Having a smart voice assistant like the Amazon Echo is great due to all the smart home features it offers, but sometimes it seems to ‘wake up’ by itself and play a random noise or sound. Sometimes this sounds like a genuine notification (even though there’s no reason for the notification), whilst other times the noise is weird – like it’s clearly a mistake. Why does this happen?
Amazon Echo Dot 2nd Generation
Echo Dot Latest News on NDTV Gadgets 360. Find Echo Dot News Articles, Video Clips and Photos, Pictures on Echo Dot and see more latest updates, news, information on Echo Dot. Amazon’s fourth-generation Echo Dot has evolved from its predecessors’ puck-like appearance into a small ball, shaking up the idea of what a small smart speaker can look like. Apr 01, 2016 The Echo Dot is essentially just the top inch and a half of the original Amazon Echo. It features the same ring of far-field microphones to listen for your command, and the same Wi-Fi.
There are lots of reasons why an Echo can randomly play a noise, from it mistakenly thinking that someone has said “Alexa”, to a device problem. You can trace through many of the possible causes yourself however, as we explore below.
Types of random noises from Amazon Echo
From my own experience of owning an Echo and speaking to others (along with scouring the internet), some of the weird noises that Alexa randomly seems to make includes:
- A “creepy laugh”, which some people have said is “evil” sounding – not what you want to hear at three in the morning!
- Static or feedback type noises, just like old radios and TVs would make back in the day.
- A “beep”/”boop” sound now and then.
- Alexa “whistling”!
- A “ringing” sound (like a phone call is being received, even though no call is setup).
- A chiming sound.
- A train sound, described by /u/mitalis on Reddit as a “magic effect backwards”! There’s even a YouTube video capturing this odd noise – which is still unexplained to this day.
Phew, that’s quite a long list of random – and sometimes creepy – sounds! Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons for them playing – and crucially, how to stop them!
How to stop Alexa from beeping/laughing/chiming
When your Alexa is making weird/unexpected noises, there are a few things to check.
Ask Alexa directly
A September 2019 Alexa update in America allows you to ask “Alexa, what just happened?” or “Alexa, why did you say that?“, and Alexa will hopefully reply telling you why it made that unexpected noise. This update was rolled out to the UK in March 2020, although support in other countries varies.
This is definitely the first thing to try, however, because it might give you the exact reason why it did something. In my experience, it’ll work for the most common ‘random noise’ reasons – but not for some of the weirder causes. So if you try this method and it doesn’t work, keep reading!
Double-check for paired devices
A common cause of weird noises is due to a paired Bluetooth device which you forgotten about. Maybe you paired your smartphone years ago, and it has auto-paired in the background. To quickly test this theory (or rule it out), simply say “Alexa, disconnect”. It’ll either disconnect from a paired device and tell you this, or it’ll say “Hmm, there’s no Bluetooth device to disconnect – but you can disconnect or unpair a device using your Alexa app“. Either way, this is useful information to know and may resolve your issue.
Check Alexa voice recording history (yep it’s all recorded!)
Next up, there are two really useful parts of the Amazon Alexa app that you should check. The first is a full list of every single recorded thing you have said to Alexa… or that it thinks you said to her. Creepiness aside, this is great for diagnosing weird noises – perhaps Alexa just misheard you (or your TV). Heck, maybe your dog’s yawn sounds like “Alexa” and sets her off!
To do this, launch the app and click the menu in the top left. Select “Settings”, then “Alexa Privacy”, before finally clicking “Review Voice History”. You will see something like this:
In this case, Alexa has misheard a song request (thinking that we asked for the massive hit song “Rose between a thongs“!). Whilst this wouldn’t cause a weird noise in itself, your own voice history could well shed some light on the random noises.
You might also see something odd in your voice recordings, like the below:
Alexa saying “Audio was not intended for this device” is actually a key bit of information. It’s saying that Alexa heard its name – or thinks that it did – but that it decided it didn’t need to carry out an action or reply. For example, saying “We’ll need to clean Alexa soon as she’s dusty” will cause Alexa to hear “soon as she’s dusty” – which clearly isn’t valid, so it’ll ignore this.
“Audio was not intended for this device” might suggest that Alexa is getting confused – possibly due to lots of background noise. This could be the cause of the weird noises, if Alexa is frequently mishearing commands and playing incorrect sounds in response.
Check Alexa activity
Next up, whilst you still have the Amazon Alexa app to hand, click the menu in the top left and then click on “Activity” to be presented with the following useful screen:
What’s useful here is that you will see all activity that Alexa registered on your Echo devices, which could include alarms, playing paired Bluetooth music/audio, setting a timer and a whole lot more. If you see something unexpected here, this could be the cause of the random noises you’ve been hearing.
