Sonos and Amazon have become two powerhouses of the speaker world, but for very different reasons. The Amazon Echo with Alexa ushers in supreme control and convenience. Meanwhile Sonos, with its clunky control app, boasts none of the ease of use – but all of the power, thanks some of the best sounding speakers around.
Refreshingly though, the two have joined forces, not just via the Sonos One with Alexa built-in, but also via the Sonos Skill, which means any Alexa device can control existing Sonos speakers. In essence, that means you can add voice control for as little as $30 via an Echo Dot, and totally transform your setup.
Essential reading: Ultimate guide to Amazon Alexa
So read on for everything you need and a complete list of skills.
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.
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. Check out our round-up of the best Alexa skills for more ideas of what to download.
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:
- Amazon Music
- TuneIn Radio
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 her to play music “from [supported service]” at the end of your command.
That’s unless you use Spotify…
How to 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.
You can easily set Spotify as your Echo's default audio provider. Head to the Alexa app, head in and choose Settings > Music & Media.
You can switch between Amazon Music and Spotify here.
What won’t Sonos/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.
Essential Sonos Alexa 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 you need to specify the Sonos speaker you want to play to. At the end of your command say “on/in [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)”
New Sonos Alexa commands
The list of commands you can use with Sonos through Alexa is growing rapidly, so be sure to check back as we'll be updating this story regularly.