Amazon's Echo devices now support multi-room audio.

Technically, Amazon is calling the new feature 'multi-room music', but it works similarly; you can use the feature to play music across multiple Alexa-enabled devices in your home at the same time. But there are caveats: the feature is only available in a few countries at the moment, and it only supports music, specifically, as well as certain devices and services. Here's what you need to know and how to set it up.

Multi-room music/audio is one of those buzzphrases that's been kicking about for years. It's a phrase that ultimately refers to what you might expect: audio in multiple rooms. Put simply, it's the ability to listen to music in several rooms. Depending on the system, you'll be able to play different music in different rooms at the same time, or the same music in all rooms, or just a couple simultaneously.

In Amazon's case, you can create groups with two or more Echo devices. You can name the group - for instance, “upstairs" - and then once you’ve created the group, you can simply say, “Alexa, play John Lennon upstairs.” Alexa will not only play tunes from Amazon Music but also other streaming services, depending on your location. 

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You can register two or more Alexa-enabled devices to one Amazon account. Once you do that, you must put them all on the same Wi-Fi network, and then you can get them set up for multi-room music using the Alexa app, which includes creating a group for them. Go here to learn how to properly set up your Amazon Echo devices and then here to get them connected to your Wi-Fi.

When ready, update and open the Amazon Alexa app on your mobile device, and then follow these steps:

  • Select Smart Home from the menu.
  • Select the Groups category.
  • Select Create Groups to create a group.
  • Tap on Multi-Room Music Group.
  • Select a pre-set group name or tap “Create Custom” and enter a name.
  • Tap Next. The Alexa app will confirm it created your group.
  • Once enabled, say: “Play [song or artist] [Echo devices' group name]”.

Amazon's multi-room music feature is only available for all existing Echo devices in the US, UK, Germany, and Austria. However, the Amazon Tap and Alexa-enabled devices from third parties do not support the feature right now. Amazon said it giving tools to developers so that they can enable their speakers by next year. We will update this post when that happens.

That means companies like Sonos, Bose, and Samsung will be able to offer Alexa-enabled speakers that support Alexa multi-room music. You will then be able to play and sync up music not only across your Amazon Echo devices but also third-party Alexa-enabled devices. We will update this piece when other devices officially support multi-room music control via Amazon Alexa.

You can use Alexa to control multi-room music from Amazon Music, as well as TuneIn, and soon, Spotify. Users in the US can also listen to iHeartRadio and Pandora, with support for SiriusXM coming soon. However, the feature does not support any Bluetooth connections while streaming, such as to external speakers, unless it's a wired connection to an external speaker (like from the Echo Dot).

You also can't fast-forward or rewind for music playback.

Note: If you are using Amazon Music Unlimited, Amazon said you should be aware that if you are streaming on any other device, you'll not be able to stream via Alexa at the same time unless you have a Family Plan subscription. Prime Music is also limited to one stream - to a device or a multi-room music group - at a time. You can learn more about Amazon Music Unlimited from here.

No. Amazon's multi-room music feature does not work with non-music content, whether that be ebooks or skills.

Check out Amazon's help hub.