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Recent update now breaking groups with Alexa

  • 11 December 2018
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After an update to the Sonos software this weekend, the Alexa integration is "broken" in that now, starting music using voice commands breaks apart groups of speakers. Are there new commands, or is there a way to roll back the software version to one that actually worked? If this is the "new normal," then I will need to discuss returning all of the Sonos products I own and looking into a new Alexa compatible system.
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Best answer by Ryan S 13 December 2018, 23:33

I posted this in the other thread with the same topic, but so the information is in both threads, here's an update on some things you've noticed.

We're working with Amazon to bring some additional features and improvements to Sonos. These are rolling out in stages, and you've noticed some of them. Not all of the changes are out yet, but I wanted to clarify a few things here for you. We'll make a public announcement when that work's complete. 

There are some changes that you're seeing around naming rooms when you go to perform a function. One of these changes is that when you explicitly call out to stop/pause an active Sonos speaker, just that room will stop playing. 

"Alexa, stop in living room" will stop the music in just the living room, even if it's grouped with other players in the Sonos app. For example, if the player was grouped with a Sonos speaker in the Kitchen, the two will ungroup, and the Kitchen will keep on playing.

This also includes telling rooms to play music. If the Living Room and Kitchen are grouped in Sonos and not playing music, "Alexa, play in the Kitchen" will remove Living Room from the group in Sonos, and start playing in Kitchen only.

And this applies to Sonos players that have Alexa built in too, so if you have Living Room and Kitchen (a Sonos One) currently grouped and not playing music. Speaking to the Sonos One "Alexa, Play Music," will cause the Sonos One to remove Living Room from the group and start playing on its own.

If you notice Sonos groups changing due to your voice commands, open your Alexa app and look for the new Groups setup. Tap the lower-right icon, a house outline with two levers, to find it. Create an Alexa group with your desired speakers and assign your Alexa or Sonos device as the input for that group. Your voice commands will now use that group without needing to say the location name as part of the command.

You will also notice some other changes soon, and we'll let you know when it's all live. Stay tuned!
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55 replies

Userlevel 7
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Alexa integration is still considered beta. Looks like in Amazon's newest update they have introduced some new functionality and maybe its not completely working as intended. There is ability now in Alexa app to set a default speaker when issuing Alexa commands (ie you don't have to say the in room name anymore). Looks like ability coming to also have it automatically group multiple speakers when commanded to play - even if not currently grouped). So maybe this functionality is causing some issues for pre-grouped speakers.

You also may want to disable the Sonos skill in alexa and re-enable to make sure all properly updated.
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I have the same issue, just chiming in.. When I ask either of my dots to play on my Living Room speakers (Play 5 stereo pair) or the Kitchen speaker (a One), it just plays it from that speaker instead of playing to the the entire group (these are grouped in the Sonos app). Previously, asking the Dots to play to either of the speakers would cause the entire group to play.

Do we know for certain that this is an Alexa bug or is this an issue with the Sonos skill perhaps? I've disabled and enabled the skill just in case, but no effect.
Same issue. Hugely annoying.
Same issue: Alexa breaks my Sonos group and plays only on the named speaker. A recent change and a real drag. Alexa is now useful only to kill all sound on my way out the door...
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Drama

You can play and then group via alexa setting up via speakerscenes.com
1) Create an Alexa Group for each room that has an Amazon Echo in.
2) Put the (e.g. living-room) Echo device and all Sonos speakers which are in the same room into the Alexa Group; tap 'Save'.
3) Tap (the green area of) the Alexa Group
4) Set up 'Preferred Music Speaker(s)'


Should resolve the issue for now.
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I am very upset with the new update. It has now made my whole Sonos system inoperable, and I've had speakers for seven years. Sonos used to be great but has steadily gone downhill.

