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Crutchfield: The Podcast Ep. 21

J.R., Eric, and Francis talk smart home gear

In this episode:

Co-hosts J.R. and Eric catch up with Francis, who works on our Crutchfield Business team, to take a deep dive on smart home gear and smart assistants. Eric, a big fan of Amazon Alexa, and Francis, who's all in with Google Assistant, discuss their home setups and how they made their choices.

Some of the gear discussed includes:

Also, the gang answers a few customer questions about integrating smart controls with existing audio gear. If you'd like more info on integrating smart home products into your home, check out our smart home buying guide. Some other great resources are our wireless router buying guide, our guide to Alexa in the car, and our guide to Brilliant smart home control.

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Read episode transcript

Hello and welcome everybody to Crutchfield the podcast. I am your host. Jr and we've got a fun one for you here today. We will be talking about all things Smart home. Uh that is the topic for today's show with me today as usual. My co host eric. You're at your house. How's things at home? Um Well, my basement is the quiet refuge in my house right now. We'll see how long that lasts. But no things are great. You work at home, your wife works at home, your kid's school from home. So you got four people using up a lot of internet at your house. How's that working out? Uh some days are better than others right now. I think I think we're gonna be okay for a little while. So we chose a time to record this at a time when your kids are not there. Is that true? So maybe using less bandwidth right now. Right? They're not in class right now. They're they're still home but I think I've kicked them outside. Uh you can come inside when the podcast is done kids. The point of crutchfield the podcast is to talk with some of our coolest employees about the cool stuff that we sell that they bought. And today we will be talking with Francis. He's actually here. He's been listening to this entire introduction, sitting there waiting patiently for me to introduce and Francis. How are you today, sir? I'm doing awesome. JR Thanks for asking. You are the lucky one who actually is working in the office today. Is that right? That's right. Yeah. It's a little bit of a ghost town here since everything happened, but yeah, and I'm just curious, I I didn't tell you ahead of time, I was gonna ask you this, but it just struck me, why aren't you working from home? Like what's the deal? Well, this year has been interesting for me. I I got a new job position and worked with a different department here in the commercial and corporate world and for the benefit of that, I needed to come in to kind of get used to some of the systems that I had never done before. So that is that is the goal right now. So we brought you in on this episode because you, you know, a thing or two about gadgets, Internet connected gadgets in your home. Uh, we so much so that we've actually asked you and you have done some smart home training for the rest of the sales advisors, You'll be doing some of that coming up in future training classes. And it also happens that eric knows a thing or two about smart home gadgets. I would say it's fair to say both of you are way more into it than I am. I'm gonna start this conversation and then I'm going to kind of set you guys free a little bit here. Um, but I want to impress upon the world how smart my home is and then let you guys just blow my house out of the water. Uh So at my house I do have an Alexa, I have an echo dot downstairs, it's connected to a receiver and some speak and so I can ask Alexa to play music set timers, ask her questions and I hear Alexa on a nice set of speakers, the same set of the same system my turntable is connected to, so I just switch inputs and I'm either listening to uh you know vintage vinyl or uh you know the current digital solution for listening to music. So that's one set up. I've got I've got four phillips lights on my front porch, I've got a couple of smart outlets uh and up in the bedroom I've got a so knows play one. Uh That is I don't really I don't know if I even think about that as part of my smart home, I just uh I just use it to play music while I'm sleeping and uh in the kitchen I have a google hub video thing that I use for recipes and setting timers. And it's a it's also a pretty cool it's like a like a photo frame, so it's always constantly updating with photos I've taken. Uh My tv is a smart tv, I've got an apple uh apple tv and uh and that's kind of it, that's the that's where I tap out on the smart home, which to some that may sound very smart once until they hear from you guys. So I'm gonna throw it out to you guys. And uh I think if I understand correctly Francis, you're more of a google home person and eric you're more of an amazon Alexa person. Do I have that? Right, That's correct. I also wonder by you just saying what you just said if you've pinned anybody's home equipment because you just alerted it. So we should we should have caution when using uh, you know, the ladies names, Alexa turn all lights off, It's gonna be chaos. Yeah, anybody listening at home right now lights hopefully just went off. That's the power of the internet right now, everybody. Yeah, I definitely am a google home person though to answer your question. And I'm at this point I lean more into the amazon kind of echo. So Francis as our guest today describe your smart home, what stuff did you buy and put in your house that you use on a regular basis? The biggest addition that I've made this year was investing in our brilliant light switch. Smart home hubs. And these are pretty cool in that they replace already, you know, installed outlet switches. So these are actual light switches