Amazon Alexa is fun to use... when she can hear you.
If you own an Echo device, especially one of the original models, you've likely noticed that Alexa picks up your voice when she feels like it. You can yell all you want, and Amazon's assistant will still ignore you. Microphone issues with the Echo are so common that we've developed this troubleshooting guide for those of you who can't get Alexa to listen. Let us know in the comments if you know of other tricks.
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How to solve Amazon Echo mic problems
Sometimes Alexa is hard of hearing. Here’s how to clean her ears out.
Reboot or reset your Echo
Reboot your Echo. Seriously. Unplug it from the wall and see if that fixed your issue. If you still can’t get your Amazon Echo to behave correctly, try resetting it. This will take it back to factory settings, however, so you'll need to set it up again through the Amazon Alexa app on your smartphone or tablet. If you need a primer on how to re-setup your Echo device, Pocket-lint has you covered with the following how-to guides:
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You can reset an original Echo or Echo Dot by sticking a safety-pin into the reset hole on the base of the device. Go here for information about how to reset a second-generation Echo or Echo Dot, or go here for Echo Show reset instructions. Alternatively, to reset any Echo, you can just open the Amazon Alexa app, go to Settings, select your Echo, and scroll to and select Reset to Factory defaults. Simples.
Temporarily disable the mic
If Alexa hits an audio snag, try clearing the lines of communication by turning off the microphone for a minute. You can quickly disable the mic of an Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Dot, or Echo Show by pushing the mic on/off button on the top of the device. When the mic on/off button turns red, the microphone is off. Your device will not respond until you reactivate the mic by pushing the mic on/off button again.
Move your Echo
It may seem obvious, but you should try moving your Amazon Echo to a different spot in your house. It could be too close to an A/C unit, an open window, or something else that's emitting just enough ambient noise to make it difficult for Alexa to pick up your voice. We recommend solving this issue by moving your Amazon Echo somewhere quieter. Amazon itself suggests moving it to the middle of a room.
Turn your Echo
You can try physically turning your Echo so it’s less likely to use a particular mic that seems fixated on someone or something other than you. Remember, the original Echo and most other Echo models come with a microphone array - or several mics - as well as "beam forming technology" so that it can pinpoint and hone in on who's talking. As you're well aware, sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn't.
Test which direction Alexa is listening
A good way to tell if something or someone around your Amazon Echo is making too much noise is to pay attention to its blue light. When you say your Amazon Echo’s wake word (“Alexa", “Echo", or “Amazon”), the blue light around the brim of the speaker will light up a solid blue with cyan pointing in the direction of whatever or whomever it heard. If it's not pointing toward you, it's listening to something else.
Teach Alexa to hear you better
There’s a way to teach your Alexa-compatible devices to understand you better. Open the Amazon Alexa app on your mobile device, then tap on the menu button, and tap on Settings. Under Alexa Devices, there’s an option called Voice Training. Tap it, and then you'll be walked through a tutorial in which you need to read 25 phrases aloud. This will help your Echo to better understand your particular voice.
Just make sure you select the correct Alexa-compatible device from the dropdown menu under Voice Training. Also, you need to be in the same room, talking to that specific speaker, for it to work. Pocket-lint also has an in-depth guide on how to set up Alexa voice profiles:
Check if your Echo is updating
All Alexa-compatible devices auto-receive software updates over Wi-Fi. These usually improve performance and add new Alexa features. However, if something is wrong with your device, it may not be properly updating, and, conceivably, that could be causing issues with your mic.
This Amazon page tells consumers about the latest software updates it has rolled out to Echo devices. Check it to see which update was last rolled out to a particular Echo, and then confirm your Echo device has received it by opening the Alexa app on your mobile device. You'll need to go to Settings, then select your Echo, and scroll to Device software version. Make sure the software versions match up.
If not, contact Amazon for help (once again, open the Alexa app on your mobile device, then go to Help & Feedback, and scroll to Contact Us).
Reboot your router
Amazon Alexa cannot work without a solid internet connection. If you’re experiencing intermittent connectivity or non-existent Wi-Fi connectivity with your Amazon Echo, reboot your router, and then turn your Amazon Echo off and on again.
Tear your Echo device apart
This one is only for experienced pros. But, if you're handy with a screwdriver and know the ins and outs of audio gadgetry, considering tearing apart your Amazon Echo to see if all the wires inside are where they should be and that everything is good to go. However, if you do this and then decide to contact Amazon about a return, be aware that Amazon might not be so willing to help you out.
Return your dud Echo
If all else fails, return your Echo for repairs or one that works better. You can return many items sold on Amazon.com. Go here for more details about how to initiate a return and whether you're even eligible. If you bought your Echo elsewhere, check the store's return policies.
Use a third-party app
If you can’t return your Echo for repairs or a new model, use a third-party app, like Ubi, to control the Echo through your phone's mic, eliminating the need to use the Echo's mic. Just download the app, then connect it to your Amazon Echo, and you’re good to use your Echo again.