Sonos Now Playing with Alexa Groups


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We're excited to share that Alexa is getting smarter again on Sonos. Available today through an automatic cloud update, you can create Alexa Groups that include Sonos speakers as the Preferred Speaker within the Alexa app. 

Alexa Groups, controlled by Alexa-enabled devices (including the Sonos One and Beam) are linked so that all of the devices within that Alexa Group work together, allowing for easier, more natural commands and a smarter and clearer experience. These groups will add some highly requested features and improvements to the Alexa and Sonos integration.

Highlights and Features:



Set up Alexa Groups with Sonos speakers as the Preferred Speaker
Configured this way, you'll be able to talk to the microphone enabled device that runs the group and have it perform actions using your Preferred Speaker(s) without needing to name them.

Commands now implied to the Alexa Group if not explicitly stated
"Alexa, play some music," will have the music start playing on all Sonos speakers that are selected as your preferred speaker in the Alexa Group your device is in. 

You can also adjust the volume without having to name a room, so long as you're speaking to the microphone enabled device set up in that Alexa Group. "Alexa, turn it down/up," is all you'll need to say to adjust the volume on the Preferred Speaker.

Volume lowering done smarter using Alexa Groups
We've been listening, and are happy to say that with Alexa Groups, saying "Alexa" to any device with a microphone will only lower the volume of speakers in the same Alexa Group. Every Echo device you have will need to be in an Alexa Group to take advantage of this fully. Echo devices not part of any Alexa Group will still make all Sonos players drop in volume.

Group Sonos speakers using Alexa Groups
Using Alexa Groups will cause Sonos players to group together. If you have an Alexa Group created already in the Alexa App, calling out for it to play music will group all Sonos speakers that have been selected as the Preferred Speaker for that Alexa Group and will play what you've requested.

If you only ask for one Sonos room to play music by name, just that room will play music.

Setting up Alexa Smart Home Device Groups:



Using the Alexa app, you can go into the Devices tab (last one on the right) and select the + at the top to make an Alexa group. Just assign it a name, an Alexa-enabled device, and then the other smart home devices that are part of the group, including Sonos speakers. Once the group is made, tap on it from the main Devices page to set your Sonos speakers in it to be Preferred Speakers. 

Please note, microphone enabled Sonos speakers can only be in one Alexa Group at one time for now, but the non-microphone enabled ones can be in multiple groups.

For more details, check out the Amazon article here or on our support page here.

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Here's a for instance:

I have a pair of Play:5s in the bedroom, with an Echo Dot. For the "Bedroom" group, I made the Alexa Device the Bedroom Dot, and the Preferred Speaker the Bedroom (pair of Play:5's). Now my music plays over the Play:5s by default.

Now I also group the Bedroom, Bathroom, and Kitchen together a lot. For this I made the "Speaker Group" group. I gave it no Alexa device at all, and made the Bedroom, Bathroom, and Kitchen the preferred speakers. I can now play to that by specifying "Speaker Group" in the command. I'm going to create similar groups for "Upstairs Group" and "Downstairs Group".

This works well for my uses. Hope it gives others a hint on how they can get the results they wish.
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Hey Corrode, I'm going to send you a private message and we can continue there. I feel bad hijacking this thread with a bunch of troubleshooting messages.

Groups should be fully available where Alexa and Sonos are, so if anyone else isn't seeing their Sonos players as Alexa devices, please feel free to contact our support team directly to troubleshoot.
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@Ken, you're correct about the skills. The Alexa music skills that you can use for your preferred music sources will play using the new logic for the preferred speakers in an Alexa Group. But other skills which aren't in that category will play out of the Alexa device itself. The BBC skill plays music, but it isn't one of the music skills that you can use as an Alexa source for preferred speakers, at least at this time. TuneIn, however, is one of those sources.

