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How to get the most out of connecting Alexa and Sonos

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.

Better yet, if you own a Sonos Arc, Beam, One, Move, or Roam, you don’t even need an Echo device, because these Sonos speakers already have Alexa built right in.

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

The Sonos Roam portable speaker.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

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

Sonos One speaker at play.

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

Echo Dot with clock.

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

The Nest Learning Thermostat mounted on the wall.

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.

With Alexa and Sonos, you can control everything from smart thermostats and door locks to smart plugs and various web-connected appliances.

What Alexa and Sonos won’t do

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.

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