that you would have in any home electric system with a smart version of it. And it's pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Instead of having to go up there and flip a light switch, you tell google what you wanted to do, it also communicates perfectly with the google assistant. So if I wanted to turn on my overhead fan which is just a, what we call a simple or dumb overhead fan has no smart wifi capabilities built into it. It's an interesting day that we live in that we can now call it a dumb fan. Yeah. And I use that term way too often now in describing normal home appliances. Yeah, that's the world we're in. But the, the easiest way or at least for me to bridge that gap of, you know, normal overhead fans. Light switches is with these smart outlets that are definitely gaining traction. I've got a three way switch that's three individual light switches on one triple gang plate. And there is actually a brilliant product that I purchased from Crutchfield that allows me to control all three of those independently and completely through my voice. That's not an adjective, that's the actual name of the product. Yeah, we should probably clarify that. Yeah, brilliant. Is the, is the company name that actually makes and manufacturers these products Now, it is brilliant to be fair. Um, but it is also a brilliant product also heavily involved in the logitech Harmony ecosystem which is also another smart home product. This is in my, you know, biased opinion, probably the best way to bridge all the other cool electronics that we sell in the audio video world with these google home and amazon Alexa products that are showing up in more and more customers homes to give an example, I can turn on my blu ray player, my tv, my home theater receiver switched to all the appropriate complicated inputs of each of those devices with just one voice command. Thanks to my logitech Harmony remote. Um so that is a very powerful tool that I use all day long turning up the volume down, the volume, switching between my different sources, um etcetera etcetera. Okay, so let's break that down a little bit. Your Harmony remote. I believe you have the Harmony Elite. Right, And that is a it's a remote, it's infrared, it's also internet, right? It uses a hub that connects to the internet that allows it to be very smart. But the remote itself that doesn't have a microphone on it. Right. You got it do rely on the microphones of the smart assistance, so whether that's google or like eric leans towards the Alexa side of things, um it does require you're absolutely right, a secondary microphone already in the home. So is the microphone in your brilliant smart home control light switch panel or do you have like a google assistant sitting somewhere in your room, yep. So I use a couple of different google assistance in the living room, I do have a dedicated, I think it's the nest Mini is what I'm using for that room. So that's my main go to for when google wants to listen to me. So that's what you actually are speaking to is the google nest home mini. And because the harm system is compatible with google home, google home can tell harmony what to do. And because Harmony knows about all of your equipment and what infrared codes to send out to turn on your Tv or your receiver, it can combine the control, your voice goes to google, google goes to Harmony. Harmony goes out to all your stuff, you nailed it, you nailed it. And it's a very intuitive process once everything's set up with the logitech remote, which for all those remote lovers out there are still going to use just like myself. But for the initial turn on sequences, stuff that you just don't want to necessarily have to reach for the remote, it is incredibly useful or when you lose the remote, as I do way too often, um to be able to at least initiate those without having to grab your smartphone or do anything else. And uh do you control it while you're watching tv. Like if you're watching one channel and you want to switch channels, you just grab the remote or do you use a voice command for that too? Yeah, a little bit of both, depends on how lost the remote is at the time. Um but but yeah, no, it's absolutely, it's flawless, whether I want to speak the command out to my google home speaker or if I want to press on the touch screen of my logitech Elite system. Both are a seamless process that I have. The options which is probably the biggest, the biggest benefit of smart home in general is just opening up other options to do tasks that we typically had to push a button for um back to your brilliant smart home control on the wall there. Do you have the one with the touch screen on it? Absolutely. The the way they structure these is the brilliant Smart home system requires at least one of the hubs which include the touch screen. That's where all the magic happens from there. You can add the non touchscreen ones to other outlets in the home but you'll still need at least one of those main home hubs with the screen to operate the system and so set up and all of that is done on the touch screen. You got it, yep. So the touch screen, a little bit of app usage, just like most of these products. Um but yes, you'll set it up right on the touch screen once you wired in to your home electricity and then what can you do from the touch screen, once it's all set up, the most obvious thing that's gonna face most customers after they set up a system like this is you'll see a digital representation of the sliders right on the touch screen or activities for the touch screen. Perfect example would be to play, you know, an activity that you want through Harmony, my logic remote or just to turn on a light. I can actually set an activity which will show up as an icon on that hub screen and that will do whatever activity I've said it to. So if that's a, you know, turn on the light that's