Amazon Fire TV Cube can be used in the same room as Echo devices thanks to improved ESP

The Amazon Fire TV Cube has been announced and is available for pre-order. While we’ve learned a lot about Amazon’s new flagship Fire TV model, there are still plenty of unanswered questions and I’ll do my best to get answers to the most common ones. One question that has already come up several times in the comment discussion of the announcement post is whether the Fire TV Cube can be used in the same room as another Echo device. The short answer is yes it can, but there are some things to consider.

Amazon has told me that the Fire TV Cube uses an improved form of Echo Spatial Perception (ESP) made specifically for the Fire TV Cube that helps it function better in the same room as another Alexa device, such as an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot. ESP is what allows multiple Alexa devices to determine which one is closest to the speaker so that only one device responds and executes the request. The Fire TV Cube’s improved ESP is able to determine not only which device is closest to the user, but also which device the user is facing.

If you’re facing the Fire TV Cube when issuing a voice command, the Fire TV Cube is designed to respond even if it is not the closest device to you. Likewise, if you’re in a room with a Fire TV Cube and an Echo device, if you turn and face the Echo and issue a command, the Echo is supposed to respond to you, even if you’re physically closer to the Fire TV Cube.

As stated on the Fire TV Cube’s FAQ page, the recommendation is to either move the other Alexa device to another room or to change the device settings so that the Fire TV Cube and the other Alexa device use different wake words. This is likely because ESP isn’t perfect, as any owner of multiple Echo devices will tell you.

As pointed out by Chris Welch of The Verge, the Fire TV Cube does not use 360-degree microphones like most Alexa devices. Instead, its 8 microphones are all pointed forward, towards the front of the device. This is likely one of the ways it is able to hear commands over the audio coming from the TV, which will likely be above or behind it. This is also likely one of the ways the improved ESP is able to determine if you are facing the Fire TV Cube or not.

If you must keep an Echo or other Alexa device in the same room as the Fire TV Cube, it seems like Amazon has put in the effort to make the experience usable, but for the best experience possible, it seems like it’s best to segregate the Fire TV Cube, either by room or by wake word. We’ll have to see first-hand once it ships later this month.

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21 comments
  1. BobD says:

    Good follow up article!

  2. Dave says:

    “Alexa, record my private conversation and send it to a random contact on my list.”

    • Reflex says:

      If only that is actually what had happened, vs the reality where it heard a call command, then heard a confirmation, then called and hit voicemail, which then recorded it.

  3. Gareth Price says:

    The logical solution would be to allow the new unit to respond to the wake word “Cube” maybe ?

  4. TechyChris says:

    Interesting that all 8 microphones point forward… I suspect there will always be a few disgruntled users who have an “unconventional” setup make the cube problematic for them.

    • AFTVnews says:

      I would guess it’s more of a 180-degree field towards the front so as long as you’re not behind the device all the time, you’ll be fine. Though, I can’t imagine a setup where you can’t have the cube face the main sitting area, even if you placed the Cube to one side.

      • beq says:

        Since it’s a relatively small ~ 3 inch cube I actually had an urge to mount it behind the TV, hehe.

        But with the front mics blocked by the TV chassis, or turned around and facing the back wall, I’d guess hands-free Alexa would be as useless as hiding the Cube inside a cabinet?

    • Rob says:

      Is the assumption the Cube will be placed in front of the TV? Mine will be off to the side with my receiver.

  5. Al says:

    Specs say nothing about a SD card. Does it have a SD card slot?

  6. Bill says:

    Question: If the cube is connected to a TV and you are watching a video on Amazon Prime and then ask the cube, “Alexa, what is the name of the first man to walk on the moon”, what happens? Does the cube pause (or mute) the video and then answer the question, or does the cube give an audio answer garbled over the audio of the video from Amazon Prime, or does the cube display an answer on the TV screen?

    Thanks for your help!

    • AFTVnews says:

      From what I’ve gathered, seems like it pauses the video and gives the answer both verbally and visually. Not sure if it auto-unpauses when done replying or if you have to do that manually.

  7. AJ says:

    Elias – Would love to hear your thoughts about the Cube vs the Beam :)

    • AFTVnews says:

      Seems like the two would struggle to coexist together in the same setup. You’d probably want to put them on different wake words and end up using the Beam’s hands-free features sparingly. For someone not looking to upgrade to the Cube, like a Fire TV 2 owner, the Beam seems like a nice way to Cube-ify your older Fire TV device. But damn is it still pricey. For more of my thoughts you’ll have to convince Sonos to send me a Beam for review ;-P

  8. Desert Dave says:

    What are the actual wake words for “The Cube” everyone says change but not sure to what….the two units will be in 10 feet of each other.

  9. Richie says:

    Got a cube but have an echo on its way from prime day. My thoughts: It is awkward to have my cube in a place where it can hear me due to wall mounted TV and a toddler. If I have an echo in the same room (in a child friendly location) can I give the same commands to the echo for TV control as if it were the cube? I could then hide the cube out the way and not worry about it not hearing me. I know this isn’t the best use of the cube but I have an awkward setup for it.

    • Derek says:

      I too have this set up. I would much prefer to have my echo in a closet with the wire run through the wall to the wall mounted TV, and have my echo handle the voice commands. I’ve tried this and it doesn’t seem to work.

  10. Tommy C says:

    I have the Cube with a Sonos Beam. It plays the Alexa voice through the beam. No problem coexisting at all! As a matter of fact I have six dots two Echos, one view and six sonos play ones. Other then the play ones only playing one song after a command, everything works great. The work around for me is just asking the dot or echo to play media on said play 1.

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