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How to enable Alexa's Adaptive Volume on Echo devices

Finally, Alexa can start using her outside voice (inside).

The Echo Dot with Clock (4th gen) sits on table. Credit: Reviewed / Sarah Kovac

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Most of us smart home fans have been there before: you’re preparing dinner, listening to a podcast at an outrageously loud volume to overcome the crackling of the skillet, and needing to set a timer for the chicken in the oven. You make the request to your Amazon Echo device, like the Echo (4th-gen), but you can’t hear if Alexa responded or not. When 20 minutes pass and your 13-minute timer is nowhere to be found, it’s already too late.

If the specificity of the example didn’t yet give it away, issues with hearing your Amazon smart assistant has been an all-too-common occurrence. Luckily, Amazon has introduced Adaptive Volume, a feature that allows Alexa to answer your inquiries at a higher volume when it’s too loud for an inside voice. The feature should help bridge the communication gap between owner and assistant in noisy situations, and hopefully keep instances of overcooked poultry to a minimum. Here’s how to do it.

How to enable Adaptive Volume on Amazon Echo devices

Amazon Echo Show 10
Credit: Reviewed/Rachel Murphy

Adaptive Volume isn’t a default feature on Echo devices, but it is fairly simple to enable. The quickest route is to say “Alexa, turn on Adaptive Volume.”

In case you want to take the road less traveled, though, there’s also a simple process of turning the feature on through the app, which can give you a few more options as well:

1. Open the Alexa app.

2. Tap More, located in the taskbar in the bottom right corner of the screen.

3. Tap Settings _ > _Voice Responses.

4. Choose which types of voice responses to toggle on or off: Brief Mode, Whisper Mode, or Adaptive Volume.

Brief Mode will prompt Alexa to speak less or play a short sound in the place of actual voice response. Whisper Mode, meanwhile, lets Alexa reply to your whisper commands with a hushed tone of her own. As previously mentioned, Adaptive Mode will automatically increase Alexa’s speaking volume to combat the ambient noise detected in the room.

Why didn’t this happen sooner?

Amazon Echo Show 8
Credit: Reviewed/Nick Woodard

Technically, this technology has already been a thing with smart assistants—just not with Amazon Echo devices. Google’s line of Nest speakers already had a similar feature, dubbed Ambient IQ, which adapts Google Assistant responses, podcasts, audiobooks, and other spoken media to the volume of the surrounding environment.

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Meanwhile, Amazon was busy ushering in new wake words, a masculine-sounding voice, and celebrity voice options like Samuel L. Jackson, Melissa McCarthy, and Shaquille O’Neal. Even at the cost of $4.99/month, we’ll gladly admit that getting to hear Shaq tell you jokes has helped make a new feature like Adaptive Volume worth the wait.

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