Locking Sonos for a party

  • 28 October 2016
  • 11 replies

I know this is a frequently asked question, so I'd just like to know if Sonos actually listen to their customers?

I work in the music industry and have personally experienced the battles that go on with the company Sonos system. Staff turn down music, insert their tracks into a playlist to disrupt an album playback and sometimes disconnect speakers from a party. It's total chaos and frustrating as we need to have the flexibility of having the Sonos on our current network, so can't segment the Sonos system via WiFi to restrict it that way.

What we'd ideally like is to have some form of advanced management feature on the Sonos to switch between allowing individual accounts or everyone. I really can't see how difficult it would be to code this kind of restriction, either by MAC address or a "superuser" password on each connected controller if the setting is enabled.

It's been years now and it doesn't appear that Sonos are doing anything about "Song wars" at a party. I've even heard that families with kids often have to deal with similar clashes so this request isn't just for the occasional party situation or workplace setup.

Anyway, to recap: Do Sonos pay any attention to requests by the public??

Best answer by Ryan S 28 October 2016, 19:19

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11 replies

Anyway, to recap: Do Sonos pay any attention to requests by the public??
Hi. Yes they do. Scores of feature requests have been implemented. Lots more have not been implemented, presumably because Sonos think they aren't the best use of scarce development resource. I doubt they always get this right, because no company is perfect.
But whatever feature is requested, you can be sure that its proponent is certain that it would be trivial to implement, there would be no downsides, and that it's really important.
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Yes, as John B says this is an oft asked feature request - albeit in many different guises.

Sonos most certainly do listen to their customers not only through this forum but they also use other pro-active methods to garner customer feedback and they run a public and private Beta process. What they DON'T do is provide a running commentary on Brexit, oops I mean developments. Occasionally they will make large announcements such as the recent Amazon Echo and Spotify developments but we won't get regular updates - We'll get it when we get it.

As to your specific request. From a user point of view I'd only mention that Sonos is designed as a multi-room audio system for household application. It wasn't designed for use within the business environment - I guess that speaks volumes for the Sonos hardware and software that it does seem to be used by myriad businesses. So one of the normal retorts of naysayers (like me!) for this sort of feature is that you shouldn't give network access to guests and visitors who might mess with the music and if they absolutely must have access then make a guest network so they don't get access to Sonos. Obviously this is not practical in a business environment if your system is designed such that every employee can access the Sonos system (really?) but frankly you'd have thought that employees could be relied on to operate restraint and behave themselves - after all just because you are "in the music industry" doesn't automatically mean a lower expectation of responsible behaviour does it?
Many thanks for your comment regarding business use, but I've heard many examples of the frustration people have with Sonos in the consumer environment. I've listened to first-hand anecdotes regarding "sound battles" between family members and it's a little naive to believe that every disciplinarian in a household is able to control how their Sonos gets played. I guess the speakers can be physically switched off, but isn't that counterproductive?

It's worth mentioning that Sonos approached the company I work for and installed a system throughout the entire office, so they can't be totally aiming their devices at consumers.
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A party mode was on my nice to have list for a long time .... now with the most recent changes to the controller behavior it is a "MUST HAVE".

Sonos is aware there is a good portion of the user base unhappy with the new controller behavior. Hopefully they will devote resources now to a party mode but so far we have no indication.

They are pretty busy right now with a couple of big initiatives in direct play from some various apps and the Echo support. Not sure how much they have devoted to satisfying the users unhappy with the new play methods as of yet.

The new controllers method, voice control, and direct app control are market driven to sell the most units they can to new users (and pretty much the individual user - which to me really isn't their prime market). It is experienced users and multi-user enviroment that right now aren't getting much love (and in fact the opposite). However, at some point they are going to have to address that part as well because no matter what the extra features and ease of new individual user acquisition, they have grown primarily from a work of mouth. That word of mouth from experienced users I'm sure has diminished with the recent changes. But for many new users they are not concerned with the multi-user environment until they expand their system.
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FWIW I also believe there is merit in the party mode idea and it could be a great driver for extra sales if they can get it right.

