If you have multiple Alexa speakers, you can create a Sonos-style multi-room sound system, which lets you sync the same music across multiple Echo devices.
This could mean listening to music seamlessly as you move around your home, or filling large rooms with multiple speakers working in tandem.
Multi-room audio systems have been a big tech enterprise in recent years, thanks in large part to the success of Sonos.
While Amazon’s Echo speaker line can’t match Sonos for sound quality, or Apple AirPlay 2 for versatility, voice assistant Alexa has at least learned the art of playing music, on time, on devices on your network.
And the good news is that with Amazon opening the platform some time ago, third-party Alexa speakers should be able to get involved.
But the bad news, although the Alexa Multi-Room Music (MRM) initiative has been online for developers for over 2 years now, is that adoption of other audio brands is slow; Only Marshall has offered compatible smart speakers so far – the likes of Bose and Sonos seem to go clearly.
And, as you’ll see later in the guide, even if you have a fully Echo setup, you will likely still experience issues.
Seamless, it is not.
1. Open the Alexa app and select Devices.
2. Tap the plus sign in the upper right cornerand select Configure multi-room music.
3. Choose the speakers you want to include and press Next.
4. Give the group a name then To save.
5. To start reading, just say “Alexa, play [music selection] sure [group name]. “
Which speakers support Multi-room Echo?
When the feature launched a few years ago, it was only supported by a handful of the Amazon Echo line. However, now every Echo speaker is able to connect. It means all generations and variations of …
- Amazon Echo (all generations)
- Amazon Echo Dot (all generations)
- Amazon Echo Show, Echo Show 5, Echo Show 8, Echo Show 10
- Amazon Echo Plus (first and second generation)
- Amazon Echo Spot
- Amazon Echo Sub
- Amazon Echo Studio
- Amazon Echo Link Amp and Echo Link
You’ll notice that the Sonos One, which makes Alexa vibrate, isn’t listed here. As mentioned above, third-party speakers have yet to support Amazon’s multi-room push.
In fact, we only tested speakers from one brand: Marshall, with its Uxbridge Voice, Acton II Voice, and Stanmore II Voice speakers all of which play well with Alexa multiroom.
You can group Sonos speakers together and use Alexa to control them if you want, but that’s not the same thing.
What sources of music can you read?
The musical medium is quite omnipresent. You can enjoy multi-room through Amazon Prime Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, and Sirius XM. Additionally, TuneIn and iHeartRadio will play radio stations using multiroom, if you prefer.
Alexa multi-room controls
Once you’ve followed the steps above, it’s time to party. Say it “Alexa, play [music] sure [group name]” to start playing on your selected devices. To stop you can say “Alexa, stop playing music on [group name]”.
Also, if you are using music services that are not default, remember that you will also need to add the source and the group. For example, “Alexa, play rock music on Apple Music downstairs.”
Smart speaker showdown: Nest Audio vs. Amazon Echo
It is useful to choose the “preferred speakers” once you have configured this group. This way all you have to say is, for example, “Alexa, play the Spandau Ballet”, and Alexa will start playing music on your favorite speaker, no matter which one is closest or which group it is in. If you don’t set one, the request will be executed by the Echo that heard your request.
Amazon Echo stereo setup
Good news – it’s also possible to pair an Echo speaker duo as a dedicated stereo pair – i.e. one as the right output and one as the left output.
This is the same setup as described above, but choose Add stereo pair / subwoofer after pressing this + button in the devices home screen.
Yes – Subwoofer. If you have an Echo Sub, you can also put it in the mix for a bit more bass.
Alexa and Echo multi-room speaker issues
You are likely to experience issues with an Alexa multi-room audio setup. It’s just not as transparent as it should be.
Online forums are full of people who have trouble adding their Echo and Alexa speakers to a multi-room group, as described in the steps above.
The problem seems to be with the Alexa app which requires devices to be on EXACTLY the same network as all the others they need to be grouped with.
And, by the same network, we don’t just mean the same Wi-Fi network. We mean the same Wi-Fi band (2.4 GHz or 5 GHz) and also the same BSSID.
If you don’t know what a BSSID is, good for you. Unless you are a network engineer, you shouldn’t really care.
Essentially, if your home Wi-Fi has multiple access points – maybe you have a mesh system, or a Wi-Fi repeater or range extender – then each of those access points will broadcast their own (sometimes several) BSSID.
The Wi-Fi network name and password will be the same on all of these, and devices like your smartphone and tablet will have no problem switching between them.
Your smart speakers can even swap the access point they’re connected to from time to time if they feel the signal is better.
But the problem is, when you first set them up, you’ll probably need all of the speakers to be on the exact band and BSSID.
Some people online have reported overcoming these issues by restarting their routers, disabling guest modes, turning on 5 GHz and a host of other methods.
It’s a lot more complicated than it should be. Sort it out on Amazon.