Amazon Echo Dot and Sonos PLAY:5 speaker

5 important tips for using the Amazon Echo Dot with Sonos

I own the first generation Amazon Echo Dot, and I’ve been using it since May 2016, and almost the entire time it’s been plugged into my Sonos PLAY:5 speaker. With some trial and error, I’ve cobbled together five solid tips for getting the most out of using it with Sonos.

The Dot I own is essentially the same as the Echo Dot (2nd Gen) that you can buy today, so all of the tips below directly apply to it as well. While helpful tips are always good to follow, the most important thing you need to do if you own these gadgets is to connect them to each other. I clearly explain how to do this in my How to use the Amazon Echo Dot with Sonos post.

Now, on to the tips…

1) Turn on Autoplay on Sonos

When I first started using the Echo Dot with my Sonos, I would launch the Sonos app on my iPhone, tap the hamburger menu in the top left corner, and select Line-In from the menu that slides out from the left. However, this is unnecessary.

Sonos has a feature called Autoplay that automatically changes the music source to Line-In when it detects audio in that port. So basically, when you speak to Alexa, your Sonos will automatically switch to the line input when she starts speaking, even if you’re actively streaming music that you started from the Sonos or Spotify apps.

How to get Autoplay working:

  1. Launch the Sonos app on your phone or tablet, tap the hamburger menu in the top left corner, scroll down to the last option in the menu that slides out from the left, and tap on Settings
  2. On the next screen, tap on Room Settings
  3. On the next screen, tap on the name of the Sonos component that your Echo Dot is plugged into (for example, it may be named Living Room)
  4. On the next screen, tap Line-In
  5. On the next screen, tap Autoplay Room and select the name of the Sonos device
  6. That’s it!

2) Turn on the notification sound in the Alexa app

If you use Autoplay with your Sonos (and you should), there is one downside: when Alexa starts to speak, you won’t hear the first word or two. This is because your Sonos processes audio coming into this input, and unfortunately, this cuts off Alexa’s first couple of words. It’s annoying, but thankfully there’s an easy fix.

What you need to do is turn on the Start of Request notification sound on your Echo Dot. This adds a little blong chime after you say the wake word “Alexa!”. If you have the line-out of your Echo Dot plugged into your Sonos device , you won’t hear the chime, but you will hear every word Alexa says.

How to get the “Start of Request” notification working:

  1. Launch the Alexa app on your phone or tablet

    This is the Alexa app icon
  2. Tap the hamburger icon in the top left corner, beside the word Home
  3. Tap Settings in the menu that appears on the left
  4. On the next screen, tap the name of the Echo Dot that is plugged into your Sonos device in the section labeled Alexa Devices (for example, my Dot shows up in this section named Sam’s Echo Dot Online)
  5. On the next screen, tap Sounds & Notifications
  6. On the next screen, tap the Start of Request switch (the switch will turn blue when it is turned on), you can also turn on the End of Request chime, if you want to hear it to notify you when Alexa has finished speaking
  7. That’s it!

3) Position your Echo Dot away from your Sonos

Your Echo Dot will be able to hear you better if it isn’t sitting right on top of, or directly beside your Sonos speaker. It makes perfect sense if you think about it. The Dot does an impressive job of being able to hear you from across a room, but it works even better if you position it away from noisy things, like speakers.

Since the Dot doesn’t come with an audio cable, you are going to need to purchase one separately. This 4-foot (1.2m) cable from AmazonBasics is a good starting point, but if can place your Dot even further away from your speaker, this 8-foot (2.4m) version of the same cable is a good one to get.

4) Don’t control everything with your voice

As useful as it is to ask Alexa to play something instead of grabbing your phone and opening the Sonos or Spotify apps, you will find that it makes more sense to sometimes use an app instead. Yes, in an ideal world we would be able to get anything we want just by barking out a command, but there are times with using an app to control Sonos just makes more sense.

“…you could scream “ALEXA!!!! STOP!!!!” But, obviously, this is unpleasant…”

For example, if you’re in another room and you want to stop the music from playing on your Sonos, you could scream “ALEXA!!!! STOP!!!!” But, obviously, this is unpleasant, and if you have visitors, they’re going to think you’re a freak.

NOTE: If you use Spotify, you should definitely use the new feature that lets you to send music to Sonos speakers directly from Spotify mobile apps. Clearly written instructions for how to use it are in this post.

