Alexa, Alexa, Alexa: what to do with all your extra Amazon echoes

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

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I bet you have an unused Echo Dot somewhere in your house. I had two – the two third generation white models that I had since replaced with the better sounding fourth generation “orbs”. But those old hockey pucks were still slapping, especially when paired with my black Echo Show 8, so I dug them up and found homes for both.

One third-gen dot went into my half bath, the other in my upstairs hallway – carrying my menagerie of Alexa devices to 11 smart speakers and displays, including an Echo Flex (see photo for know how ridiculously small they are). That means I now have an Alexa speaker or display for every 122 square feet of home, give or take.

Is this overkill? For sure. Should you still install an Alexa speaker in every room of your house (including the hallway and garage)? Absoutely. Once you do, you will never come back. This is because there are some unique benefits to keeping a house full of Alexa. (Read on – that’s what the rest of this story is about, plus how to keep everything tidy.)

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

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Organization is key, as having a chorus of Alexa devices within earshot of each other can cause some interesting issues. Alexa can supposedly tell which device you’re talking to (and respond accordingly), but in my experience the opposite is more often true. But these problems have solutions, and that’s what I’m here to show you.

This is how I manage my growing cornucopia of Alexa devices, as well as some of the cool things I do with them like pipe music all over my house.

Why so many Alexas? Because more is better

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 old Echo Dots third generation hockey pucks are perfect speakers for your garage, hallway, or other less frequently used spaces.

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But there are other nifty ways to use a house full of Alexa as well. Besides multiroom 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 the kitchen” – or with the whole house at once – “… come everywhere.”

Multiroom 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 function 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 second-gen Amazon Echo is still a great smart speaker, so don’t put yours in a drawer and forget it.

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

Choose wake-up words, but choose them 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. Faucet 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

Pair Alexas for stereo 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 bona fide stereo system. 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 soon).

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. Faucet 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 Next.

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 Next.

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

Multiroom audio works the same way, but without the stereo separation. In addition, you can combine different speakers and previously paired stereo pairs as much as you want. And, again, the speakers don’t to have to 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. Faucet Combine speakers, then tap Multi-room music. Tap all the speakers you want to include in the group, then tap Next.

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 Next.

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



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