With another holiday season over, it’s more likely than ever that you’ve got multiple smart speakers in the same house—Alexa or Google Assistant within shouting range in multiple rooms, just in case you want to check the weather forecast or set a timer. If you do have several smart speakers installed, here are the extra tricks you can do with them.
Don’t leave the music behind as you move from room to room around the house—have it follow you by playing the same tunes through two or more of your smart speakers. It might get on your neighbours’ nerves, but hey, at least you won’t miss any parts of your favourite tracks.
If your speakers are Google-powered, tap the plus button (top left) of the Google Home app on your phone, then tap Create speaker group. Pick your speakers, give the group a name, and audio can then be streamed to that group using the Google Home app or using a voice command (“play rock on kitchen speakers”).
If your speakers have Amazon Alexa inside, open up the Alexa app on your phone, then choose Devices and tap the plus icon in the top right-hand corner. Pick Set Up Multi-Room Music to group speakers together and to name them, and once the setup is complete, you can send audio to a particular group using your voice or the app.
Stereo audio sound
If you have more than one smart speaker in the same room, you can set them up as a stereo pair, just like you can with Sonos speakers—any stereo audio feeds you stream to them or play from the cloud will treat one speaker as the left channel and one speaker as the right channel for a more immersive effect.
With Google Nest speakers, you need to open up the Google Home app on your phone, then select one of the speakers in the pair. Tap the settings cog icon in the top right corner, then select Speaker pair, and follow the instructions—you’ll be asked to pick two speakers and specify which is the left one and which is the right one.
For Amazon Echo speakers, open the Alexa app on your phone. Go to the Devices tab, tap the plus icon in the top-right corner, then choose Set Up Audio System and Stereo Pair. You’ll then be prompted to choose your speakers and set their positions. In the case of Echo speakers, you can add a subwoofer to a stereo pair, too.
Maybe the entire family needs to come downstairs for dinner, or maybe you’d like to let all of your housemates know that the sink hasn’t been cleaned out again, or maybe you’re turning off the heat and going out and just want to check there’s no one at home—for these and many other reasons, you might need the multi-speaker broadcast function, which you can use to send messages through every speaker simultaneously.
For Google speakers, you just say, “hey, Google, broadcast…” followed by whatever message you want to send (“hey, Google, tell everyone…” and “hey, Google, announce…” do the same job). This will work through Google Assistant on your phone as well, as long as it’s on the same wifi network and you have the Google Home app set up on the same device.
For Amazon speakers, the trigger voice command you need is “Alexa, broadcast…” followed by your message (“Alexa, announce that…” and “Alexa, tell everyone…” will work too, as on Google speakers). The message gets sent out to all the Echo devices on your home network.
Control one speaker from another
Whenever you set up multiple speakers in your home, they all know about each other through the Google Home or Alexa app. If you want to speak to one speaker but have the response or the audio come out of another, that’s possible, though it’s limited to music for now.
In the case of Google Home speakers, you need to say “hey, Google, play…” followed by a genre, artist, or whatever, and as well as the name of another speaker in your house. (If you don’t specify the other speaker, playback will start on the speaker you’re speaking to.) If you’re using a Nest Hub with a display, you’ll even get on-screen controls for operating the other speaker remotely.
When it comes to Echo speakers from Amazon, everything works the same—say “Alexa, play…” then the music you’re after and the specific speaker you want playback to start on. On both Amazon and Google speakers, you can stop playback remotely as well.
Set up surround sound
This one is just for Amazon systems: If you have a Fire TV device connected to your television and several Echos set up in the same room, you can use the speakers to act as a surround sound system for the audio coming out of your TV.
To do this, open up the Alexa app on your phone, then tap Devices. Tap the plus button (top right), then choose Set Up Audio System followed by Home Cinema. The app then looks for compatible Fire TV devices and Echo smart speakers on the same wifi network that your phone is on.
Assuming that you have the compatible hardware in place, you can pick the speakers you want to use, and the configuration you want to use them in, to get everything connected up. You’ll also be prompted to give your new surround sound system a name.