5) Music sounds better from an app

There’s no doubt that the Amazon Echo Dot and Sonos make a great pair, but if you have an ear for sound quality, you will notice that music sounds better when you use either the Sonos or Spotify apps, compared to how it sounds when you play it from the Echo Dot.


Why? The line-out on the Dot needs to convert the audio from digital to analog, and the line-input on your Sonos needs to convert it again from analog to digital. Unfortunately, this degrades the sound quality, and if you have ears like mine, you can hear it.

Does this mean buying an Echo Dot is a waste? I don’t think so. It’s nice to be able to play music in a pinch, when you don’t have your hands free. It’s also great to speak to Alexa to do things besides playing music, like getting weather reports, news, and finding out what time local stores and restaurants close.

UPDATE, January 2nd 2017:

While researching the answer to a question that someone posted to the Comments section of this post, I stumbled upon a 6th important tip…

6) Turn up the volume of the Sonos line-in

If you just plug the line output of the Amazon Echo Dot into the line-in on a Sonos, the volume level of the Dot may not be strong enough, even when the volume of the Dot itself turned all the way up.

I noticed this when I started using the Spotify app to send music wirelessly to my Sonos Play:5. I would listen to Spotify for a while at a given volume, and then when I spoke to Alexa, she would respond at a volume that was too low.

This can be rectified by launching the Sonos app on your mobile device, tapping the hamburger menu in the top left corner, scrolling to the bottom and tapping Settings, then tapping Room Settings, then tapping the name of the Sonos device your Dot is plugged into, then tapping Line-In, then tapping Line-In Source Level. The default is Level 2. I changed it to the option named Level 6 (Mac Computer) and was pleased with the results.

Thanks for posting that question, John! I love it when people engage on this blog. Good things happen. :)

…and thank you for reading this post! If it was helpful, you can help me out by using the links below before you buy something at Amazon or B&H Photo. I appreciate it!

Purchase links:

Amazon Echo Dot - Amazon USA, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de, there are some interesting bundles at B&H Photo
4-foot (1.2m) cable for connecting Dot to PLAY:5 - Amazon USA, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr
8-foot (2.4m) cable for connecting Dot to PLAY:5 - Amazon USA, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr
Sonos PLAY:5 - Amazon USA, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr
Used Sonos Play:5 - eBay USA
Sonos Connect - Amazon USA, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr
Sonos Connect:Amp - Amazon USA, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr

ALSO… check out my post about the All-New Amazon Echo Dot (2nd Generation), and listen to this podcast where we review the Amazon Echo Dot!

Published by

Sam

Writer, musician, photo taker and video maker. When not writing somewhat longish articles for this blog, I write incredibly short things on Twitter: @SamMallery

36 thoughts on “5 important tips for using the Amazon Echo Dot with Sonos”

  1. I have 2 songs play 5 paired in the same room, will Amazon Dot play both speakers. Currently I can only play through 1 speaker. Thank you.

  2. Hi John. I just read through some of the Play:5 manual, and there is no mention of how pairing speakers may be limited to playing sound from apps, as opposed to the line-in connection. Since it doesn’t appear to be in the manual, you should probably contact Sonos technical support, and they’re open today (even though it’s a national holiday). Their number is 1-800-680-2345. If you’re a Twitter user, they say tweeting will get you the fastest response: https://twitter.com/sonossupport

    PS – I would love to have a second Play:5 for stereo playback. #respect ;)

  3. I’m using latest Sonos app version 7.0.1 and I don’t see “Room Settings” in the Settings menu. Where is it now?

  4. Hi John,

    Thanks for commenting! The following screenshots are from version 7.0.1 of the Sonos iOS app:

    The Settings of the Sonos app

    The Room Settings option in the Sonos app

    Hope this helps!

    Sam

  5. Thanks for your tips, Sam! They’ve been really helpful.

    Quick question – I’m using the Sonos app to play music on my Play 5. I’ve followed all of the steps you’ve outlined to get Alexa hooked up and to auto-play on the Play 5 – which works great. Alexa hears my request (e.g. what’s the weather), the chime works, I hear the answer through my Play 5 but then the Play 5 stays on the Line-In, instead of returning back to the music I was playing through the Sonos App. Is there any way to automatically switch back to the music rather than remaining on Line-In (waiting for more sound to be sent from the Echo)?

  6. I am having the same issues as Peter is above. Once the line in is recognized my SONOS play 5 will not go back to the grouped music playing through my Spotify app on sonos. It will await audio input from Alexa and not revert to the original source providing music for the Play 5.

    Also thanks for the tips they are great.

