Put an Amazon Echo in every room of your home (you can thank us later)

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


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I bet you’ve got an unused Echo Dot stuffed in some forgotten drawer or closet in your home. I had two — both white third-gen models that I’d since replaced with the better-sounding fourth-gen “orbs.” But those old hockey pucks still slapped, especially when paired with my black Echo Show 8, so I dug them out and found homes for the both of them.

One third-gen dot went in my half-bath, the other in my upstairs hallway — bringing my menagerie of Alexa devices up to a whopping 11 smart speakers and displays, including an Echo Flex (see the below photo for how ridiculously small those are). That means I now have one Alexa speaker or display for every 122 square feet of house, give or take.

Is that overkill? For sure. Should you still put an Alexa speaker in your bedroom and bathroom and garage (you get the gist!) anyway? Well, absolutely. Once you do, you’ll wonder why you never did it before. 

That’s because there are some unique advantages to keeping a houseful of Alexa devices. Read below to find out all of the neat tricks you can implement with those Amazon gadgets you already have lying around, plus how to keep everything in order. 

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The Echo Flex is the smallest Alexa speaker, with sound quality that’s not great.


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Organization is key, because having a chorus of Alexa devices within earshot of each other can cause some interesting problems. Alexa can supposedly tell which device you’re speaking 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 expanding cornucopia of Alexa devices, plus some of the cool things I do with them, like pipe music through my whole house.

Why so many Alexas? Because more is better

Some Alexa features just work better the more Amazon Echo speakers and displays you have set up 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 an Amazon Echo Subwoofer). On days when you’re moving a lot from room to room — cleaning the house, say, or hosting a get-together — it’s remarkable how neat it is to have music playing everywhere you go.

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Those old third-gen hockey puck Echo Dots make 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 houseful of Alexa, too. Besides multiroom music, here are some of my other favs:

Announcements: Say, “Alexa, announce dinner is ready,” or, “…announce that it’s bedtime,” and check out what happens (hint: Alexa adds some audio “color” to the message).

Drop In: You can have an intercom-like conversation with someone in a specific room — “Alexa, drop in on the kitchen” — or with the whole house at once — “…drop in everywhere.”

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

But before you get started on any of this, the first thing you’ll want to reign in is all those Alexas that could mistakenly respond to you (up next).

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The second-gen Amazon Echo is still a formidable smart speaker, so don’t shove yours in a drawer and forget about it.


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Choose wake words, but choose them wisely

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

For example, in my bedroom I have two Echo Dots on either nightstand, 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 for commands (the one on my side — duh). On that one, I’ve left “Alexa” as the wake word, but on the other, I changed it to “Echo.”

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

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

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

3. Pick a wake word other than Alexa (you may want to stick with just one alternative, lest you forget which is which).

4. Tap OK when a popup lets you know it might take a few minutes to change over, then either back out of that menu or close the app.

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


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Pair Alexas for stereo and multiroom audio groups

If you’ve got 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 audio is divided into left and right channels, like a 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 bigger set of speakers (more on that shortly).

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

1. Open the Alexa app, tap Devices on 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 Next.

3. The app will assign the right channel to one and the left channel to the other, but you can tap Swap Speakers to toggle the options, then tap Next.

4. Name your new stereo pair (I usually stick with the name of the room, i.e., “Master Bedroom”).

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You don’t need an Amazon Echo Subwoofer to make whole-house audio sound good (although it would help).


Sarah Tew/CNET

Multiroom audio works similarly, but without the stereo separation. Also, you can combine unalike speakers, and previously paired stereo pairs, as many of them as you wish. And, again, the speakers don’t have to be in different rooms, even though the feature is called “Multi-room.” Here’s how to do it:

1. Open the Alexa app, tap Devices on 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 of 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 tap Swap Speakers to toggle the options, then tap Next.

4. Either choose a name from the list or type your own custom name at the bottom, then tap Save.

For more cool Alexa tricks, take a look at 6 useful Amazon Echo tips you’ll want to use everyday, some funny things you can ask Alexa and a few more commands you can try tonight. 

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