All the ways to use Alexa and Echo Dot

especially with regards to a whole-house audio system

Written by
HTD Staff
January 24, 2024 at 4:07:00 PM PST January 24, 2024 at 4:07:00 PM PSTth, January 24, 2024 at 4:07:00 PM PST


Amazon refers to their Alexa solution as a Voice User Interface (VUI, pronounced voo-ee). In much the same way that a Graphical User Interface (GUI) changed the way people interact with a computer, Amazon believes VUI will change the way people interact with all of the technology in their homes. Product offerings from Google, Apple and a few others suggest this same conclusion.

The Amazon Echo Dot is a relatively small and inexpensive device that is an excellent add-on to homes using Alexa. It includes microphones for receiving Alexa commands, and an audio output for connecting her responses and music streaming into a home audio system.

Commands you speak to it can be used to control all kinds of devices in your home - including HTD Whole-House Audio systems that use the WGW-SLX gateway. Click here to read how to use Alexa (or Google Home or Apple's HomeKit) to control your HTD system. This blog, however, is more focused on how to use the Dot to hear her voice and music streaming through your HTD whole-house audio system.

An audio output is required, so which devices include an audio output? The Dot includes an audio output - current versions use Bluetooth (Dot Gen 3, 4, 5) and older models include a hardwired 3.5mm output (Gen 1, 2, 3, and 4). Google offers a similar device for Google Home called the Google Nest Mini. The Nest Mini only includes a Bluetooth audio output but we can offer at least one solution for it. Apple's device, the HomePod Mini, does not offer any audio output, not even via Bluetooth. As such, we can't offer a feasible solution for hearing Siri through our system. With Apple, you can still control HTD systems using Siri, but her voice responses and streaming can only be heard on the small speaker included in the Apple device.

Please visit Voice Assistant Accessories to view all of the products we offer that work with Echo Dots and Google Nest Mini.

Here are some great ways to utilize one or more Echo Dots in your home . . .

Where possible, install the Dot in your ceiling.

We created a unique bracket and set of adapters for doing this! We call the combination a "Dot Kit" and we have one for every iteration of Echo Dot, from Amazon's first version to the current spherical 5th generation. Run a Cat 5 (or higher) cable from your stereo, home theater receiver, or whole-house audio system to the Dot's location.

When ceiling installation and running Cat cable is not possible, there are other options.

  • Connect the Dot to a Source Input panel within the room (only available with our Lync system).
  • Pair two Dots together over WiFi using the Alexa app so that one Dot is located somewhere in the room and the paired Dot is located at your equipment.
  • Connect one or more Dots at the central location and, without pairing, use other Dots spread throughout the home to issue commands to them. As an example, if the centrally located Dot is named "Main Dot", then use a voice command like this: "Alexa, play [song, artist, playlist, genre, etc.] on the Main Dot". Any zone that has the "Main Dot" selected as the source will hear the music stream. Note that with this option, answers to questions posed to the Alexa device will still be heard out of that same device, and not out of the whole-house audio system.

Each of these options has some limitations. Watch our YouTube video to learn more.

Note: Some, typically older, homes have Cat cable pre-installed for home networking. If this is your situation, you may have another option. You can "re-purpose" that cable for home audio. If Cat 5 (or higher) cable is already run between a room in which you want to add a Dot and your central location where the audio system resides, you can add an Audio Balun to each end of the Cat cable in order to send the Dot's audio signal cleanly over a long distance. Read more.

Once the audio output from the Dot is located near your equipment, you have several connection options . . .

Connect the Dot to a Source Input.

This will allow you to hear the Dot whenever that Source is selected on your stereo, home theater receiver, or whole-house audio system.

Connect the Dot directly to inputs on an amplifier.

If you are NOT using a whole-house audio system but do have a multi-channel amplifier powering all of your speakers, this is a great option. Volume is controlled only by voice or the Alexa app. We call this configuration Alexa Centric. It has some limitations compared to a full-blown whole-house audio system, but it may be the best fit for your situation. Click to learn more.

Connect to a Voice Assistant Input on an amplifier with Auto-Detect and Switch (ADS).

If your whole-house audio system includes an amplifier with ADS, this is likely your best option. This unique input dedicates the Dot to one zone where it can be used with or without the whole-house audio system. Volume for the Dot is only controlled through voice or the Alexa app. But, when the whole-house audio system is in use, the Dot can still be used to override the source selected by the whole-house audio system so that Alexa's voice responses and audio streaming will always take priority before returning to the source selected by the whole-house audio system. All of our mid-level MC systems and advanced Lync systems include the option to select an amplifier with the ADS feature.

I can't run speaker cable to a central location. What are my options?

You won't be able to utilize a traditional centrally located whole-house audio system, but if you can run speaker cables to the ceiling within a room, you have an option to get a similar whole-house audio experience. You will essentially create a "smart speaker on steroids" where the speaker is in the ceiling, a small stereo amp is located within the room, and the Echo Dot can be located within the room or even within the ceiling using one of our Dot Kits. Multiple rooms set up this way can be wirelessly played in sync using voice commands and the Alexa app. We call this solution Hybrid Wireless. Read more here.

Can I use Alexa to control my whole-house audio system?

Yes! The HTD Lync 6, Lync 12, MC-66 and MCA-66 can be controlled with Alexa (along with Google Home, and HomeKit) if your system includes the WGW-SLX gateway. So you can use schedules, triggered events, and voice to set up your zones with the sources you want to hear and at the volume you want to hear them. Go to to get the details.

You can also use Alexa with major streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Prime Music. The key is to set up your Dot (or other Alexa device) with your favorite streaming service as the default. Amazon prime music is preset as the default, but this can be changed. While listening to the Dot as your audio source, you can use your voice to request a specific artist, song, playlist, etc.