  7. Thanks! I updated the software (not the app) and now it works (the autoplay thing).

    Question: I’m playing pandora on sonos using the sonos app. Then I ask Alexa a question and she answers via the Sonos5 connected to it while Pandora keeps palying on my other Sonos payers. But when she’s done, it is silent.

    i.e. the Sonos5 with Alexa no longer goes back to playing Pandora.

    Is there a fix?

    Will Sonos ultimately be able to work without the line in?

  8. Hi Peter, Matthew, and Gary!

    Last night I was playing music on my Play:5 speaker from the Spotify Connect app on my phone. I asked Alexa what the weather forecast was, she told me, and when she finished up the music did not return.

    So, it appears that this is a limitation. It’s a bummer, but it won’t be like this forever.

    Last year Sonos announced that they are working on an integration with Amazon to bring complete control to the Echo. Here’s a video about it:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFJ7O7N5Yok

    They haven’t given a release date for this integration, except to say that it is coming in 2017. It could come this week, it could come in December. We’ll just have to wait and see.

    Thanks for commenting!

    Sam

  9. Thanks for these tips they are very useful.

    I was using the line-in also but I wanted the Echo away from my Sonos Play 5. I had forgotten that my Logitech Harmony Hub can control Sonos, and Echo works great with Harmony.

    I created an “activity” in Harmony Hub and named it Sonos. I added the Play 5 device to this activity. It prompts you to add a playlist to your Sonos favorites. Once this is created, go to Alexa app and scan for devices, it will find “Sonos”. So I simply say “Echo turn on Sonos” and it starts playing the playlist I have in my favorites from the Sonos app.

    At this point I can use the Harmony Hub remote controller to pause music, set the volume on Sonos and select next song or previous song.

    Hope this is helpful.

  10. That’s an interesting way to do it, Larry. I had no idea that was possible. I’m very curious about smart hubs for the home. I’d heard that the Samsung SmartThings was one of the best ones out there, but the one you have looks interesting, too.

    Thanks for commenting!

    Sam

  11. I’ve setup multi-room Sonos using an Echo remote…..as you’re probably aware, the Echo dot doesn’t support multi-room functionality, so the dot you connect to your Sonos is the only one that will trigger Sonos. So if you’re in another room with another dot, no matter how loud you shout, the nearer dot will pickup your command and play through that dot. But, using an Echo remote gets round this – just group the Sonos rooms together that you want using the Sonos app, and talk to the Echo remote and away you go! (If you use Spotify, as I do, then you can actually ask Alexa to play specific songs/albums by voice command. Result!!!!

  12. I’ve got a Bluetooth question:
    Can I connect to the echo dot using Bluetooth from my iPhone and send iOS audio to the Sonos via the echo?
    (iPhone -{Bluetooth}—> Echo Dot -{3.5mm audio}—> Songs)
    I want to stream a Nature Scape audio to the songs and I need a Bluetooth/airplay solution. The Echo looks like a good echo system except for the sound quality. The Sonos lacks airplay and Bluetooth (which is a shame but I understand some of the reasoning).

  13. Interesting question, Ian. I’ll test this out later when I get home.

    Here’s a question for you: What app do you want to use to send audio to the Echo Dot?

    I’m fairly certain that you can send audio wirelessly from the iOS Spotify app to the Echo Dot, but I don’t think this is possible with every app.

    Again, I’ll test it tonight, but it would help to know exactly what you want to do.

    Thanks for commenting!

  14. Hi Ian. I downloaded Naturespace, and I looked through the app for a while trying to find a way to send the audio to my Echo Dot, but I was unable to do so. Maybe there’s a setting hiding in there somewhere, but I couldn’t find it.

    So far the only app I’ve encountered that can send audio wirelessly to the Echo is the Spotify app for iOS. Here’s a screenshot that shows it’s possible:

    null

    It’s obviously possible to have this feature in an app. I suggest contacting the maker of Naturespace and submitting a feature request.

    Best of luck,
    Sam

  15. Hi Sam

    Thanks for the article. One downside of the line-in connection I’ve noticed is that my Sonos Connect runs noticeably hotter, presumably because the connection is still “live” or “open” even when I ask Alexa to stop the music. Any thoughts on this?

  16. Hi Mark,

    I don’t own a Sonos Connect, so I can’t try this out to see if I have the same experience.

    I have the first generation PLAY:5, and it’s always warm, 24 hours a day. This is one of the only things I don’t like about it. I would be much happier if it went into a power-save mode when unused, but instead it seems like it’s constantly idling, sipping up power with a soup spoon.

