The Amazon Echo Dot is more versatile with Bluetooth speakers than wired speakers

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The Amazon Echo Dot has been called “an Amazon Echo without the speaker” for good reason. While it does have an internal speaker, which can technically be used for all audio output as if it were a full fledged Echo, you’re going to want to connect the Echo Dot to an external speaker if you plan to use it to listen to anything beyond Alexa’s voice, news briefs, podcasts, and audiobooks.

An external speaker connection can be achieved wirelessly via Bluetooth or wired through the 3.5mm audio jack on the back of the device. The issue around using the 3.5mm jack is that, when a 3.5mm cable is connected to the Echo Dot, the internal speaker is completely bypassed, whether or not your wired speakers are turned on. This means that, when using a wired connection, your wired speakers must be turned on if you ever want to use the Echo Dot. On the other hand, with Bluetooth speakers, the Echo Dot switches back to its internal speakers when the Bluetooth speakers are turned off. Even if the Bluetooth speakers are on, you have the flexibility to sever the connection hands-free by simply asking Alexa, so you can switch back to the internal speaker at will. If you have your heart set on using wired speakers with the Echo Dot, there are things you can do to make wired speakers a lot more convenient.

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Connecting a cable to the 3.5mm audio jack on the back of the Echo Dot will completely disable the internal speaker. This includes all Alexa communication, and not just music output. The Echo Dot has no way to know if there is an active speaker on the other end, so it must assume there is one if you connect the 3.5mm cable. If you want to use the Echo Dot with wired speakers and still retain the option to communicate with Alexa while those speakers are off, you have three options. The first is the obvious one that probably doesn’t need to be mentioned, but for the sake of thoroughness, your first option is to pull out the 3.5mm cable anytime you want to use the Echo Dot’s internal speaker. This is obviously not ideal, so let’s move on.

Your second option is to connect a Bluetooth Audio Receiver to your wired speakers and connect the Echo Dot to the receiver wirelessly via Bluetooth. This way, anytime you want to switch from using your wired speakers to using the Echo Dot’s internal speaker, all you have to do is say “Alexa, disconnect Bluetooth.” This command will work whether or not your wired speakers are on. Then, when you want to switch back to your wired speakers, simply say “Alexa, connect Bluetooth” and you’re back to listing to your Echo Dot through your wired speakers.

Your third option is to use a Bluetooth speaker in addition to your wired speakers. If the Echo Dot is connected to both wired speakers via the 3.5mm jack and a Bluetooth speaker simultaneously, all audio will go through the Bluetooth speaker. This means that, when you want to switch to using your wired speakers, all you need to do is say “Alexa, disconnect Bluetooth” and the Echo Dot will begin piping audio through the already connected 3.5mm cable. If your wired speakers are off or inaccessible, you can switch back to using the Bluetooth speaker by saying “Alexa, connect Bluetooth.” This option is essentially replacing the Echo Dot’s internal speaker with a Bluetooth speaker. Even the most basic Bluetooth speaker will likely sound better than the Echo Dot’s internal speaker, so there’s that added advantage to going this route.

The fact that the Echo Dot is capable of switching from a Bluetooth audio connection to a wired audio connection via a verbal command is good news. This likely means that it’s possible for a future software update to add the ability to switch between the internal speaker and a wired speaker via a voice command. Until that day comes, doing the Bluetooth shuffle described above is your only option to using the Echo Dot with wired speakers that are turned off.

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78 comments
  1. Douglas Pollock says:

    Thank you for a wonderful website. I enjoy it very much.

    I am amazed how good the speaker is in the Dot. While not stereo it is good enough to play my soft music at night without waking everybody in the house. At that low level it doesn’t matter to me if it is stereo or not. I love to go to sleep listening to my music. I am very happy with both the Dot and Tap.

  2. Mike B. says:

    With reference to your last comment about a possible software upgrade to allow you to switch between the internal speaker and a wired speaker. I wonder if this is hardwired and not possible. It could be that when inserting the hard-wired plug, it physically disconnects the internal speaker. This is a common design on a lot of products. We’ll need a tear-down to confirm.

    Keep up the great work. I follow this feed every day.

