setting up multi-room music in Alexa app

  • 20 January 2018
  • 66 replies
  • 48563 views


Show first post
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.

66 replies

Sorry Ken - should have left it in your capable hands!
All capable hands are welcome!

Okay so I have another problem. I love sonos so much I decided to get another Sonos One for my work which is in a different building on a different wifi network.

When I try to use Alexa to do music commands like skip track etc it tells me I need to learn the skill in the Alexa app.

I go to the app and find that the Sonos skill is enabled, but if I disable it and then re-enable it, then the voice control works on my work speaker. However when I come home it has now kicked off my home speakers and I have to do the same disable/enable thing, which then kicks off my work speaker.

Thoughts?
I am no Alexa expert. Maybe sufficient to tell Alexa to 'discover devices' after moving?
I tried that, unfortunately it says it has no devices to discover..
Nobody actually addressed this guys Q directly. I have the same issue. Alex (Echo Dot) recognizes my two sonos systems (Playdeck and two Sonos Play Ones plus a standalone Play # in another room), but says I need to set up a multiroom group using the Audio Groups section of Settings in the Alexa App. Like the OP, I cannot find any Audio Group command set up in Settings.
Indeed, I think the answer is no, you can’t do that. You can always tell woeful customer support when they respond by initially repeating a version of your question, when the question was, in fact, perfectly clear :-)
Currently the the Alexia/Echo “multiroom” and “everywhere” are restricted to Echo only. I assume this is because either Sonos or Amazon wish you to fill your entire house with just their own speakers. 😃

Currently the the Alexia/Echo “multiroom” and “everywhere” are restricted to Echo only. I assume this is because either Sonos or Amazon wish you to fill your entire house with just their own speakers. :D


I am hopeful that the Alexa groups can eventually be used to create named groups of Sonos speakers, or Sonos will have a named group feature all of their own. But not at all hopeful that you'll be able to play echos and sonos speakers together. Yes, it has something to do with wanting to sell you're products and make a profit, but the fact that there is any integration at all shows that both companies realize that working together can make both companies more profitable (for now anyway). There is also the fact that Sonos has both companies have their own multiroom protocols. Sonos doesn't want to share that with anyone, and Amazon surely feels the same way. Maybe circumstances will change on that one day.
Userlevel 5
Badge +5
Just to clarify - you can play music to a group of speakers via voice control but you need to group them in the app first and then ask Alexa to play to any player within the group.
So if I want to use to voice control to play music throughout my house, I have to find my phone, set up a group in the app, and then issue the voice command.

I think we are stretching the definition of voice control here! There needs to be a way to create the group with an Alexa command.
Just to clarify - you can play music to a group of speakers via voice control but you need to group them in the app first and then ask Alexa to play to any player within the group.
So if I want to use to voice control to play music throughout my house, I have to find my phone, set up a group in the app, and then issue the voice command.

I think we are stretching the definition of voice control here! There needs to be a way to create the group with an Alexa command.

Even Alexa does not do that for Amazon devices at the moment... so Sonos may have to wait for Amazon to get that resolved first.
Userlevel 5
Badge +5
Even Alexa does not do that for Amazon devices at the moment... so Sonos may have to wait for Amazon to get that resolved first.

No waiting is required. Sonos simply needs to add grouping to its API, then Alexa can access those features. Alexa controls thousands of devices. Do you honestly believe that each of those thousands of companies just sat around and waited for Amazon to support them??? No! Each of those companies simply wrote their own API with the features that they need. Once that's done, Alexa is able to access those features.

It's the same thing here, Sonos simply needs to add grouping into its API. Once that's done, Alexa will be able to use the new feature.

My guess is the Sonos team is buried in trying to set up Google Assistant and isn't thinking about anything else at the moment.
Kirk33

So where does the actual creation and interpretation of the initial voice instruction come from then?... such as ... 'Alexa, group my living room with my Lounge' Does that not have to be created by Amazon then ? How will Alexa know and become aware that I’m talking about my speakers and not my Hue Lights or my living room smart plugs, for example?

Calling to the Sonos API features to group my speakers is one thing, but what about the initial Amazon Alexa side of things and it’s interpreter?
Userlevel 5
Badge +5
Ken, I believe if you simply say "Alexa, tell Sonos..." then Alexa will let the Sonos API handle whatever words come next. Therefore "Alexa, tell Sonos to group all my speakers" is a command that Sonos could create all by themselves. They can do it anytime they want. However, if you simply want to say "Alexa, group all my speakers", then Sonos needs to work with Amazon.

