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Amazon has just delivered an update to its Echo speakers that many have been craving for ages: the Sonos-like ability to play the same music in different rooms.
This means, for example, you can have Frank Sinatra belting out The Good Life* on the Amazon Echo in the living room, and walk into the kitchen and hear the same tune – perfectly synchronised – on your Echo Dot. (Your music tastes may be less Dad-like.)
Better still, it’s a doddle to set up, although there are some caveats…
How to set up multi-room audio with Amazon Echo speakers
Open the Echo app, either on your smartphone/tablet or by going to alexa.amazon.com in your web browser. Click Settings, and then under Audio Groups, select Multi-Room Music.
Now click Create Group and select which devices you want to band together. You can select all the speakers in the house or just a subset. Then you need to give the group a name. You can either choose from the drop-down list giving obvious suggestions, such as “downstairs” or “Lounge”, or choose a custom name of your own. Don’t make a custom name too complicated, however, as you’ll need to say that word every time you want to start multi-room audio.
Once you’ve saved the group, you can now walk up to any speaker in the set, and bark a command like: “Alexa, play Hotel California upstairs” and the same song should be broadcast by all the speakers in that group.
Things to watch for…
There are a couple of gotchas with this setup. Multi-room music is currently compatible with Amazon Music, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and Pandora, but not with Spotify (Amazon promises Spotify support is coming soon). That means, if you’ve set up Spotify as the Echo’s default music service, you’re going to have to throw in the name of the music service in your command too. This makes it a bit of a syntax nightmare. By the time you’ve said: “Alexa, play The Long and Winding Road by The Beatles on Amazon Music upstairs” you could have hummed the song to yourself.
The other limitation is that each device can only be in one group.
The good news
If you like the idea of this multi-room setup, the good news is the main Amazon Echo speaker is only £99 at the moment, down from its regular price of £149. The bad news is that almost certainly means a newer model is on the way…