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Echos in Excess: Why You Should Put an Alexa Device in Every Room of Your Home

This story is part of home tipsCNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, indoors and out.

I bet that headline made you do a double take. I mean, what kind of strange person has an Amazon device in every room? Well, call me weird — but don’t judge me until you hear me, because there are so many cool tricks you can do with those unused Echo Point stuffed in a forgotten drawer or something Amazon Echo Speaker that is slowly getting dusty in the corner of your living room.

I had two Echo Dots – both white third generation models which I had since replaced with the better sounding fourth generation ‘orbs’. But those old hockey pucks still rock, especially when paired with my black one Echo Show 8, so I dug them out and found a home for both of them. A third-generation Dot went in my half-bath, the other in my upstairs hallway — bringing my menagerie of Alexa devices to a whopping 11 smart speakers and smart screens. That means I now have an Alexa speaker or display every few feet throughout my house.

Is that an exaggeration? Yes, you could say that. Should you put an Alexa device in your bedroom, bathroom and garage (you get the gist!) anyway? Well, absolutely. Once you’ve done that, you’ll wonder why you never did it before. That’s because there are some unique benefits to keeping a house full of Alexa devices.

Here are all the handy tricks you can implement with those Amazon gadgets you already have laying around, plus some tips for keeping things in order. And if you’re itching to buy new Echo devices, Amazon is host an event next week to unveil new products and services. (You can always use the best Alexa devicesthe best cheap Alexa devices and the best smart screens already on the market).

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Why so many Alexa devices? Because more is better

Some Alexa features just work better the more Amazon Echo speakers and displays you have set up in your home. For example, if you’ve never experienced whole-house sound before, it’s a surprisingly dazzling experience — even if most of your speakers are Echo Dots (and even if you don’t have an Amazon Echo Subwoofer). On days when you move a lot from room to room – for example, cleaning the house or organizing a meeting – it is remarkable how neat it is to have music everywhere.

Three Amazon Echo Dot 3rd generation speakers on a table

Those old third generation hockey puck Echo Dots are perfect speakers for your garage, entryway or other less frequently used areas.

Ry Crist/CNET

But there are also other useful ways to use a house full of Alexas. In addition to multiroom music, here are some of my other favorites:

Announcements: Say “Alexa, announce dinner is ready,” or “announce bedtime,” and see what happens (Alexa adds some audio color to the message).

Invade: You can have an intercom-like conversation with someone in a specific room — “Alexa, come in the kitchen” — or with the whole house at once — “come in anywhere.”

Multiroom audio (but in the same room): You may only be able to link identical speakers together in stereo, but you can place two or three or more speakers together in the same room, even though the function is called ‘Multi-room’.

But before you get started with this, the first thing you want to curb all those Echo devices that may accidentally respond to you (besides).

A white second-generation Amazon Echo smart speaker from an aerial view

The second-generation Amazon Echo is still a formidable smart speaker, so don’t shove yours in a drawer and forget about it.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Assign wake words other than “Alexa”

If you’re like me and have multiple Echo devices in the same area, then you already know how annoying it can be to say “Alexa!” and make every device compete for your attention. If you have two or more devices in the same area, it’s best to give each of them their own wake word.

For example, I have an Echo Show in my kitchen and an Echo Dot in the living room just a few feet away. I mainly use the Dot to play music, not necessarily to listen to commands. I gave that speaker (and other speakers I use for audio only) a wake word other than ‘Alexa’.

While that of Amazon traditional options for calling your voice assistant are Alexa, Computer, Amazon and Echo, there are several newer additions of wake words you can use like ziggy and Hey Disney. Unfortunately, you can’t name it anything other than this one, so you’ll have to wait to name your device “Buddy” or something else unique.

To change the activation word on individual devices, do the following:

1. Open the Alexa app, navigate to Devices.

2. Tap Echo & Alexa of the top row of icons.

3. Tap the name of the device with the activation word you want to change. You have to change the activation word of each device individually.

4. Select the Settings icon in the top right corner, scroll down and tap Wake Word.

5. Choose a wake word other than Alexa (see above for your options).

6. Tap Okay when a popup informs you that it may take a few minutes to switch, go back out of that menu or close the app.

You can also change the alarm word using voice commands. Just say, “Alexa, change your wake word.” Alexa will ask you to choose from the list of wake words on offer. Then select the word you want.

Now you are all set! And you can always go back and change the wake word at any time.

read more: All Amazon Echo Wake Words That Aren’t Alexa — And What They Do

Three round Echo speakers on a table

When setting up a stereo pair, the Echo with Clock, Echo Kids, and Echo Dot are all interchangeable.

Julie Snyder/CNET

Link Alexas for stereo and multiroom audio groups

If you have two identical devices (or functionally identical – the Echo Dot, Echo Dot with clock and Echo Kids of the same generation are all interchangeable in this sense), you can pair them so that the audio is divided into left and right channels, as a bona fide stereo system. That pair will then appear as a single speaker in the Alexa app when directing audio into a routine or creating an even larger set of speakers (more on that soon).

Before setting this up, make sure that both speakers are in the same virtual “room” in your Alexa app and that both are on the same network. Then do this:

1. Open the Alexa app, tap Devices on the bottom menu bar, then tap the plus sign (+) in the upper right corner.

2. Tap Combine speakersand then tap Stereo Pair / Subwoofer. Tap one of the speakers you want to use and the app will highlight compatible speaker options — tap one then tap Next one.

3. The app assigns the right channel to one and the left channel to the other, but you can tap Swap speakers to switch between the options, then tap Next one.

4. Give your new stereo pair a name (I usually stick with the name of the room, like “Master Bedroom”).

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Multiroom audio works the same way, but without the stereo separation. You can also combine dissimilar speakers and previously linked stereo pairs, as many as you like. And again, the speakers don’t must are in different rooms. Here’s how to do it:

1. Open the Alexa app, tap Devices on the bottom menu bar, then tap the plus sign (+) in the upper right corner.

2. Tap Combine speakersand then tap Music in multiple rooms. Tap all the speakers you want to include in the group, then tap Next one.

3. The app assigns the right channel to one and the left channel to the other, but you can tap Swap speakers to switch between the options, then tap Next one.

4. Choose a name from the list or type your own custom name at the bottom, then tap Save.

Protect your Amazon Echo privacy

With all these Echo devices scattered around your house, you’re probably wondering: Is Alexa always listening? It’s a good question, since no one wants Alexa to know about our confidential conversations.

Echo devices have caused many privacy issues. While they only record and send audio to Amazon’s cloud when the blue light is activated, Echo devices are well known to can be activated without you knowing if one of them hears something similar to his wake word (for example, if you say something like “election” or “I’d like some” instead of “Alexa”). It is also worth understanding that Amazon employees can listen to your Alexa conversations if you do not take certain precautions.

Fortunately, there are settings and other hacks to keep Amazon out of your business.

First, you can unplug the device or turn off the microphone by pressing the microphone mute button to ensure that Alexa isn’t always listening. You can also update the settings to: delete your Amazon speech transcripts immediately so that they cannot be reviewed by Amazon employees. You can read our full overview of privacy tips here.

For more cool Alexa tricks, check out six helpful Amazon Echo tips that you want to use every day, some funny things you can ask Alexa and a few more commands you can try tonight.

More tips for Alexa



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