The Dot itself is proving popular as an entry-level product in the Echo family. It’s relatively cheap, tiny and packs all the same cloud features as bigger Echo products.
The technology inside the Dot is remarkable and would have seemed like science fiction not too long ago, but it does have one small yet important flaw: the speaker.
Can You Hear Me Now?
Don’t get me wrong, the speakers in the Echo devices are quite good. They do their job with excellent clarity. Alexa can be easily heard, although the Dot is a little volume limited by sheer physics.
The problem comes when you want something a little more sonically demanding than a weather update. Sure, your Dot’s speaker can play music, it’s just not much fun to listen to.
It’s a lot like listening to music on tinny laptop or tablet speakers. You’d rather just enjoy the silence.
Thankfully Amazon have not pretended like this isn’t an issue and you’ll find each Echo Dot has a line out so that you can hook it up to an external sound source. Because the Dot is so portable you could hook it up to audio equipment just about anywhere. Regular 3.5 mm jack PC speakers work great as does connecting it to a HiFi or sound bar.
A lot of people have been adopting multi-room audio systems in the last few years and Sonos is the popular (and possibly best) choice to provide great sound, albeit at a stiff price. These two products look like a match made in heaven, but you need to jump through a few minor hoops to get a Dot to work with a Sonos.
At present, you also can’t use the input from your Dot across the multi-room system or use any Sonos-specific Alexa commands. However the two companies will be releasing an integration patch in the future, that will make the process I detail here pretty much redundant.
Connecting the Dot(s)
So let’s go over the actual nitty-gritty details of connecting the Dot to your Sonos speaker.
We’ll be connecting the 3.5 mm line out socket on the Dot to the same type of line in socket on the Sonos. To do this we need a 3.5mm patch cord. You can buy these all over the place and they are commonly used in cars for people who don’t have Bluetooth yet.
You need to get a cable that’s at least three feet long. That’s the minimum distance that Amazon recommend so that music playing from the external speaker doesn’t give Alexa a hard time understanding you.
The actual connection process is as simple as can be. Just plug the cable into both jacks. Make sure the external speaker has power and is switched on too. Yeah I know it’s obvious, but everybody makes dumb mistakes sometimes.
Oh No! No Sound!
The final and most important step is to change the audio source on the Sonos to “line in” so that the sound from the Dot actually makes it to your ears.
Usually, you would need to access the Sonos app and manually change the audio source, but doing that every time you want to use the Dot makes it pointless. Luckily Sonos has an “autoplay” feature that will detect if the Dot is making noise. Here’s how to activate it:
- Go to the Sonos app
- Open settings
- Tap Room Settings
- Tap your Dot-connected Sonos
- Tap line-in
- Tap autoplay room
- Tap your Dot-connected Sonos again
That should make the Sonos wake up when the Dot speaks, but it can take a while, cutting Alexa off. So you may want to activate the notification tone in Alexa’s settings so that there is a delay before she begins to speak.
With an external speaker connected all audio from the Echo Dot will play through it, hopefully sounding sweet thanks to all the bass and mids. One wrinkle in this plan is that you now have two volume levels to contend with.
The external speaker will have its own volume and the Dot will have its own volume. While you can manipulate either as you please, only one of the two can be manipulated by Alexa. So my suggestion is that you pick a maximum volume level for the external speaker and then use Alexa to modify the input volume from the Dot itself.
Here’s how I suggest you do it:
- Turn the volume on your external speaker all the way down
- Turn the volume on the Dot all the way up
- Start playing a piece of music you would typically listen to
- Increase the volume on the external speaker as loud as you’ll ever think you’ll need
- Use the Dot’s volume control to lower the volume to a comfortable level
This way you don’t have to worry about weak signal to the external speaker or accidentally blowing out everyone in the room’s ears.
Congratulations! You now have the best of both worlds: a smart and capable AI assistant and a fantastic music player. Life doesn’t get much better than kicking back to some sweet, sweet jams my friends
We’re all waiting with anticipation to see what Amazon and Sonos will come up with in their official integration product. At the very least it will be neat to tell Alexa to play music in specific parts of the home. The only downside is that current Sonos speakers have no way to also listen to commands and relay them to Alexa. Something I’m sure Sonos will rectify in the next generation of speakers.
If you want to check out some other speakers that connect seamlessly with the echo check out our guide to the best Echo Dot speakers.