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Will Alexa work in a 5.1 Setup with playbar and Ones?

  • 17 September 2018
  • 34 replies
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I have a 5.1 setup with a playbar, 2xPlay1 and subwoofer. Further more some Play Ones in other rooms. Im thinking about replacing the 2xPlay1 with Ones. But will Alexa work in the 5.1 Setup? Or will they have to be "main/primary" for it to work?
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Best answer by Belly M 17 September 2018, 16:44

On the Sonos Amp announcement thread I asked...

Belly M wrote:
What about voice control?
Any plans to enable the mics in Sonos One’s when used as rears?


Ryan replied:
The mics on a pair of Sonos Ones are only disabled when bonded as surrounds with a Beam. They are fully up and running when voice is enabled and they’re being used with a Playbar, Playbase, or Sonos Amp. The Amp also has CEC over HDMI-ARC, the same as the Beam. So you’d be able to use voice control with your TV too, assuming it’s compatible.
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If the Ones are set up as surround speakers, "bonded" to the PLAYBAR, then no, they won't work with Alexa. If instead you don't set them up as surrounds, and "group" them for use in other rooms, then yes, they will. The ability for Alexa to work is based on the "main" speaker in a 5.1 setup, and not any of the surrounds.
Whoops. Maybe not as clear as I needed to be. Need more caffeine. What I meant to say is as surrounds, they won't "hear" or react to Alexa commands. They're functionally just the same as the PLAY:1s. That being said, I control my PLAYBASE/SUB/PLAY:1s with voice commands all the time, using an Echo Dot.

Maybe more information than you were asking for, but I wanted to be clear 🙂
On the Sonos Amp announcement thread I asked...

Belly M wrote:
What about voice control?
Any plans to enable the mics in Sonos One’s when used as rears?


Ryan replied:
The mics on a pair of Sonos Ones are only disabled when bonded as surrounds with a Beam. They are fully up and running when voice is enabled and they’re being used with a Playbar, Playbase, or Sonos Amp. The Amp also has CEC over HDMI-ARC, the same as the Beam. So you’d be able to use voice control with your TV too, assuming it’s compatible.
On the Sonos Amp announcement thread I asked...

Belly M wrote:
What about voice control?
Any plans to enable the mics in Sonos One’s when used as rears?


Ryan replied:
The mics on a pair of Sonos Ones are only disabled when bonded as surrounds with a Beam. They are fully up and running when voice is enabled and they’re being used with a Playbar, Playbase, or Sonos Amp. The Amp also has CEC over HDMI-ARC, the same as the Beam. So you’d be able to use voice control with your TV too, assuming it’s compatible.


Perfect - Thanks 🙂
Yes, just to add a little bit more info to that .. the mic's are disabled when bonded with a Beam, but the user does then still have both voice control and Airplay capability from the Beam itself.

With the PlayBase, the mic's remain enabled and that gives voice control and the PlayBase itself can be used for AirPlay.

With the PlayBar, the mic's remain enabled and that gives voice control, but neither the PlayBar, nor its bonded 'One' surrounds can then be used for AirPlay purposes.

Hope that helps.
Hi all,

now I am a little confused.
Airgetlam posted that it might NOT work since the main speaker is responsible for Alexa, and since the One's would be the rear speaker of the surround setup their Alexa wouldn't do the job.
However, the last answers say it would work.

Is somebody wrong or was there a software update in the meanwhile?

Thanks for clarification - would be very helpful since I am just deciding which Soundbar I should buy - I want the performance of the Playbar but also the features of the Beam (including Alexa).

Regards.
HansLanda88,

If two Sonos Ones are bonded to a PlayBar in a 5.0 or 5.1 setup, you will not have access to Airplay, but you can use the Alexa part of those rear two speakers for Alexa voice control.

If two Sonos Ones are bonded to a PlayBase in a 5.0 or 5.1 setup, you will have access to Airplay and you can also use the Alexa part of those rear two speakers for Alexa voice control

If two Sonos Ones are bonded to a Beam in a 5.0 or 5.1 setup, you will have access to Airplay, but you can’t use the Alexa part of those rear two speakers for Alexa voice control, but you will have still have access to Alexa via the Beam itself. The newer Beam does it all by itself.

Hope that helps to now clarify things for you.
If the Ones are set up as surround speakers, "bonded" to the PLAYBAR, then no, they won't work with Alexa. If instead you don't set them up as surrounds, and "group" them for use in other rooms, then yes, they will. The ability for Alexa to work is based on the "main" speaker in a 5.1 setup, and not any of the surrounds.