IMO, the "tell Sonos" thing is perfectly acceptable. But that's just me. I want to specify that I'm not an API expert. I believe the above is accurate, but I'm not 100% certain.
The Alexa/Sonos interface was not designed as a "Alexa, tell Sonos" type skill. It is far more versatile and interactive. Being so, it is also far more reliant on development by both Sonos and Amazon for new features.
Userlevel 5
Badge +5
The Alexa/Sonos interface was not designed as a "Alexa, tell Sonos" type skill. It is far more versatile and interactive. Being so, it is also far more reliant on development by both Sonos and Amazon for new features.

True, the existing command set does not rely on "tell Sonos". That absolutely does NOT mean that new commands can't be added using "tell Sonos". The alternative is that we wait for years, maybe forever, to get Amazon to implement the most basic of Sonos features like grouping. Is that your definition of "versatile"??? I'm sorry, but that sounds insane to me.

Sonos could literally write that API in just a few days, all by themselves. Now THAT is versatile.
Personally, if it required "tell Sonos", I would be looking elsewhere. I suspect others would too and, versatile or not, that is not good for Sonos.
I'm certainly no expert here either, but I would have thought the Alexa voice command would need key 'unique' words in it, in a particular order, that passes through the Amazon speech engine and is then interpretted into a particular compiled set of instructions that are encrypted and passed back to the Sonos API on the users local network. I think it would need work from both sides to do something like that. I would be surprised if Sonos are able to add their own unique key words in an instruction. I would have guessed that needed to centrally managed by Amazon, personally speaking, aswell as compiling and encrypting the returned instruction back to the API interface?
Kirk33 isn't wrong. The 'tell sonos' method would mean that any text preceding the phrase gets passed on to Sonos servers for further processing. Sonos could then have could that could do grouping instructions If Sonos can't understand the text, it's supposed to return an error message. This would not be a smart skill though and would be a completely secondary way of controlling sonos outside of the current smart skill.

I personally don't care for this route. My pool control operates this way, and it's rather annoying to have to say 'Alexa, Ask Hayward to..." instead of just saying what I want to do. I also means that my pool control can't be integrated with any other smart devices in my home.

I would guess that Sonos management did take this under consideration and chose not to go this route. I would also guess that they believed that grouping capabilities would be possible through the smart skill by now. Not sure if they'd make the same choice again, hindsight being 20/20.


No waiting is required. Sonos simply needs to add grouping to its API, then Alexa can access those features. Alexa controls thousands of devices. Do you honestly believe that each of those thousands of companies just sat around and waited for Amazon to support them??? No! Each of those companies simply wrote their own API with the features that they need. Once that's done, Alexa is able to access those features.


I'm confident that this part is not true. Amazon isn't letting the tail wag the dog. They surely have a very generic interface where they pass text on to whatever skill was called, and it's up to the developers of that skill to know what to do with it. They are not going to call a different API for each skill you can use through Alexa.

Even with smart skills, Amazon sets up APIs for each object type they support, and everyone else must bend to meet Amazon standards. Amazon is not letting each lighter set a different API for controlling their lights.
Danny,

That now makes sense to me, as Logitech have two skills on the UK Alexa site for Harmony Remote Support. One Skill is coloured Red and each voice command has to begin with “Alexa, Ask Harmony to...” The other is coloured Blue and the Skill does virtually the same thing, but there is no need to use the ”Ask Harmony to...”.

These two Logitech skills allow for two different Harmony Hubs (usually in different rooms) to be controlled by one single Alexa account.

Funnily enough, Logitech removed what I will call the 'Red Skill' from the Google Assistant a week or two ago ...and they have replaced it with the Blue one only, so whilst only one Harmony Hub can now still be used with that voice assistant, at least the user doesn’t have to say ”Hey Google, Ask Harmony to...” anymore and that’s made a difference in our house.

So I assume now that Logitech are moving things from their own servers back over to the Google side of things and it’s perhaps possible the same thing may eventually happen with Amazon... there needs to be a way though for these voice assistants to use multiple instances of a Skill, so that such multiple devices, like a Harmony Remote, can then be used in the home.

Anyhow, I still wonder why Amazon have not introduced grouping/ungrouping of their own Echo speakers via voice control??... at the moment that’s done in their Alexa App using 'Music Groups', so perhaps grouping via voice is in the 'read difficult to do' category, particularly as the speaker/rooms can be given virtually any name and that alone must be a bit of a challenge to recognise and interpret correctly.

Anyhow I feel a bit wiser having read your informative post above.?
Userlevel 5
Badge +5
Amazon has been promoting really hard lately its Amazon Music service, along with its Alexa multi-room speakers and now its Echo subwoofer. Let's be crystal clear here, Amazon wants to compete with Sonos. If Sonos' business strategy is to sit around and wait for their competitor to implement Sonos' own basic functionality for them, they are in VERY big trouble. Amazon is going to drag its feet on this forever while they build their own competing products

Anyhow, I still wonder why Amazon have not introduced grouping/ungrouping of their own Echo speakers via voice control??... at the moment that’s done in their Alexa App using 'Music Groups', so perhaps grouping via voice is in the 'read difficult to do' category, particularly as the speaker/rooms can be given virtually any name and that alone must be a bit of a challenge to recognise and interpret correctly.


