Fire TV Stick 4K Max will act as an eARC Audio Hub between your Home Theater Equipment and Echo speakers

Much like what was just announced for the Omni and 4-Series Fire TV Smart TVs, Amazon has announced that the Fire TV Stick 4K Max will be gaining support for Alexa Home Theater groups this month. This allows audio from the Firestick to be sent wirelessly to compatible Echo devices for a better home theater audio experience than your TV’s speakers can provide. However, when the feature arrives on the Fire TV Stick 4K Max, it also comes with an extra capability that allows you to hear not only the Firestick’s audio through Echo speakers, but the audio of all of your home theater devices, like cable boxes, game systems, and Blu-ray players.

Currently, the 3rd-gen Fire TV pendant, Fire TV Cube (1st & 2nd Gen), 3rd-gen Fire TV Stick, Fire TV Stick Lite, and Fire TV Stick 4K all support being added to an Alexa Home Theater group so that the Fire TV’s audio is heard through Echo speakers instead of your TV speakers. This is great, except it only works for Fire TV audio. Meaning, when you switch to watching a Blu-ray, or some other video source that isn’t the Fire TV, then you’re back to using your TV’s crummy speakers.

That shortcoming is being addressed when the Fire TV Stick 4K Max gains support for Alexa Home Theater groups “over the coming weeks.” If the Fire TV Stick 4K is connected to the HDMI eARC port on your TV, it will essentially serve as a wireless audio hub for your other home theater equipment. Audio from home theater equipment, like game consoles and set-top boxes, will go through your TV, be piped through the eARC port to the Fire TV Stick 4K Max, and then wirelessly transmitted out of your Echo speakers. This will allow all equipment to use your Echo speakers, much like a soundbar or AVR performs.

Once the feature arrives, you’ll be able to pair the Fire TV Stick 4K Max to Echo Studios, 4th-gen Echos, 3rd-gen Echos, 2nd-gen Echo Pluses, 4th-gen Echo Dots (both with or without a clock), and Echo Subs. This is done through the Alexa app by going to the Devices tab, plessing the plus sign in the upper right corner, and selecting to Combine Speakers.

9 comments
  1. ralphwiggum1 says:

    Any news on the capabilities? The Fire TV Stick 4K Max doesn’t seem to be able to process uncompressed codecs itself (Dolby True HD, DTS Master, etc.), so what good are the eARC capabilities (vs ARC?) if it won’t process those from other devices. How about speaker arrangement? It is still limited to 2.1 sound, or will they expand to 5.1? Or even virtual speaker arrangement like this super expensive Sony set, which seems to work on the same concept of a central hub and just 4 satellite speakers to create a virtual array (https://electronics.sony.com/audio/soundbars/all-soundbars/p/hta9). I have two 4th gen Echos, 1 2nd gen Echo, and countless 3rd gen Dots. It would be pretty crazy to have the two 4th gen as Left and Right, 2nd gen as Center, Dots as rear surround, then mount 4 dots on my ceiling as height speakers.

  2. lordkain2 says:

    Hi, the Alexa Home Theater group link is dead, just in time to test my new Echo Dot 4gen.

  3. Russ says:

    Wow, I just ordered a 4k max yesterday. I don’t know enough about ARC: I have my soundbar and sub connected to the tv arc now, will this work with that? I only have one ARC on the TV so I’m guessing not?

    • ralphwiggum1 says:

      So this feature coming to the Fire Tv Stick 4K Max is an alternative to a traditional audio setup with an AV receiver or with a sound bar. Instead, you set up an Echo home theater group (a couple Echo speakers and maybe an Echo Sub) and have it paired with your Max. When you watch on your Max, it’ll use the Echo home theater group as your speakers, and with it acting like an HDMI ARC device, it will also play audio from your other TV inputs, like your sound bar already does.

      No advantage to you to swap out your soundbar for an Echo home theater group, at least not yet. Maybe if Amazon continues to expand the capabilities and allows creating true surround sound groups like Sonos, it may be worth exploring.

      The new Apple TV 4K can do the same thing as an HDMI ARC device when it’s paired to HomePod speakers.

      • Russ says:

        ok, thanks for that, I was hoping it would support that last part, using my echos for rear speakers. I was also thinking that sound sync might be an issue, even if they did support a ‘hybrid’ speaker approach.

  4. Amazwow says:

    This isn’t meant to replace a 5.1 setup. This is just an alternative option to those that use their TV’s speaker or perhaps a cheap soundbar and might want to use a Studio or two instead.

    Only the Studios can decode EAC3 and AC3, so if you use regular Echos expect everything to be downmixed to stereo.

    Allowing the Studio to decode TrueHD or DTS MA (if the hardware is even capable of it) would require Amazon paying a licensing fee so forget it.

    Amazon could have expanded their 2.1 speaker setup to 4.1 or 5.1 a while ago but they are moving slowly towards that. The way home theater mode works now, every speaker would need to be a studio because the full EAC3 stream is sent to each Studio, decoded and then the relevant channels played.

    Buying 4 Studios and an Echo Sub for a 5.1 is probably not the best use of money considering all the limitations of the device. Amazon will need to make some significant changes to how home theater mode works to make a 4.1+ setup possible with devices that can’t decode multichannel audio.

  5. William Hogan says:

    I’m a little confused, I set up my home theater and 2 echo ,as stereo pairs. The audio is great it of the 2 echos, but I get no audio out of the firestick(tv audio out thru optical to receiver..
    I’ve tried every input\output configuration,audio will never play out of firestick thru tv in addition to echos.. But u hear sound feedback when clicking the remote on TV thru speakers.. Please help..I need my audio

  6. Amazwow says:

    Does the Fire 4k Max have some additional hardware that makes this possible, or would this also be possible for other FireTV devices like the Cube with a software update?

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