Control Sonos remotely?

  • 25 August 2016
  • 46 replies
  • 18954 views

Userlevel 1
I've seen a post that was over a year old about this so I figured that I would start a new topic. Firstly, I think that Sonos has the best sounding, easy to set up, and easy to use system out there. I have had nothing negative to say until this morning.

This morning, when I arrived to work I opened up my Google Play tab and started a playlist. After the first song, it stopped with an error saying: "Can't play music on two devices at once." Dang, I must have forgotten the speaker in my bedroom on and did not hear it on the way out.

I am sure that I am not the only one that has had this issue. Apart from being able to solve this issue with the ability to control the system remotely, there are several other reasons why this feature would be great.

1.) Forgot to turn off system before leaving
2.) Left early or gone for vacation but you've not disabled your alarms
3.) You work from home and have to VPN into work, which causes the inability to control Sonos
4.) Remote support, for example, if you are in IT and the front desk has a Sonos but is having a problem (a user error rather than bad hardware)
5.) Sound systems that are in elderly homes, for example, my grandmother that has one and occasionally has some problems.
6.) Having the sound systems in environments that have multiple Wi-Fi connections, e.g. Company-Secured and Company-Guest. Many enterprise networks do not allow these to talk, so you need to swap your Wi-Fi over to control the system. Also, a large majority of companies that have Guest Wi-Fi do not allow communication between devices on that network.

Thinking about the problem, it is simple: controlling your system remotely, like you can with LIFX or Nest is a useful feature. The solution however, is probably quite the undertaking. Seeing as how phones automatically connect to any Sonos system that is on Wi-Fi, it seems that there would be a lot of core changes as well as added security. I think the first three points are the most important and useful. The last three points are examples but may not actually be intended use for Sonos (there are other Enterprise sound systems out there that handle this).

My workaround (since this has happened a few times now) is that I installed Chrome Remote Desktop on my desktop at home. I can remotely log in and open the Sonos app to turn off the system.

Perhaps this feature can be rolled out slowly, i.e. add functionality to stop music first to avoid some issues described above and then have other features rolled out after. Either way, what does everyone think?

Would you like capability to control your Sonos sound remotely?


46 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +22
Sounds like you have it setup well. You could also set an alarm that goes off at say 9am each day and would turn off your speaker.
Userlevel 1
Hey Chris, that is an interesting idea. That would potentially solve the problem that I face, which is fantastic!

I don't like having to use a workaround, but I think I can be happy for know. There are still other problems to address too 🙂. The VPN one affects me, so I have to disconnect to use the app and then reconnect. Not a huge deal, it's just annoying if I am connected to 2 or 3 servers/switches and need to reconnect.
Userlevel 7
Badge +22
Yea with the alarm you can set it for a certain time. It has to play something but you can tell it to only play for 15 minutes and cut off (but it could be some local files). You could even use a short silent mp3 to play and then it would effectively cut off the speaker.

Download blank mp3 here http://www.xamuel.com/blank-mp3s/
Do we really need Sonos to add such functionality, which would likely be rarely used, if not completely redundant, for most users ...and there are indeed workarounds to solve such remote access issues.

I personally use some free VPN software called Softether, which is scheduled to run to suit times when I'm away from my home-network and it provides remote access, using secure L2TP/IPSec tunnelling. It allows me to use either an iPad, or iPhone, as a VPN client and provided I have connected the iOS device via a WIFI/Mifi network of some sort (doesn't have to use same SSID/Password), it will allow me to open the installed Sonos Controller on the remote device, and it behaves as though I was actually on my home LAN. It means there is no requirement to use RDP, although I do use Remote Desktop for other things.

Having said that I hardly ever use this Sonos remote control, maybe once in a blue moon.

One thing perhaps worth mentioning, is we also have remote-access cameras in use at home, when we are away on holiday etc. and there are 'other' mobile apps that allow voice and sound to be passed to Sonos speakers... Those too can be operated remotely, in the same way, over the same VPN software mentioned and so could be useful if you want to maybe try to scare away uninvited guests.

er... I've not used that feature much, either, thank goodness... (touch wood/fingers-x'd).

Though I did scare the wife once and still have the scars to prove it ... ha ha 😃
Userlevel 1
Chris -- thanks for the link. I'll set that up tonight.

