Question

One speaker: Multiple groups

  • 13 December 2016
  • 21 replies
  • 5279 views

I think I have seen some other posts about grouping individual speakers into multiple groups.

Oddly enough, I bought into the Sonos Koolaid, happily, and now I have a Sonos:5 and a few Sonos:1's, and want to group some of them into "front of house" and all of them into "the whole house" and target each group with music/radio/etc. Sadly, I think this is impossible? Or is it not?

Google Audio Cast seems brand-new in comparison, but seems to support this out of the box. I'm now wondering if I should be selling my Sonos speakers to switch, which is inconvenient 😕 I do hope I am missing something obvious here 😕

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21 replies

A Sonos 'room' can only be a member of one group. It would be illogical for it to be otherwise: a speaker can only play one source at a time.

Ad hoc groups can be created and destroyed with a few taps/clicks.

There's no concept of 'group presets', but it's a feature that's been requested quite often.
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A Sonos 'room' can only be a member of one group. It would be illogical for it to be otherwise: a speaker can only play one source at a time.

Ad hoc groups can be created and destroyed with a few taps/clicks.

There's no concept of 'group presets', but it's a feature that's been requested quite often.


Just set up my Sonos play bar and Play 1s. Went straight to setup my groups and am dumb founded this cannot be done. Makes so much sense to me. Select what to play, then where to play it. My WeMo works this way. Turn on a light or a room or rooms or the whole darn house. Doing it Ad Hoc is clumsy at best. IMHO.
Please Sonos respond with a commitment to add this feature (with a date). And to those who think I'm nuts and are comfortable the way it is, you don't have to use the new feature 🙂.
My WeMo works this way. Turn on a light or a room or rooms or the whole darn house.
You're equating the supply of electricity to a collection of lamps to the synchronised play -- to within less than 1ms -- of streamed network audio by a group of computers (for that is what Sonos is)?! Enough said.
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My WeMo works this way. Turn on a light or a room or rooms or the whole darn house.
You're equating the supply of electricity to a collection of lamps to the synchronised play -- to within less than 1ms -- of streamed network audio by a group of computers (for that is what Sonos is)?! Enough said.


I don't believe this is what I am doing. I am suggesting a logical grouping of devices for ease of assignment. Simple as that. Happy Holidays!
My WeMo works this way. Turn on a light or a room or rooms or the whole darn house.
You're equating the supply of electricity to a collection of lamps to the synchronised play -- to within less than 1ms -- of streamed network audio by a group of computers (for that is what Sonos is)?! Enough said.


I don't believe this is what I am doing. I am suggesting a logical grouping of devices for ease of assignment. Simple as that. Happy Holidays!

Well I think you did actually. And they're quite different engineering problems. Anyway, compliments of the season.
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A Sonos 'room' can only be a member of one group. It would be illogical for it to be otherwise: a speaker can only play one source at a time.

Ad hoc groups can be created and destroyed with a few taps/clicks.

There's no concept of 'group presets', but it's a feature that's been requested quite often.


Just set up my Sonos play bar and Play 1s. Went straight to setup my groups and am dumb founded this cannot be done. Makes so much sense to me. Select what to play, then where to play it. My WeMo works this way. Turn on a light or a room or rooms or the whole darn house. Doing it Ad Hoc is clumsy at best. IMHO.
Please Sonos respond with a commitment to add this feature (with a date). And to those who think I'm nuts and are comfortable the way it is, you don't have to use the new feature 🙂.


So I happen to have both Sonos gear and multiple Chromecast Audio devices. (I actually had the Chromecasts before getting any Sonos gear.) I prefer the Sonos approach to grouping. Partly that's a personal preference, but I think it also has to do with your use case - how many zones and how many people (e.g. family members) are independently using the system. Also, I don't know that you could easily combine the static Chromecast group approach with the dynamic Sonos approach.

