Voice control isn’t the sole preserve of wireless smart speakers, you know. Barking, “Alexa, open Just Eat!” at your Echo Dot or, “Hey Google, what’s in my calendar for today?” to your Google Assistant speaker just for the joy of hearing that your schedule is clear, is now commonplace. But using spoken word to command the main music system in your home – your serious, great-sounding hi-fi setup – may not seem so natural. It may be a jump many audio enthusiasts are reluctant to take, even. But give this a moment’s thought, music lover, because verbal control over your hi-fi might be just what your household needs.
Here, we explain the various ways in which you can have voice control as part of a hi-fi system. Whether you are keen to use Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant or Apple’s Siri platforms, and whether you want to bring your traditional ‘dumb’ system into 2021 or are looking to invest in a new set-up with virtual voice assistance at its core, read on…
Add voice control by connecting a smart speaker
One of the easiest routes to giving your vintage hi-fi system a voice is by connecting an external smart speaker to it.
The Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker comes with its own built-in driver under its little spherical fabric jacket, but you can beef up its audio by making it play through the speakers in your sound system instead. (Amazon launched a speaker-less Echo Input device a few years ago for this very purpose, but it has now been discontinued.) This may be handy, but note that audio quality will be limited here.
The Echo Dot offers wired and wireless connectivity, and will work with just about any integrated amp, receiver, soundbar or pair of active speakers with a 3.5mm aux input or Bluetooth connection. With either connection, all of the audio – including Alexa’s verbal answers – will play through the connected speakers in your system.
The diminutive, cheap and cheerful Amazon Echo Dot has a 3.5mm output, so you can wire it to any receiver, integrated amp or powered speaker with a 3.5mm input. Alternatively, it features built-in Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) Bluetooth, meaning you can connect it wirelessly to any Bluetoothenabled receiver, speaker or soundbar.
Add Google Assistant
Want Google Assistant to run the show instead? Similarly, you can pair a Google Nest Mini (Google’s answer to the Echo Dot, although older Google smart speakers such as the Home Mini can also do this) over Bluetooth for voice commands and music to play through your Bluetoothtoting system. However, it does not have a 3.5mm output.
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