How to use Sonos and Alexa: Everything you need to know

Learn how to master your Sonos using your voice

Guide to Sonos and Alexa
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Controlling your Sonos speakers with Alexa offers supreme control and convenience over your music, and will make enjoying your tunes a lot easier. Sonos still suffers somewhat from its clunky app, but the power of your voice can transform the way you use it.

Read this: The best Alexa commands

While some of the company's latest speakers – like the Sonos One – come with Alexa built-in, many people don't realise you can control any Sonos speaker using the Alexa Skill. That means you can add voice control for less than $30 using an Echo Dot, and totally transform your music listening setup.

So read on for everything you need and a complete list of voice commands to get the most from your Alexa/Sonos set up.

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The Sonos Alexa skill explained

If you’re the owner of a Sonos system and an Amazon Echo speaker, you can use the latter to control your entire Sonos system. This includes playing music from some streaming services and controlling the playback of radio and offline music, too.

Missing manual: The essential Sonos guide

Downloading the Alexa skill for Sonos is easy. Head to the Alexa app and then search for Sonos from the Skills menu. Once downloaded, you’ll need to connect your Sonos and Amazon accounts together, which the process will take you through. Once that’s done, you’re ready to roll.

Complete guide to Sonos Alexa commands

What services can you use the Sonos skill for?

When it comes to asking for music via Alexa, you’ll need to be signed up and using one of a handful of services. Those services need to be linked in your Alexa account. You can choose from:

  • Spotify
  • Apple Music
  • Amazon Music
  • TuneIn Radio
  • iHeartRadio
  • Pandora
  • SiriusXM

Now, if you have an active Amazon Music account, then Alexa will prefer to play that. To make it play one of the other types of services you’ll need to specify to Alexa that you want it to play music “from [supported service]” at the end of your command.

That’s unless you use Spotify or Apple Music…

Set Spotify as default through Alexa

If you've been looking out for an Amazon Echo Spotify Skill, you've probably noticed there isn't one. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy your Spotify playlists with Echo-enabled voice commands though. Spotify has special status with Alexa, which means you can set the music as a permanent source.

You can easily set Spotify as your Echo's default audio provider. Head to the Alexa app, head in and choose Settings > Music > Default Services > Spotify.

Set Apple Music as default through Alexa

The Sonos One and Sonos Beam just recently became the only third-party speakers to support the Apple Music skill - and that means you can take advantage of it and make Apple's streaming service your go-to through Alexa.

You'll still need the skill downloaded from within the Alexa app, but, once it is, and Apple Music is set as default, you'll be able to speak out commands without having to add, "on Apple Music," to the end of every request.

To do so, head to the Alexa app and go from Settings > Music > Default Services > Apple Music. And keep scrolling below to discover some essential Sonos/Apple Music commands.

What can't Sonos and Alexa do?

You can't play artist radio or Spotify Radio, and podcasts are not supported using Alexa either; you'll you'll need to use your Sonos app, just like before. Also, if you're using curated playlists from Spotify, you'll need to be following it and have it listed in your playlists. Your instruction then must specify that it's a playlist.

You also won't be able to play music to groups. Alexa music groups won't work with third-party speakers, and you can't specify groups set up within the Sonos app either. Likewise, there's no support for offline, locally stored, music, and you can't add sleep timers to have your music turn off after you've drifted off.

Sonos Alexa commands

Essential Sonos commands

Before we hit a list of commands, here’s how to build up a Sonos command.

1. Say “Alexa” (duh).

2. Say “play” followed the name of the artist. If choosing a song, you’ll likely need to say “by [artist name]”.

3. Now, if you have more than one, you need to specify the Sonos speaker you want to play to. At the end of your command say “on [Sonos speaker name]”.

Remember: If you’re using a specific service that’s not Amazon Music or defaulted Spotify, you’ll need to add “from [service name]”.

And here's a full example: “Alexa, play Motorcycle Emptiness by the Manic Street Preachers from Pandora in the lounge”. A mouthful? Yes it is.

General playback commands

“Alexa, pause/stop/resume (in the room name)”.

“Alexa, skip/next song (in the room name)”.

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

“Alexa, play my (playlist name) playlist (in the room name)”.

“Alexa, resume on (room name)”.

“Alexa, previous/next song/track”.

“Alexa, what's playing in (room name)?”.

General volume commands

"Alexa, turn it up/down (in the room name)”.

"Alexa, louder/quieter (in the room name)”.

"Alexa, set the volume to 3 (30%) (in the room name)”.

"Alexa, mute (room name)”

"Alexa, unmute (room name)”.

To start Spotify playback

"Alexa, play music in the (room name)”.

"Alexa, play (artist) in the (room name)".

"Alexa, play (song name) by (artist) in the (room name)”.

"Alexa, play the album (album name) by (artist) in the (room name)".

"Alexa, play (activity) music in the (room name)”.

To start Apple Music playback

"Alexa, play music in the (room name)".

"Alexa, play Beats 1 Radio in the (room name)".

"Alexa, play New Music Mix on the (speaker name)".

"Alexa, play (playlist name) on (room name)".

Associate Sonos and Echo speakers and create groups

A recent Alexa app update means that you can now associate Amazon Echo devices with Sonos speakers through the Alexa app; creating groups where the Sonos speakers are the default music playback for a command heard by your Echo devices.

Before, if you had, say, an Echo Dot in the office along with a Sonos Play:1 and you wanted to listen to some music, you'd have to say something along the lines of, "Alexa, play Take That, in the kitchen." You can now ditch that extra bit, and simply say, "Alexa, play Take That," and the output will come directly from the Sonos speaker.

Check out our guide for more info.

TAGGED    amazon    speakers

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