controlled by one of these light switches that I replaced with the brilliant switch, I could do that if I wanted to do a combination, I wanted to turn on my fan and off my lights. That touch screen gives you the op to not just do you know, one act at a time but also join together a few different activities, which is really where the benefit of this stuff starts, starts to show up your home is sounding pretty smart. Do you have anything else that you want to talk about here as well? So as far as the other stuff that a lot of customers seem to be asking me about and what I've already invested in is a couple of smart outlets, probably the single coolest and easiest product to get someone started in this whole category. So this is a simple example of a little thing, plugs into the wall that has another outlet on it, you plug your lamp, your, you know, electronics into that and then you can control exactly, you control the on and off capabilities right from your voice. So again, very convenient feature, especially like most of us when we use those outlets for our christmas lights, just like eric said, they're typically in places that we don't want to have to crawl on our hands and knees and unplug every night. Right? So now that is all taken care of on a schedule for me. So through the holiday season I did have a strip of christmas lights that was on my front facing windows that just turned on and off on a schedule or if I wanted to manually do it, I could also tell my google assistant to turn off the christmas lights and your you don't live alone, right? It's you and your wife, me and my wife and my my dog Caspian. And how does your wife like having all of this smart home stuff in the house? Yeah, I think the, the initial reaction to any, you know, vast change of, you know, doing anything is a little alarming. Smart home has got to be something that is either solving a problem or going to be extremely helpful and make it easier on your life. There's always gonna be a learning curve. I preface that by saying, you know, she, she took a little bit to get used to it, but we're on the same page now and she uses them quite regularly now to to do activities, especially to turn on the, you know, to be blunt, very complicated home theater system that myself and many of our customers own. She doesn't need to necessarily know the ins and outs of all the inputs. She just knows that she wants to watch netflix, she tells google that she wants to watch netflix and the magic happens. I really really like that back in the days when I was selling the products that we carry to folks. I always loved that the logitech remote would take a whole bunch of complicated things that you know in my own house, I set up those things, I knew what inputs, what things were plugged into. I could easily reach into uh you know a basket full of remote controls and pull out the right one and hit the right button quickly. But not everyone in my family shared that passion for the way those things are hooked up. So um and you know from time to time we'd have someone house it or something like that and and uh I found that you know I wanted the Harmony remote because of how cool I thought they were but it wasn't it ended up being my wife that liked it more than I did because it took a bunch of components and turned it into one system that easily worked. Um And you know if I was trying to describe to somebody how to turn the tv on, I would just a button that said T. V. And it would just come on along with the receiver and the cable box and the everything would turn to the right input because I hit one button and it just makes it so simple. Um so I've always liked that product and it's neat to think of that from a smart home standpoint, yours is a little smarter than the one that I had. But uh you know, it's we're also kind of talking about home automation at the same time. I think those things can be used kind of interchangeably but uh I mean it's certainly making your home a lot smarter to have that product in there totally. The addition to, you know, making the stuff consumer friendly is really what made the market explode with these products in in my opinion, I think for better for worse, you know, the industry has benefited from uh these giant ecosystems, you know, having the power behind them that they have. So you know, the googles the Alexis and let's not forget, you know, Apple out there with the Syrian control uh home kit. Um they, because it's all been kind of centralized um there's less apps to have to worry about less control interfaces and really does make it easier to use. Um so in in some ways, you know, in most ways I think that that's a huge benefit for the industry. The amount of hassle that most people had to go through to get one device to talk to another, you know, via wifi 10 years ago, you know, has is night and day from where we are now and that's thanks to big software integration where we have companies like google that are adding, you know, these api so that different developers of different apps and different products, they don't need to necessarily, you know, worry about making everything work with their one thing if they make it work with one of these assistants now, you've got a really usable smart product for people that might not be the most tech savvy or network savvy individuals some letters there and just so you can avoid us having to cut in later on. You said a p. I Yeah, so a lot of times where we we used to see smart home products come out, they were more or less closed systems and Apple kind of gets brought up in this conversation every now and then where their products work insanely well with their products. Right? The biggest challenge from what I saw with smart home was getting them to talk to different products that weren't made by the same, you know, C E O s leadership at the time. Um so what we