Products without Alexa to continue? HOPE SO.

  • 26 October 2017
  • 19 replies
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I sincerely hope there will continue to be Sonos products WITHOUT Alexa in the future. There is plenty of backlash over Alexa listening in on home environments, and concerns over privacy. Personally, I have experienced interacting with it, and do not care for it at all. My in-laws have Alexa, and it invariably results in multiple people yelling "ALEXA!! Do this! Do that!" It's super annoying, and I don't like the privacy invasion for my own home. When I saw that Sonos now has an Alexa product, I got worried.:(

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19 replies

Not only is the Play:1 being sold concurrently with the Sonos One, the Alexa (or any voice control) features are 100% voluntary and require you to enable the features on the device before they work. Not only that, there is a hardware switch to turn off the microphones, and the microphones are hardwired to an LED so there is no way for it to listen in without the owner knowing, even on the oft chance someone hacks the device.
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My system has just been disabled by the latest Sonos Update. They are robbers and thieves.
My system has just been disabled by the latest Sonos Update. They are robbers and thieves.

I highly doubt it has been disabled. Maybe you can reel it back in a bit and we can help you get running again. Better yet, start your own thread so we do not hijack the OP's earnest questions with an off-topic conversation.
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@Brian Chapman

I agree, last night I asked Alexa how to make bom boms "sweets" and MI5 and HomeLand were banging my door down half an hour later, luckily I had earlier set a timer on Alexa to self implode the house so they never found me. :8
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My system has just been disabled by the latest Sonos Update.
Hi Diceman, I just reached out in one of your other threads. Let's continue there to look into what's going on.
Dear Sonos: Please continue to offer versions of your speakers without Alexa or any other voice-control technology. The privacy issues with the IOT are huge.
Dear Sonos: Please continue to offer versions of your speakers without Alexa or any other voice-control technology. The privacy issues with the IOT are huge. That is ridiculous. Nobody is going to use the Alexa microphones in in a Sonos player to spy on you. That is what the special stealth microphone in the Play5 Gen2 is for!
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There is no requirement that you have to activate a voice service to use the Sonos One. So don't activate Alexa (or whatever future options may be available) and the microphone won't be on. It's that easy. 🙂
Okay, I hope you're right. It's been reported that the Amazon Echo is constantly sending data back to Amazon, even when the microphone is off. See https://gizmodo.com/the-house-that-spied-on-me-1822429852

"An exaggerated version of this was seen in the Echo and Echo Dot, which were in constant communication with Amazon’s servers, sending a request every couple of minutes to http://spectrum.s3.amazonaws.com/kindle-wifi/wifistub-echo.html. Even without the “Alexa” wake word, and even when the microphone is turned off, the Echo is frequently checking in with Amazon, confirming it is online and looking for updates. Amazon did not respond to an inquiry about why the Echo talks to Amazon’s servers so much more frequently than other connected devices."
There's a physical switch on the back of the Sonos One that allows you to turn off the microphone manually. It's mechanically connected to an LED that gives you an indication as to whether it is on or not. That LED can not be turned off in software, but only by toggling the physical switch.

But as MikeV suggests, never connecting it to any service would keep it from sending data as well.
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Yep, I read that Gizmodo article as well. But as someone who has tried a variety of different "smart home" products and services, it's definitely not surprising to me the amount of data that leaks from various "smart home" devices.

Just so you're aware, Sonos speakers talk to Sonos regularly to check for updates too (I think at least on a daily basis, but possibly multiple times a day), and that has nothing to do with the microphone. They collect data on your listening habits too... what music services you use, how long you listen to them and when you listen to them, stuff like that. And all that has nothing to do with whether you use a voice service or not.

