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.
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.