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Experience, attitudes, and interest in voice control for audio  

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Hi, everybody!


Chris has asked me for an article on voice control for audiophiles.  Per my usual approach, I'm including an historic overview of voice control / actuation / recognition software and hardware along with what's available now, what it can do, and how well it does what it does.  I'm evaluating and reviewing the most popular voice-responsive "assistants" living in devices scattered throughout our homes, along with a few of the 10,000+ skills and apps found under the heading "music and audio".  I'll introduce you to a "voice actuated music player" you can install as a Chrome extension.  And I'm including a few DIY projects for the adventurous to try, among which is an open source download that will let you control the basic functions of VLC and some other players with your voice.


One important part of this article is the current state of our collective experience, satisfaction, perceived need, and desire to use voice control - along with how and why we feel as we do.  Many industry leaders frequent AS, so I'm hopeful that this work will be of interest to a few of them. Knowing what works (and why) for audiophiles will undoubtedly help drive the industry to do more of it and do it better. Knowing the reasons for negative impressions should lead to breakthroughs that will overcome current reluctance based on past experience.  The result can only be good for us and our ability to enjoy music.


So please help us out and take the attached poll.  We thank you!!

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9 hours ago, Daccord said:

Questions 4 and 5 are mandatory, so they should contain an option for "None apply". And I think you're missing questions or options that would indicate security concerns.

Thanks!  I thought I had set up the questions so they could be skipped if desired.  I can't check it because I voted first to make sure it works, and it won't let me submit another response from the same IP address.  With 19 responses in already, changing the questions now will invalidate those already submitted.


Major security concerns are an issue for cloud based services like Alexa and Siri, and for IoT devices.  But if VC is only accessing a LAN / WLAN and it's limited to audio devices on that network, I'm not seeing much potential for network access.  I'd love to know about potential issues I'm not seeing, as I'm including a section on security in the article.


A really skilled hacker could access text messages and some files on your phone or tablet.  But disabling the VC assistant when not in use pretty much obviates this concern.  Voice cloning is a fairly common back door into phones and smart home systems, but pretty much all a hacker could do with your cloned voice on a voice controlled audio system is change what you're listening to, make it louder etc.  Anyone with a modern mobile phone is already open to these risks anyway.


Adding voice controlled audio gear won't increase any risks I can see for anyone who already has a smart home - they're either taking precautions or they're sitting ducks with or without audio on the LAN. Even hi tech hacks like "surfing" (using ultrasonic waves to break into smart phones and tablets via voice apps) can't work unless the voice assistant is active.  Leave voice assistants off completely except when using them to protect against this.  As it only works with the device sitting on a hard sound-conductive surface, the other recommendation is to leave your devices on a soft surface (tablecloth, foam, etc).


Thanks again for your interest and assistance.  If you and others can let us know about security concerns you see with VC for audio, it'd really help everybody.  About half of all mobile device users have and use voice assistants, and the number of smart homes is growing rapidly.  Smart speakers are popping up everywhere too - so this is already a big potential issue.

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