How to use your smart speakers as a home theater audio system

TVs are not known for having the best built-in sound, but buying a set of speakers to amplify your sound can be a pain (not to mention expensive). But you can use the smart speakers you already own to upgrade your home sound and add an extra level of immersion to your movies, shows and music.

Some smart speakers are actually capable of pumping out a decent sound level now, especially the Amazon Echo series. Standard $ US100 ($ 138) 4th-gen Echo offers decent sound; there is also the $ US200 ($ 277) Echo Studio with its superior sound quality, and even the $ US130 ($ 180) Echo Sub to bring out the bass.

Unfortunately, you can not yet use your Nest smart speakers or a Chromecast to round out your home theater; the feature was officially promised more than a year ago, but it has not appeared. However, if you are all in with Amazon or Apple devices, you are in luck. How to get started.

Apple HomePod

You can use your HomePod and HomePod mini speakers as audio setup for your TV as long as an Apple TV 4K box is connected. This works with one or two speakers, which should be allocated the same space as your Apple TV 4K in the Home app on your iPhone, iPad or Mac, and it covers all sounds, including navigation clicks. You can not use third-party speakers for this, even if they are compatible with AirPlay 2 wireless standard.

If you use two HomePod speakers, set them up as a stereo pair before connecting them to your Apple TV 4K. Open the Home app in iOS or iPadOS, then tap and hold on a HomePod device. Touch the setting gear icon, then select Create stereo pairs to select your second speaker and complete the pairing process.

Your HomePod speakers should be detected automatically.  (Screenshot: tvOS) Your HomePod speakers should be detected automatically. (Screenshot: tvOS)

To ensure that your Apple TV 4K and the associated speakers are in the same room in the Home app, it is again a long press on that device to access its settings, and then Room. If you need to create a new space for your home theater setup, this is it + (plus) icon in the upper right corner of the main menu Home tab, then Add room.

The next time you launch your Apple TV 4K box, you should be able to choose Use as Apple TV speakers option that appears on the screen. If you do not see the message, you can access the same option by opening the Settings app on your Apple TV 4K device. Choose Video and audio, then Audio output, and then select the HomePod or HomePod pair you want to use. It is also possible to go through the Home app by tapping and holding the Apple TV 4K icon and then selecting the settings screen icon and Standard audio output.

Amazon Echo

For this to work with Amazon devices, you need one or more Echo speakers as well as a device running Fire TV connected to your TV. All the devices involved must be linked to the same Amazon account, which should already be the case if you have configured everything through the Alexa app on your phone.

open Devices tab, then press + (plus icon) and Combine speakers. choose Home theater, then you should be able to select your Fire TV device from the list that appears. Once done, you can select one or two Echo devices to use as a single speaker or stereo pair, and you can also add an Echo Sub to the configuration. If you use two main speakers, you can designate left and right models.

Echo setup is controlled through the Alexa app.  (Screenshot: Alexa) Echo setup is controlled through the Alexa app. (Screenshot: Alexa)

The next step is to give your home theater setup a name to make it easy to access at a later time, and assign it to a room or group in your house. You will then need to turn your attention to your TV, where the Fire stick or box should enable you to complete the setup. The first message you need to see will allow you to view the audio setup you just created to make sure everything works.

You can access the new setup and, if necessary, change it from scratch Devices tab in the Alexa app. Keep in mind that some Echo speakers come with auxiliary outputs, so you can potentially connect a larger and better-sounding speaker while still taking advantage of the home theater configuration set up through the Alexa app.

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