Sonos Now Playing with Alexa Groups

  • 17 December 2018
  • 249 replies
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249 replies

Maybe there was an update amongst recent unspecified 'bug fixes and improvements-Yes maybe. What I will say here, is the Sonos/Alexa integration just gets better and better with each update and the 'Alexa Enabled' Groups were a huge leap in improving things.

If this group volume adjustment is indeed a new feature, alongside the switching off of the Alexa chime etc; it shows that the developers, on all sides, are still working hard to improve voice control and give folk what they want in their smart-home setup.
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I am happy for you guys. It means that it is working for some. But it's not working for me. I am on the latest versions of both Alexa and Sonos. It could be that, like John said, you are using an Echo as the enabler device. I only use Sonos. I don't have any Echo device at home. In your setup, it is the Dot the device that seems to deliver the command. That seems to be the difference from you.

@Ryan S, could you actually confirm that this is the case? That in my current setup, I just can't control volume with voice commands because I don't use an Echo device? I'd appreciate some feedback from Sonos. I've been working on this issue for too long now.

Thank you John, Ken and the rest of the community.
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I'm hesitant to suggest this, but it's possible the change hasn't been rolled out to Canada just yet. Although firmware matters, this sounds like something that would be done in the cloud, with Alexa deciding which speakers should have their volume adjusted, and then telling Sonos what to do. It's possible the change was done in the US and UK, but not yet Canada. I find myself doubting that possibility though.

The other thing I would do is rename my speakers to remove any possibility that Alexa is misunderstanding your commands. Perhaps "Speaker 1" and "Speaker 2", while leaving the group name as Dining room and see if that helps any.
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Yes I am in Canada! Good point Danny!
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Ger75, the Alexa groups changes should be available everywhere, but there's still more work to be done. When you are using an Alexa Group, the Volume Up command (without the room name) should increase the volume on all active speakers in the Alexa Group. However, we've found a few issues with this that are currently being worked on. So, the answer is, yes, it should, but it may be broken depending on what your situation looks like. We're working to get it resolved now, but I don't have an exact timeline to share.
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Thank you Ryan for your answer. In that case I’ll just wait!
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Ger75, the Alexa groups changes should be available everywhere, but there's still more work to be done. When you are using an Alexa Group, the Volume Up command (without the room name) should increase the volume on all active speakers in the Alexa Group. However, we've found a few issues with this that are currently being worked on. So, the answer is, yes, it should, but it may be broken depending on what your situation looks like. We're working to get it resolved now, but I don't have an exact timeline to share.

Yea, but we can still blame Canada, right? 😃
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These new features are great. Thanks so much, Sonos (and Amazon?)

I have one question, I don't know if this is possible, or what the Alexa command is supposed to be. Let me explain.

I created an Alexa group of speakers called "speaker group" and it contains three Sonos zones. A Beam in my living room, a Play:1 in my bathroom, and a Connect:Amp in my bedroom. And I have a Echo Dot in the bathroom, and an Echo Spot in the bedroom, for access to Alexa in each location.
In each room, I can say, "Alexa, turn on the lights" and her room-awareness means only that room's lights turn on. Same with playing music. If I don't identify the room name, it plays in the room I am speaking. Perfect.
I can say "Alexa, play Radiohead in speaker group" and it plays that music in all three rooms. Great!
I can also say, in the living room, "Alexa, switch to TV in living room" and it will switch from playing music in the living room, and go back to playing the audio from the TV. Awesome.

What I am trying to do is play that TV audio to all three speakers on the speaker group. "Alexa, switch to TV in speaker group" isn't doing the trick. Is this possible right now? If so, what is the appropriate syntax for the voice command? Apologies if this has already been covered, but this is a long (and sometimes complicated) thread to follow and I hope my question makes sense. Thanks!
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What I am trying to do is play that TV audio to all three speakers on the speaker group. "Alexa, switch to TV in speaker group" isn't doing the trick. Is this possible right now? If so, what is the appropriate syntax for the voice command? Apologies if this has already been covered, but this is a long (and sometimes complicated) thread to follow and I hope my question makes sense. Thanks!

That's a good idea, but unfortunately, isn't supported right now. Alexa can do music related actions (start music, pause, volume, mute) with the music streaming sources right now . It doesn't know how to group audio for something currently in one zone, or coming in from a line input (like TV). You can only do this in the Sonos app.

