot but minor and not worth listing as with previous Sonos experience these are just a matter of time before they will all be available. So from me a big well done Sonos and can't wait to see what's in this post in 6 months time so it's a hold on to your hats guts this ride just got good.
If Sonos, is listening it is a shame as a golden opportunity is being lost. My biggest desire in buying Sonos One was good quality music that I could easily control via voice throughout my house Using a combo of Sonos Ones and Dots (6 total) . That breaks immediately as "everywhere" will not recognize Dots and Sonos Ones together - I mistakenly assumed that was a no-brainer. Other annoying issue is that Spotify can source different streams simultaneously even though I only have one acct - nice in one way but it soon becomes difficult to find out who's in charge between the Sonos, Alexa and Spotify Apps. Hoping it's just growing pains but too much pain for this consume who has spent way too much time in the community and web pages trying to make it all work before giving up.
Yes, return them. More than happy to pick them up at a nice discount, lol.

Userlevel 5
Badge +9
I'm not disputing anyone's concerns or questioning their opinions, but I see this differently. I ordered my first Sonos One when it was announced, knowing full well that as an early adopter there were going to be unanticipated problems, missing features, and other issues that would cause me trouble. In retrospect this was no different when I ordered my first two Echos long before Amazon shipped them out.

I experienced disappointment with both the Echo and the Sonos One. I remember with the Echo wondering why I had spent the money in the first place. It seemed like a cute idea, but also an unfulfilled promise. The Echo could hardly do anything useful at all, the voice recognition was often humorously errant, and there were few 'skills' or streaming options available. Now, three years later, the Echo practically runs my house and I don't have time to explore all the skills one can find.

With the Sonos One, I've experienced a similar curve -- but over a much shorter time. It was terrible at first. But in the two months its been publicly available, I've seen dramatic improvements in responsiveness, broken Alexa features fixed (with promises of more to come) and evidence of a concerted effort by Sonos to get it right—at least so far as Amazon will allow. Obviously, there's a lot of work to be done, but they've also come a long way. And next year, they'll be adding Google integration, which is sure to give Sonos a whole new set of headaches.

I'm up to four Sonos Ones now, and with the recent improvements in responsiveness to the wake word, I'm probably going to buy a fifth next week. Yes, there are still missing or broken features, some that matter a lot to me and some that don't. No question, not everybody wants to put up with those issues. If waiting for Sonos to work through these issues isn't for you, if you don't like being a beta tester or buying a product that we all know isn't quite finished, I understand that. Return them. Personally, and this is just me, I'm wiling to gamble that things will get a lot better soon. Let's hope they do or my wife is going to take away my credit card again. ?
I too am disappointed as the promise is not yet ready for prime time. Trying to deal with a combination of Dot's and Sonos Ones has worn me out - between the Alexa , Spotify, and Sonos Apps, it's hard to know what's going on. i also did not expect to lose so much function from Alexa with the Sonos Ones - I love the Sonos speakers but they are going to go back.
Userlevel 1
I totally agree with everyone ! I come from an Amazon ecosystem and wanted better sound in the living room. I purchased the one and I am blown away with the sound but after that it's all down hill. Sonos seemed to have came from. The perspective of Alexa complementing Sonos users in which case the one is great. But an echo customer buying to move to Sonos ! Terrible. Sonos has really and truly missed a massive opertunity to break into the echo ecosystem customers of which there are far more of than Sonos ecosystem customers. Get on it guys and push with amason to deliver all the features that Alexa should offer or change your marketing.
Userlevel 4
Badge +4
I'm in the same boat as a lot of others who purchased the ONE and aren't happy. Seems like it was just released too early in my opinion. I'm returning 2 of the 3 I purchased last week to replace them with Play 1's, and I'll just get a couple of Dots that really can do "Everything Alexa does". With the cost of the Play 1's coming down, it just makes sense to go this route. I'll still have the awesome audio quality of Sonos, and I'll still be able to use all of the really important features of Alexa that the Sonos ONE currently cannot do. Great thread!
@lbalk, it's a little hard to follow what your saying since you start off by referring to the 'play one Sonos'...not sure if you mean PLAY:1 or SONOS ONE. However, I think I see two points that your trying to make here.