1) My Sonos 1 and Play 5(1st Gen) which are normally grouped together could no longer be seen. They Vanished.
2) I tried to add them back to the system. Found out I no longer could add via my PC.
3) I tried to reboot and reset my Bridge. ( Sonos app cannot see my Bridge! ) ps. I always hated having to have a Bridge as I have a powerful and capable router, but I got used to it.
4) Tried to add my speakers by adding them via wifi and I keep getting fails. I got a Dot last year for my daughter and an echo for my wife. I could not stand the ridiculous set up app -> hold,login,temp network, rinse repeat -> puke , I even had to send one back because you can not manually set an IP address.
5) System Junk -> I REFUSE TO RUN ETHERNET CABLES FOR A SYSTEM THAT IS SUPPOSED TO BEW I R E L E S S 😠
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Resetting bridge a bad idea. Your going through wrong. I think you should talk to someone onnphone to setup properly.
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1) Create an Alexa Group for each room that has an Amazon Echo in.
2) Put the (e.g. living-room) Echo device and all Sonos speakers which are in the same room into the Alexa Group; tap 'Save'.
3) Tap (the green area of) the Alexa Group
4) Set up 'Preferred Music Speaker(s)'


Should resolve the issue for now.


The main room in my house doesn't have an Echo in it, because I use Alexa on the One. My dots are not in the same room as my Sonos, but I still want both of them (one in the bedroom, one in the bathroom) to play to the grouped Play 5s and the One in my living room / kitchen area instead of to only one of them.
The main room in my house doesn't have an Echo in it, because I use Alexa on the One. My dots are not in the same room as my Sonos, but I still want both of them (one in the bedroom, one in the bathroom) to play to the grouped Play 5s and the One in my living room / kitchen area instead of to only one of them.
It's a bug that is going to be resolved.
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It's a bug that is going to be resolved.


Thanks for the information. Is this an Alexa bug, a Sonos Skill bug? Do you have a link to a confirmation?
Userlevel 7
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From the look of the way the new Alexa screen shows - you can set multiple speakers as the default for a room. So if you always want living room and kitchen to play when you speaker to a specific dot it will group them automatically for you and play. The functionality looks to be there but some bugs to clear up between Sonos/Amazon - which I believe is why they haven't said anything about these obvious changes that are out there.
Grouping in the Alexa App isn't necessarily the answer. I have sonos speakers in six rooms, two Sonos Connects that plug into amps that control another five rooms total (in-wall speakers). One of the Sonos speakers is a Sonos One, which has Alexa built in. I have dots in rooms where there are no Sonos devices, and Sonos devices in rooms where there are no Echo devices. We group and ungroup speakers in the house through the Sonos App occasionally, depending on what we're doing, but the expectation is (and reality used to be) that simply playing and pausing music wouldn't impact those groups. If I had four rooms grouped and asked Alexa to play in one of those rooms, it was always the case that the group would be unchanged, and music would play in all four rooms. I also used to use the command "Alexa, pause Kitchen," which would pause that group. That command no longer functions at all, and the command to play in the kitchen ungroups my sonos speakers and plays ONLY in the kitchen.

One of the early complaints from Sonos/Echo adopters was that there was no ability to group or ungroup speakers using voice commands. The workaround given by both Sonos and Amazon was to group them in the app, and control the music (start, stop, skip, etc.) with Alexa. Now that functionality is gone, and I'm wondering what the purpose of having the two together might be. I invested significantly in both technologies BECAUSE of the integration (selected Alexa over Google home because of this support), and now it's virtually non-functional. Starting music via Alexa requires that you go into the Sonos App and select how you want the speakers grouped, regardless of how you had them grouped a minute ago.

Imagine playing music in the house via Classic Rewind on Sirius XM. You decide to switch over to an Amazon station, or to a playlist, or perhaps to First Wave on Sirius XM. Doing so with your voice USED TO change all of the speakers in that group to the new selection. Now, doing so through Alexa changes only the speaker you name (Kitchen), meaning you have to go into the app and regroup everything.