    • Matthew says:

      This is a good point.

      Overall, though, I think not being able to have separate “streams” of audio for the Dot’s internal speaker and audio-out jack is a grave mistake. At a minimum the user should be able to configure (maybe as an “Advanced” option) which speaker is used for the Alexa voice and which speaker is used for media playback.

      I don’t want to have to have my receiver on and set to the Dot input all the time in order to use my Dot. Good thing I have a couple of cheap BT receiver dongles I can add to my receiver, I guess.

    • AFTVnews says:

      That’s a great point. I didn’t include it in the article because I wrongfully assumed that being able to play audio via Bluetooth while a wired speaker was connected meant the device had full control over where audio was being sent, but the physical bypass of the internal speaker could still be a possibility.

      I did some further testing that backs the theory that the audio jack physically disconnects the internal speaker when a 3.5mm cable is present. If you play music through the internal speaker and then connect a wired external speaker, the music instantly switches to the external speaker. Then, if you disconnect the external speaker, the music instantly switches back to the internal speaker. There is zero delay in both instances, which makes me think it is a physical bypass since a software bypass would likely have a perceptible delay before making the switch. Similar to how there is a slight delay between pulling out headphones on a smartphone and the audio being paused.

    • Bob says:

      Makes sense to me. that’s exactly what a jack does. As soon as I get my new bluetooth charges and ready
      I’m hoping it will have the range to run as far away as my work shop. Maybe 30 or 40 feet. That way I can run the jacked speaker inside and the blue tooth when in my shop requiring only one Echo Dot. I’m loven my dot btw. What rush to play london phile harmonic in my shop. LOL Who we kidding here? The biggy about the the Echo dot is the radio access all over the world. Try WMAL Chris Plante in the mornings. He’s blow-your-mind funny and intelligent.

  3. Bill says:

    Just to clarify, when you say “wired speakers” does that mean that the cable from the 3.5 mm audio jack can hook up directly to speakers or plug into an a/v amp’s audio input jacks?

      • Matthew says:

        It an A or B question. :-)

        • Ted says:

          I don’t own an Echo Dot yet, but a 3.5mm output is almost always line-level and will require powered speakers or an amplified sound system. It definitely will not be able to drive larger home speakers.

          There are some passive (non-powered) speakers available with 3.5mm plugs, usually cheaper computer speakers, but in my experience they are fairly weak.

          • tony says:

            A new revision has been announced and comes out soon in Europe. Hopefully this over sign of physical connection has been addressed.

            Great writeup I was looking for this exact info before hooking up to an amp which i rarely turn on.

            T

        • Scott says:

          The Dot puts out line-level audio. It may drive a set of headphones to some degree but is not powerfule enough to directly drive a loudspeaker.

  4. Matt Himlin says:

    I picked up a pair of Mackie CR 5 BT. They are monitor type speakers, made to hook up to a computer, but they have built in bluetooth. They sound amazing and work great with the echo dot. When I turn them on, the dot will connect and pump audio through them. When I turn them off, the dot switches back to it’s internal speaker seamlessly. The other interesting thing is that these speakers will support multiple inputs at once. I have them plugged in with a line out to my PC. So I get PC sound through them, and if I ask Alexa something, I get her voice through them as well (via bluetooth)
    See them here:
    http://www.amazon.com/Mackie-CR5BT-Channel-Studio-Monitor/dp/B015U623MQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1459529245&sr=8-1&keywords=cr5bt

    • John says:

      Do all these Bluetooth speakers go into sleep mode or shut down after a period of inactivity? Seems to defeat the purpose of the hands-free thing if you have to manually turn on a speaker.

      Am I missing something here?

      • Danni says:

        I was wondering the same thing. Can Alexia turn on and off the blue tooth speaker.?

        • Brian Lain says:

          A lot of the speakers that turn off automatically are meant to be portable (sleep saves battery life). Look for bluetooth speakers that can be or must be plugged in, those are more likely to have “always on” options.

          Or you can get regular speakers and use a bluetooth adapter. A decent pair of inexpensive computer speakers works great for this. Just plug their input into the bluetooth adapter and pair to that.

          With always on speakers you can use a smart outlet to turn them on and off with Alexa.

