Strange Voices Coming From Echo: There’s More Than One Reasonable Explanation

**UPDATED 11/17/17: When this post was written Echo was the only Alexa device available, but the post is applicable to all Alexa devices with speakers built in.** Every three months or so someone will post to an Echo discussion group, saying he or she is freaked out because strange voices or sounds were heard coming from his or her Alexa device, and of course that can only mean 1) the NSA spies who’ve been listening in on Echos all along have accidentally revealed themselves, or 2) the Echo’s haunted. Nope and nope.

 

Ghost Of Gloria Gaynor

 

There are five common explanations for this seemingly bizarre behavior.

1. Someone in the household has left a device connected to the Echo via Bluetooth, and audio from that device is being piped through the device speaker.
Check all the mobile devices within range of the device and disconnect any that could be causing the problem.

2. Alexa heard something that sounded like the wake word followed by something that sounded like a command, and is attempting to carry out the command.
Maybe you accidentally launched a skill. Maybe you accidentally started a podcast, news, sports or weather report. Check Settings > History in the Alexa app to see what Alexa thought she heard.

3. You either accidentally or purposely started a song, podcast or audiobook that begins with strange noises, sound effects, crowd sounds or the sounds of people speaking.
It could even be a different version of the song you wanted, like an unfamiliar cover version done by a totally different artist. Again, check Settings > History in the Alexa app to see what Alexa thought she heard.

4. Someone is pranking you.
If you have a voice remote for the Echo, someone can use the Simon Says trick to make Alexa say whatever he or she wants just by speaking it into the remote. If you’ve never heard of this, here’s how it works: Hold down the voice remote button and say, “Simon says [whatever you want Alexa to say].”

People also often forget that it’s possible to start music, audiobooks and other audio content from within the Alexa mobile app, which means that another household member can do so remotely. This can happen by accident while tapping around in the app, too.

5. Your Echo is located near a window or thin wall, and sounds coming from outside or the neighbor’s home seem like they’re coming from the Echo.
Acoustics can be strange, especially if you live in a condo or apartment complex, a high-rise building, or in an area experiencing high winds. This one happens pretty often.

There are some other theoretical possibilities, such as interference from a HAM radio or walkie-talkies, but there have yet to be any confirmed reports of those exceptional cases.

 

Remember: Alexa only speaks when spoken to and most situations like this turn out to be cases of user error, so don’t freak out if Alexa seems to be acting strangely. Go down the list of likely causes and, if all else fails, contact Amazon for further guidance.

 

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For the 2017 holiday season, Amazon’s making it easy to share the Alexa experience with friends and family by offering special deals on Echo Dot. On Amazon’s US site, there are two Dot offers: buy 6 and 1 is free (purchase price of the sixth Dot is deducted at checkout with offer code DOT6PACK), or buy 3 and get $20 off (offer code DOT3PACK). On Amazon’s UK site, the Dot is currently being offered at the discount price of £34.99.

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