Playing from local music library not possible using Alexa/voice control

  • 31 December 2017
  • 36 replies
  • 7290 views

Userlevel 1
I have checked with Sonos, and they have confirmed that you cannot ask Alexa to play tracks from your own library.
Further, they have no plans to support this.

As much as I love my existing Sonus setup, and as much as I want to try Alexa out, I do NOT want to sign up to a music service when I have a large quantity of my favourite music already in my home Sonus library.

I have no idea of the technical challenges involved with this. Given your voice command is uploaded and parsed somewhere else, it may be too difficult to send back the results to the sonos controller to access the local library.

None the less, I wanted to start a conversation to see if I am alone, or if this is something a lot of people want.

Regards, Ian

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36 replies

Userlevel 7
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Hi Ian

Your not the first to mention this....

The issue isn't so much a Sonos problem but an AI restriction - neither Amazon Alexa nor Google Assistant support voice control of local music libraries. This is mainly because Amazon or Google would need to build an Index of what music is contained in your library and store this in the 'Cloud' - for everyone that wants this feature. This situation will get worse soon as Amazon are removing the ability to upload your music library to the Amazon Cloud in early 2018.
Most people were aware that the Alexa integration does not currently support local library playback but I think the "no plans to do so" is new information. If you are willing to run a PC on your network it may be possible to do what you want using a 3rd party Alexa skill. It might be worth doing a search on Sonos in the Alexa App skills section to see what options there are.
Maybe 10% of Sonos customers still using the outmoded idea of ripping CDs to a NAS, or the awful iTunes. Sonos’ focus needs to be on the vast majority of their customers, who stream from a cloud provider.
Maybe 10% of Sonos customers still using the outmoded idea of ripping CDs to a NAS, or the awful iTunes. Sonos’ focus needs to be on the vast majority of their customers, who stream from a cloud provider.

That 10% is probably not going to get any smaller though since we are down to folks who have music in their collections that is not offered on any streaming service and the option to upload personal tracks to cloud services looks to be something those services want to get away from. In other words there will always be a demand for some local playback and, like what happened with vinyl, that demand will likely resurge somewhat down the road.
10% sounds made up to me, I'd guess that it's the other way around and 90% still listen to high quality audio files stored locally. I know I do and have no interest in streaming, so for me it's a big miss except I have no interest in 'talking' to my Sonos in any case and having it mis-interpret everything!
If it is made up, then Sonos is on the hook for it, because it is they who stated 93% of Sonos usage is via streaming, the rest local libraries.
Userlevel 1
A month ago, more or less, I pointed out in several posts on this forum, and on twitter to Sonos support, that their advert is actually misleading: it leads buyers (especially previous Sonos users) to believe that they can control "Their Music", that is, in my case, the music I own in my collection. If confirmed, the fact that they aren't planning to support this feature in the future is a disgrace, in my opinion.
Semantics. 'Their music' is specific to 'them.' While I agree it is misleading to those of us that have and rely on local libraries, for all others that are streamers it is dead on. And supposedly we're a 7% minority.
Userlevel 7
Badge +22
Complain to Amazon. Amazon controls the voice operations and they have not developed facilities to access local library. An older answer Amazon had in place would have been upload your local library to their cloud player for access. However they discontinued their cloud storage option even further backing away from local music access. Amazon makes these decisions as they run the voice aspect - not sonos. Complain to them,
Userlevel 1
I do. And I complain to Sonos for leading me and many other Sonos buyers to think their product would play “our music”. It’s a misleading advertisement that they refuse to amend.
Userlevel 7
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Ok. Your entitled to your opinion.
Userlevel 7
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I personally find voice control a convinIence appilcTion that has nothing to do with me enjoying my music “even on my nas” using Sonos controller.
Userlevel 5
Badge +12
There is a work around for 400 Dollars, get a Synology NAS and put your local music library on the NAS. They are working on an Alexa skill that will allow Alexa to play music on their NAS systems. When it will be ready is anyones guess.

https://www.amazon.com/Synology-Inc-Audio-Station/dp/B076PBX4LL

WD MyCloud Home are in beta for a alexa skill, only in the USA as well.
You can do it for free, using either Alexa or Google Home voice control, with the Yonomi app. Have to set up routines and playlists, but it will play anything Sonos can play, including files from your NAS.
Userlevel 5
Badge +12
You can do it for free, using either Alexa or Google Home voice control, with the Yonomi app. Have to set up routines and playlists, but it will play anything Sonos can play, including files from your NAS.