What I can't get my head around is the "Give us a PIN system so I can lock my teenager, neighbour, visitor, best mate, Mother (delete as applicable) out of Sonos because they are always stopping my Mr Blobby greatest hits or playing The Sex Pistols at high volume" brigade. And even if Sonos did try to introduce something like this they would never get it right because us users are all so different. What do you lock out? Volume control, group/un-grouping, Adding to queue, editing queue, skip, back or any combination of these. What about those who just want little Johnny to have control over their speaker but want to be able to control Johnny's speaker themselves?

It's an absolute minefield
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Yea I'm not sure on the need for things like kids volume controls pins etc. If people can't behave themselves with it then remove their ability to have it. LIttle Johnny plays it too loud again after being asked not too .... little Johnny no longer has a Sonos speaker.

Again though the Party Mode can help in situations. My idea of party mode is that when turned on by a controller that controller is indexed as the host controller. That controller is unaffected by party mode. Any other controller that is not the host is then limited in no ability to group or ungroup rooms, no ability to adjust volume, no ability to Play Now, Play Next or Delete Queue in any way. Any option that would do these things would be greyed out. A perfect one would when activating allow you to check the items that are restricted (some people may want users to be able to Play Next or control volume etc.).

Its not an easy implement but Sonos has had a long time to think about it.

I think with party mode they would really get a lot of traction from a sales perspective advertising as ultimate party home jukebox. There really are no competitors doing this. I had this type ability back when we had squeezebox as there were controllers you could download that were party mode controllers with limits (like Ipeng Party that I always use as a good example for Sonos).
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Whilst I can sympathise with your plight it is rather common that someone must do something about this is a convenient excuse not to engage users in proper training.

With the current changes, the Party Mode now looks attractive which would give you, at least, part of the functionality you would like. That a domestic system has been so embraced by businesses is a great testament as to appeal of the system and its inherent design.
Trying to insert layers of control would, i imagine, be fraught with great peril but the development of a business version of the app does sound like a potential plan.
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I don't even understand that .... and proper training is in no way the answer. Ridiculous to expect party goers to be pre-trained and not make accidental click when not paying full attention.

It's worth mentioning that Sonos approached the company I work for and installed a system throughout the entire office, so they can't be totally aiming their devices at consumers.

Sonos did that? Or a CE company? Doubt it was Sonos, just because Sonos hardware was used doesn't mean it was installed by Sonos. Their Custom Electronics integration partners would not take kindly to that...
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There is a blury line too when it comes to Sonos and businesses. There are licensing issues with streaming services when it comes to playing in a business vs. playing at home. I believe most terms of service are exclusive to home/personal use and while we all know people play streaming services in businesses I believe the streaming services hold no such license to do so.
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Thanks for jumping in everyone, and great discussion. As others have said, we do listen to feedback and we have a team here dedicated to helping out with issues and sharing the voice of the community with the company. I'll be sure to add your interest to the request for getting a form of party mode lock or room control added.

As mentioned already, we don't share a roadmap of what's coming, though we did just recently announce some big changes on the way soon.

If I might speak generally here about any or all feature requests or suggestions. This community is a great, endless source of ideas, and some get a lot more traction than others do here on the community, with lots of likes and comments. But some features or suggestions, even if they have a lot of interest, can't be done with the current design of the system, others just aren't the most thought out suggestions. The development team loves hearing them though so we make sure to share them all, even those that probably aren't the best ideas, like the player that makes toast someone suggested (albeit in jest).

Also, just because a feature hasn't been added after any length of time doesn't mean it will or won't be added to Sonos. Some features are good ideas, and we like them, but they just can't be done now. This could be due to development resources being focused on other things, or because the feature would be a good fit with something else we have planned for the future, and it might get added then. We generally won't say something is impossible because you never know where the future might go. We're in the technology business, and that changes regularly and makes impossible things happen. Who knows what will happen in 5 years, or 10. The possibilities of what we'll be able to do then are staggering and extremely interesting.

So please, send in your suggestions, let us know what you'd like to see happen. We can't make any promises, but we'll be happy to pass them along for you.