@amaccuish, the Sonos skill for Alexa is what the Sonos One uses for voice control, if you don't have that enabled, you get a very limited functionality out of the voice capabilities, so if you have disconnected that skill, you'd be best with it back on.
Corrode/Ryan

Something is not right looking at the earlier screenshot image posted by Corrode...

https://uploads-eu-west-1.insided.com/sonos-en/attachment/a1779fb8-8102-40ae-849d-0e7bc4f7943b.jpg

Even if the Alexa part of a Sonos One speaker had been used to perhaps enable another alexa group elsewhere, the speaker would still be visible in the Alexa-Enabled Device section of the group, albeit it would be greyed out and not selectable if used to control another group. Looking at the posted photo, it shows no alexa devices at all for some strange reason.
As a comparison, here’s a screenshot of my Alexa App (edit room) that shows the used Sonos Alexa devices do still appear, but are greyed out/inactive underneath the title heading 'Alexa Enabled Devices'.
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? 😃
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.
this might be the wrong place for this question. but in a room with an alexa and a sonos, is it possible to set the sonos as the preferred player in that room? for example, i tell alexa "play simple man radio" i would like it to play on the sonos and not the alexa. simple man radio is a station i created on pandora, fyi.

Yes. For exactly how to do that, go back and read the first post of this thread.
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Thanks Ryan - I raised a query via support a few days ago as the grouping feature was being discussed on here. My observation was:-
Alexa - play BBC Radio 2 - plays through Echo Dot even though Sonos is default speaker
Alexa - play BBC Radio 2 from Tune In - plays through Sonos

This is the case for any radio station I have requested. I thought I must have been missing something in the settings.

Before this grouping feature I did not have to say "from Tune In" but did have to say "in Kitchen"
nA few days ago once Group set up I don't need to say "in Kitchen" but do have to say "From Tune In"

So is this now fixed?
TIA
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Thanks Ryan - I raised a query via support a few days ago as the grouping feature was being discussed on here. My observation was:-
Alexa - play BBC Radio 2 - plays through Echo Dot even though Sonos is default speaker
Alexa - play BBC Radio 2 from Tune In - plays through Sonos

This is the case for any radio station I have requested. I thought I must have been missing something in the settings.

Before this grouping feature I did not have to say "from Tune In" but did have to say "in Kitchen"
nA few days ago once Group set up I don't need to say "in Kitchen" but do have to say "From Tune In"


I'll look into this one to confirm, however, I believe the difference is in what skill you're using, as others have suggested in here as well. When you issue the first command, "Play BBC Radio 2" Alexa is using your BBC Skill, and not the TuneIn skill. The BBC Skill is activating on that Alexa device, and not sending the audio to your Preferred Speakers. I'll let you know if I hear otherwise on this one.
I love the new grouping/ducking features Ryan. It's all working perfectly here. ?

It's such a nice enhancement, implemented in a very clever way to make both 'speaker grouping' and 'audio ducking' really easy for the end user.

Thanks so much Sonos & Amazon.. !!
Will this have any effect on the ability to play Apple Music through your Sonos speakers using an Echo Dot? I was disappointed to find out that with the new Apple Music skill, the Echo Dot will only play Apple Music from the Dot's speaker, and not using the Sonos speakers even when they are selected as the preferred speakers. If this update won't let you do that, will that feature require an update from Sonos or from Amazon?
Yes martynwendon, I had honestly missed that perhaps new 'remark' in the related support document ('well spotted!') ...and I hope that Amazon and Sonos do go onto implement this useful feature, as it will be helpful, not least for light-control, aswell as the many other things, that have been mentioned here and elsewhere in the community.

Thanks for pointing out that very relevant paragraph, it’s the first indication I have seen so far, that the feature is coming down the line.


Yes, would be nice to get a confirmation from Sonos officially if this should work NOW or not …. it doesn't seem to for me at the moment :-(

I only just bought a Sonos One recently and am a little disappointed that it doesn't behave like a "real" Alexa (Echo).