First, that the vocal commands are too difficult, and I would agree with that. I think that will get better with time as we get more accustomed to the vocal commands, and as the technology improves. I think that means that if you have complex musical needs, and lack the patience to work through getting the commands right...it might be best to wait on this. That's not a knock on anyway, just reality. I somewhat find myself in the middle of this, as sometimes I want to use voice control, and sometimes, it's too frustrating.

As far as having multiple echos in the same room...not a good idea, I agree. I haven't bought a Sonos One for that reason primarily, I already have all the dots I need. As it stands now, the wrong echo responds a little too frequently for my tastes. If/when I do get a Sonos One, it will be to replace a dot.

As far as right direction, I'd be curious to hear what other direction they should have gone. I don't see how they could have ignored voice control and been successful, and they certainly are not alone in putting a high value on voice control.
Userlevel 3
Badge
The play one Sonos is a nonstarter, I can not recommend it. If you have a large Sonos installation trying to remember the exact sentence you need to speak to play music in a room from a particular music source is too complex. I have multiple Alexa products including the Alexa Show which I very much like. As soon as I say the wake word everything in the area wakes and waits if I only want to speak to my Sonos I have multiple devices responding. At a minimum, there should have been a different wake word for the Sonos but I guess that was not possible since the Sonos One is nothing more than a play one with an Alexa App installed. The play one speaker and Sonos systems have been an excellent product, the Sonos one is not a good product if the Play one is still less expensive you are better off with that device. There is so much more Sonos can be doing to differentiate themselves or continue to evolve, with the recent app changes and this SONOS one am not certain they are going in te correct direction.
Userlevel 1
Having placed a couple of messages on here complaining about the senstivity of tbe microphone i have to say that i believe that my Sonos One is now reactiving to the wake word more readily. Not sure if there has been an update or whether the unit is just learning from the backgroud noise in my living room. I'm still frustrated that lots of the Alexa skills dont work, but we are assured that Sonos is working on that, so i am happy to wait a little longer.
The trade off is deffinately not worth it. With an Echo you learn something new that Alexa can do all the time. With Sonos One you learn of features that your device doesn’t support all the time. This is extra disappointing because most of these are features you used to use.
No Audible support
No Flash briefing
No drop in
No voice calls

For surround you need 2 Sonos One, a Sonos One and a Play 1 can’t be used.

And I think there has been sufficient discussion on the ineffective microphone.

I hope it improves, but I regret buying these things. Extremely disappointed.
Userlevel 7
Badge +26
Interesting discussion everyone. Just a note on the microphones, we’re going to be constantly working with the Sonos One and Alexa to improve the microphone's ability to pick out just the right sounds. This’ll get better over time as the Sonos One learns and gets better and distinguishing false calls and successful calls.
Userlevel 1

Will some of the issues get worked out? Features that the Echos have get added? Right now it's basically unknown.


Except it's not entirely unknown since Sonos has stated what features they feel comfortable saying they are working on and when they expect to be able to deliver them.


Can the microphones be improved to be as sensitive as those in an Echo by software alone? I doubt that.


Sonos has stated that it can be adjusted through firmware update.


Is much better sound quality worth the trade-off in features (+$100)? Honestly, to me it's not.


I think I pretty much agree with this, however, only when you don't consider the multiroom, variety of products, and music source features that Sonos brings to the table that Amazon does not. And those features don't have to matter to everybody.


The microphone update is needed ASAP. The sensitivity is downright awful. The sound though is 1000 times better. I will give it a few weeks and see what updates come through. If things do not improve then the One has to go back. I already have tons of Sonos speakers all throughout my house to get by with and use via the Sonos skill. I wanted this because it was the best of both worlds, but currently, it is really only another speaker that I really do not need though don't mind having.
Userlevel 1
I agree with you. There are quite a few features like drop-in, flash briefings, voice calls unless you hook up through your home phone line, etc that do not function. When purchasing the one, I assumed I was getting an upgrade in sound, not losing functionality of Alexa. Not sure that trade-off is worth it, especially when Amazon has just launched devices with better sound. Hope this gets worked out quickly or it is going back to Best Buy and I love Sonos.

Don't count on the new Amazon devices having better sound. From reading a few early reviews of both the Gen 2 Echo and the Echo Plus, at most the sound seems to be very similar to the Gen 1 Echo, while at least one reviewer says that to them the original Echo sounded richer with better bass.

It is very disappointing that all the little restrictions, omissions and shortcomings of the Sonos device has kept me from getting one myself.

