Alexa, Alexa, Alexa: what to do with all those extra Amazon Echo speakers


There are distinct advantages to putting Amazon Echo in every room inside (and outside) your home.

Dale Smith / CNET

Admit it – you have at least one Echo Dot stuffed in a trash drawer somewhere. I’ve had two – both were 3rd gen white models (aka “hockey puck”) that have since been upgraded to the best sounding 4th gen “orbs”. But the old model does not ring wrong, right? Like, not that bad, you can bring yourself to throw it away, anyway. Hence the garbage drawer.

I eventually found homes for those two unused Dots – one in my half bath and one in the upstairs hallway – bringing my inventory of Alexa devices to a total of 11, including an Echo Flex (see the photo to see how absurdly small this is). That’s about one speaker or Alexa display for every 122 square feet of home.

Is this overkill? Absolutely. Should you still install an Alexa speaker in every room of your house (even the hallway and garage)? Believe it or not, there are some distinct advantages to having a house full of Alexa. (Read on – that’s the topic of the rest of this article.)

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Echo Flex is the smallest Alexa speaker, with poor sound quality.

Chris Monroe / CNET

Of course, having multiple Alexa devices within earshot of each other also causes problems. On the one hand, Alexa is supposed to be able to determine which device you’re talking to and respond accordingly, but – in practice – this rarely goes without a hitch. I also have fixes for this.

Here’s how I manage my own menagerie of Alexa devices and some of the cool things I do with it, like pipe music all over my house at once.

Better with more Alexa

Some of Alexa’s features work best with the number of Amazon Echo speakers and displays you have installed in your home. For example, if you’ve never experienced whole-house audio before, it’s a surprisingly dazzling experience – even if most of your speakers are Echo Dots (and even if you don’t have Amazon Echo subwoofer). On days when you move from room to room a lot – cleaning the house, for example, or having a meeting – it’s remarkable how nice it is to have music everywhere you go.

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These older 3rd generation Echo Dots hockey pucks are perfect speakers for your garage, hallway, or other less frequently used spaces.

Ry Crist / CNET

But there are other nifty ways to use a house full of Alexa as well. Besides multi-room music, here are a few of my other favorites:

Advertisement : Say “Alexa, announce that dinner is ready” or “… announce that it is bedtime” and watch what happens (hint: Alexa adds an audio “color” to the message).

Deposit: You can have an intercom-type conversation with someone in a specific room – “Alexa, come by in the kitchen” – or with the whole house at once – “… go everywhere.”

Multi-room audio (but in the same room): You may only be able to pair identical speakers in stereo, but you can put two or three or more speakers together in the same room, even though the feature is called “multi-room”.

But before you jump into all of this, the first thing you’ll want to rule over is all of those Alexas that might answer you in error (coming soon).

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The 2nd Gen Amazon Echo is still a great smart speaker, so don’t put yours in a drawer and forget it.

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

Choose your wake-up words wisely

About half of the Amazon Echo speakers and displays in my house are really meant to be one-way speakers. In other words, they’re there to play the audio, not necessarily to listen to the controls. For these speakers I have assigned a wake word other than “Alexa”.

For example, in my bedroom I have two Echo Dots on each bedside table, connected as a stereo pair (i.e. right and left channels – I’ll show you how in the next section). I only need one of them to listen to the commands (the one on my side – duh). On this one, I left “Alexa” as the wake-up word, but on the other, I changed it to “Echo”.

This way I don’t have two nearby speakers competing for my attention when I yell “Alexa!” Here’s how to change the activation word on individual devices:

1. Open the Alexa app and tap Devices in the bottom menu bar, then press Echo and Alexa at the top.

2. Tap the name of the device whose activation word you want to change, then scroll down and tap Wake up word.

3. Pick a wake-up word other than Alexa (you might want to stick to one alternative, lest you forget which is which).

4. Tap Okay When a pop-up informs you that the change may take a few minutes, exit this menu or close the application.

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When setting up a stereo pair, the Echo Dot with Clock, Echo Kids, and Echo Dot are all interchangeable.

Julie Snyder / CNET

Create stereo pairs and multiroom audio groups

If you have two identical devices (or functionally identical – the same generation Echo Dot, Echo Dot with clock, and Echo Kids are all interchangeable), you can pair them so that the audio is split into left and right channels (like a real system). stereo). That pair will then appear as a single speaker in the Alexa app when directing audio in a routine or creating an even larger set of speakers (more on that shortly).

Before setting this up, make sure both speakers are in the same virtual “room” in your Alexa app and both are on the same network. Then do this:

1. Open the Alexa app, tap Devices in the bottom menu bar, then tap the plus sign (+) in the upper right corner.

2. Tap Combine speakers, then tap Stereo pair / subwoofer. Tap one of the speakers you want to use, then the app will highlight compatible speaker options – tap one, then tap following.

3. The app will assign the right channel to one and the left channel to the other, but you can press Swap speakers to toggle the options, then press following.

4. Name your new stereo pair (I usually stick to the room name ie “Master bedroom”).

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You don’t need an Amazon Echo subwoofer for whole house sound to be good (although that can help).

Sarah Tew / CNET

Multi-room audio works the same way, but without the stereo separation. Also, you can combine different speakers (and previously paired stereo pairs) – as many as you like. And, again, the speakers don’t duty be in different rooms, even if the function is called “multi-room”. Here’s how to do it:

1. Open the Alexa app, tap Devices in the bottom menu bar, then tap the plus sign (+) in the upper right corner.

2. Tap Combine speakers, then tap Multi-room music. Tap all the speakers you want to include in the group, then tap following.

3. The app will assign the right channel to one and the left channel to the other, but you can press Swap speakers to toggle between the options, then touch following.

4. Choose a name from the list or enter your own custom name at the bottom, then press Save.


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