started seeing is different companies specifically google and amazon leading this with their specific smart home products, the google nest mini, which is now the current product and the amazon echo dots, they started allowing different companies to use application programming interfaces to essentially be the be the middleman, that's your A P I that just allows for one company software to communicate very basically. They don't, it's not, you know, we're not looking for every single compatibility, which is what I tell people smart home products all the time, but it does allow them to do basic things, you know, back and forth. So for my example where my Harmony app, which I do have a dedicated app for the logitech, Harmony Elite on my phone, I can open that up and push, you know, my shield tv, which happens to be my streaming set top box. To contrast JR's Apple tv. I can click that in my Harmony app or I can open up my google home app where I see the exact same command and that right, there is only, you know, possible through companies and software designers that are allowing people to integrate with them and the consumer wins and that's awesome. You know, and that's it's been a collaborative effort and will continue to be but that's really what's opening up these sort of conversations um in most customer homes now, is that these are, this is a real reality that things are able to talk to one another, right? That's very true, Very true. All right. Eric, let's hear more about what you've got going on in your home and you're more of an amazon Alexa centric sort of a system, is that right? So a few years ago we, we jumped in amazon when my wife through her employer actually was gifted an amazon dot and really it's, we haven't looked back since then we ended up with a dot uh you know, in one room and then we had another one as a gift. And next thing, you know, we we had one of the amazon shows, which is basically a dot with a little screen and has a camera in it and uh now at this point um I think uh you know, most rooms in my house are within earshot of an Alexa device and uh because of that, um you know, we expanded and we have lights throughout the house through a Philips hue um Philips hue, that's one of those that can work nice with Siri google or amazon, so that's a really good product um and uh you know, have interior lights and exterior lights and um now we've kind of expanded that with the amazon uh ring products and uh so that kind of brings into security, so uh and and just also keeps keeping an eye on the yard and uh you know, the doorbell rings, we'll we'll know who that is and it shows up on the Alexa devices along with on our smartphones. Um so, you know, there's there's some some neat benefits um and uh I think if I had to give them all up, I could live in that world. Um but I don't think I've really started to kind of rely on it, it's really nice. Um you don't want to go back to a dumb world dumb home now, I tell you the doorbell one here recently, especially within this last year, you know, we've had a lot more activity on at our front step whether or not, you know, it's pizza being dropped off, you know, and everything is kind of a touchless delivery kind of situation. So it's nice to know when the delivery folks are dropping the food off of my steps or you know, the next uh package has has shown up. So it's nice. It's not needed, but it's nice. Have you, have you caught anybody like stealing packages or anything like that? You know, ring doorbell camera? No, no porch pirates here, luckily, although, you know, I I look forward to being able to bust them if that if, if that day ever comes? Yeah, I get that. So uh do you have a count? I know I've asked you this in the past, do you have a count of how many Philips hue, light bulbs you have in the house? Um So somewhere and I had to look this up to see if this is still, you know what they recommend, but they say that you're allowed to put 50 devices, Does that sound about right Francis, Does that ring a bell ring a bell with you? About 50 I'll let you, I'll let you get away with it even if it's not, well I I think it's around 50 devices now, devices I think can also mean remote. Um And I know that I'm getting really close to that number. Um Now that's indoor outdoor that I have light switches, you know, I've got rooms that have recess uh lights that I've I've replaced with Philips, hue bulbs and it's, you know, yes, I used the color ones um and that's kind of neat, but there's also a real practice locality to the, you know, the way I have it set up currently versus kind of how the house was wired. Give you two quick examples. I've got a room that has three switches on the wall for three lights that are basically side by side by side. Um I was able to with, you know, phillips tie those all into one central control instead of having to flip on three separate lights. Um So, so that's nice and of course I replaced it with color ones because it happened to be in my den and it's nice to have some fun colors when you're, you know, watching your favorite football team having team colors or something like that. Do you do that thing where you have your lights change color in sync with whatever movie we are watching or anything like that. I have not. Uh No. Um I do have uh a certain kind of palettes that I prefer for particular shows back when game of Thrones was a big deal. I had kind of an ice and fire situation going on, which I thought was really cool and complemented it. Oh yeah, I geeked out. That's right. Um, but you know, I have had the lights changed before uh, to celebrate like holidays, you know, a couple years ago, you know, Halloween party and we had some of the lights, uh, you know, as the kids were outside, uh, you know, walking around the neighborhood and whatnot. Um we had the lights kind of flash and, and spooky ways, which was