(Pocket-lint) - Amazon's Echo devices support multi-room audio, but you need to use the Alexa app to group them up.
This feature lets you play music across multiple Echo devices in your home at the same time. But there are caveats: the feature is only available in a few countries, 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.
How does multi-room work on Amazon Echo devices?
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 version of multi-room audio, you can create groups with two or more Echo devices. You can name that 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.
In addition, some versions of the Echo will support stereo pairing, although this only works with similar devices - i.e., two Echo Dot or two Echo - and it's limited to the more recent devices. Fortunately the third-gen Echo will stereo pair with the second-gen Echo Plus, giving a little more flexibility.
How do you group Alexa devices for multi-room music?
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.
When ready, update and open the Amazon Alexa app on your mobile device, and then follow these steps:
- Select Devices in the bottom left corner
- Tap the + in the top right corner
- Tap on Set Up Multi-Room Music, then "Continue"
- Pick a name for your group or select one from the list. Tap Next
- On the next page select the Echo devices to include in the group. Those unavailable will be greyed out. Tap save
- Alexa will connect the devices creating the group
- Once enabled, say: "Play [song or artist] on [Echo devices' group name]"
Which Echo devices support the feature?
- Echo (2nd gen)
- Echo (3rd gen)
- Echo Dot
- Echo Dot (2nd gen)
- Echo Dot (3rd gen)
- Echo Dot with Clock
- Echo Show
- Echo Show (2nd gen)
- Echo Show 5
- Echo Show 8
- Echo Plus
- Echo Plus (2nd gen)
- Echo Spot
- Fire TV Stick
- Echo Input
When the feature launched in 2017, only a handful of devices in the Amazon Echo support it, but that has expanded over the following months. Now, every Echo speaker is capable of multi-room audio (except the Amazon Tap). Alexa 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 soon. We will update if that happens.
Which music services support the feature?
You can use Alexa to control multi-room music from Amazon Music, Prime Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, Sirius XM, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio. Keep in mind 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.
You might also find that services withdrawing from TuneIn - like the BBC - might no longer have support.
Alexa multi-room commands
Here are some examples of things you can say:
- "Alexa, Play [music] on [group name]."
- "Alexa, stop playing music on [group name]".
- "Alexa, play pop music on Amazon Music downstairs."
This all sounds great, but Alexa has to interpret that you want to play on the group and can sometimes take the group name as part of the song or service you are choosing. Generally speaking it's easy to get your default music service to play songs on a group, but you also get full control from the Alexa app.
This means you can go to the playing section of the app, select the content you want and then where you want it to play - you'll not only have your Echo devices listed, but also your group.
If you're a Spotify user, groups also roll into Spotify Connect, so you can choose music from the Spotify app directly, then pick the group of speakers you want it to play on.
Does it work with non-music content?
No. Amazon's multi-room music feature does not work with non-music content, skills or other things, but it will work (after a fashion) with Audible books. We've only managed to get this to work from the Alexa app, but this could be something you do to have a book read to kids at bedtime in separate rooms.