When the Echo Dot first hit a few years back it was lauded as a low-cost entry to the world of Amazon’s Alexa Voice Assistant. But the trade-off for its price is a paltry speaker that lacks low-end boom and clarity. There are ways around it, such as attaching Echo to a Bluetooth speaker or home entertainment system. But a DIY hobbyist has come up with perhaps an even better way to improve this Alexa speaker.
Bard Fleistad recently created the 3D-printed Gramazon, a unique acoustic amplifier that is designed to work specifically with Echo Dot. There’s not much in the way connectivity here, or any at all really, because this gramophone uses a traditional method of amplification to improve audio. Best of all, anyone with a 3D printer can do it.
While Amazon’s Echo Dot does have a 0.6-inch speaker built-in, it was never designed to be a standalone way to enjoy music. The speaker does a well-enough job when it comes to relaying voice commands, but any playback of any music genre will feel empty. Bluetooth or 3.5mm connectivity on the backside handle pairing with any external speakers you may have on hand.
Gramazon comes in at the intersection of audio improvement and a fun way to take your Echo Dot experience to the next level. All it takes is a mid-grade 3D printer (Fleistad uses this option from Monoprice) and an attention to detail when it comes to gluing a few pieces together. There is some painting to be done, as well, if you’re after that vintage look.
Bard Fleistad has set up a Thingiverse page with full details on how to get started with Gramazon. He explains his thinking a bit further, detailing how this unique project came to fruition:
I have always loved the look of the old radio horns of the 20’s and 30’s, but sadly, acquiring them is becoming harder and harder these days, and when you do come across one, the price is usually very high. There are reproductions on the market in the form of standalone bluetooth speakers, but these are usually sold at an even higher price point than the originals. I had almost given up on the idea of getting one of these until I had the aha-moment so many of us makers have at some point. I realized “Hey, I have a 3d printer, so why not just make one?” and so off I went to Fusion 360 to see what I could slap together.
Little did he know, this simple project would become a sensation within the Echo community. One of my favorite aspects of this project is that just about anyway can build one of these vintage-inspired accessories. Not only that, but any maker can take the design and improve it in their own way.