Not okay. Can someone from Sonos confirm that this is either a "feature" or a bug, and if there's a fix coming? Otherwise, as I said, the integration is no longer usable, and I (and many others) will need to rethink our integrated music strategy, and that strategy will likely not include either company.
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Sonos hasn’t even mentioned the changes amazon made. I imagine Sonos won’t comment on until they have their software parts updated in unison. So I would call it a big since amazon sent out their update and as far as we know Sonos hasn’t sent out an alexa Center’s update

My point in before if you ask alexa to play and it ungroups youncan ask it to regroup (via speaker scenes).

How Sonos plans it to really work is a wait and see over next few weeks.
I agree with Chris. What users are currently seeing right now doesn't appear to be the new norm but a work in process. For one thing, my particular system doesn't ungroup sonos rooms by voice command currently. It works as it's always done. It could be that the change hasn't rolled out to me just yet, but I certainly hope that's not the case. Hopefully there will be some configuration to have voice commands work they way you want in terms of grouping. Or better yet, keywords you can use in your voice command so you can keep a group or ungroup as desired depending on the situation.
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I imagine Sonos won’t comment on until they have their software parts updated in unison.

Seeing as this seems to be impacting users in a non-trivial way, it would be nice if Sonos would at least comment briefly and let us know they're aware of the issue and are working on a fix.
Userlevel 7
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I posted this in the other thread with the same topic, but so the information is in both threads, here's an update on some things you've noticed.

We're working with Amazon to bring some additional features and improvements to Sonos. These are rolling out in stages, and you've noticed some of them. Not all of the changes are out yet, but I wanted to clarify a few things here for you. We'll make a public announcement when that work's complete. 

There are some changes that you're seeing around naming rooms when you go to perform a function. One of these changes is that when you explicitly call out to stop/pause an active Sonos speaker, just that room will stop playing. 

"Alexa, stop in living room" will stop the music in just the living room, even if it's grouped with other players in the Sonos app. For example, if the player was grouped with a Sonos speaker in the Kitchen, the two will ungroup, and the Kitchen will keep on playing.

This also includes telling rooms to play music. If the Living Room and Kitchen are grouped in Sonos and not playing music, "Alexa, play in the Kitchen" will remove Living Room from the group in Sonos, and start playing in Kitchen only.

And this applies to Sonos players that have Alexa built in too, so if you have Living Room and Kitchen (a Sonos One) currently grouped and not playing music. Speaking to the Sonos One "Alexa, Play Music," will cause the Sonos One to remove Living Room from the group and start playing on its own.

If you notice Sonos groups changing due to your voice commands, open your Alexa app and look for the new Groups setup. Tap the lower-right icon, a house outline with two levers, to find it. Create an Alexa group with your desired speakers and assign your Alexa or Sonos device as the input for that group. Your voice commands will now use that group without needing to say the location name as part of the command.

You will also notice some other changes soon, and we'll let you know when it's all live. Stay tuned!
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And this applies to Sonos players that have Alexa built in too, so if you have Living Room and Kitchen (a Sonos One) currently grouped and not playing music. Speaking to the Sonos One "Alexa, Play Music," will cause the Sonos One to remove Living Room from the group and start playing on its own.

Create an Alexa group with your desired speakers and assign your Alexa or Sonos device as the input for that group. Your voice commands will now use that group without needing to say the location name as part of the command.

Thanks for the detailed response. Am I understanding correctly, then, that Alexa on the Sonos One can no longer "natively" play to a group of speakers defined by the Sonos app, but only groups of speakers defined by the Alexa app, and the only way for me to play to speakers grouped as defined by the Sonos app is via the controller (or directly from Spotify)?
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While the cloud release is rolling out, some experiences may change. But currently, if it's an active group, meaning something is currently playing on the Sonos One and other speakers (grouped via Sonos), telling it to play music using Alexa should have all of them start playing the new music and not break the group. If it's a group that isn't playing music, or targeting a single room, will break up the group.

Again, these are things that are currently changing, so stay tuned to hear more as they all go live.
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If it's a group that isn't playing music, or targeting a single room, will break up the group.