To dig into things a little more, click “More ⌄” on a result and it will tell you what Alexa thought it heard to cause that action/response to play. In the above example, Alexa set a timer after it successfully heard us say “Alexa, set a twenty minute timer“.
But it might also have misheard you, playing a weird and unexpected sound – and this screen is really helpful for determining these cases.
Double check that “Brief Mode” or “Whisper Mode” isn’t enabled
Sometimes people get fed up with Alexa’s ‘long winded’ pre-answer information when you make a request. In this case, you can make Alexa more like a Google Home device and enable “Brief Mode”. This will cut out some of the pre-chatter, and beep/play sounds more to confirm that it heard you. These beeps, chimes and noises are handy, but they might seem like weird or random noises – especially if you weren’t the one who enabled this option!
Equally, you might not want Alexa being really loud when replying to you – especially at night with a small child sleeping in the next room. In this case you can enable “Whisper Mode”, which will whisper back to you Alexa thinks you’re whispering to her. Of course, if it mishears your request as a “whisper”, the reply will sound weird – and a little random. It might be the culprit to your random sound issues.
Amazon Echo Dot Pictures
You can enable brief or whisper mode on the same screen: by clicking the menu in the top left, going to “Settings” and then scrolling down to the “General” section. Select “Alexa Voice Responses”, and there will be two options: one for Brief Mode and another for Whisper Mode:
If either are enabled, try disabling them and testing your Echo device for a few days. If the random Echo noises go away, this could be the issue.
Alexa still making random noises? Other things to check
The five things explored above contribute to the majority of the random noises that Amazon Echo owners hear, but if you’re still hearing random noises then check out the list below for extra things to check:
- Check if you have any Skills installed. These are third-party add-ons that you can enable on Alexa. Most are harmless and are only activated when you say specific wakeup commands, but a stray skill could be the culprit. Say “Alexa, what skills do I have enabled?” to hear what skills you have, and then say “Alexa, disable [skill name] ” to uninstall/disable a skill.
- When you hear an unexpected noise, check the color of the light ring. Cnet’s guide walks you through what each mean, but a pulsing yellow light (meaning you have a notification) and violet or orange colors tend to mean possible Wi-Fi/network issues – both of which will cause a sound to play.
- If you’re hearing a popping/crackling type noise – i.e. one that sounds dangerous (even if it’s not!) and not natural – then this could be a genuine defect in your Echo device (such as a loose power/speaker cable internally). Or, it might be an issue with the socket outlet or the power cable.
Check that the wall socket works fine with other electrical devices, then check that the Echo power cable is fully plugged in. Then try restarting the device (by unplugging and plugging in the device) and see if the issue continues. If it does, consider contacting Amazon customer services.
- There’s always the chance that this random sound was caused by a genuine software bug with Amazon’s computer code. In 2018, Echo’s worldwide started playing a “creepy laughter” sound – which was caused by Alexa mistakenly thinking it heard the command “Alexa, laugh“.
Amazon fixed this particular issue, but there’s always the chance that a new ‘random noise’ gets introduced. In this case, do some Google of your weird sound and if lots of other people have heard it recently, hopefully it’s a temporary (albeit annoying!) glitch.
- Speakers of any kind can pick up on external interference, with radio signals being the most common. This is most common in speakers with a long run of audio cable (more cable = more chance of interference being picked up), but even a slightly loose connection in the internal speaker(s) of your Echo device could potentially result in radio interference being picked up.
A Redditor heard whistling, and then someone clearing their throat, from their Echo. Whilst creepy, this seems like a prime example of radio interference. Just like #3, this might also be a device defect which you should contact customer services about.
- If you’re still not having any luck, doing a factory reset of your Echo might be a good idea. Each Echo device is different, but Amazon has detailed help pages for resetting each echo they sell so it’s worth starting there.
It’s worth noting that a system reset will help with any local Echo settings, but anything controlled by the app – including ‘Brief Mode’ (covered earlier) – will not be reset.
- Finally, if nothing else works,
get a hammer and hit your Echo repeatedlycontact Amazon customer support. Explain the steps you have taken, and ask whether you have a faulty device that needs replacing. Amazon support can be a little cumbersome at times (as they sometimes have checklists they need to go through), but they are very good at replacing their own products.
- If even that step doesn’t work, Amazon’s Echos are frequently on sale and whilst the 4th Gen Echo Dot is only recently released (and thus at a higher price most of the time), the 3rd Gen Echo Dot is very cheap to buy as a replacement for your existing Echo device.
Q. I have an Echo Show that I love using. I was at a friend’s party and saw that her Echo Show had her own family photos as the background. At first I thought the photos came with the Show or were a new Alexa skill, but then I saw photos of my friend with her family and realized that her Show was a digital photo frame.