I've recently looked at the echo link product and it essentially has the same issue. It has a line in (that it can pass on to another speaker) but it can't share the line in audio with other echos. The Amazon does add the disclaimer of 'at this time', so perhaps that will change for the link, and the logic can be applied to Sonos as well.
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Melvimbe is correct, this isn't currently possible using voice alone. You could switch to TV in living room, then in the Sonos App group the other two players to that room, but that'd be the only way to do it.
Melvimbe is correct, this isn't currently possible using voice alone. You could switch to TV in living room, then in the Sonos App group the other two players to that room, but that'd be the only way to do it.How about the following set up, as a workaround, which I have just played a bit with using a Beam (known as 'Media Room') and my 'Kitchen' Play:1. This is not my normal setup!

In the Sonos app Media Room room settings, set to TV Autoplay but DON'T 'Ungroup on Autoplay'

In the Alexa app, there is a group called 'Den' that has 'Media Room' (i.e.the Beam) as the Alexa control device, Kitchen as an additional device, and preferred speakers of Media Room and Kitchen..

If you say: "Alexa, play X" to the Beam, where X is any music, then "Alexa, switch to TV", you seem to get the desired result of TV audio on all preferred speakers.

To break the group and go back to TV sound on TV only, say "Alexa, play X on Media Room", then "Alexa, switch to TV".

OK it isn't ideal but maybe it's of use? Really it is just using music to control what Alexa groups and ungroups, then switch to TV sound. I haven't tested it to destruction so maybe you will find flaws in it. But I put it out there in case it helps.

Is it just stating the obvious anyway?
Hey, I’ve asked this question a couple of months ago, and was waiting to see if there were updates that sorted it out, but still not working.

I have a sonos one in a room called kitchen, and a pair of play 1s in a room called lounge. They are also set up individually as rooms in Alexa app. I also have an Alexa app room called all rooms with kitchen and lounge as speakers. when I say “Alexa play music in all rooms” it plays on all. Great. Then if I say “Alexa play music in kitchen” it keeps playing in both rooms. Hmmm. Then if I say “Alex pause music in lounge” it will continue playing only in kitchen. Great. If I say “Alexa play music in all rooms” it just keeps playing on kitchen. To get it to play in all rooms, I have to stop play in the kitchen as well, then ask to play in all rooms, but I lose where the album was up to.

I want to be able to use voice commands to move play between the two rooms, but this seems not possible. Can you use Alexa to swap music playing between rooms grouped in Alexa app? Am I doing something wrong?
Hey, I’ve asked this question a couple of months ago, and was waiting to see if there were updates that sorted it out, but still not working.

I have a sonos one in a room called kitchen, and a pair of play 1s in a room called lounge. They are also set up individually as rooms in Alexa app. I also have an Alexa app room called all rooms with kitchen and lounge as speakers. when I say “Alexa play music in all rooms” it plays on all. Great. Then if I say “Alexa play music in kitchen” it keeps playing in both rooms. Hmmm. Then if I say “Alex pause music in lounge” it will continue playing only in kitchen. Great. If I say “Alexa play music in all rooms” it just keeps playing on kitchen. To get it to play in all rooms, I have to stop play in the kitchen as well, then ask to play in all rooms, but I lose where the album was up to.

I want to be able to use voice commands to move play between the two rooms, but this seems not possible. Can you use Alexa to swap music playing between rooms grouped in Alexa app? Am I doing something wrong?
At the moment, whilst using Alexa, you have to stop the music before Alexa can then Group/Ungroup your speakers automatically, as required, but you can use the Sonos App to do this whilst the music is still playing. You can also use the App to switch the playing audio between Sonos rooms. Alexa is not that advanced yet, in this regard.
Thanks Ken. Hopefully they’ll develop this soon.
At the moment, whilst using Alexa, you have to stop the music before Alexa can then Group/Ungroup your speakers automatically, as required, but you can use the Sonos App to do this whilst the music is still playing. You can also use the App to switch the playing audio between Sonos rooms. Alexa is not that advanced yet, in this regard.

For me, the limitations seem greater than just grouping/ungrouping: if I use Alexa to ungroup all the rooms and start playing music 1 in room 1, and then instruct Alexa to play music 2 in room 2 (while still playing music 1 in room 1), Alexa responds with "now playing music 2 in room 2", but in fact stops playing music 1 in room 1 and starts playing music 2 in room 1 (only).

The implementation still seems very buggy at the moment.

But at least volume control of both grouped and individual rooms via Alexa is now working well for me, which is great.
For me, the limitations seem greater than just grouping/ungrouping: if I use Alexa to ungroup all the rooms and start playing music 1 in room 1, and then instruct Alexa to play music 2 in room 2 (while still playing music 1 in room 1), Alexa responds with "now playing music 2 in room 2", but in fact stops playing music 1 in room 1 and starts playing music 2 in room 1 (only).