Will some of the issues get worked out? Features that the Echos have get added? Right now it's basically unknown. Can the microphones be improved to be as sensitive as those in an Echo by software alone? I doubt that.

Is much better sound quality worth the trade-off in features (+$100)? Honestly, to me it's not.


I don't think the tradeoff as it currently stands is worth it. The Alexa experience leaves a lot to be desired on the Sonos One. The microphone is absolutely horrible compared to the Gen 1 products I have and that supposedly got better. She is not as much fun to talk to either. Stuff like Alex will you be my friend gets nothing or I don't know that. If this is just temporary then Sonos should have waited to release cause this Alexa is a distant relative of the one I have gotten used to. Not even in the same ballpark.


This would be a first Sonos purchase for me, basically a way to get better sound into my bedroom for casual listening. Also it would be nice to have access to content on my NAS without using my phone as a Bluetooth server to my Echo. But even with the Sonos it appears I would still need to use my phone to play NAS content.


Not ideal, but there is an option to upload your local library to Amazon and play it via Alexa on Sonos. It is $24.99 per year for 250,000 tracks.

Also, you can initiate play of any and all services via the Sonos app, and then control playback; pause, resume, skip, previous, volume, even ask "Alexa, what is playing" via Alexa. Again, not ideal, but it is something.

Will some of the issues get worked out? Features that the Echos have get added? Right now it's basically unknown.

Except it's not entirely unknown since Sonos has stated what features they feel comfortable saying they are working on and when they expect to be able to deliver them.

I didn't know that. Is there a document anywhere that has a list of these or a timeframe for implementation? All I have read is that Sonos likes to be vague and not give to much info out.


Can the microphones be improved to be as sensitive as those in an Echo by software alone? I doubt that.

Sonos has stated that it can be adjusted through firmware update.


Good news for sure, but again its unknown how much they can be improved. Reviews I've read say they have quite a ways to go to be the equal of a true Echo.


Is much better sound quality worth the trade-off in features (+$100)? Honestly, to me it's not.

I think I pretty much agree with this, however, only when you don't consider the multiroom, variety of products, and music source features that Sonos brings to the table that Amazon does not. And those features don't have to matter to everybody.

This would be a first Sonos purchase for me, basically a way to get better sound into my bedroom for casual listening. Also it would be nice to have access to content on my NAS without using my phone as a Bluetooth server to my Echo. But even with the Sonos it appears I would still need to use my phone to play NAS content.

Will some of the issues get worked out? Features that the Echos have get added? Right now it's basically unknown.


Except it's not entirely unknown since Sonos has stated what features they feel comfortable saying they are working on and when they expect to be able to deliver them.


Can the microphones be improved to be as sensitive as those in an Echo by software alone? I doubt that.


Sonos has stated that it can be adjusted through firmware update.


Is much better sound quality worth the trade-off in features (+$100)? Honestly, to me it's not.


I think I pretty much agree with this, however, only when you don't consider the multiroom, variety of products, and music source features that Sonos brings to the table that Amazon does not. And those features don't have to matter to everybody.
I agree with you. There are quite a few features like drop-in, flash briefings, voice calls unless you hook up through your home phone line, etc that do not function. When purchasing the one, I assumed I was getting an upgrade in sound, not losing functionality of Alexa. Not sure that trade-off is worth it, especially when Amazon has just launched devices with better sound. Hope this gets worked out quickly or it is going back to Best Buy and I love Sonos.

Don't count on the new Amazon devices having better sound. From reading a few early reviews of both the Gen 2 Echo and the Echo Plus, at most the sound seems to be very similar to the Gen 1 Echo, while at least one reviewer says that to them the original Echo sounded richer with better bass.

It is very disappointing that all the little restrictions, omissions and shortcomings of the Sonos device has kept me from getting one myself.

Will some of the issues get worked out? Features that the Echos have get added? Right now it's basically unknown. Can the microphones be improved to be as sensitive as those in an Echo by software alone? I doubt that.

Is much better sound quality worth the trade-off in features (+$100)? Honestly, to me it's not.
Userlevel 1
While waiting for the Sonos skill to get the bugs worked out there is still the option to just plug a Dot into a ZP120 or Play5. This gives you the full fidelity of Sonos with the full functionality of Alexa since the Dot is an actual Echo and doesn't depend on the Amazon API. It is unfortunate that there is no line-in on the Play1 or Sonos One but if you have one of the products that does have line-in it is a pretty good option. That is a solid idea. Actually.
Userlevel 1
Sonos has stated that things like Flash Briefing and Sports updates are not an intentional restriction by Amazon, they simply need more tweaking (whether that tweaking is to the Amazon API or the Sonos API, we don't know). They have also stated that some features offered like Calliing and Drop In are "Echo only" (Not "Alexa only", for those examining the marketing slogans like the frames of the Zapruder film) and will probably never come to Alexa enabled devices.

