Amazon Echo


#1

Paul’s post today expresses his delight for the other woman in his life, Alexa, the persona of the Amazon Echo. There are some bright folks on this forum and my wife asks if the Echo could be interfaced with a music server to play her requests via one of PS Audio’s DACs. She is not fond of using smartphone apps to control the stereo (why? I am not sure) Anyone have any thoughts on this?

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#2

[Moved from PS Audio Topics]

The brute force method is to tap the analog output to the speaker(s), send this to an ADC and send its output to your DAC of choice. More elegant would be to grab the digital stream but this will be within a chip and demands a good deal of Echo/DAC chip knowledge.

Either way, especially the first, I expect the sound to be dreadful.


#3

I should have been more specific. I meant to use the Echo as a verbal wireless control point for the DAC/server.


#4

Exactly - the interface is what’s interesting. As a music device it’s just above the level of tolerable. Nice for background, never for actual listening. But as an interface, how powerful would that be? Transformative to say the least. Though there are many technical problems - for example, it’s clear they use active cancellation techniques so Alexa can listen over loud music - something you can only do if you also make the speakers.

But still, as a device and as a technology, I love it!


#5
wglenn said I meant to use the Echo as a verbal wireless control point for the DAC/server.
I'm sorry; I misunderstood.

I’ve seen the demos and it appears amusing. But do does Siri, Cortana, and Chuck. They all appear roughly equivalent, replete with the same type of canned responses for nonsense queries.

I am impressed how good voice recognition is becoming. I used Dragon extensively for six+ months while recovering from an accident. It worked amazingly well. Dragon’s recognition technology combined with a truly intelligent, interpretive interface would be astounding. It will take some years yet, but I bet we will see it remarkably soon.

Interpreting music requests, recognizing mispronounciations, partial and mis-remembered requests, etc., would be quite a feat.


#6

There are “smart home” programmers working on just such an interface. I know of venture capitol funding group that is in due diligence mode at the moment with a tech company who hope to license their technology to “appliance” firms for voice control.

Security systems, lighting, HVAC, etc. Their propriety transmitters and receivers can be programmed to control just about anything that a command line or icon can trigger.

Heck if streamers can do 4xDSD wireless and voice recognition software keeps getting better then we may not be far off.
If the technology works as presented then they get my dough.


#7

Alexa listens at ALL times. Alexa is connected to the Cloud. Does that mean all sounds and conversations within “hearing” distance are accessible to someone on the Cloud?


#8

Supposedly not - you have to say her name to activate her - but then if I were in a conspiracy theory mode I’d certainly be scared of her. The microphone is always on and she’s always connected to the cloud.

Echo’s internal processor is always listening, technically, and only this local processor “hears” everything you say and do in the home. She only connects to the cloud when the local processor decides to send a request.


#9

Many, many companies are working on voice recognition with true content recognition and have been dosing so for a long time. It is one of the grails of AI.

Even though bandwidth and storage space is comparatively cheap, I doubt Amazon wants to pay for either to upload and store our daily prattle. And thus, does not.

On the other hand, I bet it is a simple matter to program the device to do both. Amazon may well soon be fielding court orders to allow law enforcement access to constant-on Echo mics.


#10

Eek. It does conjure up an image of a darkened back room where the sole occupant asks, “Alexa, how much diesel per kilo of fertilizer?”


#11

The speaker in Amazon Echo doesn’t sound great with music, it distorts at higher volumes. In addition, it has a battery option and must be plugged in at all times. If your preferred audio service like Spotify, which is not natively supported, the Echo is little more than a “dumb” Bluetooth speaker.


#12

Well in don’t agree with you because i have purchase Amazon Echo system not one but three and each of them are working prefect no problem with high volume and i believe that this is an excellent bluetooth speaker.


#13

I just wrote an Amazon Alexa skill for JRiver, called House Band, that’s available now in the skills tab of the Alexa app. Below is a little video demo:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqBOaoEssN0

For those with and Echo and JRiver, give it a try! (

Now called House Band, not Media Center, as in the video.

It’s definitely a first release and a work in progress. But I’m actively improving it. There are limits (mine, for sure, and the Echo’s) for voice searching libraries. Sure, you can find the band Sigur Ros, by try getting at their album Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust or () through voice search is a bit tricky.


#14

See if you can repost the link.


#15

I wish I had one of these to play with(Hint Paul),I could make some cool stuff.


#16

Hmmmmm. 15_gif Sell me when we see each other this morning.itwasntme_gif


#17

sarkonovich: That is what I was curious about! Could this be made to work with other programs, like minimserver? How about working with a Windows based system (the server, that is)? The current mobile device interfaces discourage my wife for some reason.


#18

wglenn: I don’t know about minimserver (though I think I tried it years ago…). The short answer is that you can get Alexa integration with any program that, very roughly, you can control through HTTP requests. JRiver has an awesome web service like this, allowing you to control almost all aspects of it. The platform (Windows, OSX, etc) should be irrelevant.


#19

This looks like so much fun to play with. I can’t wait until I can afford one.

Dennis


#20

Someone has built a web implementation of Alexa (the voice service in the Amazon Echo) that you can use for free:

https://alexaweb.herokuapp.com/static/help.html

This isn’t an “always listening” thing. You have to press a virtual button in your browser to issue the command. But you get access to almost everything you do on an Echo. So you can play with it for free…you can use House Band with it.

The downside (and this is why it isn’t really a substitute) is that it’s pretty slow to respond. Much slower than the actual Echo. But you can use House Band with it, and so voice control JRiver. Just be warned: it’s a bit laggy.