Google Assistant is unusable on Sonos One while it works much better on the Beam

  • 2 December 2020
  • 4 replies

Userlevel 1
Badge +1

I have 15 Sonos products, Amazon Echo dot and Google nest mini. I have a total of 66 smart home devices from radiator valves to light bulbs and power sockets to speakers.

I have found Alexa increasingly annoying and becoming more and more picky about how you achieve things. She will respond to “Alexa set the dining room lights to 50%” by saying “please try again using % for brightness and degress for temperature” which just frustrates the hell out of us.

We have found google nest mini to be a LOT more accommodating in how you ask it to do things. “Hey google, can you set the lights to be brighter” for example.

Now I recently purchased 4x Sonos One and 1x Beam. The plan was to move wholesale to Google Assistant for a more ‘humanised’ interface. I installed the Beam, added a couple of Play:1s as rears (previously operating as a stereo pair in my kitchen) and enabled Google assistant, ran trueplay…. everything was going really well. The beam responded well and everything seemed to work as hoped.

Next step- install a new stereo pair of Ones in the kitchen to replace the pair of play:1 that I just moved to the new Beam. This is when the trouble started! Installed the two Ones, paired them up and enabled Google Assistant. I could immediately see that the LED changed as soon as I said ‘Hey Google’ or ‘OK Google’. Beyond that it seemed to totally ignore me. It refused to play music, sometimes I could get some basic information but other than that- nothing.

I tried everything…. start music on the app… then “Hey Google”… “stop”, “Hey Google”… “pause”, “Hey Google”… “mute”, “OK GOOGLE”… “STOP!!!!!”, then I stroll into the doorway of the next room and say to the Beam “Hey Google”, “Stop the music in the kitchen”… and bingo, the nice lady in the box kills the music in the kitchen.
1) there seems some weirdness related to the fact that the speaker and the Google Assistant have the same name. I can’t quite work out what’s going on here
2) the ‘default media’ device assigned  to the G.A. settings seems to be random whereas it should, of course be the speaker itself.
3) after playing for a chunk of time getting really pissed with it, I found that in generally yelling helped a bit, but basically it was really really bad. It also seems to have some kind of delay in firing up the communication to Google- like the analysis is taking way longer than it does with a phone or the Nest mini. It just seems to have some kind of communication issue with the server.

So, I gave up and enabled Alexa on the Ones. This seemed to work much better- not as good as the Echo show (which was currently unplugged of course)….  and I could demo the “Alexa, turn off the dining room lights”… lights go off and Alexa responds with “Dining room doesn’t support that”….

1) why is it so much worse on the One than the Beam?
2) why is Alexa quite a lot better?
3) why are neither anywhere near as good as the ‘native deivces?’

To say I am disappointed with this is an understatement.

This topic has been closed for further comments. You can use the search bar to find a similar topic, or create a new one by clicking Create Topic at the top of the page.

4 replies

Userlevel 5
Badge +16

Hi @RichL

Thank you for reaching us in the Sonos Community and for sharing your feedback. Let me share some information about voice assistants and routines.

Google Assistant and Alexa allows you to control Sonos with your voice to play music, adjust volume, skip tracks, and even get the weather, all through your Sonos speakers. You can still start playback in the Sonos app in case some music services not working with voice assistance. If the voice assistant will not perform the command, basic troubleshooting steps are being performed like removing and re-adding the voice assistant on the Sonos app. 

Sonos voice-enabled products support Google and Alexa routines.
In Google Assistant, you can initiate a routine from a Sonos speaker as part of the Google Home, but routines cannot trigger music playback on Sonos. You can try Alexa app on your mobile device to create routines that automate how your compatible Echo devices and smart home devices work together.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns, I'll be glad to assist you. 

Userlevel 2

I have similar issues, particularly in my kitchen, with my setup.

I originally had a single Sonos One Gen2 in the Kitchen tucked in a corner and its voice recognition was terrible. I went through analysis of the issues via trial and error and concluded the following:

  1. ambient noise (particularly kids shouting/talking) is more of a problem for the Sonos One than Google branded smart speakers;
  2. extractor or oven fans really interfere with the voice assistant understanding of my voice when running; often only shouting works;
  3. turning on the “beep” on the trigger phrase helps, because it lets you wait a second before speaking to time your command more precisely;
  4. I tried moving the Sonos One away from a wall, remembering I had problems with a Homepod and voice recognition in the past, it helped a little;
  5. I put the Sonos One on a stand and it helped a lot. Essentially clear space around the device improves its clarity of understanding;
  6. Turning the mic on and off sometimes helps it when it can’t understand a word or phrase. This is helpful as a first step before deleting the voice assistant and adding it back;
  7. Some Sonos Ones have better clarity of understanding than others. Recently I bought a new One and One SL pair for my kitchen to replace the original, which moved to my study, and it was better at understanding my voice (not as good as a nest mini, but it works enough). My first one isn’t defective, its just maybe 10-20% less effective at understanding commands - my favourite goofy moment was when it spelled “turn on the lights” to me rather than executing the command. In the study, where it is quieter, its fine.
  8. I also have a Beam and an Arc elsewhere in the house. They are much, much closer to the performance of Google branded speakers.

So you will not get quite the performance on the google assistant as you would on the google branded speakers, but equally the sound quality is far improved. Positioning is key, space around the speaker is key.

We have the same issue. Just started using a Sonos One in place of our nest wifi point for voice commands and the Sonos almost never understands us. The nest wifi gets it pretty much every time 🤷🏾‍♂️

Userlevel 5
Badge +16

Hi folks,

Thank you for your response and for updating us. 

I recommend reaching out to our phone support team for further assistance and to provide the best recommendations regarding this concern.

If you have any questions or run into any other issues, please do not hesitate to contact us, we’ll be glad to assist you.