  5. Adar Nebioglu says:

    I want to buy something for listening music.But i cant use the phone.So i want alexa for it.I have hp’s 10 $ speakers.Which device i need to buy(tap-dot)? I will just listen music.(spotify pandora vs)Is amazon dot speakers enough for me.If i buy i will use it on my room.And room is quiet.Sorry for my bad English:D

  6. Averial says:

    We’re using 3.5mm Stereo Splitter in our DOT. Always on is a small pipe speaker that sits under our TV screen. Then If our receiver is off or on a different input, we can still hear the echo responses through the pipe speaker. When we change the receiver input, the larger speakers over power the smaller pipe speaker. If needed, we can turn the volume down on the pipe speaker, with it’s included remote, but that really doesn’t seem to be an issue.

    • Frank Branham says:

      Averial. Pipe speaker? I’m not familiar with the term. Also, are you using any kind of mini amp to drive that speaker?

      I do think that Amazon’s engineers really screwed up on the audio out for the Dot. One of the most obvious use cases is to hook to a proper with multiple inputs. The Dot doesn’t seem designed to support that at all.

  7. Nate says:

    The AmazonBasics Bluetooth 4.0 Audio Receiver that you linked will not work for this purpose. I just bought it for use with my Dot and when Alexa disconnects, the AmazonBasics unit automatically reconnects within seconds. This is a “feature.” I am looking now for a similar device that will stay disconnected until I ask Alexa to reconnect. Anyone have input, Let me know please :)

    • Michael says:

      Really look forward to hear if someone gets a Bluetooth audio receiver that works with the DOT. The issue is so many units don’t allow constant AC plug-in. Those who do are similar to Amazon in they will auto-reconnect any lost bluetooth connections which is what Nate is running into. I checked out http://www.amazon.com/HomeSpot-NFC-Enabled-Bluetooth-Receiver-System/dp/B009OBCAW2?ie=UTF8&keywords=blue%20tooth%20receiver%20for%20stereo%20system&qid=1459839650&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1 and in the notes it has the same auto-reconnect problem.

      • Nate says:

        Well darn — I just bought (but not yet received) that very one as a replacement! Someone on the Echo forum on Reddit said he was using it with a Dot without that problem. The only thing I saw was that it will reconnect when it powers-up. I guess I will know by tomorrow (4/6/16)

      • William Davis says:

        I have the same problem you describe while trying to use Logitech 980-000910 Bluetooth Audio Adapter for Bluetooth Streaming. I can tell Alexa to disconnect, but the BT adapter simply reconnects itself after a few seconds. I wish to switch between a wired connection (to which I have some powered Bose speakers connected) and a BT connection to my stereo receiver (which doesn’t have built in BT). My only solution with the Logitech adapter mentioned is to physically unplug the device when I want to disconnect it, then plug it back in when I want to use it again. Not ideal.

        • Lozza says:

          oh no! I just bought the Logitech Bluetooth Audio Adapter to use with my Onkyo receiver (so I could remove the RCA cable between the Echo Dot and my Onkyo). I was hoping that the Echo would then use its internal speaker and not put audio to the Onkyo when the Onkyo is off.
          From what you are saying, if I ask Echo to disconnect from ‘Onkyo'(the bluetooth connection once I remove the RCA cable) it will reconnect to the Onkyo? Guess, I will find out tomorrow. That will be disappointing.

  8. Michael says:

    Look forward to hear what you find Nate

    • Nate says:

      I ended up getting the “HomeSpot NFC-Enabled Bluetooth Audio Receiver for Sound System” and it works exactly as desired — I tell Alexa to disconnect and it will use the internal speaker until I tell her to connect. Perfect! The AmazonBasics unit is going back.

  9. Sukho Song says:

    I want to buy echo dot. I was wondering if I can use cell phone headset.
    I want to use it privately in the office without disturbing others.
    Would it be possible?

