Ever since the Amazon Echo Dot was released, the most common question I’m asked about it is if there’s a way to connect an external speaker without disabling the internal speaker. This is because many owners want to use their nice sound system when listening to music through the Echo Dot, but don’t want to have to always turn on or unplug their external speakers when asking Alexa a quick question or request. I set out to find a solution to this common gripe and here’s what I came up with.
While I did come up with a way to hear audio simultaneously through the Echo Dot’s internal speaker and an external speaker connected to the Echo Dot’s 3.5 mm audio jack, I was not happy with the result. For that reason, I don’t recommend others replicate my method. I’m posting this guide primarily to share what I learned so that others can possibly improve on my solution.
By default, the Echo Dot bypasses the internal speaker and routes audio through its 3.5mm audio jack if it detects an audio cable is connected to the port on the back. The way I achieved audio through the internal speaker while an external speaker is connected is by hard wiring the internal speaker to the 3.5mm audio jack. This way, when audio gets redirect through the audio jack, the internal speaker continues to also receive the audio signal.
My method worked, but I was unhappy with it because it resulted in constant feedback noise coming through the internal speaker if no audio cable was connected. When an audio cable is connected, the feedback noise did go away, which is great, but the internal speaker was noticeably quieter than normal. Having the internal speaker with noise in one state and quieter in the other was unacceptable to me, so I ultimately removed the modification and restored the Echo Dot to its default functionality.
I was just experimenting with an idea I had and didn’t spend much time trying to solve the issues that I ran into. With a bit more tinkering, it should be possible to achieve clean audio from both internal and external speakers. If I experiment further, I’d like to try and tap directly into the digital to analog converter (DAC) chip, instead of the 3.5mm audio jack.
Here is my process for those interested:
First, you need to open the Echo Dot. This is done peeling away the rubber bottom which is attached with adhesive. The adhesive on my Echo Dot remained intact enough to be used again once I reassembled everything. Under the rubber bottom are 4 Torx screws that must be removed. I believe they are T7 or T8 size.
The internal components of the Echo Dot are stacked loosely on each other, so once the screws and bottom housing are removed, be careful not to put any strain on any ribbon cables. The internal speaker will likely remain in the bottom housing but it is held in only by friction and can be easily popped out, although it’s unnecessary.
Disconnect the ribbon cable from the circuit board by gently lifting the thin black strip of plastic upwards, then carefully pull back on the ribbon cable. With the ribbon cable disconnected, lift the metal housing (which is a heat sink) and the circuit board away from the rest of the Echo Dot’s internal components.
The circuit board is attached to the metal heat sink by a sticky thermal pad. Gently peel the circuit board and heatsink apart. Be careful not to damage the thermal pad or get it dirty. When reassembling, be sure to firmly press these two pieces together before placing them back on the other components.
The audio jack solder points are as indicated in the above image. There’s a slight chance I have the LEFT and RIGHT channels flipped, since I’m writing this off of memory, but because the internal speaker is mono, it does not matter much which is which.
For simplicity, I soldered wires to the LEFT and GROUND to be attached to the internal speaker. (I am clearly not good at soldering.) There are alternate ways of converting stereo to mono that you might want to research if you’re serious about doing this yourself.
On the other side of the circuit board are the two springy connection points that the internal speaker sits on. I wrapped my wires, without soldering, to the base of these springs in order to quickly test my idea. As I said early, I was not happy with the result, so I never soldered this connection.
Something worth trying is connecting the audio jack wires directly to the internal speaker and not allowing the speaker to connect to the two springy points at all. This would make it so the internal speaker only works if an audio cable was connected, but might result in better audio to the internal speaker. My goal was always to have a normally functioning Echo Dot when no external audio cable was connected, so I unfortunately never thought of trying this when I had the Echo Dot apart.
Perhaps I’ll experiment more with this idea in the future. Hopefully, this helps someone use what I’ve learned and run with it to come up with a better solution for using the Echo Dot’s internal speaker while an external speaker is connected.