Good to know. Def could have an impact on my decision to keep it. The calling and drop in are a really cool features. I wonder if Google will open up the calling when they integrate? If they do, then I am sure Amazon will follow.
Sonos has stated that things like Flash Briefing and Sports updates are not an intentional restriction by Amazon, they simply need more tweaking (whether that tweaking is to the Amazon API or the Sonos API, we don't know). They have also stated that some features offered like Calliing and Drop In are "Echo only" (Not "Alexa only", for those examining marketing slogans like the frames of the Zapruder film) and will probably never come to Alexa enabled devices.
Userlevel 1
The Sonos One marketing slogan of "Does everything that Alexa does" clearly needs clarification. I was under the impression that as and when new Alexa skills became available, they would work on the Sonos One without Sonos needing to be involved, e.g. flash briefing, why does Sonos need to 'code' this to work on the Sonos One? What else are they going to need to do in future when new skills are released?

Because the Sonos One is not an Echo but rather an "Alexa enabled speaker" it must work through the Amazon provided API. Sonos has to wait until any given feature is made available in the API by Amazon and then do some coding to implement the feature on the Sonos One.


I'm aware of that, I'm talking about Alexa Skills, not Echo features (calling etc.). All Alexa skills should work on the Sonos One with no intervention from Sonos.


Yes, that was a surprise. I think everyone assumed things like Flash Briefings were handled entirely by Alexa processing and could not be impacted by what Alexa device was in use. I still assume the issue is technical rather than an intentional restriction from Amazon. What would be the motive to limit something like that?


Agreed. Though I am sure Amazon would like to sell you the hardware, the real money and motivation should be getting everyone into their Ecosystem. Google is making a real push lately and their AI is leaps beyond Amazons. It is the ecosystem that gives Amazon their edge. Many people will be using Alexa for the first time though the Sonos One, you would think they would want it to show all the available feature that makes Alexa the must have device.
The Sonos One marketing slogan of "Does everything that Alexa does" clearly needs clarification. I was under the impression that as and when new Alexa skills became available, they would work on the Sonos One without Sonos needing to be involved, e.g. flash briefing, why does Sonos need to 'code' this to work on the Sonos One? What else are they going to need to do in future when new skills are released?

Because the Sonos One is not an Echo but rather an "Alexa enabled speaker" it must work through the Amazon provided API. Sonos has to wait until any given feature is made available in the API by Amazon and then do some coding to implement the feature on the Sonos One.


I'm aware of that, I'm talking about Alexa Skills, not Echo features (calling etc.). All Alexa skills should work on the Sonos One with no intervention from Sonos.


Yes that was a surprise. I think everyone assumed things like Flash Briefings were handled entirely by Alexa processing and could not be impacted by what Alexa device was in use. I still assume the issue is technical rather than an intentional restriction from Amazon. What would be the motive to limit something like that?
While waiting for the Sonos skill to get the bugs worked out there is still the option to just plug a Dot into a ZP120 or Play5. This gives you the full fidelity of Sonos with the full functionality of Alexa since the Dot is an actual Echo and doesn't depend on the Amazon API. It is unfortunate that there is no line-in on the Play1 or Sonos One but if you have one of the products that does have line-in it is a pretty good option.
Userlevel 6
Badge +11
The Sonos One marketing slogan of "Does everything that Alexa does" clearly needs clarification. I was under the impression that as and when new Alexa skills became available, they would work on the Sonos One without Sonos needing to be involved, e.g. flash briefing, why does Sonos need to 'code' this to work on the Sonos One? What else are they going to need to do in future when new skills are released?

Because the Sonos One is not an Echo but rather an "Alexa enabled speaker" it must work through the Amazon provided API. Sonos has to wait until any given feature is made available in the API by Amazon and then do some coding to implement the feature on the Sonos One.


I'm aware of that, I'm talking about Alexa Skills, not Echo features (calling etc.). All Alexa skills should work on the Sonos One with no intervention from Sonos.