There are several issues I've found with Chromecast grouping in my situation (several rooms, wife, and 2 kids). Since every multiroom group is treated as a separate "device", you potentially end up with a large number of multiroom setups. No big deal if you have just 2 or 3 CAs and maybe 1 or two groups, but just with 3 CAs and wanting a group for every possible combination, and now there are 7 Chromecast "devices" as options to cast to (3 real and 4 groups). Add more and the possible combinations increases exponentially. That may sound ridiculous, but my family and I tend to change up grouping quite a bit, and with 5 Chromecast, the list was getting ridiculous, and we certainly hadn't reached every possible combination.

Another issue, related to the first, is that if I'm listening to music over the Chromecast on one device (or group) and want to switch to a multiroom setup, I need to stop casting, and then start casting to the multiroom group, which interrupts the flow of the music. First world problem, sure, but the way Sonos can smoothly and dynamically switch from a single speaker playing to multiple is really nice.

One last issue I'll mention (and again, this is really more of problem for a house with many zones and family members playing music) is that if you have several Chromecast Audio groups it can be difficult to keep track of when starting music playing on one group may "step on" music playing in another group. In other words, just which speakers get turned on selecting a group; casting to a speaker that's already playing as part of a CA multiroom group stops music playing to all members of that group in my experience.
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Smurph, all good points. But because there is the possibility to create too many groups or combinations, should we not have the option at all? Let each user learn the ins and outs of the option on their own.
I again ask Sonos to provide the option to place devices in multiple groups.
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Smurph, all good points. But because there is the possibility to create too many groups or combinations, should we not have the option at all? Let each user learn the ins and outs of the option on their own.
I again ask Sonos to provide the option to place devices in multiple groups.


Have you ever listened to the Car Talk guys? If so, you'll understand this: let me give an answer (actually several answers) "without the encumbrance of the thought process.....":

OK, not really.....but I come at this from the point of view of a (meatspace, not software) engineer, and the Sonos engineers may have a very different perspective...

There is an argument - absolutely - for saying, but if we only allowed 1 (or 2 or 3 or....) static groups, then that would meet "my" needs. And 100%, I agree. And yet, I also have a contradictory response: no matter how many, there will always be someone who asks for "just one more...." Just one more group, just one more "whatever". Look at the posts from people who want just one more - OK, not really one more, but lots more - music files on their local storage.....

As an engineer, at some point, you have to define a breaking point.....

I'm not saying your don't' have justifiable reason for asking for what you're asking for. What I'm saying is that it's a good thing to try to understand why things are as they are, question how thing are as they are, and yet to - not necessarily accept them as they are - but understand that there may be complex and even conflicting reasons for how they are.
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smurph, Click and clack. love those guys. Listen to Public radio all the time. Your answer is deep man. Believe it or not, I am an engineer (IT infrastructure Architect) so I understand the limits of a good solution do not equal the limits of what could be done. I have said many time "some group of people sat around a table and said this is what we'll do" and the rest of us scratch our heads as to why they made that choice. Money, internal politics, technology are the main reasons teams end up where they end up.
I appreciate the perspective. still on the side of devices being allowed in multiple groups. build in a limit of 3 if they like, that will keep the chaos down to a minimum. This isn't a question if it can be done, its seems to be philosophic.
Can anyone make a solid point as to why this is a bad idea?
Nothing wrong with the idea of group presets. The idea of having a player simultaneously being a member of several groups, and potentially receiving a network audio stream from all of them makes no sense whatsoever.
I thought smurph already gave a pretty extensive reason why this is a difficult idea to implement (I hesitate to call it a "bad" idea, because it isn't. Big difference between a bad idea and an illogical or impossible to implement idea). The simple fact is: Having a single room be a member of multiple groups sets up a logical problem which is, at the very best, inelegant. It opens up the system to logical questions like "Joe plays music XXX over Group III which includes Rooms A, B, C. Sally comes home and Plays source ZZZ over Group JJJ which includes Rooms C, D, E. What plays in Room C?

