Do the second Echo Buds make enough noise to stand out in the overcrowded earbuds market?

Do the second Echo Buds make enough noise to stand out in the overcrowded earbuds market?

Smart devices are now part of most of our daily lives. If you don’t have an Echo, you probably have a Google nest or similar device. If you don’t have either, you probably talk to your phone. If you don’t, no worries it’s probably listening anyways. Amazon has built the Echo technology into too many devices to keep track of. It only makes sense that they would put the tech into some nifty buds to compete with Apple’s incredible Airpod options. 

The 2nd Gen Echo Buds are here, and they have a lot to offer. In a market loaded with earbuds, do they make enough noise to stand out? 

There is no shock or “Holy Cow” moment when I first see the Echo Earbuds. They look like – shocker here – earbuds. They are in a nice sleek black case and sport the all too familiar Amazon smile on both buds. The packaging is organized, and if you’ve read any of my other Amazon reviews you will know I enjoy setting them up. I’ll say it again. It’s fun and so darn easy. The Alexa app gently guides me through pairing and even helps me to know if I have the right fit in my ear.

I try a few different rubber tips, including the “wing” based tips, but I find the tips included to start with fit best. It is cool to see my phone tell me how my earbuds fit once they are in. How accurate is it? I don’t know, but the best feeling fit was aligned with the app’s assessment. Earbuds never fit me just right. I’ve said it in a previous article, and I’ll say it again. It doesn’t matter – I’ve tried several brands and I always feel like one is going to fall out. On the Echo buds it’s always the left one.

Someone smarter than me mentioned trying a different tip in just one of my ears. Yes, it took someone else telling me my ears are different to help me decide to try two different sizes. I’ll give this a shot later. I digress. My point is – any complaining I do about the fit doesn’t necessarily reflect poorly on the product. These earbuds are no exception to my previous experience with Jabra, Cleer, or several others. I have oddly shaped ears I guess. Overall though, the Echo Buds are comfortable and twist into my ears nicely. 

Now, whenever I place them in my ears my phone immediately recognizes them and I get a nice tone to let me know they are connected and ready to go. I ask Alexa my calendar for the day and she gently tells me my Google calendar settings. I can link my calendar with Google, Apple, or Microsoft – pretty nice. She then asks me if I want her to tell me calendar events as they come up. No thanks but good to know it’s an option. 

Alexa controls work amazingly well, and it is good to know I have the option to control most of my digital music life when the buds are in. I can mute, volume up, down etc. but the additional options for getting sports scores, news updates, or calendar events are a great addition many buds cannot boast about having. 

I can still take a bud out to mute music as well. The overall functionality offered by modern wireless earbuds exist in this pair too. The difference maker here and standout is still the Voice assistant. I just find it awkward to talk to her (Alexa) in public. I know I shouldn’t, after all I hear people talking on their phones while in public restrooms (so gross and eerie to me). 

I’m a frequent audiobook listener especially when I’m trying to fall asleep. Yeah, I don’t really get much out of them, but something about Harry Potter on Audible puts me to sleep in less than five minutes. If you haven’t heard Jim Dale read it yet, do it now. It’s an experience in and of itself. The Echo Buds are a great bedtime option as either bud works by itself and lasts through most of the night. The buds charge quickly and an awesome charger from Anker allows me to wireless charge the case (or my phone). Otherwise a USB-C port adorns the back of the case for charging. 

While waiting at a busy shop to get my oil change, the Active Noise Cancellation crushes all external sound. I’m quite impressed. I don’t have to crank the volume to block all sound. The television is on, cars drive by, and people chatter in the background. I simply don’t hear it. The buds also feature passthrough if I want to hear what’s going on around me. 

Overall, I am impressed with the quality of sound in the Echo Buds as well. If anything I could use a little more bass and low end, but the balance of sound is spot on. I can hop into the equalizer in the Alexa app and adjust a few things to help out with this. I don’t get any muddy sound overall, and I’ve recently switched to a higher fidelity stream through Amazon Music. This makes the listening experience that much better. 

Summary

The 2nd Gen Echo Buds are a great carry with good value considering everything you get. They offer great noise cancellation, decent quality audio, Hands-free Alexa, additional fins for improved fit during high activity. They still don’t replace a great pair of over ear noise cancellers, but the benefit is portability here. The clear reason for choosing these buds over others is Alexa for Smart Home control if you are connected. The buds are currently a steal on sale for $49.99 at the time of this writing (normally $119).

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Tom Kuphal