Amazon Alexa

I’ve been a dedicated Google Home user for some period of time but I wanted to see the other side so when Echo Dot went on sale a few weeks ago I picked one up.

As with Google Home one of the first things I wanted to find, and enable, was an audible acknowledgment. The trigger word (phrase) doesn’t always get a response, depending on local conditions, and I’d rather know that I’ve been heard before talking into the ether.

Instructions for doing so, can be found here:

How to Make Your Amazon Echo Play a Sound When You Say “Alexa”

As regards Alexa, the jury is still out, but on balance Google Home seems to be a much more capable agent in terms of recognizing the intent of my queries and directions.

For the most part, however, I use both platforms for music selection. Google Play Music seems to be a more extensive music library although I don’t know that for a fact. I was disappointed to find that Alexa couldn’t query my local music library, indexed via Sonos, but since Google Home support has yet to be ported to Sonos so I’m no further behind. I use an audio chromecast in my Play:5 audio port to drive my Sonos enviroment with Google Home.

I also, recently, installed 3 Google Home Minis and an Onkyo amplifier, with embedded audio chromecast for a client. I’m impressed with the latest revisions to the Google Home app and how it manages multi-user, multi-home environments. More on that later.

Update: The missing piece of the puzzle. On Amazon Music, as a Prime member, I get access to “two million songs ad-free and on-demand, while Amazon Music Unlimited ($7.99/month) expands the library to tens of millions of songs and lets you download them for offline listening on any device.”

Audio Chromecast

I’ve been a big fan of Google’s Chromecast since the beginning and when they released their Chromecast Audio product I, of course, had to take a look. We now own three of them, one connected to the audio port on our Sonos Play 5, and two on Bluetooth speakers, each with its own audio port. Using Google’s Home app you can easily create Groups of speakers to cast to. The Sonos environment can now be grouped in with non-Sonos speakers and within Sonos the Play 5 audio port can be grouped with other Sonos speakers, such as the Play 1. And then, of course, we got a Google Home Mini this year so we can now verbally request music to be played to both the Sonos and non-Sonos environment. We subscribe to Google Play Music and a nice feature here is that you can request Google Home to play a particular track and it will automatically put together a playlist of related tracks and carry on indefinitely. A must for music lovers.