Depending on the features enabled on an Amazon device, it may need to maintain more frequent communication with Amazon servers. Features like Calling and Drop-In that allow users to communicate with each other via voice may need to maintain more frequent communication so the voice channel can be opened up at a moment's notice when a friend wants to call you via Alexa. Since Calling and Drop-In aren't available through third-party Alexa-enabled devices, like Sonos, it's not likely that a Sonos speaker will check in with Amazon on a super-frequent basis like an Echo or Echo Dot might. And as Bruce mentioned, the mic can always be turned off, and you'll know at a glance whether it's on or off.
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I find it ironic the number of people up in arms about letting a smart device into their home with the potential to spy on them yet completely disregard the fact they probably already have any one (or more) of: a smart phone (with mic, camera, geolocation), a tablet (with mic, camera, geolocation), a laptop (with mic and camera) - all with the capability of being hacked or surreptitiously communicating your info to unknown organisations. In fact those devices are far more dangerous due to the risk of exposing your data via well crafted phishing attacks than a smart speaker !
I find it ironic the number of people up in arms about letting a smart device into their home with the potential to spy on them yet completely disregard the fact they probably already have any one (or more) of: a smart phone (with mic, camera, geolocation), a tablet (with mic, camera, geolocation), a laptop (with mic and camera) - all with the capability of being hacked or surreptitiously communicating your info to unknown organisations. In fact those devices are far more dangerous due to the risk of exposing your data via well crafted phishing attacks than a smart speaker !

Most paranoia is not based on logic and facts, but on emotion and hype. Nothing one can do about that except to keep repeating the logic and facts and hope it gets through.
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In truth, since a speaker can be used as a microphone, you can really only fully guarantee privacy if you disconnect any microphone or speaker in your home or mobile device from the internet. You might be safe with the Connect or Connect:amp. but all the sonos speakers could be hacked to listen in on you, regardless of whether there is a dedicated mic or not. Granted hacking a microphone is easier, since it's just turning on vs reprograming everything, but we are talking about the realm of possibility here.

I think it primarily comes down to how much you trust Amazon, Sonos and the like. I personally don't think they would risk listening in on most likely useless conversations knowing that getting caught would bring down their empire. Yes, the government could order them to listen in, with a warrant, but that's an entirely different issue. As well, if the government wants to listen in, I don't think keeping echos out of your house is going to stop them.

All that said, I do find the current trend of cloud computing to be a little concerning. It has great benefit at the moment, but I hope things eventually start trending back to local computing.
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In truth, since a speaker can be used as a microphone, you can really only fully guarantee privacy if you disconnect any microphone or speaker in your home or mobile device from the internet. You might be safe with the Connect or Connect:amp. but all the sonos speakers could be hacked to listen in on you, regardless of whether there is a dedicated mic or not. Granted hacking a microphone is easier, since it's just turning on vs reprograming everything, but we are talking about the realm of possibility here.

I think it primarily comes down to how much you trust Amazon, Sonos and the like. I personally don't think they would risk listening in on most likely useless conversations knowing that getting caught would bring down their empire. Yes, the government could order them to listen in, with a warrant, but that's an entirely different issue. As well, if the government wants to listen in, I don't think keeping echos out of your house is going to stop them.

All that said, I do find the current trend of cloud computing to be a little concerning. It has great benefit at the moment, but I hope things eventually start trending back to local computing.


No they couldn't

Only the Play 5: Gen 2 and Sonos:1 have microphones

None of the other Sonos products have microphones
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I'm not at all worried about companies stealing my information, it's not going to be very exciting.
For me, I'm not really convinced that I have any need or will gain any benefit from talking to an inanimate object, especially when it can't currently play music from a service I use.

And it has a long way before it can get up and turn my vinyl LP onto side 2.
I just want voice control for simple things like volume control, play and pause. Not interested in all the other stuff and actually got rid of Alexa's to get Sonos and have no interest in linking Sonos to Alexa account for what should be obvious reason...

Anyway, if it has a mic why not enable simple voice commands with Sonos One????
Not only is the Play:1 being sold concurrently with the Sonos One, the Alexa (or any voice control) features are 100% voluntary and require you to enable the features on the device before they work. Not only that, there is a hardware switch to turn off the microphones, and the microphones are hardwired to an LED so there is no way for it to listen in without the owner knowing, even on the oft chance someone hacks the device.

Which sonos products have this switch on the microphone, this is what I am looking for?

Does this include the bar - i am just looking at this this product for the first time so the product names are still confusing.


Which sonos products have this switch on the microphone, this is what I am looking for?

Does this include the bar - i am just looking at this this product for the first time so the product names are still confusing.


Both the Beam (soundbar) and the One (and I assume, all Alexa enabled Sonos going forward) have a microphone switch with a hardwired LED. If the LED is not lit, then it is impossible for the microphones to be listening. In addition, if you never enable Alexa, the microphone stays off.