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Give Amazon Alexa superpowers to any speaker you already own

If you already have a perfectly good speaker, no need to buy an Echo. The Amazon Echo Input device brings Alexa commands to your JBL, Bose, Sonos speakers and more.

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Use Amazon Echo Input to turn any speaker into an Alexa device.

Ry Crist/CNET

You've got a speaker that you absolutely love, but it's missing one thing. It isn't a smart speaker that can tell you the weather, set timers and otherwise do your bidding. The good news is that you don't have to buy an Amazon Echo speaker to use the Alexa digital assistant. Amazon's Echo Input is an affordable, palm-size device that gives any speaker Alexa superpowers

The Echo Input ($35 at Amazon) lets you make any Alexa command that you can with an Echo speaker, like checking the weather, setting timers and playing music. However, it doesn't allow calling or drop-ins if you're connected with Bluetooth.

Right now Amazon sells Echo Input for $35, which is the same price as an Echo Dot. Why not just buy that? You could, but if you already have an expensive speaker that has terrific sound quality, this is a good option. The Input often goes on sale, so it's possible to snag a deal. I got mine for $10, which made it a steal. If you want the Input and can bide your time, I recommend installing a browser extension, like Honey, and setting up an alert to see when prices drop.

In order for the Amazon Echo Input device to give your existing speaker access to the Alexa assistant, your speaker will either need to have Bluetooth capabilities or an auxiliary port -- it's the small hole that's usually located on the back of your speaker. Without either of those features, your speaker won't be able to connect to the Echo Input. I used a JBL Clip 2 speaker to test the Amazon Echo Input, but note that your speaker setup process could be slightly different, so use this as a guide, but not the final say. 

Before you begin, make sure you have the latest version of the Alexa app downloaded to your phone. Here's how to turn your speaker into an Alexa device.

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The Echo Input can be set up using Bluetooth or an aux cable.

Ry Crist/CNET

Set up your Echo Input

1. Plug your Amazon Echo Input into the wall using the charger cable that comes in the box.

2. Open the Alexa app on your phone. 

3. Open Settings and tap Add Device.

4. Select Amazon Echo ($100 at Amazon).

5. Scroll down and tap Echo Input from the list of Echo devices.

6. Follow the onscreen instructions to connect to your Wi-Fi, then tap Continue.

7. Select whether you'd like to pair the Input to your speaker using the AUX cable or Bluetooth speaker and follow one of the sections below.

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The Echo Input comes with an auxiliary cable to connect to your speaker.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Pairing the devices using the aux cable

1. Plug the device into the speaker with the auxiliary cable that comes in the box -- it looks like a long cord with a plug on the end that looks similar to one that goes into a headphone jack.

2. Tap Continue and then tap Continue again to confirm that you want to receive notifications. This can be useful for receiving shipping details from Amazon. If you don't confirm, you can always turn these settings on at a later time.

3. Choose which room your Echo Input is located -- for example, the living room, then tap Continue. You can skip this step, but it's helpful if you have multiple Echo devices so you don't get them confused.

4. Amazon asks you to select the address where your Input is located (it can even just be a ZIP code) and tap Continue. You can also skip this step, but you'll need it if you want an accurate weather report.

5. Watch the setup video to learn more about how to use the Alexa digital assistant features on your speaker. When you're finished, tap Continue.

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Some speakers, like the JBL Clip 2 that I used, have a Bluetooth button that you'll need to press in order to be discovered.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Pairing the devices using Bluetooth

1. Make sure your speaker is turned on and connected to Bluetooth.

2. In the Alexa app, select Pair A New Device.

3. Select the speaker you'd like to pair. You'll need to keep the speaker and input relatively close for the best results. Otherwise, they may disconnect.

Now that you've got your own personalized Alexa device, you can use it just like you would an Echo speaker. So check out every Alexa command to give your Amazon Echo smart speaker or display, six things you probably haven't tried with your Amazon Echo and the funniest things you can ask Alexa when you need a good laugh.

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