When it comes to wireless audio, Sonos is one brand that is often called out, and for good reason. Compact, great-sounding, easy to install, and packed with plenty of companion app features and customizations, a Sonos product is a fantastic addition to your home’s suite of web-connected gear. From stand-alone speakers to soundbars and wire-free surround setups, you can experience Sonos in as big or small a way as you choose.
Whether you’re running a single speaker or a more robust Sonos lineup, one of the best ways to control and manage your Sonos family of devices is through Amazon Alexa. By adding the Sonos skill to your Alexa app and enabling Alexa controls in the Sonos app, you’ll be able to use your Amazon hardware (Echo, Echo Dot, etc.) to pilot your Sonos listening. Call up a favorite playlist, cue up an artist, play/pause, control the volume, and more, all with basic Alexa voice commands.
For those just getting started with their Alexa/Sonos handshaking, as well as those who want to learn more about the capabilities of their wireless audio toys, we’ve put together this guide to illustrate exactly what kinds of things you can do with an integrated Alexa/Sonos package.
Artist or genre, Alexa knows your tunes
While you can use your Sonos app to access all of your favorite music services, you can just as easily start listening to your go-to artists, songs, and playlists by simply using Alexa. The next time you’re hanging out by your Sonos One or Beam, ask Alexa to start playing The Beach Boys. Or, maybe you’re in the mood for a broader genre. Try saying something like, “Alexa, play classic rock.”
While the song is playing, you can tell Alexa to play/pause tracks, adjust the volume, and skip around on an album or playlist. If you’re subscribed to more than one music streaming service, you’ll want to specify at the end of your command which one Alexa should use to play the tracks. To make things shorter and sweeter, though, you can simply select a default music service in the Sonos app. Choose from Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple Music, Audible, TuneIn, Pandora, Deezer, iHeartRadio, and SiriusXM.
Use grouping for multi-speaker commands
Did you know that you can get one Alexa command to ping multiple Sonos speakers at once? Whether you want to hear music throughout your entire home or wish to make an announcement to all the Sonos speakers in your living room, you’ll want to create a Sonos group that Alexa can address. While you can still address one speaker at a time, having a group makes it easy to send commands to an entire batch of Sonos speakers that may all be near each other.
To do so, open your Alexa app and tap Devices. Next, tap the Plus icon, then tap Add Group. Tap Create a Room or Device Group, then tap Next. After this, you’ll be directed to choose a name for the group and the Sonos hardware you want to belong to it.
Once you’ve finished creating the group, you’ll be able to say things like, “Alexa, play ’80s music downstairs,” and all of the Sonos speakers on the main floor of your home will start jamming.
Control your movies and shows
If you have a Sonos Beam connected to your TV’s HDMI-ARC input, along with an Alexa Fire TV or Fire TV streaming device, you can use Alexa as an entertainment remote. With voice commands, you’ll be able to do things like turn your TV on/off, adjust the volume, and interact with apps like Hulu and Prime Video.
To do so, make sure you’ve added the Fire TV product to the Alexa app. To add the Fire TV to the Alex app, open the app, then tap Settings > TV & Video > Fire TV. Then, tap Link Your Alexa Device.
In addition to basic commands, you can get Alexa to change TV inputs, navigate through compatible apps, and search for specific movies and TV shows.
Engage with your smart home
One of the greatest Alexa perks is being able to connect and control all of your smart home devices using nothing but voice commands or the Alexa app. Even if you own a stand-alone Sonos speaker with Alexa built-in, you can still use that speaker as a smart home controller.
Let’s say you want to dim the smart lights in your bedroom. Once you’ve added the lights to your Alexa app and have designated what room the bulbs belong to, you can simply say to your Sonos speaker, “Alexa, dim the lights in the bedroom,” and it will lower the bedroom lights.
Pairing Alexa and Sonos unlocks a world of wireless music controls and smart home capabilities, but there are some limitations.
Currently, you cannot use Alexa on your Sonos speaker to play songs based on lyrics; set Sonos timers and alarms; initiate Voice Calling, Whisper Mode, or Drop In; or play songs directly from your Sonos music library.
That’s not to say that these features won’t be available in the future, but for now, there are plenty of other great Alexa/Sonos tricks to keep you entertained until the next major software update.
If you're unfamiliar with Alexa routines, they're a series of tasks that Alexa can do by only saying one phrase. For instance, instead of telling Alexa to turn off lights, turn on music, and turn on the TV, you can say something along the lines of "Alexa, movie time," and the assistant will perform all those tasks for you.
These routines can help you save time with daily or repetitive tasks and stay organized by using the full power of Alexa. Routines can be custom-made depending on your lifestyle or can be acquired from others. Here, we'll describe various routines that may help you out.
Pets are part of our smart homes, too, and it’s no surprise that they can get involved in how our smart tech works. That can lead to surprising results, especially with our voice assistants and smart displays, like those from Google and Amazon. While pets have their own smart devices that are made for special types of interaction, the funniest moments are often when they start noticing controls that are meant for humans. Here’s some of the situations we’re talking about!
Parrots learning how to order from Alexa
@maxtheafricangrey2000♬ original sound - Max Franklin
There are many cases of parrots, especially African Grey parrots, learning to talk to Alexa and experimenting with the responses they get. They even order food and other items. It’s incredible the way they learn to imitate their owners to get a specific result, and Alexa’s predictive algorithms make it all too easy to add items to a shopping list or an Amazon order.
Can you train a parrot to use Alexa, and should you?
We’ve talked about the silly things Alexa can be used for, as well as how sometimes very young children can unwittingly use Alexa to cause mischief, including ordering things from Amazon. But what about pets that can talk -- specifically, if you’ve got an inquisitive parrot in your house? Do you have to worry about it activating Alexa and potentially causing havoc?
If you’re a parrot owner, you probably won’t be surprised that this could definitely be a cause for concern. Parrots can learn to speak human language clear enough to activate Alexa on devices like Echos. Here’s everything we know about what these clever birds have managed to do.
Can you train a parrot to use Alexa?
Parrot turns Christmas lights on with Alexa