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.

16 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?

  7. shanethegeek says:

    I just chatted with an Amazon support rep to confirm the following.

    Q. Will devices connected to the host TV’s HDMI ports (BluRay,AppleTV,Sat/CableBox) be able to pass through audio content including Dolby Atmos to the FireTY Stick 4k Max connected to the host TV’s eARC port and then wirelessly to Alexa Home Theatre group.
    A. Yes passthrough is supported as well as Dolby Atmos, Dolby Surround, Dolby Digital via connected equipment.
    i. Unsure on DTS content.
    i. This will only work via supported TV via eARC not ARC. All equipment will need to be plugged into the TV’s HDMI ports.
    i.Optical is not compatible with Alexa speaker groups. Optical will not get transmitted to other Alexa group speakers.
    i. Only newer 2 Gen Echo Plus, 3rd and 4th Gen including Echo Studio plus Ehco Sub are supported to be in a Alexa/Echo Home Theatre/Cinema Speaker Group.
    i. Dolby Atmos passthrough is only supported in certain regions on certain apps or through compatible equipment or media.

    Don’t take this as a bible and do your own confirmations and research. However, it looks like a suitable sound bar replacement that will support Dolby Atmos… how good is the spatial audio… to be determined I suppose. From what I have heard the Echo Studios are pretty decent at 3D/Spatial Audio.

  8. yoav says:

    Amazon like Apple has “innovated” this year with a robot and indoor drone, “glorified” (quotes intentional), mega expensive and annoying security cameras. The EARC is a “me too” strategy, copying apple, that also came up with the most useless application for implementing EARC. The company
    that is trying to push Amazon Music Spacial with a single device that supports it, is trying to sell more echo speakers, be it 5.1 or 5.1.2, instead of doing something “bleeding edge” . Studio speaker can not be used as rear surrounds regardless of what Max will support, so at most there they will be front right and left, and even there just for atmos, since they pretty much use up most of thr 5.1.2 channels that amazon streams at most including sub. Anyway I failed to see the Benefit or sound bar, let alone mine Yamaha 5.1.2 setup. For me echoes are fine for listening to the news,
    for more someone had to be more creative and someone else less motivated to sell echos at the expense of music and true surround among others. I said too much already, since I’m working on some thing, however identifying with the notion of “ So how does it help me”. 1:1 I may be persuaded to give some hints that may help reveal coolness after all and more.

    • hittsy says:

      what the **** incomprehensible drivel is this, and what are you smoking?

      If you’re complaining about the quality, the echo studio is a middle ground, better than most TV speakers by far, but a little bit less than perfect when compared to high-end sonos soundbars. That’s ok, as the ES costs only $200, versus sonos’ $500+ asking price.

  9. tinfox says:

    Is there a way to use both HDMI audio out to sound bar AND two echo devices.

    I’d like to use the echos as rear speakers (albeit with stereo only, not dolby or anything fancy)

    • William Hogan says:

      I don’t like the way the home theater works.. You can only use the echo devices.. Once set up, the audio is disabled from everything(tv, soundbar,etc) and only comes out of 2 echo devices

  10. willis979 says:

    After a few failed attempts at setup (using a pair of 4th gen Echo Dots plus a Sub) I actually got it working pretty well with my Samsung QN90A. Through the eARC port it’s really nice not to have to navigate Fire TV Stick menus, and instead just use the TV the way it was designed. Only one problem: my Samsung remote won’t mute/unmute/control volume, so I still need to keep my Alexa remote nearby. Anyone have any ideas on how to get the TV remote to control Alexa Home Theater volume? I tried the Universal Remote feature (https://www.samsung.com/au/support/tv-audio-video/set-up-universal-remote-on-your-tv/) but of course there’s no option for “Amazon” among the typical home theater brands.

    • William Hogan says:

      As far as my setup, u will still need to use the fire remote.. But u can pair that remote to everything,tv,receiver,echo,etc in manage equipment settings.. Unless ur tv can connect to the both echos

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