  10. Alex says:

    OK…Maybe I can get some help here. I can’t believe i’m the first one with this need but I have not found anything online thats helping me out.
    Simple issue: I want to be able to play music in different rooms from the echo. For example, I dont want to blast the music in the kitchen in order to listen to it on the deck outside or I would like to play music i my garage and not subject the whole house to the music.
    Thoughts?
    Thanks

    • Jorge says:

      You have to use an AV Receiver with switch zone music capabilities, the receiver will swicth to the desired area, in order to control it from alexa, your best bet is have a harmony hub control which is connected to wi-fi and controls the receiver and will control the input switch, and as well other devices if you want to add, then set up alexa with Harmony skill, (Ex Alexa, turn on zone music 1), in my house I don’t have a receiver but I use an integrated amplifier with input switching, so I use commands like “Alexa, turn on Netflix”, then Alexa turn on my amplifier, the tv, roku, then puts the tv in the correct HDMI input and the amp in the correct sound input and finally puts Netflix channel on roku, all this with 1 command thanks to the harmony connection.

      • Jorge says:

        The solution I am giving you is for a wired connection in different zones at house, it may be more complicated by Bluetooth connection.
        Plus I prefer wired since it gives the best audio quality.

  11. Charles says:

    I followed the steps in this article to connect the Dot, through a bluetooth receiver, to outdoor speakers. The connection was successfully made, and I can work through the “turn off/turn on” Dot speaker issue. The problem that I am having is that volume is too low on the outdoor speakers, even when I turn the volume on the dot to its maximum level. There is no volume control on the outdoor speakers. Any suggestions?

    • Brian Lain says:

      The audio output on the Dot is not amplified much. You’d need powered speakers (a/c plug). The fact that yours don’t have a volume control indicates that they are likely not powered. Even bluetooth speakers have batteries for this reason.

  12. Skipper says:

    Charles. Just started using Dot. Maybe just verbally requesting Alex’s to “increase volume.”

    • Charles says:

      I have boosted the volume on the dot itself to its full capacity. Still, too quiet coming out of the speakers.

  13. Darren says:

    Hi I don’t see this asked so its probably a given and the answer is no. I have a dot and I have it hooked up to small little amp connected to some decent speakers in my kitchen. This way I can play some music and get some good sound out of it. I had the echo and returned it because I wanted a line out for better speakers. Anyway to my question, if I get Bluetooth speakers for my living room can I have both my 3.5MM output and the Bluetooth speakers play at the same time? This would be a huge plus to balance out my living room and kitchen

    • Jackie says:

      I would also like to use the wired speaker in addition to the bluetooth speaker. Have you had any luck setting that up?

      • lori says:

        I have an Onkyo Receiver that does not have bluetooth, and an Amazon Echo Dot.

        I first connected the Amazon Echo directly (RCA cable) to the Onkyo:

        Pros: I can use bluetooth on the Echo Dot at the same time to connect to my laptop to play itunes or amazon music, can’t do that if the echo is paired to Onkyo already using bluetooth.

        Cons: the Echo stops using its internal speaker even when the Onkyo is off. When the Echo wants to speak it goes through the Onkyo even when playing music.

        I used a Logitech BT device connected to the Onkyo to enable the Echo to connect to the Onkyo using Bluetooth. I stopped doing this because I found two major issues:

        1. If you disconnect the bluetooth to the Onkyo on the Echo it reconnects in a few seconds. It automatically does this. So you’d have to forget the device then to use it again you’d have to pair it again. No way to stop the Echo automatically reconnecting if the Logitech BT device is live and paired.

        So the Echo does not have enough configurability around bluetooth and the use of its internal speaker yet.

        So I now connect the Echo Dot to my Onkyo Receiver using an RCA cable to the PC ports.

  14. Brian says:

    I have a whole house audio system I would like to use the dot to connect to, however the feed into that system is 2 floors below. I tried connecting the echo and the dot via Bluetooth and getting the audio to come through the dot with commands spoken to the echo which is on the main floor. This does not work. It seems that the dot will use the echo as an external speaker but not the other way around. Any suggestions?

  15. celiak says:

    I wonder if anyone has used a Bluetooth splitter with the dot in order to use multiple sound systems/speakers at the same time?

  16. rdlafleur says:

    Does the new Amazon Echo Dot still suffer from this limitation?