I just set up my Playbar + 2 Sonos Ones today and cannot get Alexa to function when I add the Ones as surrounds. The second I unpair them from the Playbar, Alexa functionality returns. If I keep them independent, but group them together to play music, then I retain Alexa functionality but have to specifically name the Playbar to control its volume. I worked on it for a while, read a bunch of posts, and am stuck. Note: I do not have a TV hooked up to the Playbar at the moment, so the set up is only for music (for now).
If the Ones are set up as surround speakers, "bonded" to the PLAYBAR, then no, they won't work with Alexa. If instead you don't set them up as surrounds, and "group" them for use in other rooms, then yes, they will. The ability for Alexa to work is based on the "main" speaker in a 5.1 setup, and not any of the surrounds.

I just set up my Playbar + 2 Sonos Ones today and cannot get Alexa to function when I add the Ones as surrounds. The second I unpair them from the Playbar, Alexa functionality returns. If I keep them independent, but group them together to play music, then I retain Alexa functionality but have to specifically name the Playbar to control its volume. I worked on it for a while, read a bunch of posts, and am stuck. Note: I do not have a TV hooked up to the Playbar at the moment, so the set up is only for music (for now).
As you are currently using the speakers for just music audio only, then keeping the Sonos Ones separated from the PlayBar, seems sensible at this stage ... You can use the 'Ones' as two standalone Sonos Rooms, or if you prefer you create a stereo pair in one Sonos Room. Your PlayBar will remain in its own separate Sonos Room.

I presume from things you have said in your post, you have already enabled the Sonos Skill in your Amazon Alexa App, but because you have gone through bonding/unbonding your speakers as surrounds etc. My advice would be to ask Alexa to 'redetect your devices' and ensure all speakers are appearing in the devices section of the Alexa App and are showing as being 'online'.

If you want all your speakers to automatically group themselves together and play music then you need to do a few things...

Set your default streaming music service in the Amazon Alexa App Settings. Then create an 'Alexa Enabled' Group, that group will usually have a similar name as the physical Room Name in which you are using your Sonos devices... so that might be 'Living Room' for example or 'Dining Room etc. Let’s assume it’s 'Living Room' for reference purposes.

In the first section of the created 'Living Room' Alexa Group you will need to add your two Sonos One devices to 'Enable' (Control) the Group.

Add your PlayBar room to the second section (this will ensure it ducks it audio) when talking to the controlling devices.

Then add all three speakers to the third 'Preferred' section of the Group and save your settings.

Give it a few minutes and then say to Alexa on your Sonos Ones.... “Alexa, Play some music” (no need to mention any room or group names)... you should see all three speakers automatically group together in the Sonos App 'Rooms Tab' and begin playing some music from your default streaming music provider.

It is best if the Alexa Group Name ('Living Room', in my example) is completely different to your Sonos Soeaker Room Names, so that Alexa is not confused should you later wish to play music to individual rooms by adding the Sonos 'Room Name' to your Alexa instruction.

I hope you can follow my post and that you manage to get things working correctly for you. ?
Excellent advice, so far. I am wondering in advance if there will be issues when I add a TV to the mix, but I'll take the win for today.
When you connect a TV. I guess you probably plan to set the speakers up by 'bonding' them together for Home Theatre Surround Sound aswell as Full stereo sound. This will combine things into one Sonos Room for example called 'Living Room' ... the Alexa devices should work in this type of setup and presumably you will keep the Alexa part of the device as your chosen Alexa Group 'Enabling' (controlling) devices and the 'Living Room' Speaker as your 'preferred' speaker.

I think however there is possibly a minor bug in the current software, as the Alexa part of a Sonos One and Beam Speaker is currently 'embedded' inside the device name of the main speaker in the Alexa App device list.. this happens when the Sonos Skill is installed, for some reason. I have reported this matter to Sonos and I believe they are currently looking into the issue.?but hopefully, all being well, this will be resolved soon, as the development around this area continues by both Sonos and Amazon.

Anyhow it should all still work for you without the need to use Room Names in your voice instruction, as long as you put the Playbar Living Room as a 'preferred' speaker in your Alexa Group.

You can always post back here later, if you do encounter any problems... either myself, or plenty of others, including Sonos Support Staff, will likely be around to answer any questions you may have..?
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I take it from this thread that Alexa should be able to control a Playbar output from my LG TV? Would you confirm that plz.... as I've not been able to get voice to work for turning on my ONE to output from my TV playbar; would hate continuing banging my head against an impossible brick wall. Should you confirm its possible I'll describe my set up more completely. My goal is to use voice command to turn on my playbar output in either my "DEN" or "KITCHEN" group with the sonos play1(w/echo) & ONE as primaries respectively/separately. I dont need to turn off the output from playbar when playing the sonos separate rooms.
Thanks
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I take it from this thread that Alexa should be able to control a Playbar output from my LG TV?