How well does google home works with the sonos system. Alexa is not a great AI when you ask question sometime. Google assistance is much better. I was thinking about going with a google home mini instead of the dot.
This looks interesting. Windows, Mac, Linux and Raspberry Pi supported. Won't work with Sonos One until Sonos fully implements the Audio Player API, but will work with a Dot into a Connect or Play:5. Just $5-$10/year to voice control your local files.

https://www.mymediaalexa.com


How well does google home works with the sonos system. Alexa is not a great AI when you ask question sometime. Google assistance is much better. I was thinking about going with a google home mini instead of the dot.


Works well, but as i said, it's limited to Sonos playlists, preconfigured, so very much a PITA to configure. Unless you have a bunch of Sonos playlists already set up.
Userlevel 7
Badge +20
FYI: I haven't tried this personally as I prefer the ease of streaming music rather than playing from my local library but for those that are interested, there does seem to be an option for a cost:

1/ Purchase a license for JRiver Media Center: https://jriver.com/purchase.html
2/ Configure JRiver Media Center to access your Local Library stored on your NAS:
3/ Enable the House Band skill within Alexa and link your two accounts.

I'm not sure if this Skill would be supported by the Sonos One but you can try JRiver Media Center for 7 days for free, so some of you may want to try it. If you do, let us know how you get on. 🙂
Userlevel 4
Badge +1
I still don't see any obvious technical reason why Sonos couldn't do this if they wanted to, as the growing number of options for controlling non-cloud audio is showing.

IMO it's simply down to Sonos not wanting to put some server code on their Sonos devices (which just run a locked down Linux derivative) that would enable communications with the Alexa code on the Amazon cloud. This is all the solutions such as the Synology are doing, they're running code on a device on your network.

If existing Sonos devices can't handle this then as a long time Sonos user I would be happy to buy a new updated Sonos Connect device that could act as the local library server in a Sonos network and talk to AWS, Google or other services. As the local library index is already held on each Sonos device, would some server code to allow access to that and generate the right command string via a cloud service be that complicated?
Userlevel 7
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With money virtually everything technically is possible eventually! The question for Sonos is; do they want to allocate some of their finite development resource to a declining market, albeit with a passionate following. 🙂
Userlevel 4
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Is it a declining one or simply one that's not growing? Does the 7% of local music streamers Sonos has now roughly equal the number of Sonos users before they started making speaker only products that can be used with a streaming service? I doubt Sonos will tell us.

However, Amazon and Google with adding multiroom options to their much cheaper speakers that just happen to have a voice assistant built in will no doubt be dealing a huge blow to Sonos new 93% of streamers market... people will often take price over quality unfortunately.

So Sonos may be left where they started, providing quality streaming solutions to those who don't want bargain basement, and at that point I suspect the % of users who want to stream their higher quality local media will be much higher.

Also. if Sonos could find a way to control everything that Sonos can do from Alexa/Google Assistant, then even for streaming you suddenly open up a much bigger range of options that neither Amazon or Google are likely to ever support... i.e. Amazon Music, Google Play and Apple music in one device. That would be a selling point. Being restricted to what Amazon/Google support is just me too...
Alexa can index your local library using the My Media skill. The only thing preventing it from working is that Sonos doesn't support the Media Skill Audio Player API interfaces. I'm no techie but that sounds to me like a Sonos firmware update could fix this.
Alexa can index your local library using the My Media skill. The only thing preventing it from working is that Sonos doesn't support the Media Skill Audio Player API interfaces. I'm no techie but that sounds to me like a Sonos firmware update could fix this.

There is no way Sonos is going to rely upon a 3rd party skill which requires a server running on your PC to facilitate this function. It will be done in-house, with Amazon's cooperation, and will not require a local server. JMHO.
I'm no conspiracy theorist but don't you think that Amazon has perhaps done a bit of a deal with Sonos to attract people away from Apple Music to the Amazon equivalent. I do seem to remember some nastiness from Apple to Sonos prior to the (first) release of Homepod. I did do a fair bit of research and even without the local library function I'd still rather go for Sonos than Homepod and I'm a huge Apple fan!
So how does Alexa know how to play the next song on my playlist ( which is local )?