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

  • 17 September 2018
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34 replies

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. ?
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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 🙂
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.