  17. Jordon Berkove says:

    Simply Jack in a nice pair of PC Speakers and leave it at that :-)

  18. Stella Pasion says:

    Can the dot and tap be connected to eachother

  19. Martin says:

    Its certain that the 3.5mm jack physically disconnects the internal speaker. If we could open up the Dot then it would be possible to bridge across the jack contacts so that the internal speaker’s on all the time. The problem with this is that the physical design may make this difficult to anyone without access to specialized equipment — these things are full of technology so the internal components are likely to be tiny and crammed together.

    I’m probably like a lot of people, I want to not only use the Dot with an audio system but also control that system. My system is a vintage vacuum tube system so I can’t leave in on 24/7 and, anyway, you don’t really want to carry out a conversation with Alexa through a large stereo system. Hopefully the Mk3 Dot will have separate mute controls for the audio outputs….but for now we’re stuck with workarounds, the best being the splitter cable and additional speaker.

  20. Gary says:

    Has anyone tried this? — Leave the dot connected to a receiver and external speaker; also have a small bluetooth speaker nearby. When the receiver is off, ask Alexa to turn on bluetooth, connecting to the small speaker.

  21. Gary says:

    Never mind. I see that my question is answered in the main post. Not sure why I didn’t see that the first time around.

  22. Tom says:

    Hi. I have an Onkyo AV receiver with built in Bluetooth. I can connect a tablet no problem so I know the receiver’s Bluetooth is on and functioning. The Echo Dot does not ‘see’ the Onkyo in the Echo App and so, I cannot run my Echo Dot output through my receiver.

    I am sure Google Home + Chromecast will do this.

    Any ideas?

    • Tony says:

      Tom,
      Though the Onkyo’s Bluetooth is on and working, have you put it into a “discoverable” mode – my Dot did not see my Bluetooth devices for this reason. I’m running a Dot bluetooth’d to a Bose Solo 5 soundbar and we had the same problem.

    • Tony says:

      Tom,
      Had a similar problem with a Bose Solo 5 soundbar. Turned out that the Bose was not in “discoverable” mode – might be worth a check.

  23. Kevin says:

    Couldn’t you technically have a receiver plugged into a WeMo switch and use ifttt to turn the receiver on when you arrive home, if you have the echo wired to a receiver? But the downside would be that you’d always have to change the input on the receiver to use echo, right?

  24. Lolo says:

    I’ve just implemented the perfect solution! I used a BT adapter (the one listed in a previous thread), and connected its power supply to a Wemo controlled outlet. I created an activity on my harmony remote that turn the receiver on and select the appropriate input. I then enabled the harmony and Wemo skills in the Alexa app, created a group called “House Audio” and included the Wemo switch and the specific harmony activity. Now I can use Alexa with it built in speaker for basic duties and simply say “Alexa turn on House Audio”; the Wemo switch turns on, turning the BT adapter on and Alexa connect to BT automatically, while the receiver turns on and switch to the proper input. The same command replacing on by off, return everything back to its original state. Works like a charm!

  25. Chris capewell says:

    Can an Amazon dot pair with a Bluetooth speaker that need a password typing in before it can connect if so how do I do it.

  26. Sven says:

    Lolo,

    I have a BT receiver that is working for me but it does not auto reconnect if I pull the power to it. It sounds like yours does. Is this the specific BT receiver you use?

    https://www.amazon.com/HomeSpot-NFC-Enabled-Bluetooth-Receiver-System/dp/B009OBCAW2

  27. Glynn says:

    Hi

    Can you play music through BT and a wired device at the same time?

    Thanks
    Glynn

  28. Myles says:

    I would like to have audio out simultaneously on both audio out jack AND Bluetooth. But it seems it can only be one OR the other? Any hack to turn them BOTH on?

  29. Ben Wrigley says:

    Actually seems that this option doesn’t work.

    I’ve bought a bluetooth receiver, but every time I say ‘Alexa disconnect bluetooth’, it automatically reconnects within seconds. So I have to manually turn off the receiver.

    Anyone else had this?

  30. Hayley Grill says:

    I have recently gotten the Amazon Echo – I don’t have separate speakers and it’s perfect for the space and what I need it for. I am getting a Dot for my bedroom and understand that I will need Bluetooth speakers. Can anyone recommend something for under $50? Anything more and I could just get another echo.