    You might want to ask Sonos tech support about your heat issue, and see what they have to say.

    Thanks for commenting!

    Sam

  17. Hi Sam – Thanks for that. To fully “stop” the Sonos (and keep things cool) I need to ask Alexa to stop the music and then pause/stop the relevant room via the Sonos app. Just stopping via Alexa means the music stops of course, but the line-in is still chugging away (silently generating heat!).

    Just need an auto-stop to complement the auto-play I think…

    Cheers
    Mark

  18. To get any audio from iPhone to sonos try AirSonos. Its on Github but is easy enough to install and works fine. Lets you stream to any Sonos device.

  19. Hi Sam

    Thanks for the info. Do you know if it is possible to configure the Dot to output stereo. I have it connected to my sonos, which is connected to my amp and then stereo speakers. No matter what I do (direct to amp) music only comes out of one speaker. TIA, Eddie

  20. Hi Sam,

    Thank you for such an informative and well written article. I have a question. I have a stand alone Echo and Sonos playbar and sub. While the Echo speakers are ok, ideally I would like the sound output to be through my Sonos playbar, but that’s not possible as Echo does not have a line-out. However the Echo dot does. But if I get an echo dot, will it work with a Sonos playbar as well since it’s line-in is currently hooked up to my TV, which I want to maintain. Is there a solution?

    Thanks much.
    Ravi

  21. The Sonos Playbar just has an optical audio input and Ethernet jacks, so you can’t connect an Echo Dot directly to it. If you’re an advanced tech person, it is possible to get the Echo you already have to control Sonos using this solution from github.

    Thanks for commenting!

    Sam

  22. Regarding quality:
    A) Every Sonos has a DAC in it to convert the wifi digital signals to analogue to send through the amp section to the speaker.

    Line in should go straight into the analogue amp section surely?
    Why on earth would Sonos convert it back to digital for the local speaker? – Surely it only converts it to digital if sending on to other Sonos speakers digitally?

    It doesnt ADC it to then instantly DAC it back to analog for the same local speaker???

    b) Is Alexa streaming at the same bit rate/depth through the Dot to the Sonos that Spotify is directly to the Sonos?

    Or is EchoDot using poor quality MP3 streams?

  23. Hi tamefox,

    I’m not an expert on how Sonos equipment handles incoming analog audio, so I cannot answer your questions with authority. I know they have a feature called Trueplay which enables you to tune the speaker for the room it is in. This would likely require digital conversion, even from a local device that is plugged into its line input.

    I also can’t answer your question about the bit depth of the Echo Dot.

    I can just tell you that I clearly hear a difference in sound quality when I stream music from the Echo Dot going into the line input on my Sonos PLAY:5, compared to when I stream music directly from my PLAY:5 using either the Spotify or Sonos apps.

    Thanks for commenting!

  24. Fantastic, found this link as wife was ready to throw Alexa out of the window. Had been my fault as used Sonos app yesterday to listen to 6Music’s 1994 day throughout the house and forgot to switch it back to Line In. Hopefully this has resolved that!

  25. Sam,
    Thanks for your clear instructions. They were a big help. I’m sure I’ll be back as I learn more about my dot/sonos pairing.

    Great site!

  26. Hello,

    I am going to be building a house and we are wanting to start fresh and ditch having a TV downstairs (excluding specific TV watching parties like SuperBowl etc) so this will be a pretty open space that I’d like to successfully incorporate an echo dot (don’t own yet) and some speaker solution (don’t own yet.)

    I am hoping this is a good place to start…kind of at a loss how to set up the space. I can imagine the wife cooking things up, wanting to get some recipes or other info and in the other room (all open) playing some music. I’m hesitant to Shell out for an echo and then it not work right for the room. Perhaps I’m going down a rabbit hole gone wrong.

  27. hno line in undersettings, roomsettings, play5 Dot plugged here. using current sonos app. Thanks

  28. I have three Sonos zones using Connect Amps. They are ALL connected so that I am able to group them together to have the same music play throughout the whole house. My question is – if I connect the Alexa Dot to one of the Sonos Connect Amps, will I be able to group the music so that it plays in all 3 zones ? Or do I need to get a splitter so that the Echo Dot Line-out wire gets split into all three Sonos Connect Amp Line-In inputs ?

  29. Its much easier than this now: “Alexa, enable My Speaker” and you can then talk to your Sonos system directly. It does require a Windows 10 PC and a US Amazon account, but offers a much cleaner experience than using line-in.

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