Monday 7 August 2023

Alexa Music Playback through Marantz / Denon Heos

Arising from a query on reddit, I revisited something I'd set up quite some time ago and forgotten all about: using Alexa to play music on my HT system. It works;

As can be seen, the processor is on CD input to start. When I ask it to play music, it switches to the HEOS input and plays. If the processor had been in standby, it would have been woken and switched to the correct input.

Also, only the music content plays through the speakers,, the Alexa responses come from the echo device itself.

Do note that in this case, I asked her to 'Play Amazon Music'. I needed to nominate the service as I have Spotify set to default on my Alexa devices, but Spotify won't work for echos with HEOS due to a limitation in the Amazon APIs. If Amazon Music was my default, I could just ay 'Alexa, play music'.

Note, however, that it is not necessary to invoke a skill by name or nominate a playback device. This is because the Marantz processor is set up as a 'speaker' inside the relevant group (where the echo itself is included);

If I wated to initiate music on this system from a echo device not in the group, I would need to include the group name by saying something like, 'Alexa, play Amazon music in the upstairs', which is kind of clunky.

To get this working, there are a few broad steps;

  • In the Alexa app, set up a group to include the echo device you want to use
  • Download the HEOS app, set up an account and find your receiver / processor. 
  • Make sure you can play music from the HEOS app before moving on.
  • Access your receiver / processor settings and enable your HEOS account under the Network tab
  • In the Alexa app, add the HEOS home entertainment skill, and link your account
  • In the app, have Alexa search for the receiver / processor
  • Add the receiver / processor to the group
  • Inside the group, add the device as the speaker. 
  • Be sure to access the 'Playback Option' section when choosing a speaker select the 'Always' option to negate the requirement to nominate the group name:

That's it. Not sure I'll actually use this due to the Spotify limitation. I tend to use Spotify Connect or Tidal  from my iPad, but if I really really wanted voice control, this is how I'd do it. If you are planning this, be sure that your music service of choice works in this way. Just because Alexa supports it, or your receiver / processor supports it, it doesn't mean that the combo will.

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