Every answer to this is a logistical mess (and believe me, we've heard them all!). There are ideas for popups, warnings, music stoppages, auto switching, not allowing the music to play/Group to be chosen, etc. etc. Every one is inelegant and in Engineering, inelegance is bad, no matter how good an idea it seems at first glance.
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I thought smurph already gave a pretty extensive reason why this is a difficult idea to implement (I hesitate to call it a "bad" idea, because it isn't. Big difference between a bad idea and an illogical or impossible to implement idea). The simple fact is: Having a single room be a member of multiple groups sets up a logical problem which is, at the very best, inelegant. It opens up the system to logical questions like "Joe plays music XXX over Group III which includes Rooms A, B, C. Sally comes home and Plays source ZZZ over Group JJJ which includes Rooms C, D, E. What plays in Room C?

Every answer to this is a logistical mess (and believe me, we've heard them all!). There are ideas for popups, warnings, music stoppages, auto switching, not allowing the music to play/Group to be chosen, etc. etc. Every one is inelegant and in Engineering, inelegance is bad, no matter how good an idea it seems at first glance.

ratty and jgatie. Agree with everything you guys describe. Think these can be addressed. so I still fall on the side of giving the customer\user the option. They may find the solution more cumbersome than the current method. Some will love it, some will question the decision. All about options for the customer for me.

ratty and jgatie. Agree with everything you guys describe. Think these can be addressed. so I still fall on the side of giving the customer\user the option. They may find the solution more cumbersome than the current method. Some will love it, some will question the decision. All about options for the customer for me.


The problems/complaints about the new "Tap to play" function aside, Sonos tends to stay away from the "more cumbersome", even if it means more features for a certain set of users. I believe one Room belonging to multiple groups is an area they have erred on the side of "simple is better", and rightfully so.
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Here's the rub with "simple is better" whose definition of simple are they using? I get what you're saying. I still want it.
Here's the rub with "simple is better" whose definition of simple are they using? I get what you're saying. I still want it.

I'd be glad to get into a logical down-the-rabbit hole like analysis of "what happens if you do this" scenarios that prove what definition of simple applies, but I've done it all before, and quite frankly it's boring. I also thought I dipped enough of a toe into the rabbit hole with my post above to see where this leads.
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Respect your opinion and appreciate the dialog.. Best to you.
I would really appreciate having players in multiple groups and don't think it needs to be a problem. The tech heads should give us normal people some credit.

If I am watching a film using the TV group and my wife wants to listen to some music she would select kitchen or bedroom etc and not house. If she mistakenly does select wholehouse my film audio would be replaced by my wife's music at which point I would politely ask her not to interrupt my film and go to my sonos app, start the film audio on TV and my wife's music would stop because my group has now taken priority over hers. My would would then restart her music selecting kitchen. The logic needs to stop a group playing if it has a shared player which has just been selected by another group thus avoiding a technical conflict. It would not take long for everyone to get the hang of this simple logic.

Can anyone spot a serious floor (not a technical purist one) in my logic?

Sonos please add this feature and I will buy more sonos players. I am many other people would too 😉 😉
It's all been said before, earlier in this thread.(several times in fact).
I would politely ask her not to interrupt my film and go to my sonos app, start the film audio on TV and my wife's music would stop because my group has now taken priority over hers. I am pleased to hear of the happy state of your marriage but I fear this could put some couples into the divorce courts. It sounds a complete and unnecessary nightmare that would never get past beta if it made it that far. As has been said before, group presets, yes please. Multiple membership, no thanks.
I have a perfect marriage, just ask my wife, she will tell you what I think.

I don't see how group presets solve the problem?

I guess we will just have to disagree.

My offer to sonos stands - I will buy several new players if you solve this problem (I do not mind how but please just do it)........ money usually talks
OK I agree to disagree. I agree that presets don't give you what you are asking for though.