If I may, this is quite unintuitive behavior (Sorry, I'm a UX/Service Designer, so everything is a nail). A new Sonos One user who brings the device home and hooks it up to their existing setup, groups it with other speakers in the Sonos app and then proceeds to ask Alexa to play something, will be confused and possible frustrated when the music won't play in the entire group. I can imagine this will be similarly frustrating for users who create ad-hoc groups for specific situations. Alexa-created groups are intended to be "permanent" (because they're used in scenes, etc). Sonos groups have a much more flexible nature and lend themselves to the way people use multi-audio in their home.

I don't have a solution for this, other than to work with Amazon to allow the Alexa app to mirror grouping created in the Sonos app automatically.
While the cloud release is rolling out, some experiences may change. But currently, if it's an active group, meaning something is currently playing on the Sonos One and other speakers (grouped via Sonos)


Ryan, would a room or group that has music currently passed or has music queued but not playing be considered an active group?



If I may, this is quite unintuitive behavior (Sorry, I'm a UX/Service Designer, so everything is a nail).


I'm not sure there is such a thing as intuitive behavior in this case, or perhaps what's intuitive is different for each person, not really universal. There are so many factors and permutations of executing what you want to do, that I think it's going to be really difficult to find functionally that fits what everyone wants to do with their system intuitively.


A new Sonos One user who brings the device home and hooks it up to their existing setup, groups it with other speakers in the Sonos app and then proceeds to ask Alexa to play something, will be confused and possible frustrated when the music won't play in the entire group.


Yes, this is true. But here's another scenario. A couple is listening to music in a group with the bedroom and kitchen going one evening. Then stop the music and call it a night. One of them wakes up in the morning and stumbles to the kitchen to make some coffee, and ask the echo/sonos one in the kitchen to play some music. Even though kitchen is part of an existing group, you only want music to play in the kitchen so as not to wake up your partner, still asleep in the bedorrm.

I'd say you're scenario and mine are both intuitive response you'd want to see from the system...based on the scenario at hand. But the Sonos/Alexa system doesn't comprehend the scenarios really, and therefore can't give different responses based on these scenarios.


I can imagine this will be similarly frustrating for users who create ad-hoc groups for specific situations. Alexa-created groups are intended to be "permanent" (because they're used in scenes, etc). Sonos groups have a much more flexible nature and lend themselves to the way people use multi-audio in their home.


Agreed, I think. But as I play different scenarios in my head, I don't know that their is a design that makes logical sense for all the scenarios. Or maybe there just needs to be some level of training, it can't just be intuitive to meet all the possible uses cases, and things can work smoothly after the basic training.


I don't have a solution for this, other than to work with Amazon to allow the Alexa app to mirror grouping created in the Sonos app automatically.


I don't know how ad-hoc groups and named groups can mirror each other. That is further complicated by some name groups applying by default if you set it up that way. Or maybe I just not wrapping my head around what you're getting at just yet.
Ryan - is there somewhere that we can find the new voice commands? "Play Christmas music in Kitchen" no longer works for the group (it now ungroups the speakers), so I set up Alexa groups that include my Sonos speakers. When I say "Alexa, play Christmas music in whole house," (for example) she responds that she can't play music in groups yet.

If this is because further updates are coming, can someone let us know when that update will come? Is there a way to play music where I want it to play using voice commands, or is the Alexa integration, for the time being, rendered, by and large, useless by the "upgrades" being made?
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While the cloud release is rolling out, some experiences may change. But currently, if it's an active group, meaning something is currently playing on the Sonos One and other speakers (grouped via Sonos)


Ryan, would a room or group that has music currently passed or has music queued but not playing be considered an active group?


There is a bit of a timeout period in which a group becomes no longer active. As this update goes live, there will be some changes. So we'll hold off on specifics until things settle.

There is a bit of a timeout period in which a group becomes no longer active. As this update goes live, there will be some changes. So we'll hold off on specifics until things settle.


Ah, that makes since it fits what I was seeing when I was playing around with things.
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It appears that part of the new changes is that Apple Music is now live on Alexa. However, after setting it up properly, it gives a message saying "Apple Music is not supported on this device"