Ken -- While you may be able to VPN remotely to your home network, it doesn't work for everyone. Our security here at work (hooray for things including the government and healthcare) does not allow for such connectivity. Any remote connections are blocked by default and are granted if there is a valid business case and security vets it. Also, I am unable to create a VPN connection from my phone as the policy installed on my phone does not allow it.

Over cellular, I can use the Chrome Remote Desktop app to connect to my home PC, which as worked OK.

Also, while I am working from home and connected my work's VPN, the app stops functioning; I disconnect or use my phone.



I am probably part of a small group of Sonos users that have this problem, but I don't think that it invalidates the problem. Its just added functionality that makes the product better. A part from the implementation of this feature, what is the downside?
Userlevel 7
Badge +22
I saw an article where Sonos was awarded a patent for different access methods including outside network via cellular. So seems like they are working on something that may be to your liking.

http://www.cepro.com/article/sonos_patent_describes_ultimate_party_mode_share_the_access_not_the_passwor
Userlevel 1
Also Ken, most home security systems that have Wi-Fi connected modules are accessible over the internet, without VPN. August Smart Lock, Nest, Philips, Samsung, etc, are all accessible without any additional software/hardware/workarounds.

Obviously, this is a sound system. It makes sense the way it is, but it would help users (whether it is the 1% or the 5% or even the sub 1%) to have this capability.

As I said above too, workarounds aren't solutions; they're band-aids. You can put a band-aid over a cut and you stop bleeding, but the cut and the pain are still present. An interesting post from a few years ago that talks about it http://www.paraesthesia.com/archive/2010/01/29/the-difference-between-a-workaround-and-a-fix.aspx/

Anyway, thanks for the contributions to the discussions 🙂 Learning about new things, especially the voice to Sonos! 😃
Userlevel 1
Chris, thanks for the link. That is actually a perfect use case that affects everyone that has guests over. I have had a few friends/acquaintances over on several different occasions and each time they asked for the Wi-Fi password. Some of them were okay to go to the Guest network, which only has internet access and cannot talk to other hosts, but a few of them wanted to contribute to the playlists on Sonos.

Personally, I don't mind giving that access out since I have my home security on its own VLAN (it can only be accessed via an Ethernet connected device or via the app with my email/password). But I am sure that there are some people that would rather not give out their Wi-Fi if they don't need to.
Userlevel 7
Badge +22
Implication would also be if they are able to access via cellular they could be anywhere not just in your home (so you could use that way outside home).
Userlevel 7
Badge +22
I use my neighbors Sonos at his house all the time. When I feel like messing with him I'll put on a song from his driveway connected to his wifi.
Its just added functionality that makes the product better. A part from the implementation of this feature, what is the downside?
Where to start? Like all these "well, it's only a few lines of code to add a cool feature" suggestions it overlooks the technical risk in potentially destabilising the firmware loads, some of which have to be carefully managed to continue to support relatively memory-compromised devices from 10+ years ago. Plus there's the need to test in all possible permutations. Plus there's the obvious potential security implications.

Then there's opportunity cost. All that work to address a need probably felt by a tiny, tiny fraction of the customer base (leaving aside the 'First World Problem' nature of the initial Google Play subscription clash which introduced this thread), syphoning resource away from the crucial developments Sonos have headlined as necessary to remain competitive in the home music space.
Userlevel 1
I definitely agree that it is a 'first world problem' for my use case. While I may be a fraction of a fraction of the user base, there are several other reasons that this would be beneficial.

As for implementation -- this wouldn't be 'a few lines of code,' it would likely be fundamental changes. I said this in my first post: "The solution however, is probably quite the undertaking. Seeing as how phones automatically connect to any Sonos system that is on Wi-Fi, it seems that there would be a lot of core changes as well as added security."

Regardless of our discussion here, Chris pointed out that they were award a patent that will allow this feature. So it appears that they have seen the benefits and this will be a future feature of Sonos. As such, I think this thread is done 🙂

Happy days ahead of us 😃
Well, you may be lucky, but patent applications and actual implementation are two quite different things. Many a patent is lodged that never sees the light of day in a finished product.
I use an app called 'Yonomi' it runs routines that can be time or location based. I have one such routine that runs when I leave the house in a morning on a work day. It runs, bids me farewell (speaks) and turns of all my Sonos speakers.
I also use it to speak the local weather reports at a set time in the morning - this pauses the current song/playlist, sets the volume to 60%, speaks the local weather and then resumes playing at a lower volume. It's pretty good.
I understand it does not answer all the questions above but provides some nice functionality for the speakers.
You can also use it with a lot of other connected devices which opens up the usage even more.
Userlevel 1
Badge +1
If you have Lutron Caseta lights, you can start a scene from the Lutron app (they added Sonos support last month). Since you can control Lutron Caseta stuff from anywhere in the world (as long as you have an internet connection), this means you can control Sonos remotely.