Rightly or wrongly, I was expecting to be able to make it an Alexa device for a room and to use it in a multi-speaker group with my other Echos. Judging by the reviews on Amazon and various forum threads I'm not the only one ….. at this point I'd probably go back to a Yamaha MultiCast (we use iOS and iTunes so Airplay is a requirement) and Echo combo like I have in other rooms. The Sonos One seemed a nicer one-box solution on paper and more family friendly to get consistency throughout the house moving forwards :-)

I can probably live without the mutli-speaker grouping as we've not used that much so far, but the Alexa device thing is a bit of a deal breaker.
@Ken, you're correct about the skills. The Alexa music skills that you can use for your preferred music sources will play using the new logic for the preferred speakers in an Alexa Group. But other skills which aren't in that category will play out of the Alexa device itself. The BBC skill plays music, but it isn't one of the music skills that you can use as an Alexa source for preferred speakers, at least at this time. TuneIn, however, is one of those sources.Ryan,

Appreciate the quick reply. I thought that was the case, but wasn’t quite sure. That now clarifies things for me and just to say that everything is working well here and as expected. Thanks very much.?
I'm still not see any Sonos Ones or Beams listed in the "Alexa Devices" section for Alexa groups. Still rolling out I guess. I'm not in a big hurry for this, just informing in case anyone else is looking for this.

I can confirm this is now working on my Beam.
I have 2 Hue bulbs in the same group and can now just say ‘alexa, turn on the lights’ where previously I had to mention the light name. Same with the TV.

Below the screenshot to show the beam (named Sitting Room’ in the top section.
nicka99,

Yes, that's the first Alexa group I have seen with a Sonos device 'Alexa Enabling' the group.. you have the exclusive honour of being the first here !

It certainly shows just how quickly these features, involving grouping/ducking etc. are now moving and being rolled out to Sonos users. Great Stuff..!
The Sonos Staff have mentioned here in this thread that they (and particularly Amazon) are rolling out the new Amazon Alexa Grouping features for Alexa Enabled Sonos devices over a period of time, but I think I may have found a way to perhaps get the updates slightly sooner, rather than later, for the community users, by going to the Amazon Alexa App on your main device and logging out the App and back in again with your Amazon Online Account credentials.

Here are the steps that worked for me (and some others), if anyone, in a hurry, would care to follow the simple guidelines below...

Goto the Amazon Alexa App and log out your Amazon account. Also close the App (slide up screen etc. depending on the type of device you use).

Then wait a minute, or so, before logging back into the Alexa App and re-entering your Amazon credentials. Give the App a few minutes to rebuild the existing groups and refresh all devices etc.

Close the Alexa App once again (slide up screen etc) one more time.

The next time you open the Alexa App and go to the main Groups section and select to edit a group. You should now see all your Sonos Alexa devices, (Sonos One etc.) as being 'Alexa Enabled' devices for use in the first section of the Alexa Groups.

Hope that proves useful for those currently waiting to receive the update.
Brian,

In the 'World of Sonos' there are a variety of different ways to use Sonos Speakers. Here is a brief overview...

'Standalone' ... A single speaker, not grouped or paired etc.
'Paired' ... Where two identical speakers are used to play the left/right stereo channels. This is usually a fairly permanent setup
'Grouped' ... Where two or more speakers/devices of any description (standalone, paired, bonded) are put together to play the same audio stream. This is often not a permanent setup and may change, either frequently, or automatically.
'Bonded' ... A setup which relates to Sonos 5.0/5.1 Home Theatre System, which involves a Beam/PlayBase/PlayBar/Amp and attached surrounds. Again this is usually a permanent type of setup and unlike all other pairings/groupings, will run on a faster 5ghz band wireless connection or a Ethernet cable connection. The other kinds of setup mentioned above run on the 2.4ghz wireless signal (or Ethernet).

All the above may, or may not, involve the Sonos Sub, which can be attached to a Sonos Room too.

As you can perhaps see it is very easy to 'group' and 'ungroup' speakers, but it is not quite so easy to 'pair' and 'unpair' them and so the latter usually happens less-often ...and it is a little more difficult to 'bond' and 'unbond' a Home Theatre System, as that can often mean the wireless may need to switchover from a 5ghz connection to a 2.4ghz signal.

The things you are looking to do in your post, as you can perhaps now see, are at the slightly more difficult end of things to do and so my advice would be, rather than unbonding/bonding your HT system on a frequent basis, it would perhaps be much better to buy one or more additional Sonos Speakers instead and then use those as either 'standalone' or 'paired' alongside your 'bonded' HT setup.