a lot of fun. So hold on, I'm remembering something about Halloween at your house one time. I don't think I was there for the actual party, but I was like, yeah, yeah, you were setting up lights that were controlled by your Philips hue. And uh, and I think if I remember correctly, we had just finished shooting a video in which we installed speakers into pumpkins on facebook live played music on using pumpkin speakers. And what do you do with the pumpkin speaker when you're done with facebook live? And that was the only reason we did it. Well, we bring them to your house and connect them to a so knows connect amP and play music. Halloween music through them. Uh, and then also have the lights, Halloween themed. So your front yard was filled with pumpkin speakers Philips hue lights and, and in case any, any of our listeners are wondering eric, is that guy in the neighborhood. Um, so pumpkin speakers, that's your, that's your man, my neighbors now. And to answer a question you asked a moment ago. 50 is the limit. The Philips hue bridge says it controls up to 50 hue bulbs and 12 lighting accessories. Yeah, so I'm pushing that. Um and it's weird because I don't even realize how I got to that number, but I know I'm right up against that number. Both of your home's sound very smart, smarter than mine, for sure. And in different ways you've both gone down to two different paths, right Francis, firmly in the google side of things. Uh eric firmly in the amazon side of things, is it like you have to do one or the other or can you do both? Uh you know, let's let's talk about that a little bit. Do you have to go google? Do you have to go amazon and stick with it or or what's the crossover like there? That's a great question. J. R. Um I've tried both. And actually right now, if you're in my kitchen, uh you can ask Alexa a question if you don't like the answer you get, you can ask google. Um I have a sonos connect in my uh in my kitchen that you can pick whether or not you wanted to be a google speaker or an Alexa speaker. Um and uh, so since I already had and a show and uh an Alexa show device in there, I decided to go ahead and send it to google and uh, but to answer your question, I think most folks will benefit from kind of picking one or the other. Um and you know, the good news is both of them have great products, but you know, if there's one particular thing that you're looking for, maybe it's outside cameras or it's you know, to be able to follow uh you know, the news or having integrate with your tv or if if there's a user interface that you prefer, then I think it probably probably benefits someone to kind of lean in the, it seems like there's two silos, but they're they're they're kind of joined at the hip in many ways. Uh and so there's a lot to cross over and you're not, you know, out of luck if you went one way or the other because at some point everything will just work with everything. It seems like that is going that direction. Would that be correct? Absolutely. The good modern example that most of us in the last 5, 10 years have actually watched is smart phones right? There were times where you wanted to use the company's app. Well, you got to get an iphone right there, they're only developing for iphone, this is just not the case anymore. Um you know, most companies understand if they want their users using that app, they're going to develop for both the big boys, right, or etcetera and I hope to see more of that through our vendors and through the manufacturers of these products so that we can serve the customer where they are and not force their hand one way or another. But it's always something you want to take time. Ask an advisor from Crutchfield, if you've got questions on it, there's definitely information out there to help you make the best choice for your specific home. I have a question for both of you as a person who at at my house uh in one in one more way it is inferior to both of your homes. I'm pretty sure I am using the modem and router Gateway that was provided by my internet service provider Centurylink, which means I have DSL I'm a little bit out in the country. It's it's what I got and for everything I do it's just fine. I don't feel ever feel like I need more coverage or more speed. Uh My limit on speed is not the performance of my router, it's how much internet I can get from Centurylink out here in the country. So I feel like I'm doing okay there, but I have a feeling both of you have replaced your router. Is that fair to say Francis you go first? Pretty fair to say. Yeah, I think the uh the reality is that once you start approaching the eric 50 Philips hue, light bulbs, the the the provided modem router combo. However, it's separated from your specific internet service provider I. S. P. It's going to start showing its its limitations. The wonderful thing about the market is specifically smart home. They get that and there's a lot of better modems and routers that customers should absolutely consider as a part of their smart home future, not just for range reasons which they will help you with if you've got a light too far outside of your wifi range, it's not going to work with that google assistant, you know, voice command. So there's definite benefits to purchasing a aftermarket with lack of a better word. Um modem and router for most people just like you said, jr you know, you enter into the market with a couple products, you shouldn't need to purchase a new modem or new router to get the most out of it. But it is absolutely something that will be a part of the conversation with my customers. The secon we're starting to talk about, you know, step two or step three of smart home and what router did you go with their Francis, the google nest wifi, which is a mesh wifi system. So there's multiple little routers is probably the easiest way to describe it and that is