Please fix that ducking feature

  • 13 October 2017
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So I was in the kitchen last night, I turn on the Play:5 using the Android controller. Now when in the living room when I tell my Echo Dot to turn on the lights the Play:5 goes quiet whilst Alexa is listening!

Why does it do that?

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48 replies

So I was in the kitchen last night, I turn on the Play:5 using the Android controller. Now when in the living room when I tell my Echo Dot to turn on the lights the Play:5 goes quiet whilst Alexa is listening!

Why does it do that?


I believe it is a limitation of the Amazon API which does not yet have a way to associate a particular Echo with a speaker or light in the same room. In other words it does not know which Sonos speakers are in the same room as you so it ducks them all to make sure you can hear the response from the Echo. I also think Amazon wants to address the association issue not just for Sonos but also to make it easier to turn on lights in the same room as a particular Echo without having to name the room in the command. We will likely see this fixed but Sonos can't do anything until Amazon provides the API calls required to do it.
This is really annoying! It makes the Alexa integration unusable for anyone that has an Alexa that is not right next to their one and only Sonos. It's driving my wife crazy forcing me to disable it for now. Amazon or Sonos, one of you please just add a setting to turn off the ducking!!!
How would you fix it? Would you make it "duck" just the speaker you're controlling, or the speaker that's closest to the device that you're speaking in to. How do you tell which one is closest? Do you define in the app the speaker(s) that are closest to each Echo device?

Not disagreeing with you, I'd like this feature, too, but if I were writing up a requirements doc, I'm not sure I would know how to define the behavior for the coder to implement. Interested in suggestions on how it could be fixed.
How would you fix it? Would you make it "duck" just the speaker you're controlling, or the speaker that's closest to the device that you're speaking in to. How do you tell which one is closest? Do you define in the app the speaker(s) that are closest to each Echo device?

Not disagreeing with you, I'd like this feature, too, but if I were writing up a requirements doc, I'm not sure I would know how to define the behavior for the coder to implement. Interested in suggestions on how it could be fixed.


I believe the expectation, and Amazon's intention, is to create associations in the Alexa app of all devices within a given room. This would allow ducking in the room you are speaking from without affecting other locations. There would be little value in ducking the speaker you are controlling unless it is in the same room you are.

Once Amazon implements this and adds it to the API Sonos will still need to do some coding to take advantage of it and push it out in a firmware update. Hopefully competition with Google will drive Amazon to implement this soon. Likewise Sonos will hopefully make this a priority to address it as soon as the Amazon piece is done.
Interesting. This is the first time I've heard of Amazon's intention to define a "room", but that would certainly make it much easier.
I have seen reference to it as a way to make lighting control more intuitive. If you are in the Living room and simply say "Alexa turn on the lights" the living room lights would come on while the same command spoken in the kitchen would turn on the kitchen lights. If this is implemented it should extend to speakers and other device types as well thus enabling the ability to associate a given Echo to a particular Sonos speaker (or set of speakers). This is the missing link to allow Sonos ducking only in the room you are speaking in.
I agree, that some way of associating Sonos speakers with Echos would be great (whether that be by "rooms" or something else). However in the meantime, I would just like an option to turn off the ducking completely because as-is, it is more annoying than useful.
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In the meantime, an option to turn off ducking completely would be nice.
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Turning that feature off would be good. We can surely be trusted to turn down the music, if it's too loud, before speaking to Alexa; that's what we previously always had to do anyway. I have 6 zones in a moderately large house and was trying to figure out why the volume kept dipping. I now see immediately that someone was speaking to Alexa in another room. Well, I think I'll turn off the Sonos skill now rather than fall out with Alexa over it, and try again in a few months.
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I think it would be easier to go old school and use a phone/controller. I think I'm done with voice control for Sonos for a while. Voice is great for turning my lights on and off but i want to browse my/new music before choosing. I guess skip/pause/etc may be useful by voice.
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I have seen reference to it as a way to make lighting control more intuitive. If you are in the Living room and simply say "Alexa turn on the lights" the living room lights would come on while the same command spoken in the kitchen would turn on the kitchen lights. If this is implemented it should extend to speakers and other device types as well thus enabling the ability to associate a given Echo to a particular Sonos speaker (or set of speakers). This is the missing link to allow Sonos ducking only in the room you are speaking in.