I believe their speaker API has no mechanism for referencing multiple speakers. Kind of mistake in hindsight if that's the case. Although, I wouldn't be too surprised if Amazon did this intentionally for some unknown reason. I can also think of some reasons why Sonos wouldn't want this...or perhaps they wouldn't want to do group control in this way as it would have some limitations. Sonos could be holding out for the 'right' solution, I don't know, totally guessing.
Userlevel 1
Its only been a couple months since amazon has released the sdk

https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/a9acaabd-d5a0-4fdf-b74a-c20cfe4d4ef9/deliver-whole-home-audio-with-alexa-multi-room-music-and-device-targeting

Hoping for multi room for the holidays. While I’ve got a few One’s, this support will decide whether I fill out the rest of the house & tv’s or start exploring ecosystems.
Userlevel 5
Badge +5
Its only been a couple months since amazon has released the sdk

https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/a9acaabd-d5a0-4fdf-b74a-c20cfe4d4ef9/deliver-whole-home-audio-with-alexa-multi-room-music-and-device-targeting

Hoping for multi room for the holidays. While I’ve got a few One’s, this support will decide whether I fill out the rest of the house & tv’s or start exploring ecosystems.


This SDK has nothing to do with grouping Sonos speakers. It's for grouping Alexa speakers. Amazon is developing its own whole-home speaker system (with voice grouping included) to compete with and beat Sonos. They're never gonna write Sonos grouping commands cause that would give away their advantage. If Sonos insists on sitting quietly and waiting for Amazon to do this, they are going to be waiting forever.
I've read this a couple times and I'm still confused. I already have a Sonos group/room called, "Living Room." It has Playbar, Sub and (2) Ones. Can I walk into that room and ask Alexa to start playing music on/in that "room." I see a few replies that say it should work. However, from what I'm reading Alexa does not support Sonos' "rooms" as valid rooms. Can someone please clarify?
Userlevel 5
Badge +5
I've read this a couple times and I'm still confused. I already have a Sonos group/room called, "Living Room." It has Playbar, Sub and (2) Ones. Can I walk into that room and ask Alexa to start playing music on/in that "room." I see a few replies that say it should work. However, from what I'm reading Alexa does not support Sonos' "rooms" as valid rooms. Can someone please clarify?

Your confusion is that groups and rooms are not the same thing. Assuming that your Ones are setup as surround speakers, then you have a single room. You do not have any groups. Alexa will do just fine.

If you want whole-home audio, then you will group multiple ROOMS together into 1 GROUP. Now you have to create that group using the Sonos App. Alexa cannot help you.
I fully understand that Sonos "rooms" are different than Alexa "groups." I just want to walk into my living room and say, "Alexa, play ____ radio" and have music start playing in my living room. However, from what I have read in a few places, Alexa would only launch the (1) Sonos One that takes the command. I could "group" (in Alexa) the (2) Sono's Ones that are used for rear channels in my Sonos "Living Room", but the sub and Playbar can not be activated that way.

The only way to get the whole Sonos Living Room to play is from the Sonos app. Then, I can play my music service and ask Alexa to skip. control volume, etc. Is this correct? Is there no way to launch, by voice, a full Sonos "room?"

Perhaps I should add that when I try to launch music in this area by voice, I'm getting errors. If I just walk in and say, "Alexa, play ____ radio", it tells me that I need the Sonos skill, which is already installed. It seems to work fine if I launch from the Sonos app first. I just want to avoid this extra step, if there is a way around it.

While typing this, I noticed that in my Sonos app, in Room Settings, Living Room, Amazon Alexa had a red dot. It looks like one of my Sonos Ones was not fully working with Alexa, even though both showed up under devices in the Alexa app. I went through the process and Alexa, said that it would now be discover-able, but when I said to discover devices, Alexa found nothing new. But, I think I'm getting closer.

Let me ask another question. Will the Sonos "Living Room" show up in the Alexa app at all, or will the (2) Sonos Ones only show up as separate devices? From the setup in the app, it sounded like the "Living Room" should show up.
Userlevel 7
Badge +22
You have to say Zone name except on Sonos units with alexa built in (since they default to themselves). However, Sonos has said they are working on more skills and much more robust Alexa ability coming.

IN the meantime, you can use https://www.speakerscenes.com/ to group rooms by voice.