extremely overkill for my town home. But you know, you work in the industry, you gotta go hard right, you're buying for the future. There you go. Yeah. And I I can't even explain how amazing it was going from a pretty decent Asus router that I think I I upgraded from, there was only three or four years old at the time I upgraded but we're talking realistic speed changes because of the better technology, more reliable connection for my smart products. I saw less dropouts, less congestion on the network when multiple things were trying to communicate together, the list goes on and on. So it is absolutely something that everyone should consider if they're trying to get their feet wet in the smart home market. You know now that you say all that there is one of my four front porch Philips hue light bulbs that occasionally when I go to turn all the lights off using my app, one of them stays on. So maybe yeah, that really does happen but not all the time. Not consistently enough that it's, it's bothering me too much. Alright. Eric you have a mesh network at your house I'm assuming. Absolutely, yeah. So I went with the or B product um uh that's a netgear product and uh I can tell you it was immediately noticeable. I thought I had a fairly decent router before that um but just as far as the coverage to be able to get two cameras that are outside of your house to be able to get to, you know, light bulbs that are outside of your house, you know I can say that you know with confidence my my property is covered as far as the wifi signal now. Of course uh having the bandwidth is still yet a different thing. Um and you know, we are always subject to that but it's you know the coverage is definitely there and uh I would the good news. I think as far as this category goes to me, even this used to be a fairly intimidating product category. Talking about modems and routers. Um but you know these days the setup for these mesh networks and for today's routers so much easier than it used to be. They know people are doing it themselves once I got it set up. You know, I went from thinking I was gonna have to relocate a lot of things and run wires outside of my house and do all this stuff to just realizing, Oh okay, wow. I think I'm good definitely go mesh. Go mesh. I got one last question for you guys before we get to actual customer questions, which we're going to do here in a minute. But the last question I have uh how do you or how much control of your system do you have when you're not at home like I get you have total control when you're within your home's wifi network. But if you're away from home, what all can you do or control from your home or from your smartphone away from home and eric you go first this time. So I mean of course I can view the cameras I have around my house from abroad? You know I guess other than talking in any room in my house and making the lights flicker on and off, that's probably enough. How about you Francis? I'm thinking over it. Every single smart product that I have set up currently, I have full entire access off of my local wifi. So that's a huge benefit of getting everything tied for through one of these major smart home hubs, A. K. A. The google home app or the amazon Alexa skills because that's really what bridges what's happening on your local wifi to what you can do from, you know theoretically anywhere in the world. So you can do lights, you can turn your tv on, you can do any of that from anywhere. You can adjust your temperature on your thermostat from anywhere. You terrify my wife by blasting some metal music right now in the living room. You name it. I don't write, I don't recommend it Francis. Not at all. Um So we still we sell stereos now that have kind of Alexa compatibility built in and I know it just uses the Alexa app that's on your smartphone but you're doing it through the microphone in your car that's connected to your stereo. So it feels like it's part of the car stereo even though it's really just using your phone's connection to the internet but are you ever doing that like while you're driving. Are you uh hey, Alexa turning the lights on kind of stuff, definitely. I am. So the coolest thing that I use smart home related in the, the kind of 12 world or car world. We, we use 12 volt here at Crutchfield. Um, is android auto, right? So when I'm using the android auto app on my kenwood's stereo that connects wirelessly to my phone, my steering wheel controls on my steering wheel for voice assistant will do whatever I tell it to do. And that includes, it's not limited to texting my friends, uh, you know, or, or initiating a phone call. I also can use those same commands that I would use in my living room, talking to my smart speaker sitting on the shelf. So I could in theory and still do, especially with terms of, you know, maybe turning on the heat, I think it's probably the best real world experience that I do with it. So if I'm on the way home and it's super cold outside, I'm turning on the heat and I'm doing that right through my stereo. So yes, you're right. It's still done through my smart phone, which is great, right? But I don't have to touch it. I don't have to think about my phone. It's it's in my pocket. I'm just either, you know, speaking out the the voice prompt, which I won't say over the recorded line. But, but I can do that right there without thinking anything other than you know, pressing that steering wheel control button that's tied into my radio or just telling google what I want them to do. So it's almost like the opposite of remote start, right? Like you want your car to be warm when you go out in the morning. Uh so you started from inside the house and then when you're coming home you want your home to be warm for you. So you tell it to warm up and you do that from the car. So it's we gotta coming and going. I love it. I love it. This