A diverted stream

One of those stories where the technology isn’t working the way you think it would.

Ever since I was much younger I’ve gone to sleep listening to music.

In the 1980s and 90s I had one of those radio-cassette things, and a bedside alarm clock with snooze function. Then I upgraded to a portable CD player plugged into a pair of small speakers. Then I replaced the CD player with a Sony mp3 Walkman, and finally with an iPod.

Then I replaced the speakers with an Amazon Echo Dot in the bedroom and an Echo in my living room… and that’s when the problems started.

With the speakers you have to make a physical connection between your player of choice and the speakers. With the Echos you connect via Bluetooth.

Streaming

My iPod can happily see both Echo and Echo Dot. I open the Music or BBC Sounds app, choose which I want to play through and away we go. Right?

Wrong. After an indeterminate time the output switches to the other device. This could be within 10 minutes, a few hours or days.

I’ll be in the living room, typing up a blog post or whatever, listening to some music on the Echo and then everything will go quiet. But the Echo Dot will kick in.

Or – as last night – I’ll be in bed listening to music, drifting off to sleep… then be awoken by the sound of the music coming from the living room. Heaven knows what the neighbours think.

The only way around this is to disconnect from one speaker and connect to the other each time, which is a faff and not really the point.

More to the point, I seem to be the only one having this problem on a regular basis. Or any basis. I don’t have any odd multiroom setups, just two speakers. I listen via one, or the other.

Steaming

But… is it the fault of the iPod or the Echos? Is this down to Apple or Amazon?

Or… is it down to Virgin Media?

My Internet connection (either the router or the cable itself) is intermittently flaky, to put it mildly. Last week it failed completely all afternoon and, after a while, the Echo started constantly making the disconnection-reconnection tones. In the end I had to unplug both Echos to stop the racket.

And that made me think. The Echos need a wifi connection to the Internet so that Alexa can listen in. If the wifi or Internet connection aren’t there when the Echo goes looking for it, it’ll disconnect, then reconnect when it comes back. Perhaps, the first Echo to reconnect takes over the Bluetooth connection?

To be honest, I have no idea. I just know that it’s annoying, and life was so much easier when you could run a cable from the speaker to your device’s headphone socket. That could be a metaphor…