Yes, there definitely needs to be a capability to connect / associate specific Echo's / Echo Dot's, etc. with a room and other devices in that room.

I've got the original Echo and 6 Echo Dot's throughout the house. These devices are used to control lights, fans, temperature, and now Sonos.

Here's an example of what I am experiencing in some way, shape, or form practically every time a command is given somewhere in the house.

- Child in front room where the TV is.
- I am in another room where I have Sonos playing an Audible book.
- We turn off Sonos in the TV Room so the child can watch TV, she closes the door so we can still listen to the audio book
- She now says Alexa, turn on Amazon TV
- Sound / volume on audio book (which is currently configured to play in multiple rooms) goes WAY, WAY down (barely audible ... pun intended)

I understand that all of this is an evolution but ... silly me ... I thought that the fact that Sonos was taking forever to release the integration was because they were taking the time to get it right. Right meaning that you could group rooms, select music from your own music library ... and not having the volume on all rooms basically turn off in every room when you issue a command in another room that is possibly on the other side of the house or on another floor.

Don't get me wrong, I do like it. It is a start. I know that it's complicated but damn ... well over a year for volume and start / stop control. Yes I know you can tell it to play some streaming station. Yes I play streaming stations but I actually usually scroll through the list to pick what I want. I generally have no idea what I want to play when it comes to a streaming station.

Yes, an option to turn off the ducking would be nice too.

Amazon / Sonos please fix this.

Thanks!
Yeah I'm having the same issue. Listening to music upstairs. Kids are in the playroom on a different floor. Every time they ask alexa to play music -- the music I"m listening to on a different floor goes away for several seconds. Very annoying.
My two cents: When Amazon/Sonos implemented ducking, they apparently didn't consider people who feed their echo dots into Sonos through the line input on the Play5, connect, or connectAMP. When I talk to Alexa, I expect to hear the answer on my Sonos system. With the new Alexis/Sonos functionality, the answer is almost inaudible because of ducking. That means that in addition to ducking Sonos music audio, which might make sense, they are ducking their own response, which doesn't .

Fortunately, I am using grouped Sonos devices, so I can pull the Play:5 that is connected to the echo out of Alexis by telling it to "forget" the device and since the Play:5 is grouped with other devices, it and the other devices all play the Alexis output at the normal volume. Unfortunately, the Alexis software will automatically rediscover the forgotten device and I'm back to not hearing the Sonos response.

I think there are really three very significant deficiencies in this long-awaited functionality: 1) Alexis should have the ability to avoid ducking its own responses, since it obviously doesn't listen while it is talking, 2) one should be able to turn off ducking altogether, and 3) the system shouldn't rediscover forgotten devices unless the user requests it.

This could be fixed with a configuration option to tell Alexis that it is connected to a Sonos line input. In that case, when the Echo is talking, it could temporarily switch Sonos to the line input and then switch back to the selected source. That would obviate the need to play all sources through the Echo into the Sonos. In the meantime, I would settle for being able to permanently forget the Play:5 or to be able to turn off ducking.

All in all, very disappointing. I can't be the only Echo dot user who connects it to Sonos, so why didn't they think about that use case?
I imagine they thought (as did I) that the Sonos skill would make the line-in connection to Sonos redundant. Honest mistake.
And, I would expect, at some indeterminate amount of time, it might get fixed. I imagine it's a 2 company problem, which generally means coordinating programming resources, difficult to do.
Just wanted to backup what upstatemike has stated. I can't remember where I read, but I have also heard that Amazon is working on grouping smart objects into rooms or the equivalent and/or tying them to a specific echo in order to simply command language. This actually exists in a form in that you can link a fire tv to a specific echo for voice command control.
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I imagine they thought (as did I) that the Sonos skill would make the line-in connection to Sonos redundant. Honest mistake.