    Will I be able to move the speaker and pair to with my Echo?

    Are the echo and dot connected? Use the same apps? If I start listening to music in 1 room, can I resume it in another

  31. Jeremy Elliott says:

    The article states “The Echo Dot has no way to know if there is an active speaker on the other end, so it must assume there is one if you connect the 3.5mm cable.” Regarding that statement, consider this: Echo Dot has an incredible microphone. Why can’t the Dot listen to itself, and in the case of the microphone returning zero of the audio Alexa is pushing out through a 3.5mm connection, switch over to its internal speaker? Of course, the answer is likely that the 3.5mm jack physically bypasses the internal speakers when it’s connected.

    I understand that some amplifiers, due to signal processing, will add a degree of latency to their speaker output, and if combined with Echo Dot’s non-latent output from its internal speakers, a “slapback” delay effect could be induced. In these scenarios, the “Echo” would really live up to its name–just not in a positive way. Still, Amazon engineers have failed to provide the users with the option to keep the internal speakers on while a 3.5mm connection is present, and I do not see any other way to view this omission than as a bug.

  32. Joe B says:

    I got the Echo Dot 2nd gen about an hour ago and successfully connected to my Onkyo receiver via Bluetooth (built into the receiver) and it was a snap to pair. Model TX-NR646

    I was going to hard wire with the 3.5, but the sound is outstanding via Bluetooth. The Echo is only 15′ away from the receiver. “Alexa, play some “Tower of Power”, …..”Soul with a capital S” comes blasting through….love this.

    • APBoom says:

      Joe B, does your command to Echo Dot to play a song require the receiver to be on already or will it turn it on as well? If not, what setup do you have to power up the receiver (aside from hitting the power button on the remote)?
      I just got the 646 and am looking to get Echo Dot (makes more sense then the full Echo since I’d be using my av receiver/speakers…right?).

      Thx.

      • Joe B says:

        Yes, my receiver has to be on and set to Bluetooth. I am exploring Getting Harmony as an option to voice activate the Tv and receiver.

        • Brian Lain says:

          I have a Harmony Hub (wo/remote) linked to my Echo Dot via the Harmony Alexa skill. It works great for turning my home theater projector on and off, and controlling my air con. If your receiver has an IR remote it should work a treat with Harmony, but be aware it does not work with RF remotes. You can check Harmony device compatibility on Logitech website here:

  33. Joe B says:

    Don’t forget to check your cable box compatibility too. My Verizon Fios uses an Arris Box which is on the Harmony compat list.

  34. Charles Jenda says:

    Where on the back of a Yamaha RX-7773 a/v receiver do I plug in?

  35. Dustin says:

    I have my echo dot hardwired to my amplifer and paired my Bluetooth Bose Mini II SoundLink. Is there a setting to have them both simultaneously play?

  36. Nigel Rogers says:

    I have a Echo dot 2nd generation which I bluetooth to a pair of Q-Acoustics BT3 speakers, which are powered and have a built-in bluetooth receiver.

    When using the Echo Dot with its volume turned up full and the volume on the Q-Acoustics turned up full (2 x 50 watts) the volume is not really loud enough. If I connect another device to the Q-Acoustics BT3 via bluetooth, for example my Nexus 7 tablet, the volume is much, much, louder (far too loud!) & i have to turn the speaker down to about 50% volume. Why does’t the Echo Dot produce the same volume from my Q Acoustics BT3 speakers & how can this be fixed ??

    • Lori says:

      Not an answer I guess. But I have a av receiver between my echo dot and my speakers.
      What happens if you connect the Bluetooth q acoustic speakers using an rca cable directly to the echo? If the sound level improves then it is a Bluetooth issue with the speakers. I see on amazon that people have complained that the q acoustics speaker’s Bluetooth doesn’t work properly…

  37. KAREN DEE says:

    I have an Amazon Dot 2nd Gen. I also have a Boze radio with great speakers. Can I somehow connect the DOT to the Boze by using a Bluetoth adapter? Boze and Dot are across the room from each other and I connect connect the conventional way.

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