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Thread: Is there a free way to play my own mp3 audio files on an Amazon smart speaker?

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    Is there a free way to play my own mp3 audio files on an Amazon smart speaker?

    Like a lot of people, I've got loads of legally-owned mp3 audio files stored on a NAS server. Some of these are files I received directly from Amazon themselves, from back in the day when, if you bought an audio CD from them, the'd automatically give you access to the same music on mp3.

    Now, I'd simply like to be able to listen to my own music that's stored on my NAS server using an Amazon smart speaker. Of course what Amazon wants instead, is that I pay £11.99 a month in order to use their music streaming service, but since I already own most of the music I want to listen to, it irks me greatly to have to stump up for that service.

    Despite having done quite a bit of Googling on the subject, I haven't been able to find a free way to do this. There is a fairly cheap software solution available which costs something like £7.50 a year use, but I resent having to pay extra for something that really should be possible without the need for it.

    I do realise that I can access my mp3s using the Amazon Music desktop app or mobile app, but I really just want to to do so by voice commands from the smart speaker itself.

    I wonder whether anyone's managed to solve this problem?
    Last edited by MrJim; 20-04-2024 at 11:51 AM.

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    Re: Is there a free way to play my own mp3 audio files on an Amazon smart speaker?

    Yes there is. I know this because, as I type, I'm listening to my music files, stored on my (QNAP, not that it should matter) NAS, on an Amazon smart speaker. Nothing I'm currently using for this, except of course the smart speaker and the NAS itself, costs anything.

    There are several ways to skin that particular cat (hoping I'm not making a certain member nervous with tat comment ).

    What I'm currently using is, essentially, a music-playing app/database. This one is Media Monkey, and I mean the free version, not the paid-for "Gold".

    What does it require? From memory, and I stress that 'cos it was a while ago, you need to :-

    - set up an SMB share (other ways might work but that DOES) pointing to the directory on the NAS where the music is,
    - install Media Monkey (or similar).
    - configure Media Monkey (MM5 from now on) to point at the Drive letter from that SMB share (i.e. a mapped Network drive), and then at the relevant directory.
    - Let MM5 scan your files.
    - ensure you have the smart speaker installed on your computer. I'm using Bluetooth.
    - make sure that speaker is the selected audio device in the Win settings (assuming it's Windows you're using)
    - play your music.

    A couple of notes. My files are actually FLAC files, not MP3. It DOESN't make any difference, providing whatever app you use can handle MP3. To prove that, I copied an MP3 file into MM5, and played it.

    Second, I have two Echo speakers set up as a tereo pair. That, I never did get working. It plays out of one.

    Third, I *think* there was a setting inside MM5 I had to change, but it was quite a while back and I'm not sure.

    Fourth .... Bluetooth. As I understand it, there isn't (despite some claims, and a recent Bluetooth version) a way of getting lossless audio. THat said, if your files are MP3, they're already not lossless. I went from CD to FLAC and to hat point, they are lossless. Will it matter? Depends on how fussy you are about the sound but again, if you have MP3 files then I suspect you're already not worried about te niceties of lossy v lossless playback.

    Fifthly, there are ways of getting around #4. You *could* use a cable from PC sound port to the line-in, assuing our Echo has one. You *could* go PC line-out to a Bluetooth transmitter (which you'd ned to buy) if your PC doesn't have compatible Bluetooth (i.e. is very, very old). And so on.

    I won't describe things like how to set up an SMB share (pretty easy) because, well, you may already know and I'd be wasting both our ime. Mine especially, if you do know.

    In short ....

    - create a drive letter (te SMB share) so a player caan see the NAS. Some are more polished than others and you could just use a \\server\directory type of addressing, but I think SMB is just easier.

    - use an audio PLAYER (that can see the NAS files)

    - select the Echo driver in Windows

    - hit "play".


    This was my initial solution to doing EXACTLY what you asked for. Then, I got (for other reasons) an external audio interface (which vary a LOT in price) and went via that, and a cable. One reason was the audio nterface has a high quality I got has a high quality headphone ooutput stage that'll drive some fairly demanding headphone as well. You do NOT need to do that.

    Then, I put in a couple off Sonos speakers (stereo pair again) and that is also possible, but a bit trickier to get going. I'm told that MM5 cando it, but I have to have te Sonos app running anyway, and it gives me (as I add speakers) whole house audio, from the NAS (or streaming service) controlled by laptop, iPad or Android phone. That option is far from free though. Sonos is a slick setup, but not cheap.

    I hope that points you in the right direction, but tthe very short answer to your question is yes, you can, and pretty easily.
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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    Re: Is there a free way to play my own mp3 audio files on an Amazon smart speaker?

