Where Is the Best Place for a Smart Speaker in a Room?

A grey Amazon Echo in the middle of a living room.

Google Home and Amazon Echo devices have excellent microphone arrays. If yours seem never to hear you, the problem might not be the speaker or your voice. It might be where you put the device. Better placement may improve its performance.

Why Speaker Placement Matters

Smart speakers, like the Google Home and Amazon Echo, are actually pretty dumb devices on a local level. They amount to a speaker, some microphones, and just enough computer to listen for a wake word. All the rest of the intelligence comes from the cloud.

But, even cloud cloud-powered, that intelligence doesn’t do much if the speaker can’t hear you.

Smart speakers have multiple microphones built to listen to everything around them. But, if you put the speaker in the wrong location, those microphones may not work optimally. But that’s ok; it’s an easy fix. Just move your smart speaker. It’s just a matter of knowing where to move it.

The Center of a Room is Best

A gray Amazon Echo roughly in the center of a room.

Knowing where to put a smart speaker begins with understanding its microphones. Thanks to the fine folks at iFixit, we know exactly how the Amazon Echo and Google Home are set up. Each features multiple microphones—seven for the Echo and two for the Google Home—arranged on a circular circuit board. The internal speakers also follow the same circular format.

That means if you place a smart speaker against the wall, you run the risk of blocking some of its microphones from hearing your voice. Worse yet, it may hear an echo of your voice hitting the wall and bouncing to its microphones. Similarly, any sound your smart speaker puts out goes in all directions, which means it will hit closeby walls and bounce off, giving your music a muddy sound.

Because of that microphone and speaker arrangement, the best location for your smart speaker is close to the center of the room as possible, preferably with few obstructions. Achieving that may be somewhat difficult if you plop your Echo or Google Home on a coffee table, for instance, as the power cord may trip someone.

You could consider mounting an Echo Dot or Nest Hub Mini (formerly Google Home Mini) to the ceiling. You can find mounts for both devices, and once you have it in place, you can run the power cord to the closest outlet.

With a ceiling mount, not only can you choose a spot very close to the room, you’re likely to have few obstructions like furniture in the way. Depending on the ceiling mount you use, it may also make the speaker more discreet, too.

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