February 12, 2020 Rodney Cowled
Smart Speaker

Smart Home Audio: How to Smart Up Your Sound.

What is Smart Home Audio?

Home audio comes in two parts, whole-house or non-room specific audio (e.g music playing in multiple rooms) or room-specific audio (e.g. a movie playing in your living room). So, what is smart home audio?

Smart home audio takes home audio & adds smart features – voice & app-based control, automation, scheduling, & integration with other smart home devices.

Alexa, play “This is Mac Miller” in the living room. 

Where to start? There’s 2 Options for Smart Home Audio.

The Two-in-on Solution

  • Two-in-one: Audio and smart assistant in one device – Your smart assistant, is your audio system.
Smart Home Audio two in one solution

The Separate, but Connected Solution

  • Two separate Systems: Audio system and smart assistant separate systems – your audio system is separate, but is controllable by your smart assistant.
Smart Home Audio Separate solution

But…which one is the best?

Neither, both, well…it depends. It depends on your situation & your priorities. Below you’ll see which solution best fits your needs.

The Two-in-One Solution

Do you want the simplest solution? Well, the two-in-one solution is for you. You purchase one device (e.g. a Google Home or an Amazon Echo Dot) and you’re done. You’ve got smart home audio.

Amazon Echo Dot Smart Home Audio
The Amazon Echo Dot Source: Amazon

There is a little bit more to it than that, but you get the point.

What if you want decent audio quality?

You’ve heard that these smart home speakers sound pretty bad. It is true, the base models do have pretty poor audio quality. That’s why both Google & Amazon have extended their lines to include a whole array of smart speakers with much higher quality audio. An example being Amazon’s Echo Studio & Echo Sub.

Amazon studio
Amazon’s Echo Studio. Source: Amazon.

These are a happy middle ground between smart home audio functions & sound quality.

Do you want great audio quality or already have an existing audio setup?

Well, then the solution for you is the Separate, but Connected Solution. The audio (quality) from one system & the smart home function from another.

The Separate, but Connected Solution.

Maybe you’re an audiophile and you love crisp highs and deep ground-shaking lows. Or perhaps you’ve just got an existing audio system which you don’t want to replace just yet.

Well, this is the solution for you.

The audio (quality) from one & the smart home function from another.

There are (again) two options here & the one you need will depend on the type of audio system you require. The two options are:

  • Hardwired – there’s a wire between your smart home device & your audio system. In much the same way you might plug your phone into your speakers to play music from them.
  • Wireless – This usually come in the form of a Bluetooth or a wifi connection between the two systems.

The right one, depends on what your audio system supports.

Sonos Play 5
Sonos Play5. Source: Sonos

Example:

  • Hardwired: You’ve got a traditional audio system (amp, speakers, etc.) you’d take a smart home input and plug it into one of the inputs on your sound system.
  • Wireless: You’ve got a Sonos sound system scattered around your house & you want to add voice control to it. You’d grab a device which supports the Sonos interface & integrates with Sonos
  • Then you’d log into the Sonos & Alexa apps & configure them to work together.

Smart Home Audio – Extras

The above will allow you to control your music with your voice & if that’s all you’re after, then great. If you’re interested in more, then there is much more. These systems can allow you to:

  • Wake up the sound of your favourite song.
  • Fall asleep to the sound of high-fidelity rain sounds (I totally don’t do this, I promise.)
  • Have notifications come through your audio system – (door bells, phone notifications etc.)

If you’d like to know more about any of these options or any others let me know in the comments or on social media. Or if you’re interested in how I designed my own smart home take a look here.

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