Using Amazon Alexa for Multi-Room Audio
Amazon Alexa – The future of Multi-Room Audio?
There is no doubt voice control is here to stay and leading the charge is Amazon Alexa. The convenience of being able to start and stop your favourite music simply by talking to Alexa is revolutionary – and that is only one trick up Alexa’s sleeve. Alexa allows a whole host of interactions – add things to your Amazon basket (handy if you have just used the last of an ingredient in the kitchen), find out traffic information for the commute to work or even find the answer to a question which has been annoying you – “Alexa, What’s the meaning of life?”.
Amazon vs Google vs Apple – Audio Quality
We are a home technology company so this article will be focusing on audio around the home. Alexa allows an easy way to stream music in to areas – Amazon Music and Internet Radio are just a command away. The issue until recently has been audio quality – The Amazon Echo and Echo Dot only have tiny speakers which may be fine for listening to BBC Radio 4 in the morning but aren’t going to allow you to dance round the kitchen in the evening. All the companies (Google, Apple and Amazon all have voice control are competing for this hot emerging market) know this and are bring out a range of solutions to keep the voice control – Apple have released their HomePod speaker, Google Home have their speaker and Amazon have cleverly partnered with Sonos. This partnership means that an Echo or Echo dot can control a Sonos unit, either a Play1, 3 or 5 or even a centralised Connect amplifier. This means you get high quality audio throughout the home with the convenience of Amazon Alexa. You just need to have an Echo or Echo dot in every room you want to control.
Origin Acoustics Valet and Amazon Alexa
We have been installing Origin Acoustics ceiling speakers for years – most of our case studies feature their products – as we love the quality and the huge range. The Origin Acoustics Valet system makes huge amounts of sense – an in-ceiling bracket hides the Amazon Dot in the ceiling and hard wires it back to a central amplifier which then powers high end Origin Acoustics in-ceiling speakers. This has the advantage of not requiring an Echo on a surface somewhere (great for bathrooms and sleek modern kitchens!!) whilst still providing the same voice control. During playback the music subtly dips whilst you talk to Alexa before returning to previous levels – essentially the same interaction as the Echo but with high quality audio! In our recent installations we have installed the 10″ Origin Acoustics in-ceiling speakers in key rooms – these in-ceiling speakers provide top quality audio with the ability to provide huge amounts of bass. Partnered with Amazon Alexa this system will absolutely rock!
Amazon Alexa and Crestron Home Automation!
Of course, audio is only part of the attraction of Amazon Alexa. Integrating with Origin Valet provides a fantastic audio experience but there is still a lot of power remaining. Integrating with a Crestron Home Automation system unlocks huge amounts of potential – almost limitless control possibilities. In addition to being able to request music playback – via the stunning and hugely powerful Crestron Sonnex Audio System – imagine being able to ask “Alexa, close the blinds” or “Alexa, raise the heating one degree”, even “Alexa, run the bath for Dad”. Anything is possible as a Crestron system is modular and can control anything electrical in the home – we have previously controlled everything from irrigation systems to fire pits. Alexa is just another means of control.
Amazon Alexa just came of age!