    Thanks as ever, for your comprehensive help, Saracen! I think I understand everything your method involves, but it sounds like you need to have your Windows PC on and linked to your NAS through the SMB share in order to listen to the music? I do have a bluetooth enabled PC in my office, but I'm not sure the connection would reach my bedroom, which is where my smart speaker is located.

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    Re: Is there a free way to play my own mp3 audio files on an Amazon smart speaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by MrJim View Post
    Thanks as ever, for your comprehensive help, Saracen! I think I understand everything your method involves, but it sounds like you need to have your Windows PC on and linked to your NAS through the SMB share in order to listen to the music? I do have a bluetooth enabled PC in my office, but I'm not sure the connection would reach my bedroom, which is where my smart speaker is located.
    Ah. For that method yes, you do need the PC on .... except for using tthe Sonos speakers, which doesn't help you much.

    Where this gets tricky is that I switched 'horses', as it were. I went from using Amazon speakers to Sonos, and that is a rather different proposition, not least in cost. I can certainly use one of several different devices, including PC, phone and iPad to play files from the NAS to the Sonos speakers, where the device that set it up to play is effectively a kind of remote control, i.e. it starts the streaming going, but the streaming will continue even if that device is turned off.

    I have seen this discussed on YT channels like Darko audio, with respect to audio streaming hardware and various streaming services (Tidal, Qobuz, Prime etc) and discussions of which 'service' with which streamer (and I mean hardware streamers in this context) will do that and which won't.

    i.e. Method A is for a device to get a stream from the service (Tidal, for example) and send it to the speakers but it goes via the 'remote' device, like phone. Method B is the phone says "do this" and the service then sends to the streamer directly, i.e. WITHOUT going via the phone, as in service straight to streamer, to speaker.

    That seems to be what the Sonos does. How and why, i don't know. Sonos do seem to be a bit more of an 'ecosystem', in being able to send to mulyiple devices, or whole house, pretty easily. It's great (if expensive) if everything is Sonos, but starts getting tricky when it isn't.

    My GUESS in doing that from the NAS is some kind of audio server (like a Plex-type server) running on the NAS, but an audio server, that can talk to Amazon speakers. And that, I haven't done, because I switched to Sonos speakers.

    So getting files to play from NAS to speakers using a PC player app = easy. But getting it to go NAS direct to speakers, once initiated, even if PC is off? Hmmm. I would have thought it's be possible but, well, Amazon is a bit of a walled garden.

    I *think* the Gold version of Media Monkey (which isn't free) will work from a phone to smart speaker directly. I can certainly use it to play filesstored on the phone to Echo speakers, AND the phone app for MM5 talks about "media servers" and UPnP/DLNA/Casting, but it's in the paid version. There is an option to set it up anyway, on the free version, effectively as a test. The limit s 30 minutes at a time. Not unreasonably, they want people to upgrade to the paid version.

    I have NOT tried that, however. /i made sure I had UPnP disabled as I see it as a security disaster waiting to happen. There seems to be alink between UPnP and DLNA, but I never cared enough to work out how close they are. I mean, does DLN, or work the same way as, UPnP? Dunno.

    The solution, though, may well be to have a DLNA capable audio server running on the NAS, and an app (such as on your phone) telling it what to play and where to play it. it should work with Amazon, but I haven't tried that.

    THe problem I found with all this, coming in to it cold, was that there seems to be a wide array of diffrent parts to te problem. Speakers, bluetooth (or wifi, with Sonos), streamers, server apps, client software etc, and getting to grasp how all the bits fit together is HARD.

    When I first started looking at Sonos, I asked a shop (and Sonos stockist) and playing files from my NAS to Sonos and there was a moment's silence and then I was told "Erm, no, I don't think it does that. It runs from aufdio services like Prime, Tidal etc. Well, yeah, it does that too BUT, I have no trouble linking the NAS as a source for Sonos.

    Which reminds me .... Plex.

    This MIGHT be your answer. There is a neat little Plex application called PlexAmp. IIRC, it's free, certainly to install. One of the media types that Plex (the full media server thingy) supports is audio files. So you'd need Plex running on your NAS. Then, point Plex at your audio files and use PlexAmp on other devices, including your phone (I ran it briefly on Android,dunno about iPhone but I'd be stunned if it didn't).

    Note - PlexAmp is audio files ONLY. Not video, even though it's coming from Plex. What I don't remember is if using PlexAmp beyond testing requires the premium tier. I had it running for a while on my NAS, and on my phone. I *think* I tested it from the NAS, but can't honestly remember for sure, and opted finally for Emby (which I was already using for video) as my chosen sever software. And, given the Sonos app on phone, laptop and iPad, pulling the FLAC files off my NAS, didn't actually need PlexAmp. I didn't actually do much with it, or use it for long, so while I *think* it might give you a PC-less way to play NAS to Amazon, I can't remember for sure.
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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    Re: Is there a free way to play my own mp3 audio files on an Amazon smart speaker?

