How to control your Sonos speaker with an Amazon Echo

After working on the feature for several months and testing the waters with a private beta, Sonos Announced that its customers are now welcome to try controlling their speaker with an Amazon Echo device.

Getting your Echo and Sonos speakers to communicate is a multi-step process, and we had to search the internet to figure out how to do it. I’ll spare you that hassle. Just know that you’ve got to have both the Alexa and Sonos apps fully set up and ready to go. Your Echo and Sonos speakers should be turned on.

  1. In the Alexa app, search for “Sonos” and install / add the skill. It might not necessarily appear at the top of search results, but look for the one by Sonos, Inc.

  2. During this process you’ll have to authenticate both your Amazon account (with two-factor authentication if that’s turned on) and your Sonos account.

  3. Once that’s done, go to the Alexa app, open the side menu and choose “Smart Home.” Pick devices and then “discover” down at the bottom. Alexa will do a quick scan and should now recognize and display your Sonos device. You’ll see the group / room name if you’ve set one up for your Sonos instead of the speaker itself.

Once that’s done, playing something is pretty much as easy as just calling out requests to Alexa. My Sonos group is “Living Room,” so I just say “Alexa, play some Tom Petty in Living Room” or “Alexa, play Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me in Living Room.”

But when asking Alexa to play something on Sonos, you’ll want to say everything without missing a beat. Even hesitating a second between the song or podcast and specifying your Sonos speaker group might result in audio playing on the Echo instead of on your nicer, better sounding speaker.

Alexa can play music on Sonos from any of these services:
(Each one must be set up in the Alexa app before you can use it.)

  • Amazon Music

  • iHeartRadio

  • Pandora

  • SiriusXM

  • Spotify

  • TuneIn Radio

Music and volume commands:
(The group / room must be specified when asking Alexa to change volume.)

  • Alexa, previous song / track.

  • Alexa, stop.

  • Alexa, next song/track.

  • Alexa, skip.

  • Alexa, skip song / track.

  • Alexa, pause / stop / resume in (room name).

  • Alexa, pause / stop / resume the music in (room name).

  • Alexa, skip / next in (room name).

  • Alexa, play the next / previous song/track in (room name).

  • Alexa, pause Alexa, resume (room name).

  • Alexa, what's playing in (room name)?

  • Alexa, turn it up / down in (room name).

  • Alexa, louder / quieter in (room name).

  • Alexa, set the volume to 3 (30%) in (room name). [0-10 volume levels]

  • Alexa, softer in (room name).

  • Alexa, mute (room name).

  • Alexa, unmute (room name).

Miscellaneous, important things to know about Alexa and Sonos:

  • “Alexa doesn’t know what your local library looks like or your Sonos Favorites. If either one is queued up you can start playing and change tracks though.”

  • Alexa itself cannot create groups of Sonos speakers, but it can play to any group of devices you’ve already established in the Sonos app. So if you’ve got more than one speaker grouped together as “living room” or “first floor,” music will play through all of them when you tell Alexa the group.

  • If you’ve got a bunch of Sonos speakers separated into different groups, there’s currently no way for Alexa to play music in sync on everything. “We're hoping for an ‘Everywhere’ command, but not quite yet.”

  • Your Sonos speaker(s) will always lower the volume whenever you call out to Alexa on an Echo. Every speaker does it — no matter if it’s the closest one to the Echo or not. This is apparently called “ducking.” There’s no option to disable it at this time.

  • Skip and previous track commands cannot be used with TuneIn Radio. Previous track also doesn’t work on Pandora.

If you’ve got questions or are experiencing bugs, the Sonos community forum is a good source for getting help from other users and company employees.

Jay Salamonsonos, speakers, alexa