You probably need to be more specific than 'control' as you can use Alexa commands to control the playbar in some ways, but not others. You can change the volume, initiate streaming music, pause/resume. You cannot tell the playbar to switch input to TV audio, if that's what you mean by control.


Would you confirm that plz.... as I've not been able to get voice to work for turning on my ONE to output from my TV playbar; would hate continuing banging my head against an impossible brick wall. Should you confirm its possible


Are you saying you want to do something like "Alexa, switch to TV on playbar"? If so, no, not possible.


I'll describe my set up more completely. My goal is to use voice command to turn on my playbar output in either my "DEN" or "KITCHEN" group with the sonos play1(w/echo) & ONE as primaries respectively/separately. I dont need to turn off the output from playbar when playing the sonos separate rooms.
Thanks


Not following exactly what you mean here.
Trymph,

I would take a look at the Logitech Harmony Hub device and it’s own Alexa Skill for your TV control.. that coupled with the Sonos Skill may achieve a majority of the things you are 'possibly' looking for... but as Danny mentions, you have not been too specific in your post as to exactly what you hope to achieve.

Sonos 'automatic' Room Grouping is possible with Amazon Alexa Groups, but you may find that grouping your PlayBar with another Sonos Room for playing your TV audio, may result in audio lip-sync delays to the grouped Sonos 'Rooms’, which may create a slight echo-effect in some cases, particularly when playing a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio source.
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Trymph,

I would take a look at the Logitech Harmony Hub device and it’s own Alexa Skill for your TV control.. that coupled with the Sonos Skill may achieve a majority of the things you are 'possibly' looking for... but as Danny mentions, you have not been too specific in your post as to exactly what you hope to achieve.

Sonos 'automatic' Room Grouping is possible with Amazon Alexa Groups, but you may find that grouping your PlayBar with another Sonos Room for playing your TV audio, may result in audio lip-sync delays to the grouped Sonos 'Rooms’, which may create a slight echo-effect in some cases, particularly when playing a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio source.
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@ ken
Yes:
Are you saying you want to do something like "Alexa, switch to TV on playbar"? If so, no, not possible...

Thanks for your replies....what i meant is just using alexa voice to activate my kitchen ONE or my den play1/echo to play audio output from my tv playbar concurrently....vs using sonos app to turn either on from list with a check mark adjacent to each....seems its not possible
@ ken...Thanks for your replies....what i meant is just using alexa voice to activate my kitchen ONE or my den play1/echo to play audio output from my tv playbar concurrently....vs using sonos app to turn either on from list with a check mark adjacent to each....seems its not possibleNo not possible with Alexa, but perhaps try this instead.... turn on the TV and let the TV audio start to play on the Playbar.

Now go over to your Play 1 (or Sonos One) Speaker in the Kitchen and keep the play button pressed... it should auto-Group your speaker with the PlayBar and output the same TV audio.

If you have other audio sources playing on Sonos, elsewhere in the home, if you keep the “play button” pressed, the Kitchen speaker will cycle through the different playing sources. Just let go when you hear the source you wish to listen to.

This at least saves you having to open the Sonos App to play your TV audio on your Kitchen Speaker and it’s a quick way to Group a Speaker with playing audio... it’s not a feature though that is currently supported via voice control.

See if that helps achieve what you were hoping to do.?
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@ ken...Thanks for your replies....what i meant is just using alexa voice to activate my kitchen ONE or my den play1/echo to play audio output from my tv playbar concurrently....vs using sonos app to turn either on from list with a check mark adjacent to each....seems its not possibleNo not possible with Alexa, but perhaps try this instead.... turn on the TV and let the TV audio start to play on the Playbar.

Now go over to your Play 1 (or Sonos One) Speaker in the Kitchen and keep the play button pressed... it should auto-Group your speaker with the PlayBar and output the same TV audio.

If you have other audio sources playing on Sonos, elsewhere in the home, if you keep the “play button” pressed, the Kitchen speaker will cycle through the different playing sources. Just let go when you hear the source you wish to listen to.

This at least saves you having to open the Sonos App to play your TV audio on your Kitchen Speaker and it’s a quick way to Group a Speaker with playing audio... it’s not a feature though that is currently supported via voice control.

See if that helps achieve what you were hoping to do.?
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@ ken...Thanks for your replies....what i meant is just using alexa voice to activate my kitchen ONE or my den play1/echo to play audio output from my tv playbar concurrently....vs using sonos app to turn either on from list with a check mark adjacent to each....seems its not possibleNo not possible with Alexa, but perhaps try this instead.... turn on the TV and let the TV audio start to play on the Playbar.