When setting up a scene in the Lutron app, you choose what Sonos favorite play, which speakers play, and the volume level for each speaker. Also, don't forget to set up a scene that pauses all music so that you can turn Sonos off remotely too.
I would love to control it via 4g/3g or a different WIFI. I have in the whole house sonos players (via sonos net) but because of the shape/material of the building and the locations of the broadband router i have to use multiple power line wifi adapter. sonos plays fine in all rooms because they forward each signal so no problem but when I am on the other side of the building i have to connect to a different wifi which means i can not control sonos. So in the moment if i would like to change a song or settings i have to walk closer to the broadband router, swap networks and change what I would like to change and then change the wifi again because its not strong enough to even browse the web.
Sounds like you are running multiple routers instead of an extender or wireless access point. Configure your second router as a wireless access point in the same subnet as Sonos and your problem is solved.
Hi, sad to see there is still no good solution. We have multiple Restaurants and need to check or Change Music at times remotely, worked very well with spotify remotely with normal Speakers. Sad cannot do it with sonos directly.
Userlevel 7
Badge +22
There is supposedly something that is supposed to be coming down the pike as far as remote controlling. We don't know but some patents were seen last year on. No one knows the plan.
Just had this problem. I left my Sonos playing jazz in my bedroom. Now I can't listen to Google Music at work. No way for me to turn it off from here. 😞 Kind of wish there was a Netflix-esque "Are you still watching?" pop-up. All I want to do is tell it to stop playing from my phone.
Userlevel 2
I also have this problem, or similar.
I often work from home with my computer connected to work via VPN.
I control Sonos with my phone.
The phone rings and i need to lower the volume on Sonos...
I cant.
Because the computer cant see my Sonos comonents (because of the VPN) and the phone close the app when it rings.
Can this be solved in any other way? Cant be just me with this problem...
Userlevel 7
Badge +21
I also have this problem, or similar.
I often work from home with my computer connected to work via VPN.
I control Sonos with my phone.
The phone rings and i need to lower the volume on Sonos...
I cant.
Because the computer cant see my Sonos comonents (because of the VPN) and the phone close the app when it rings.
Can this be solved in any other way? Cant be just me with this problem...


Something's not right here.

1) You can still connect to work on your laptop (or your work's laptop) via VPN AND be connected to the same wireless network as the Sonos system is on - In fact that is how I'd expect it to work unless you have a separate wireless network for work which is doubtful

2) To be honest this usage case is stretching the justification to it's breaking point - You want the ability to remotely control Sonos over the internet even though you are sat right next to the Sonos system that you want to control!

3) just press the mute button on the top of the speaker dude!
Start the Sonos desktop controller before opening the VPN connection.
Well its a +1 from me!

Do not understand why some people are flaming this enhancement after all it will benefit those who require it immensely and have zero effect on those who will not use it although I bet you that if ever implemented it is something that will actually be useful to all. :D

Personally it would be extremely useful for me. I have my Home Automation and Security system all linked up to a separate 4G router which is completely isolated from my normal networks (I do not want them linked in any way). All my HA hubs, cameras etc. are all connected to this and all on UPS's hence providing a pretty fail-safe environment. My issue is that at the moment I cannot make use of my Sonos Speakers in my HA setup unless I actually add them to the isolated 4G network which will in turn obviously not make them visible to the normal household networks.

To be honest I am pretty surprised that this sort of functionality was not implement years ago, it is hardly rocket science and has existed for countless other products for a very long time. You have had the ability to control lights, turn the heating on, vacuum the living room and boil the kettle etc. from afar for years so no reason why you should not be able to play some music for your dog whilst you are at work 😛 😉
Userlevel 5
Badge +11
Logitech Squeezebox allowed you to control it from anywhere. The only time I ever used it was to trigger one of the alarm sounds, a kettle boiling on the stove, to try and scare the **** out of the other half, it worked 😉

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