has been fantastic fellas. We have a pretty cool article on the website. It's called a smart home buying guide if you're curious about what you might want to put in your house and how to do it and how to get it done right. Uh there is an article, we will have a link to that article in the show notes for this episode, so definitely check that out at crutchfield dot com slash podcast. And on these articles we have a section where people can ask questions and we've got several different articles on several different aspects of smart home and I'm looking at a couple questions from some real customers. I have not told you guys what these questions are ahead of time. However, I'm confident you guys are gonna come up with some solutions so you guys, I'm ready, I'm ready. Alright. So we're gonna start with a question from a customer named chris from Modesto. I currently have my echo in the kitchen and my denon receiver and speakers in the living room. They are connected but I can only play one at a time. I essentially want to use the echo as an add on speaker in the kitchen. Does it have this capability? So chris the amazon echo dot as far as an extra speaker for your Den in system is not something that's natively built into it. Um, however, The benefit of a lot of the modern denim receivers is they use a technology called helios which allows you in theory to add other speakers that do not need to be physically hard wired to the receiver to give you an actual example. Dennen released a product line called their den in home speakers. The one that's coming to mind right now is the den in home 150. The creative solution here and why? I think it's at least worth explaining. This is you can with that Echo dot as your, let's call it the voice command center. Play the whatever is playing on your den and receiver in another room wirelessly with a specific compatible speaker. So to answer the question, yes, it is possible. Just not with that echo speaker specifically and that's if we have heroes in that the denim that he currently has. You got it correct? I should preface that. Um, as long as the denim is not more than I want to say, 45 years old and uh they should have built in, if they don't, that would be another thing to consider. The fact that he said they are connected. Makes me think that he's already using um a modern den and receiver that has amazon Alexa capabilities built. So in your solution you're saying the echo dot stays, he talks to it just like he normally does, you can, you know, get the weather, you know, set reminders, things like that, but we supplement his system with a little stand alone, he oh speaker, that then he has direct control through that echo dot of, of being able to listen to whatever is playing in the other room, nailed it and it should also give him a sound quality upgrade. I mean to be fair, these products do sound awesome, so you know, it would definitely be a significant upgrade going from even the, you know, one of the better or bigger, I should say echo speakers, um you know, you're, you're going to get a huge improvement of sound quality, bass volume, you name it, but more importantly you will be able to play both simultaneously, yep, I knew you could do this guys, I'm gonna ask you another one, are you ready? Alright, this question comes from kelly from League City, I don't know where League City is, but it's from kelly and kelly says, so I'm looking for how to use Alexa to control the input on my Marantz. A V receiver, I've connected it via Bluetooth and can verbally turn on my A. V. R. I can turn it on and off. I have verified my A. V. R. Can verbally change inputs with Alexa. However, there are no instructions on how to make Alexa do this, set it up. Can you point me in the video to a video or give me a phone number so I can talk to someone that can walk me through this process? Uh So what do you think? I'm leaning toward a solution that you shared with us earlier today Francis that you have in your house and they'd be integrating logitech into the system. Um You know Marantz also has Heroes built in so there might be some level of control. So is my understanding there that she is trying to just be able to have input selection via voice control through Alexa, is that right? Yeah, so if she's not listening to the input in which she's plugged in her Alexa and she wants to play music through Alexa, she's got to somehow change the input on the A. V. R. And Alexa can't do that. It's not smart enough to tell the A. V. R. To change its inputs, is that right? Right, well he owes, you can select an input on so we could use the Heroes app uh in order to be able to do that. That's right With Denon and Marantz both use Helios as a wireless multi room audio system. If her Marantz has Heroes built in, then that solves a lot of these problems, correct, correct. I've got one other creative solution. I was actually doing the smart home training on kind of just an overview. We addressed this question actually. So this is perfect on this one. Common remote commands do include to switch input to HDMI. My inputs whether you do it by name. So that could be DVD Blu ray or whatever you name them on your end. You will absolutely be able to do this by linking your Heroes app to the Alexa skill. Um, and this process is actually laid out step by step fairly nice. I'll give a dead end and Marantz and he owes some credit. They do list step by step instructions on how to do this. The easiest way to get the answer because it is, you know, a few steps here and there is to go directly to the product page of the receiver you purchased, low look under details and we actually have hyperlinks that will take you right to the answer you're looking for. So she will absolutely be able to do this by product page. We mean Crutchfield Product page for that. You got it. You got it. Yeah. Unfortunately other