I didn’t have a chance to ask my friend how she turned her Echo Show into a digital photo frame, but I want to do that too. I’m hoping The Wonder of Tech can do an article explaining how to do this so I and other readers can enjoy seeing our photos on our Echo Shows.
Can you help?
A. Excellent question! Yes, the Echo Show and Echo Spot can become digital picture frames, showing your digital photos as the background. Instead of choosing between the photos that come with the Echo Show and Spot, you can use your own photos as the background image, also known as wallpaper.
Which Photos Can Be Used as Background Images on the Echo Show and Spot
Amazon’s Echo Show and Spot let you choose one or multiple photos as a background image. You can use a favorite photo as the wallpaper so you see it every time you look at the screen.
You can also have all of your digital photos shown by the Show or Spot in a slide show so you’re surprised by which photos are shown.
Or, you can choose to select photos from different categories, such as sunset, beach, mountains, locations, or recent photos. Echo will suggest categories based on what you have pictures of in your digital photo library. For example, if you have a lot of sunset photos, you can have your Echo Show or Spot display a slide show of only sunset photos.
You can also use photos from other family members, if you’ve set up a Family Photo Vault.
=> Learn More at Amazon Family Vault for Photos – Another New Benefit for Prime Members
You can also create an album of Echo Photos that you use as the wallpaper for your Show or Spot. A slide show will display the photos from that album as your wallpaper. With an album you can choose exactly which photos are displayed and which aren’t.
How to Get Your Photos to Display on to Your Echo Show and Spot
There are two ways to use photos as a background on your Echo Show or Spot. You can either set this up using the Alexa app on your phone or by going to Settings on your Show or Spot.
Using the Alexa App to Set a Photo as the Background for Your Echo Show or Spot
By using the Alexa app you can set a single photo to appear as the background of your Echo Show or Spot. To set a photo as the background for an Echo Show or Spot, open the Alexa app and choose Settings from the side menu. Tap the name of the Echo you want to show your photos.
Amazon Echo Vs Echo Dot
Scroll down to Home & Clock Background, then tap CHOOSE A PHOTO.
The photos in your phone’s library will show. You can choose a single photo that will be shown as a background for your Echo Show or Spot by tapping on the photo you want to use.
How to Set Photos as a Background Using Settings on Your Echo Show or Spot
To set a photo as a background photo, or a series of photos as a slide show on your Echo Show, you must use Prime Photos. Prime Photos is a free photo service that lets you store and back up unlimited photos if you’re an Amazon Prime member.
You can download the Prime Photos app free:
Also see=> Free Unlimited Photo Storage for Amazon Prime Members!
Allow the Prime Photos app to upload your photos from your phone. After the upload is complete, you can set individual photos or a group of photos as your background on the Echo Show and Spot.
How to Set Up Using Your Photos as a Background on Echo Show
To set up Echo Show with your photos, swipe down from the top of the screen, then tap the Settings gear icon to open Settings.
Tap Home Screen => Background => Prime Photos => Change. Then choose the album you’d like to set as your background photo. Echo will make suggestions of albums, subjects, recent photos, locations, etc.
If you choose more than one photo, a slide show will appear as your background. Photos change every 10 minutes.
How to Set Photos as a Background Using Settings on Your Echo Spot
To set up using your photos as a background for your Echo Spot, swipe down from the top of the screen, then tap the Settings gear icon to open Settings.
Tap Home & Clock =>Theme => Personal Photo. Then swipe through the different analog and digital clock faces until you find the one you want. Then tap the check ✔ to set the clock face. Choose Prime Photos, then choose which photos you want to use.
Swipe down from the top of the screen again and tap the home icon to see the new clock face on your Spot with your photos.
Ask Alexa to Play a Slideshow of Your Photos
You can ask Alexa to play a slideshow of your photos. As with using Settings on Echo, you need to have your photos in the Prime Photos app for Alexa to be able to respond to your request.
Say, “Alexa, show my photos” to have Echo display all of your photos. You can also ask Alexa to show your photos in an album or by subject. “Alexa, show my Florida Vacation album.”
You can ask Alexa to pause, resume, or go to the next or previous photo.
This video from Amazon shows how you can ask Alexa to show your photos:
Ask Alexa to Set Your Background Photos
You can also ask Alexa to set your background photos. As with using Settings on Echo, you need to have your photos in the Prime Photos app for Alexa to be able to respond to your request.
First, ask Alexa to show your photos. Then, when a photo appears you want as a background photo, say, “Alexa, set this photo as my background.”
Or, you can ask Alexa to show an album, then say, “Alexa, set this album as my background.”
What Can An Amazon Echo Dot Do
Do you like the idea of using the Echo Show or Spot as a digital photo frame? What photos would you use as a background? Would you use a single photo or a slide show as your background?
Amazon Echo Dot Instructions
Share your thoughts in the Comments section below!