Amazon Echo Elevates Its Game With Alexa Multi-Room Audio Support

Amazon Echos and Whole House Audio

For those who have taken the plunge and invested in the Amazon Echo platform today is an opportunity to rejoice. For those who haven’t full invested it might be time to take a second look at the line of Echo products and consider adding a few more to the shopping cart. Amazon rolled out updates to Amazon Echo, Dot, and Show devices* overnight and announced to the world this morning that its voice-activated Alexa service would now be able to compete with the multi-room capabilities that competitors like Sonos, Apple, and Google have had for some time now.

The service is still brand new but I was eager to try it out in my home, we jumped on the Echo bandwagon when it was first announced and have taken advantage of Prime Day deals and other sales that popped up to fill many of the rooms in our house with Alexa-enabled devices. You may recall how I gushed about the FABRIQ Alexa-enabled speakers back in May, we’ve continued to embrace the platform and have realized that the Dot makes a great alarm clock and white noise machine for the kids rooms.


So how did the process of setting it up go? As one of my twins would say, “Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy.” Configuration was a cinch, there’s a new section in the ‘Settings’ screen called ‘Audio Groups’ and contained within is a single configuration screen labeled ‘Multi-Room Music.’

Alexa Multi-Room - Audio Groups
Image By: Chris Wickersham

 

Once you enter the ‘Multi-Room Music’ screen you’re presented with a list of groups that already exist. You can see that I already have quite a few groups defined in my home, we make extensive use of our Amazon Echo to control our smart home devices. The ‘Multi-Room Music section here is new as of this morning.

Alexa Multi-Room - Music
Image By: Chris Wickersham

 

Clicking the ‘Create Group’ button takes the user to a screen where all the Echo, Dot, and Show devices* online are listed.

Alexa Multi-Room - Whole House
Image By: Chris Wickersham

Select as many devices as you want and a quick save creates or updates the group. Once the configuration saves and you get a success message you can instruct any of your Alexa enabled devices to play music using the name of the Multi-Room Music Group. In my case, I can say something like, “Alexa, play The DoubleClicks on Whole House” and I get a house full of sweet tunes!

Sadly, not everything works perfectly yet. We use Spotify as our default music source and, though Amazon promises support will come soon, when you ask Alexa to play something from Spotify on a Multi-Room configuration you get a polite message informing you that Spotify isn’t supported yet. I’m also an avid listener of Amazon Audible material and I couldn’t get any of my books to play on the Multi-Room setup, Alexa kept misinterpreting my request to, “Play my audiobook on Whole House,” as an attempt to play a book that had “Whole House” in the title which I (surprisingly) don’t have. I’m hoping both of these features will be coming soon, for now we switched our default music provider to Amazon Unlimited and it works like a charm! One thing that I wasn’t expecting to work very well was interrupting a single unit and asking it to play something different. I was quite surprised, however, when it worked exactly as I expected. All of the other devices in the group continued to play the same audio and the one that I asked to change started playing something entirely different. Bravo!

Have you tried it out yet? Have you noticed any other quirkiness? Are you getting similarly good results? I’m curious to hear if it is available to everyone immediately or if it’s being rolled out in stages like the Drop In functionality. Let me know!

* A previous version of this article indicated that the Amazon Tap was included in this update. Thanks to one of our many fantastic readers the article was updated to remove the Tap from the list of devices that Multi-Room audio is available on. Let’s hope we can add it back in soon!

By day an Enterprise Architect for a Fortune 15 company, by night a tinkerer and serial hobbyist. I'm learning the solo-parenting ropes with my 5 children and trying my best to engage them in the finer points of Geek-dom.