Listening to Music
With the constant changes in technology one thing that has not changed, speakers are used for listening to music.
A smart speaker is basically like the speakers we’ve used all our lives, however what make a smart speaker different is that it has intelligence built-in called a Personal Digital Assistant or PDA for short. A PDA provides voice assistance by responding to voice commands.
In this article, I am going to share the first of five considerations that will help you to choose a new Smart Speaker, or better use a Smart Speaker. you already own.
Playing music is one of the most popular ways people use their Smart Speakers. A Smart Speaker with a Personal Digital Assistant makes it possible and easy for someone to play any song at any time.
Smart Speaker With PDA Eliminates CDs
Smart speakers eliminate the need to operate a CD player, tune into radio stations and most importantly choose the music we want to hear. Tuning into radio stations by voice benefits those who are sight-impaired and may not otherwise be able to see the dial. With two or three words, Alexa (or Hey Google, or Hey Siri) play Frank Sinatra, for example.
Music is especially beneficial for elders, the disabled and those recovering from illness. Music has been proven to improve psychological health, memory, stress reduction, even boost the immune system. Music therapy is used for Dementia treatment and Alzheimer’s disease.
Singing-along with a Personal Digital Assistant can help stimulate memories, improve symptoms of depression and motivate movement and exercise, even recover faster from illness.
Speaker Sound Quality
One we have decided to purchase a Smart Speaker for ourselves or our elder family member, we need to consider sound quality.
If you ever compared a transistor radio’s tiny speaker and a high fidelity stereo then you know speaker quality is important to enjoying music with different quality speakers. Like their predecessors, not all Smart Speakers offer the same sound quality.
Sound quality is especially important to note when choosing a Smart Speaker for those with hearing loss including an elder family member.
The Amazon Echo Dot, Echo Tap and Google Home Mini are the lowest priced smart speakers. Their sound quality is better than a transistor radio, however the sound quality is not as good as their higher priced Smart Speakers and Smart Displays from Amazon or Google; Amazon Echo Plus, Echo Show, Google Home Max or Google Home Hub.
The Apple HomePod is a high-quality smart speaker and priced much higher than lower quality Amazon Echo and Google Home. Google’s high-end smart speaker, Google Home Max that compares with Apple’s HomePod in quality and price.
The Amazon Echo Plus is an improvement over the original Echo speaker’s sound but does near the same quality as Apple HomePod or Google Home Max. Amazon offers a sub-woofer and bundles it with two Echo speakers for a comparable sound quality as well as price. Amazon Echo and Google Home are mid-priced Smart Speakers with decent sound.
Alternatives to the most popular Smart Speakers that offer great sound
Smart speakers made by Amazon, Google, and Apple are the most popular and have their own Personal Digital Assistants Alexa , Google Assistant and Siri.
If Alexa is your Digital Assistant of choice you have the option of using a Smart Speaker like the Sonos One that has great ratings for sound quality in a slightly better price point then other Smart Speakers in its’ sound quality category. Sonos One works with dozens of streaming services including Amazon Music, Google Play store and Apple Music.
Amazon Alexa is also available on more third-party speakers than Google Assistant, including the Facebook Portal smart display.
JBL makes a speaker, the JBL Link 300 that has Google Assistant personality built in.
Both Sonos One and JBL Link 300 work as a Smart Speaker and a Personal Digital Assistant like the Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers and use Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology.
If you are going to use your Smart Speaker in a Smart Home environment it is important to note that Sonos One and JBL Link 300 do not function as Smart Home hubs but can control your smart lighting if you have a smart hub. Amazon Echo plus has a built-in hub. Smart hubs are another consideration outside the scope of this article.
If you already own a Smart Speaker
If you are not satisfied with your Smart Speaker’s sound quality and it is a Smart Speaker from Amazon or Google you do not need to replace it. Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers can be connected to most non-smart, yet higher-quality Bluetooth speakers.
Hold on to your favorite Non-Smart Speaker
If you already have a non-smart speaker and you are happy with the sound quality Amazon has a way to keep using your old favorite. The Amazon Echo allows you to connect your speaker 3.5 mm audio cable.
It is not that simple if you have a Google Home mini. There are procedures on the internet for modifying your Home mini so you can add a 3.5 mm speaker jack . If you are not comfotrable modifying your Home Mini you can purchase Chromecast audio to connect your Google Home Mini to your favorite speak that has a 3.5 mm audio input.
To Stream or Not to Stream
Play the music you own
If you or your elder family member have invested in music CDS you will want to know which Smart Speaker that allows you to play the music you purchased.
Google allows you upload your own music to Google Play Music to play with your Google Home speaker and Apple allows you to upload your music to Apple Music so you can play on a HomePod.
Amazon has discontinued the ability to upload music to Amazon Music service and existing users will no longer be able to store and play their own music that they preciously uploaded to Amazon Music. Amazon music still offers millions of songs can be played by subscribing to Amazon Prime music or Prime unlimited service.
If you are still buying and listening to CDS and listening to traditional radio broadcast over the air you will find that a Smart Speaker gives you more choices and control over what do you listen to and when you listen to it. If you purchased alot of CDS you will find that you will save money and physical storage space by streaming music
Amazon Music, Apple Music, Google Red and Google Play Music
If you have previously purchased music from Amazon , Google or Apple then choosing a smart speaker may be a simple choice between purchasing Amazon , Google and Apple. Smart Speakers. All three have subscriptions where you can play music that you do not own for a monthly fee.
Another way to listen to music with a Smart Speaker is by playing music online, called streaming. In recent years more music is being listened to uon-demand.
Internet radio enables more radio stations than ever before, including stations that were once geographically limited by radio stations that broadcast over the airwaves. Amazon, Google and Apple Smart Speakers support streaming music from the most popular music streaming services, Pandora and Spotify and internet radio from popular services iHeartRadio and TuneIn.
Smart Speakers and Beyond
A Smart Speaker is often the first purchase when getting started in the world of internet of things.
The three most common Personal Digital Assistants have different personalities and do not communicate the same way. You might say that they are from different planets. The term often used is ecosystem.
Once you choose Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri for your Digital Assistant you have chosen an ecosystem you will need to purchase compatible additions like smart bulbs and plugs for example that are compatible.
Smart speakers’ price range varies greatly, but due to technology like Bluetooth you can own a lower prices smart speaker and still get high quality sound by connecting to a higher quality Bluetooth or 3.5 mm input.
Amazon, Google and Apple have very easy to use you Smart Speaker to listen to your favorite music any time.