    Thanks again for going into so much detail, Saracen. I've managed to get it working largely based on your suggestions; I've installed VLC media player on my tablet, & used bluetooth from there to link to my smart speaker. It's probably not the best audio quality possible, but with my advancing years in combination with tinnitus, it's not really an issue for me!

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    Re: Is there a free way to play my own mp3 audio files on an Amazon smart speaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by MrJim View Post
    Thanks again for going into so much detail, Saracen. I've managed to get it working largely based on your suggestions; I've installed VLC media player on my tablet, & used bluetooth from there to link to my smart speaker. It's probably not the best audio quality possible, but with my advancing years in combination with tinnitus, it's not really an issue for me!
    I know the feeling, both with relation to years and tinnitus. That caused me to do some soul-searching about the Sonos speakers, compared to Echo. It took quite a while to make up my mind, but eventually I went for it, and my conclusion was that even I can hear a lot of difference, but given the price, is it enough of a difference? That's a very subjective assessment, but as my tinnitus is relatively mild, having heard both sets of speakers side by side, my conclusion is yes, it is because I spend a fair bit of time iistening. Music (and a decent hifi) has been an enthusiasm of mine for, oh, .... put it ths way, I remember building a Quadraphonic system based on a series in Practical Wireless about 52 or 53 years ago. And my hifi interest certainly accelerated from there. Most of my friends thought (and probably still think) I was out of my mind to spend what I did on hifi, but they were mostly spending there's on booze, fags and cars which for me, were (respectively) a bit, not at all and hell, yeah.

    Anyway, I'm glad to hear you got it working. Once it's working to that degree, you can always experiment. Mch though I love VLC for video, I think MediaMonkey (free version) is a very slick offering. It's by no means the only credible option, but is what I settled on, having looked at several.

    What it gives you is a player (as does VLC) but also a Plex/Netflix type presentation of your musical content. You mentioned having MP3 files, but not much more than that. In my case, MOST of my FLAC format files are individual tracks, ripped from my CDs. Some more are digitised versions of my LP collection, and a few are digitised from my old C90 cassette tape collection, the latter mostly being where I lent the one person I ever loaned my precious vinyl too, and never got several back.

    Anyway, the digitising process is way beyond any relevance here, but the result is that the vast bulk of those FLAC files, whateer the source and the process to produce them, consists of album tracks. And they're sorted in a diretory structure by artist, and within that, by album. So it's not hard to pick what I want to play via VLC. I could use them that way.

    But part of the ripping (or audio editing) process was either automatically getting metadata for each track, or in a few cases, adding it manally myself. Media Monkey presents the entire collection in a kind-of graphical "thumbnail" form, and I can select material by artist, by album name, by year, by genre and many more. MM5 also, for the most part automatically, "scrapes" metadata for that process from various online databases, so it'll embed all that metadata for e vast bulk of my content, even if the ripping process hadn't already. I had to edit a few, where it couldn't find it, usually because I'd goofed with the titling.

    So now, I can skim through all those thumnails and select Blue Oyster Cult, or Mozart, or whatever. If I search by artist (or composer) and pick Mozart, all my Mozart albums come up, complete with album covers and a load of album data, almost like I was holding the CD.

    If, like me, you sometimes think ... "What kind of music do I fancy? Do I maybe want a lively rock, or Celtic ballads, or Choral, or gentre piano? Or maybe I fancy Miles Davis, or Bach. It's so easy to preselect by type, and/or just scroll through the thumbnails rather like running my finger along my LP or CD collection until .... "Aha. That'll do nicely"

    I think that database-driven visual front-end adds SO MUCH convenience, that for me, it's a more friendly experience that VLC, even though I've been using VLC for probably 20 years. It sure feels like it.

    Your needs may vary, of course, and you may not pick what you want to listen to that way. Maybe VLC is all you want or need. But I'd suggest taking a look at the MM5 type front-end. Others exist toom, like Foobar and I can't even remember the others offhand. If you've got it working with VLC, you've done the sometimes tricky bit. It now may just be time to prettify it a bit. Also, the MM5 player is actually also very good sound-wise (as is VLC). Anyway, that's my suggestion.

    As for going into detail, you're very welcome. There are quite a few members here that have given me a LOT of their time with answers to questions very like yours. I'll gladly do all I can, when I can, to pay it forward .... because I don't get the chance very often these days.
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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