retailers are not as thorough on explaining all this stuff, but that's why you shot from us. Anyway, right. There you go kelly. Go to Crutchfield dot com. Find the Marantz receiver you've got, go to the details tab and the answer is probably there. And if you bought it from us, you can even talk to our tech support folks and they can go super deep with you if needed. So yeah, we got you. I assume you guys have time to go for about another 10 minutes. Cool. Matt from Lincoln asks, what's the best way to get high resolution sound from a voice control device to a really good audio setup? I've spent the time and money on a really good Hi Fi system. You want really clean high res sources for your music into your high five, for example, I stream from an ipad into my Hi Fi using a small outboard A to D converter. I guess he's coming out of the headphone. Jack of his ipad is what it sounds like. Probably the lightning one. If it's a digital to analog converter, he says a two D, he might mean D to a mat from Lincoln goes on to say, I'm concerned that the audio jack output of the echo dot is probably not very, very good audio source is the bluetooth output of the echo any better than this. And how can I get Bluetooth into a Hi Fi system that does not have built in Bluetooth. Well, we've actually got a couple questions there. I think it can be addressed pretty uh pretty simply thanks to, I want to say blue sound is probably the your your go to really much good mature product to you know, actually solve this problem. And what I mean by that is using a device like the Blue Sound node two I and this there are some caveats which will will dig into just for a second here because I know we don't have all day but this device would actually plug into your high end audio system. So this can be analog or digital. But I would actually recommend unless you have a very very good digital to analog converter built into your receiver. Integrated amplifier, insert product category here. I would recommend going out analog from a device like the node two. I does have really good you got it and good Alexis support. Right. So he will be able to through blue sound set up his account, link, his, you know, hi res streaming or local music playback, whether he's got a network attached storage device with a bunch of high res music, you name it, he can be creative there for voice command. However I did want to address, it's gonna be hard to play local sources with your voice. Um you know, through one of these devices and and really it sounds for some people that would be obvious for others, it won't the biggest thing is that you could name that file or whatever digital audio source you're looking to play whatever you want. It doesn't necessarily mean that amazon is going to know or google is gonna know what you're talking about. But using an app in that case if it is local music, the node two, I would be awesome or if you're streaming from one of the you know, several growing hi res music streaming services to name a few title and co buzz then voice support is not only you know, possibility, it's a real mature reality as far as these products are concerned. So I I say no no to eye all day long. So the best answer for matt from Lincoln is don't use either not the bluetooth or the analog output of your echo. Use your echo as the thing that here's your voice when you tell it to play a song from high high res music source but then have the actual music coming out of a device made to do that. It has better outputs, it has better D to a converters. And you're suggesting the blue sound node two. I I like it. I think it's great answer. And the great thing about that too is now his ipad is just the controller for the system. You can you can unplug it and still be able to use it but have better sound because because frankly the lightning output of the ipad, the headphone, jack of the ipad, the bluetooth from the ipad, the headphone out from the echo or the bluetooth from the echo all pale in comparison to a device made to stream high res music pretty much any time you're using an Echo as the source device, which is what we call it. In this case, you're limiting yourself greatly in terms of, you know, hi res content. Oh man, this has been amazing gentlemen, Francis, thank thank you so much for joining us today. Eric as as always a pleasure working with you again today. Thanks for telling us all about your smart home. Absolutely. It's always fun to talk about cool gadgets. These are some of the coolest gadgets around again, if you have any questions about smart home, how to make your home smarter, let us help you. You can go to crutchfield dot com slash podcast, there's a link to a smart home buying guide article there tons of products on the website, but most of all, if you have real specific questions, just call us advisors are working seven days a week and are available to help answer any questions you might have about how to make your home smarter. You can get, they can get you a new router, they can get your thermostats and cameras and light bulbs and Alexis and google's and whatever else it is you want to put in your home. So we're here to help if you're interested in doing that. Uh if you are listening to this on a podcast player, you probably are go ahead and hit like or subscribe or follow or whatever your podcast player allows you to do. So that when we come out with a new episode, you'll know it. And also tell your friends share this out, let people know that we are here helping you understand the world of consumer electronics. We we know this world pretty well. We have a lot of great employees who have bought a lot of really cool stuff and are itching to talk about it. So we'll be back with another episode in a few weeks. Thank you so much for listening. I'm J. R over and out.

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