If there's one aspect about the Amazon Echo that could be improved, it's sound quality. But if you have some good speakers already, perhaps an older hi-fi or a newer Bluetooth speaker, you can easily make them smart by adding Alexa.
And you can do that by connecting the 3.5mm output from an Amazon Echo to the aux input of your speaker. Alternatively, you can pair a compatible Bluetooth speaker to an Echo and get Alexa that way.
Before you rush off and spend any money, we're going to explain the best way to do it, and the precise kit you'll need.
Which Amazon Echo is best?
The Echo Input is designed specifically for this task. It's very similar to an Echo Dot but doesn't have a speaker of its own. Instead it comes with a 3.5mm minijack cable to connect to the aux input of your speaker or hi-fi system.
As we explain in our Echo Input review, this is a fine solution so long as you can leave your speakers on permanently for the convenience of being able to use Alexa whenever you need to. Or, if you want to do this primarily to listen to Amazon Music or Spotify through your top-quality speakers, you can just turn them on when needed and use a different Echo for general Alexa queries.
The Echo Input costs £34.99 / US$34.99 which makes it the cheapest option, if you pay the normal price.
However, Amazon and other retailers regularly discount the Echo Dot to less than this price and you can connect a wired or Bluetooth speaker to an Echo Dot in exactly the same way as the Input. You won't get a warning from the Alexa app if it detects a problem with the external speaker but the advantage of this option is that you can use the internal speaker for hands-free Alexa when you don't need to use your own speakers.
There's little point in picking any other Echo with an aux output because they're more expensive and bulkier.
How do I connect an Echo to my speaker?
First, your speaker or hi-fi must have an auxiliary input, preferably 3.5mm minijack, or a Bluetooth speaker that uses a compatible standard and does not require a PIN code to be entered. Most speakers, then, can be connected to an Echo Input but if there's no aux input, you're out of luck.
The Echo Input comes with a 3.5mm minijack to minijack cable in the box, and this may be all you need. But if you speakers have a 1/4in input then you will need an adapter or a minijack to 1/4in cable.
Similarly, if your hi-fi or speaker has an RCA input, sometimes called phono or coax, then you'll need a minijack to RCA cable. Amazon sells these in its Basics range but there are alternatives which are even cheaper.
For Bluetooth speakers, choose the Bluetooth option when setting up the Echo Input and put your speaker into pairing mode. In the Alexa app you should see the speaker appear in the list of discovered devices. Just tap on it and it should connect.
If you don't see the speaker appear, but it's there when you look in your phone's Bluetooth settings, then it's likely the speakers isn't using a Bluetooth mode that will work with the Echo. Amazon has a list of compatible Bluetooth speakers.
The connection method isn't part of an Echo Dot's setup, so you need to delve a little deeper into the app to find the option.
In the app open the main menu (top left) go to Settings > Device Settings. Now find your Echo device and tap on its name then tap Bluetooth Devices > Pair a New Device. As long as your speaker is in pairing mode, it will appear in the list.
If you have multiple Bluetooth speakers, your Echo will automatically pair with the most recent device next time it's in range. But you can return to the Bluetooth Devices list in the app to pick a different one.
That's really all there is to it. Now you can use Alexa through your own speaker.