Amazon Echo devices now support multi-room audio playback

After several leaks, Amazon has now added support for multi-room audio to the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Show. The new feature allows you to group together multiple Echo devices and play music on all devices simultaneously. The feature is also being made available to 3rd-party speaker manufacturers so non-Echo devices can also sync music with Amazon’s own speakers.

To set up audio synchronization, go to the settings section of the Alexa app. Below your list of Alexa devices is a new option labeled “Multi-Room Music.” Selecting the option brings up a list of compatible devices that can have their audio synced together. You simply select two or more device and assign the group a name. The app suggests commonly used names, like “Downstairs” and “Everywhere,” but you can enter a custom name as well.

Once you have a group created, you simply add the group name to the end of your music request to Alexa and the same music will begin playing on all of your grouped devices. So if you make a group named “bedrooms” you would say “Alexa, play [music] in the bedrooms.

As already mentioned, the feature only works with Echo devices, so it does not work with the Amazon Tap or other Alexa devices, like the Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV Stick. Streaming services that support multi-room audio include Amazon music, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and Pandora. Amazon says support for Spotify and SiriusXM will be coming soon.

There are currently a few shortcomings of multi-room audio that you should be aware of. First off, each Echo device you own can only be part of one group of devices. So once you assign an Echo device to a group, it cannot be assigned to a second group. This is slightly inconvenient because most people probably want the option to play music on all devices while still being able to segment devices into separate groups. That is currently not possible.

The other limitation is that the multi-room audio feature is not compatible with external speakers connected via Bluetooth. If you have a Bluetooth speaker connected to any of your Echo devices, when you begin playing multi-room audio, the Bluetooth speaker will automatically be disconnected from the Echo device. Speakers connected to the Echo Dot via the 3.5mm audio jack will work with multi-room audio.

Amazon has made the new multi-room audio feature available for speaker manufacturers to integrate into their Alexa enabled products. While Amazon’s own three Echo products are the only ones to support the feature today, it will likely come to other connected speakers soon.

Multi-room audio should already be available on all Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Show devices in the US, UK, and Germany.

  1. Markus says:

    In Germany the feature is Available, as you need a confirm! Thanks for your Work and the always good News you Provide!

  2. Don Black says:

    Does this feature suppoort switching the music you are playing in one room and play it in another. For instance I have a echo in my bedroom and a dot in my living room. If say alexa pause on my echo in my bedroom and then I go downstairs and sat Alexa resume on they ECHO dot. Does this new feauture supoort that type of transistion from room to room.

  3. Erin says:

    One other limitation is that if you are using multi-room with Music Unlimited you can’t simultaneously access it elsewhere unless you have a Family plan. So for example, if you have Music Unlimited playing in a group called “Upstairs”, you can’t also access Music Unlimited on an Echo outside that group, a PC, a phone, etc. The “Group” seems to be treated as a single device.

    Prime Music works similarly: only one stream at a time.

    • AFTVnews says:

      Hasn’t it always been the case that you’re limited to one device unless you have a family plan?

      • Erin says:

        Not sure. I live alone and have an individual plan. It’s rare that I would attempt to stream Amazon Music on more than one device simultaneously. Ditto with Prime Music.

        But Amazon does mention this limitation specifically on both the troubleshooting and feature pages for Multi-Room playback, so I thought it might be new.

        Last week I suspected the multi-room must have been about to roll out soon though when I was streaming Music Unlimited on my FireStick, needed to walk the dog, fired up Music on my phone and phone app asked me what I wanted to do bc I was already streaming elsewhere. That seemed new to me, but like I said, I don’t have much occasion to stream on separate devices simultaneously.

  4. DotWin says:

    The limitation with disconnecting Bluetooth speakers is really disappointing.
    In our living room we have a Dot connected to the audio system via Bluetooth on demand (so that the Dot can operate separately, when the audio system is turned off, and Alexa is just an assistant without playing music), in the kitchen we use a regular Echo and in the bathroom a standalone Dot. If music playback in the living room is only via the Dot itself and not via the audio system, Multiroom Audio is just useless for us.

    • smee says:

      I wonder if the limitation is because of the potential for a lag when playing over bluetooth. The audio would then be out of sync between devices.

      • AFTVnews says:

        I bet that’s exactly it. Bluetooth is notoriously laggy. I’ve heard that’s the main reason this feature has been delayed this long. They probably decided to omit Bluetooth all together instead of dealing with the inevitable flood of customer complaints that they couldn’t do anything about.

        • Ray says:

          Yes, this is incredibly disappointing. I’ve got my Dot connected via Bluetooth to a Logitech UE Boombox, and it sounds terrific. I was very excited when I read that Multi-room Playback was coming, as I’m frequently traveling around the house and would like to be immersed in my music. This limitation just punched a hole in my happy day balloon. :(

          >In our living room we have a Dot connected to the audio system via Bluetooth on demand<

          DotWin, how do you accomplish that? Does your receiver have some kind of special Bluetooth on Demand feature?

