Everyone is familiar with the voice controlled smart speakers. These are the simplest and most affordable way of getting a multi-room speaker setup in your home. We won’t go into specifics about our favourite smart speaker in this article. For the most part they all have the same limitations for use as a multi-room audio system. In this article we will talk about the pros and cons of these devices, their features and limitation.
Let’s start off with why they’re great. With the budget speakers like the Echo Dot or Nest Mini you can add music to any room for as little as $30. These speakers can be grouped and have the volume controlled independently. You can listen to a number of music streaming services such as Spotify, TuneIn Radio or SiriusXM. Some of the Alexa smart speakers allow you to plug in your own sources such as a CD or record player. This means you can have a whole home audio system without the need for running wires.
Some people still have issues trusting these smart devices with their privacy. This aspect is totally understandable. No one wants a company like Amazon or Google to capture audio recordings in their home but we sacrifice for the functionality it provides. Also with network devices you may experience audio latency between speakers making them slightly out of sync with each other. They’re also noticeably out of sync for your external audio sources as the input device has to encode and stream over the network. This makes it nearly impossible to connect a video source unlike professional audio systems. With smart speakers there’s no easy way of using your own speakers without the need for extra amps. If aesthetics are important to you there’s no getting around putting these speakers in every room. You may want to go with one of the other 2 systems to do invisible, in-wall or in-ceiling speakers.
How Do They Work?
Unlike traditional speaker systems these devices come with a microphone. You should look at it as 2 devices a controller and a sound system. However, they always need to be connected to the internet. This is so that the audio recordings can be interpreted as text. Also because these operate on wifi you need to ensure the strength of your wireless network to avoid connectivity issues.
Because these are internet connected devices the main way they are used for music is to access you’re music streaming services. You can control with your voice or via your music streaming app. Most smart speakers have Bluetooth and some Alexa devices can accept an analog input. If you already have a killer sound system you can use your smart speaker as a source. This would make your existing sound system just a little smarter.
We all know the issues these speakers have. Sometimes you ask your system to play the latest Ariana Grande song and it responds with “I found 4 recipes for ground beef tacos.” Occasionally they lose Wi-Fi connection and don’t work at all. Even when they work properly they have their limitations as compared to professional audio systems.
Sure, if you’re spending $100k on your whole home AV a smart speaker isn’t always the best choice as a whole-home system. However if you’ve got a regular home with 2-6 smart speakers you can add a bunch of functionality for a relatively cheap cost. Check out some of the different types of Alexa products to see the options out there. One really cool thing about the Alexa products are their wide range of applications. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I recommend you choose whichever smart speaker you find to be most suitable to your needs!