Now go over to your Play 1 (or Sonos One) Speaker in the Kitchen and keep the play button pressed... it should auto-Group your speaker with the PlayBar and output the same TV audio.

If you have other audio sources playing on Sonos, elsewhere in the home, if you keep the “play button” pressed, the Kitchen speaker will cycle through the different playing sources. Just let go when you hear the source you wish to listen to.

This at least saves you having to open the Sonos App to play your TV audio on your Kitchen Speaker and it’s a quick way to Group a Speaker with playing audio... it’s not a feature though that is currently supported via voice control.

See if that helps achieve what you were hoping to do.?


Will try that....
did I read correctly that Beam names the TV audio as "TV" enabling alexa to allow a command like: "alexa play tv on kitchen"? If so or not would be great to be in kitchen with TV playing on my playbar and simply say same while in kitchen. Our house is open concept and i can see the tv while in kitchen or den but not hear too well w/o cranking up vol on playbar.... make it so as capt Pickard would say...thanks
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That's only thing I can't do with my Echo Dot Playbar, Play:1's and Sub; "Alexa play TV". Can live with that though!.

My One lives in the Kitchen, ideal for music while cooking/ washing up!.
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That's only thing I can't do with my Echo Dot Playbar, Play:1's and Sub; "Alexa play TV". Can live with that though!.

My One lives in the Kitchen, ideal for music while cooking/ washing up!.
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As I mentioned we have open concept floor plan so can see TV from kitchen and I want to hear FOX news during diner without using Sonos app to activate TV output; kitchen is a ONE. Interestingly the Ring Doorbell2 will play via Echo but not a ONE confirmed by Ring; thanks for confirming TV audio is not available via Echo either. TMI?....Wife hates when i crank up vol on the Playbar; especially for FOX News........lol
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@ ken...Thanks for your replies....what i meant is just using alexa voice to activate my kitchen ONE or my den play1/echo to play audio output from my tv playbar concurrently....vs using sonos app to turn either on from list with a check mark adjacent to each....seems its not possibleNo not possible with Alexa, but perhaps try this instead.... turn on the TV and let the TV audio start to play on the Playbar.

Now go over to your Play 1 (or Sonos One) Speaker in the Kitchen and keep the play button pressed... it should auto-Group your speaker with the PlayBar and output the same TV audio.

If you have other audio sources playing on Sonos, elsewhere in the home, if you keep the “play button” pressed, the Kitchen speaker will cycle through the different playing sources. Just let go when you hear the source you wish to listen to.

This at least saves you having to open the Sonos App to play your TV audio on your Kitchen Speaker and it’s a quick way to Group a Speaker with playing audio... it’s not a feature though that is currently supported via voice control.

See if that helps achieve what you were hoping to do.?


Will try that....
did I read correctly that Beam names the TV audio as "TV" enabling alexa to allow a command like: "alexa play tv on kitchen"? If so or not would be great to be in kitchen with TV playing on my playbar and simply say same while in kitchen. Our house is open concept and i can see the tv while in kitchen or den but not hear too well w/o cranking up vol on playbar.... make it so as capt Pickard would say...thanks
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@ Ken_Griffiths......Still no joy with alexa voice command: "alexa play TV on kitchen" Kitchen is my sonos ONE. I did manage to register the LG TV with both LG & Amazon and it shows as a recognized devise "TV" in the alexa world; not sure if it can be named as an audio service/subscription for playing to sonos though. Good news is your suggestion for the play button toggling on the top of my ONE works to push playbar audio to the ONE! I will no longer have to get out the phone and open the sonos app....Thanks for that tip!!
Playing with groups/rooms/named devises to see if i can get ONE to work with voice command for the TV devise and will try an echo/play1 combo next; Ringdoorbell2 will play to echo and Ring confirmed to me they are working to add skill to play to Sonos also so possibly same deal here with the TV output.
Many thanks!!
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Hey trymph, the "switch to TV" command will have the Beam or other Sonos home theater device play the TV input, but it won't have any other Sonos players that don't have that input play from a different player. So if you have Sonos Ones with a Playbar, set up as a surround sound setup, you should be able to say "Alexa, switch to TV" and have the Playbar swap over to the TV input. But you won't be able to tell another room to start playing that audio using the voice control.

The button press command is one of the best ways to go other than using the app for this. You may be able to make it work with groups, but make sure you go into the Sonos Settings and under Room Settings > Playbar turn off ungroup on autoplay.

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