The implementation still seems very buggy at the moment.

But at least volume control of both grouped and individual rooms via Alexa is now working well for me, which is great.
Only one voice controlled audio stream per service/account is allowed because of restrictions imposed by the Amazon Alexa Service. It does not apply when controlling music via the Sonos App, nor does it apply if you stream from a different account or service. For example you can stream from tunein and spotify at the same time or from two different family amazon music accounts.
Only one voice controlled audio stream per service/account is allowed because of restrictions imposed by the Amazon Alexa Service. It does not apply when controlling music via the Sonos App, nor does it apply if you stream from a different account or service. For example you can stream from tunein and spotify at the same time or from two different family amazon music accounts.

Thanks - that's useful to know. I don't think it fully justifies the system saying, incorrectly, "Now playing jazz in kitchen", while actually starting to play jazz in the bedroom; I would still classify this as a bug. If it responded with something like "Sorry - I can only play one Alexa-controlled stream at a time", that would be both more accurate and more helpful. But I appreciate this may be something Amazon would have to fix, rather than Sonos.
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@xenartha That does seem a little strange. I've since upgraded to the Amazon family plan, but I used to get something like "Amazon is streaming music elsewhere, would you like to play music in XXXX instead?". Perhaps that changed with the introduction of Alexa group changes.

As far as music playing in the wrong room, that's really odd. I would double check my alexa group settings to make sure everything is set right. For your scenario of playing jazz was their already something playing in the bedroom when you asked to play jazz in the kitchen?
@melvimbe Thanks for your reply. Based on your suggestion, I've removed the one Alexa group I had ("everywhere") and have formed it again with an Echo Dot as the sole voice-control member (without any of the Sonos Ones), and all the Sonos speakers just as "preferred speakers". I haven't had time to test it much, but so far, it seems to be working! So I'm very pleased. I had been delaying buying any more speakers because of this. As far as I'm aware, there was nothing wrong with how it was set up before, so there's a bug somewhere in the Amazon-Sonos integration, but I no longer seem to be affected.
Hi all,

I am absolutely loving the new Alexa grouping feature but have one question that hopefully someone might be able to help with.

I have 3 speakers set up as an Alexa group called ‘Everywhere’. All 3 speakers are chosen as devices and preferred speakers.
Kitchen - Sonos One (hardwired also acting as a boost)
Lounge - Beam (Sonosnet)
Portable - Play:5 (Sonosnet)

Before this new feature, when grouping manually through the Sonos app I would always start with the hardwired kitchen device as the main speaker to avoid drop outs, connection issues etc.

With the new Alexa grouping feature, I have noticed everytime I command Alexa (either through Kitchen or Lounge device) to play a song through Spotify, the Sonos app defaults to group the Lounge as the main speaker. Not the most ideal as the lounge is the furthest away from the router hence the Sonosnet set up.

Is there a way to default a particular speaker (in my case Kitchen) as the main speaker everytime Alexa groups speakers together automatically through voice command?

I have attached screenshots.

Thank you in advance!
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Hi barkiechan, there isn't a way to specifically make that change, but I'll make sure to pass along the request to the team. What is the Alexa device configured as the input in that group? Is it the Lounge?
Hi Ryan,

Both Kitchen and Lounge are configured as the Alexa enabled device but regardless of which device I start the command, Alexa always groups the Lounge as the main speaker.
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@barkiechan, if you're having dropout or issues when Lounge is the main speaker, you may want to submit a diagnostic and have Sonos take a look at it. There may be something the staff can recommend to improve performance.

https://support.sonos.com/s/article/141?language=en_US

I'd start another thread and post the number there.

Sidenote: It seems odd that Lounge would be the main speaker, since it's in the middle alphabetically speaking. Does it make a difference with the command if the Lounge is currently playing something when the command is given? Answer wouldn't lead to a solution, just curious.
barkiechan,

The Sonos software itself is identifying your Beam (Lounge) as the main 'group controller'. I think it’s perhaps because it is the fastest and most capable device to deal with the job of controlling the speaker-group, even though you see it as being the device most-furthest from your router.

There is no current way of changing that 'master group controller device' via Alexa, but if you choose to manually Group your 3 speakers yourself, via the Sonos App 'Rooms Tab', starting with the speaker you would like to use as the 'main controller', then the Group will continue to stay that way, even whilst using Alexa. Though things will revert back, once the group is dismantled by yourself, or you request Alexa to play to a single Sonos Room.

So try manually grouping the rooms, starting with your chosen 'group controller' and then, if it suits, leave them that way.
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This is evolving. I had problems with volume control, I had to name the room at all times. But it works now! Don't blame Canada!

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