I guess they also imagined that all Sonos owners only have 1 unit too, if not they would have realised that this ducking feature wouldn't work.
Well, for those of us who live alone, it's not a substantial issue, either. But I think we all agree, it's probably getting attention.


I guess they also imagined that all Sonos owners only have 1 unit too, if not they would have realised that this ducking feature wouldn't work.


No, I'm sure that is a deficiency on the Amazon side, in that you cannot assign an Alexa device to a particular speaker at this time, so therefore, the command to duck goes to all of them. It may be that the Sonos side of the API also needs work. These are things to expect when an implementation is not fully baked. As I have said many times - Welcome to the world of beta!
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They've been developing this voice control for over a year, plenty of time to sort it out with Amazon. It won't be beta next week and i'm sure it won't be fixed by then.
They've been developing this voice control for over a year, plenty of time to sort it out with Amazon. It won't be beta next week and i'm sure it won't be fixed by then.

Who said it won't be beta next week? Just because the Sonos One is released doesn't mean the Sonos skill via Amazon is not still in beta.

And this "been developing this voice control for over a year" BS has to stop. This is something that has never been done before, and it was highly dependent on the Amazon API which was released only 3 weeks ago. Neither you nor I know the number of man hours put into the effort, nor the estimate of hours required, so therefore we have no way of stating if there was "plenty of time to sort it out" or not. Speculative nonsense like that is nothing but shouting at the pigeons, and does about as much good.
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Amazon API released 3 weeks ago? WTF are you talking about! So they developed it all in a week?! No wonder its crap :8

And yes, I don't expect to be paying £200 for a beta product otherwise it's going straight back.
There is also the possibility that stats show that households rarely have different sources playing in different homes. They may switch groups and such, but rarely do you play one source in zone A and another in zone B. That's how it seems to operate in my house anyway.

I also wonder what it would be like if they didn't implement ducking at all. People would complain that they can't hear/talk to Alexa when Sonos is playing.

It's also quite possible that Sonos doesn't really have the ability to turn off ducking...that's it's entirely in Amazon's code. If the command from Alexa to duck is actually just a command to lower the volume, no different then if you specifically asked Alexa to lower the volume. Sonos may not know if it's ducking or manually lowering the volume.
Amazon API released 3 weeks ago? WTF are you talking about! So they developed it all in a week?! No wonder its crap :8

And yes, I don't expect to be paying £200 for a beta product otherwise it's going straight back.



http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=2297100

Sorry, six weeks ago, my mistake. And obviously it was developed along with other speaker manufacturers, so the work was concurrent. The point is Sonos' timeline was dependent on Amazon.

By the way, any other speaker companies even close to Sonos in their implementation? No. Denon actually did promise 1st quarter 2017, and they have nothing. So knock it off with the nonsense, and can the profanity. Act like an adult.

And for the last time (read slow now), the "product" you purchased is not a beta, nor is the Sonos app. The beta is the Alexa skill that you VOLUNTARILY agreed to enable, thus joining the beta. Don't want to participate in a beta, don't enable it. Instead, wait for the general release, which will probably still be ahead of Denon's.
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Act like an adult.

And for the last time (read slow now), the "product" you purchased is not a beta, nor is the Sonos app. The beta is the Alexa skill that you VOLUNTARILY agreed to enable, thus joining the beta.


I'm perfectly aware of that, when the Sonos One is out then I would think the Skill would be out of beta, otherwise they are selling a beta product.

Now quit with the arrogance 😃 And get your head out of Sonos' arse. Do you work for them 🆒