For those of you having issues with Alexa understanding you, there is an area in the Alexa app that asks you if Alexa responded to your request correctly. From what I understand, this helps train Alexa to respond better to your requests. I think it works as I had issues with a particular Pandora station where Alexa would not respond properly. After several tries, followed up by letting the app know she was not responding correctly, Alexa started getting it right. So it looks like you can train your echo.
I just added a Dot to my Echo collection ( I have the Echo and the Tap as well ). I wanted voice command in my bedroom and Dots were on sale last week. I bought a 2 pack from staples for around $70 so they were roughly $35 each. Im gifting one of them. Thats a fantastic price for what these things are capable of.
A simple solution for sound output is computer speakers, if you have an old pair lying around. I had some Bose computer speakers that I hooked up to the Dot and I get pretty good sound from them. I use the Echo stuff for home automation as well through my Smartthings hub and have voice control for most of the lighting in my home as well as my thermostat and several outlets. I also have my garage door opener on voice command. Its very convenient. Since I have Amazon Prime, I have access to a huge music library and if that gets old, I fall back on Pandora. I am totally sold on the echo system. When you use its many abilities, it really does make life easier.