For music purposes, you can then also go onto 'group' your HT setup with your other (new) Sonos Rooms for 'all around the home’ perfectly synced audio playback for all your family and friends.
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This generally works well for me EXCEPT for playing BBC radio stations. If I say "Alexa play radio 2" to my Echo Dot then it comes out of the tiny Dot speaker. I still need to add "... in the kitchen" to have it come from Sonos. If I disable the BBC skill then Alexa just prompts me to re-enable it.

It's a pity because during the day we listen to BBC radio stations more than anything else.
therefore some Alexa skills, like the BBC skill, are not currently supported

I don't mind the BBC skill not being supported, in fact I'd prefer not to use that skill at all and to fall back on TuneIn. If I say "Alexa play Radio 2 in the kitchen" she answers "BBC Radio 2 from Simon's TuneIn playing on Kitchen" and everything works fine. No BBC skill needed or involved as the stream is being played from TuneIn. However, if I drop the ".. in the kitchen" then Alexa seems to only know what to do via the BBC skill, and this isn't compatible with the group's default speaker, hence it comes out of the Echo Dot. Why doesn't she use TuneIn when the BBC skill is not activated?

If I say "Alexa play Radio 2 from TuneIn" then it plays via the group's default speaker (Sonos). So it works fine by saying either "Alexa play Radio 2 from TuneIn" or "Alexa play Radio 2 in the Kitchen" but not the more concise "Alexa play Radio 2" which is a shame.
Yes this is my experience too. I think the BBC Skill somehow takes precedence over TuneIn ... I think this though is an Amazon issue rather than a Sonos issue... I’ve removed the BBC Skill too and that makes no difference to me either. It seems Stuart_W's experiencd is different to mine here and I cannot explain why that is either.

At the moment I have to add the words '..from TuneIn' to the end of my Alexa instruction to get BBC Radio 1 etc. to play on my preferred Sonos devices.
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Does this only work with Amazon Echo devices? I have Ecobee Switch+ light switches that have Alexa built-in. I do not use Echos anymore. I created a group with my two Play:!s as the default audio device, along with a Switch+, but asking Alexa to play music resulted in music playing on the Switch+. I did note that the Switch+ does not show up in the Groups section of the Alexa app as an "Alexa enabled device", even though it is such a device. Is that my problem? They do show up as Alexa/Echo devices in the Devices section of the app but not in the Groups section.

I have to say, these smart home integrations are difficult and cumbersome to navigate with so many moving parts.
jnak,

Looking back through this thread and at your profile, I see you are from Canada, the same as the user 'Corrode' above and they could not get their Sonos devices to work as 'Alexa Enabled' controllers for the Amazon groups either, so I'm guessing the feature has not yet rolled out to Canada at the moment.

Hopefully Amazon will go onto sort the matter soon for that region. ?
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If it helps, I've gotten confirmation that Alexa Groups is live in Canada. If you remove the Sonos One from any Alexa Groups it's currently in, can you select it as an Alexa input in one group?
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If it helps, I've gotten confirmation that Alexa Groups is live in Canada. If you remove the Sonos One from any Alexa Groups it's currently in, can you select it as an Alexa input in one group?

Thanks Ryan. Helpful in that it narrows our troubleshooting.

I cannot remove any Sonos One from any Alexa Groups because it never let me add one in the first place.

For clarity, we need to specify the “speaker” or the “Alexa-enabled device” when speaking about a Sonos One since Alexa splits each Sonos One into two devices.

So, I am able to set a Sonos One “speaker” to an Alexa Group, as well as set a “preferred speaker” in that same Alexa group, but I’m not able to set an “Alexa-enabled Sonos One/Beam” in the Alexa group.
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Do you have the Sonos One in multiple Alexa groups as a speaker? Also, it seems silly to ask, but Alexa is working fine in general on that Sonos One, correct?

You'll need to have Alexa enabled on the Sonos One if you haven't set it up yet.
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Do you have the Sonos One in multiple Alexa groups as a speaker? Also, it seems silly to ask, but Alexa is working fine in general on that Sonos One, correct?

You'll need to have Alexa enabled on the Sonos One if you haven't set it up yet.


Alexa works great. I have four Sonos Alexa-enabled devices; none of them show in the list and non of them are set as a speaker in more than one group (some aren’t set in any group).