          • DotWin says:

            No, no.
            It’s not so sophisticated. ;)
            I have a Logitech Bluetooth receiver which is connected to my audio system via regular headphones cable.
            If I wish to, I just say “Alexa, connect Bluetooth” and the Dot connects to the Logitech Bluetooth receiver which will then play the music on my audio system. When I’m finished, I say “Alexa, disconnect Bluetooth” and audio output is back on the Dot only.

          • AR says:

            me too ,no bluetooth is HUGE letdown
            i just knew this whole thing was going to be piss poorly
            implemented and i was 100% right

            they should not only have had the ability to switch on or off bluetooth of any dot from any dot but also to switch on or off the 3.5mm heaphone jack from any dot by voice as well

            now if amazon is really smart then they will be launching a new piece of hardware in the coming weeks
            something akin to a CC audio but more competitively priced
            (or perhaps 2 models ,one with optical out and one with just 3.5mm jack)
            that can be connected to any AVR or speaker and added to the audio groups via the alexa app
            maybe like $20 with an introductory price of $15
            for the 3.5mm model
            call it ,echo cast or echo stream or fire audio stick

        • DotWin says:

          I don’t mind about a Bluetooth lag.
          Amazon should just give us a choice and maybe prompt a warning message that Bluetoth output may result in lags due to the limitations of the Bluetooth technology.

          The main reason that I need to use Bluetooth instead of the regular audio port of the Dot, is that as soon as an audio cable is plugged into the Dot, the Dot’s own speaker is turned off automatically. I just would like to have a choice whether audio is played on the Dot or an externally connected speaker.

  5. SC says:

    Why is the Tap not supported?

    • AFTVnews says:

      Not sure. That is odd, especially since they’re allowing 3rd-party devices to sync up too.

      • SC says:

        Exactly my thinking. I have 3 Echos and 3 Taps and it’s pretty annoying to see them excluding their own product.

      • Brenda says:

        I am looking here for the answer to this very question. My original purchase was a Tap and I am very disappointed that it will not work as a part of my Everywhere group for playing music!

  6. Ray says:

    Sweeeeet! I just realized that my UE Boombox has a 3.5mm input! I can connect my Dot directly to the Boombox and be back in the multi-room game! :D

    • John says:

      I may have to do this, but right now my Echo Dot and speakers are not adjacent. I place the Dot in a central location where it “hear” most effectively, but that’s not where I want a big speaker.

  7. John says:

    Well, crap, Amazon. Those two shortcomings are complete showstoppers. If I can’t choose where I want my music at different times, what good is this? And ALL my devices are echo Dots paired with nice Bluetooth speakers. Really disappointed this feature took so long…and it’s still just about useless.

    I can see the reasoning behind the Bluetooth restriction. Bluetooth introduces lag, which means your audio could be annoyingly out of sync. But how about using those fancy microphone arrays to listen for this and fix it automatically?

  8. Nathan Arms says:

    I’m unable to put a 1st Generation Dot and a 2nd Generation Dot in the same group. Anyone else have this problem?

    • Nathan Arms says:

      It’s working now. Must have been something on Amazon’s side.

    • Bryan N says:

      I’m having trouble adding a Echo Dot (2nd gen) to a group of 2 other (1st gen) devices. I can add it but nothing plays. I take it out and the other 2 work. I got it to work twice and then quit working. Currently, not working with all three of my echo’s (1/echo 1stger, 1-echo dot/1stgen, and 1ech dot/2ndgen)in same group, just two firstgen’s.

  9. boudyka says:

    tested a working in the UK… to Amazon Music and possibly Prime Music etc, Spotify is a nada, not supported. So will stick to bluetooth for now, but its a start….

  10. Jim Carter says:

    Another excellent article!!

  11. Jim Carter says:

    I recently decided against purchasing any more Bluetooth speakers. Instead; I most recently obtained the Bose Companion 2 Series III multimedia speakers and the Mpow Bluetooth Receiver. Now I have versatility. My immediate move was to plug the Bose Speakers into the Echo Dot and test the multi-room function along with my Echo Show. Perfection! In the future I can employ the Bose speakers (which sound better than any of my Bluetooth speakers) in different, wireless scenarios thanks to the adapter.

  12. Mark P says:

    Sounds goofy, but I bought 2 dots, one to connect to my stereo and the other to connect to my tap (just using the tap’s better speaker). That way I can get multi room since it’s not supported natively on the tap.

    Problem is, when I connect the tap to the dot via 3.5mm, it’s out of sync with the other dot. If I unplug it, the two dots are perfectly in sync.

    No clue why this happens. All Bluetooth is turned off.

  13. Dustin Werstler says:

    What about connecting my phone to an Echo by Bluetooth and having THAT output to multiple Echo devices? It seems to be limited to syncing streaming audio and not locally connected music sources.

  14. Jenny Holland says:

    Does anyone know if I can connect my iPhone and play my iTunes through the multi room, obviously not via Bluetooth but via aux?

  15. jdog inky says:

    When playing music on my Echo Dot (4th gen) through my home stereo via Bluetooth, it automatically un-pairs with my stereo when I request multi-room audio. The same scenario stays paired if playing from my Echo Flex. Is this a limitation of the Echo Dot, or is it a setup issue?

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