Lifehacker recently published a video in which two subjects test the functions of an Amazon Echo. Soon after, our Senior Technology Editor, David Murphy alerted the video team that anyone watching the video at home through speakers would find their Echo repeatedly activated each time someone in the video spoke the wake word “Alexa.”
Now, this is not necessarily bad, as playing our video would automatically have Alexa tell you the time, weather, or latest headlines. But of course that could be bothersome, so we found a way that someone making a video, audio recording, or podcast can prevent Alexa from responding.
Amazon itself uses this method to keep television commercials from triggering Alexa by muting frequencies in the 3,000hz to 6,000hz range when the wake word is spoken. Those frequencies are still audible to the human ear, so you can still hear someone in a recording say “Alexa,” but your Amazon Echo will not.
Here’s how to mute those frequencies in some popular audio editing software.
Audition and Premiere
Both Adobe products have the same features for muting frequencies. Select your audio clip, and navigate to the effect called “FFT Filter.” There you will see a graph along the range of frequencies. Click at the 3k mark, and again at the 6k mark, and drag those points down to zero. Then click apply (in Audition), or just close the window (in Premiere).
You could also select the Graphic Equaliser (30 Bands) from the same effects menu, and drag all of the frequencies near 3,000 and 6,000 as far down as they will go.
Go to the Plug-in menu, navigate to EQ, and select EQ 3 7-Band. This will also display a line graph across a spectrum of frequencies, so take the dots closest to 3k and 6k and drag them to the bottom of the graph to mute.
While these methods will prevent an Echo from responding to the word “Alexa”, they will also alter the audio so it sounds sort of like it is coming through a telephone. So I would use this effect only for the utterances of the word “Alexa” to keep the frequency change from being noticeable. Otherwise your audio will sound jarring to everyone else listening...just not Alexa.