Ducking annoying: Alexa muting Sonos speakers... here's what you need to know

Sick of your Amazon Echo turning down the sound on your Sonos speakers?

Sonos ducking with Amazon Echo / Alexa guide

Are you frustrated that your Sonos speakers have their volume lowered (almost muted) when you ask Alexa a command through your Amazon Echo speakers?

The feature - technical term: 'ducking' (AKA 'whole-home ducking' or 'global ducking') - affects non-Alexa Sonos speakers, such as the Play:1, Play:3 and Play:5, and it makes no difference where your Sonos speakers are placed in your house.

For example, if you ask Alexa what the weather forecast is in the kitchen, your Sonos speakers in the living room, dining room, bathroom, office, or anywhere else, all have their volumes lowered - if they are playing music - while Amazon's digital assistant answers the query.

It's annoying as heck - and there's nothing you can do about it. For now at least. Read on for all the latest information on the Sonos / Alexa ducking issue, including information on an update that may well bring a fix.

The latest on Sonos whole-house ducking

There's no official word from Amazon nor Sonos on the ducking issue (we've asked both parties and will update this guide if there is) but Ryan S, community manager over on the Sonos Forum provided some background a couple of months back...

"There's a feature which causes the music that's playing on Sonos to lower in volume when you talk to an Alexa device. This is designed so that Alexa can hear what you're saying, and you are able to hear Alexa's response.

"On Sonos, all speakers that aren't Alexa enabled will drop in volume when an Amazon Alexa device (not a Sonos device with Alexa built-in) hears your request.

"We're looking into making improvements to ducking based on feedback we've received, but don't have any specific plans or details to share at this time.

"We're still working with the Alexa team on the Sonos integration, and ducking is on the list.

Grouping Sonos and Amazon Echo speakers

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

Now, you'd have thought that having your Echos and Sonos speakers grouped in the same room - and in a dedicated group - would be enough to have seen an end to ducking in other rooms. But you would have thought wrong... despite what some people are claiming on the Forum.

However, unless those people are simply attention seeking forum posters (the internet has a few of them, apparently), their claims are promising. It's possible that selected people are being used for Sonos for Alexa ducking testing. Who knows? Well, hopefully us soon as we've asked Sonos and, once again, we'll update this post when we hear back.

Exceptions to Alexa ducking

Ducking affects non-Alexa speakers when the command is made to an Echo device such as a Dot, Spot or Show. However, Alexa is baked into Sonos now and, if you're speaking to a Sonos One with the digital assistant on board, only that specific speaker will be ducked. The same goes for the Sonos Beam.

Also, if you are watching TV and your audio is coming through a Playbar, Playbase or Beam then you won't be affected by ducking.

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