The Amazon Echo Studio – a wonderful reason to ditch your old Echo
I have been an Echo fan since the first gen Echo was released in roughly 2014. I bought one out of boredom as I sat in a hotel room for thirty days for work. Alexa became a good companion, and I never looked back. Now, I have too many echos ranging from a few dots, to a Show, to a few of the originals to 2nd gen to – you guessed it – the Echo Studio. None of them measure up to the sound the Studio puts out. In this review I’ll take a look at the design, sound, and overall value of the Echo Studio. Spoiler alert – you will want one.
The Studio Design
When I open the packaging I realize the careful attention Amazon put into every detail of this speaker. It is heavy but even the fabric based packaging includes a handle to easily pull the Echo out of the box. Setup is a welcome experience. I turn the device on and open the Alexa app and after a series of questions and a brief room test for 3D audio I’m jamming to “Borders” by The Sunshine Underground in minutes. Five speakers push out powerful bass and an overall balanced sound. If it isn’t “bassy” enough, I can always pair it with Amazon’s Echo Sub. Setup is so simple, I almost look forward to doing it with any device I get from Amazon.
The sound is bigger, but often with a big sound comes a larger device. The Studio is no exception here and measures in at 8.1 inches tall, 6.9 inches wide, and weighs a hefty 7.7 pounds. The Studio is still cylindrical in shape, still wrapped in fabric, and thin rectangular hole sets in the bottom of the speaker that gives it a unique look. It must be plugged in at all times to function so I won’t be taking it with me on any trips or adventures this summer.
The familiar “Blue echo ring” adorns the crown of the speaker, and I can still mute the microphones, manually adjust the volume, or pair the device with the action button. The microphones are crazy responsive – better than any echo I have used.
In my unfinished basement while working out I have the volume nearly full. Sound is bouncing off of all walls and I just audibly state “Alexa” and the blue light pops on waiting for my next command. It is impressive and makes me feel like I don’t have to yell to get Alexa’s attention when I need to quickly stop the music.
The “hole” mentioned allows for easier handling, and is designed to help give a heavier downward “bass” sound in music via a 5.25” firing woofer. In fact, what I refer to as a “hole” Amazon refers to as a “Bass Aperture”. I’m curious if you could use it to hang the device from a ceiling in the center of a room to fully immerse and take advantage of the 3D audio. I currently have no way of testing this and do not recommend it unless contacting Amazon to determine if this could potentially damage the speaker.
At the bottom of the speaker (in the back) I can attach the power cord and if necessary a 3.5mm line-in option.
I can’t say enough about the sound quality improvement the Echo Studio offers with its 330W of power. To some extent, I’m still partial to stereo speakers for the fullest sound. However, the key difference here is I don’t have to have a Receiver, and a bunch of wires running all over the place to get amazing sound. The Studio also adapts to any room I place it in automatically working to optimize the quality of sound I hear. When I compare the sound output to the original Echo, I almost feel dumb thinking about the terrible sound quality I used to accept as my norm.
I test out the “3D sound” the Studio boasts with a skeptical temperament. What the heck is 3D sound anyways? Amazon claims 3D sound allows HD music to become more fully immersive and will allow users to experience “spatial” audio. Okay. To be fair, I have compared Amazon’s HD Music to Spotify. There is a significant difference in audio quality when a song is in HD. This is due to Amazon’s CD quality lossless audio topping at 24 bit vs Spotify’s measly 320kbps streaming output. There is a fuller, more honest depth to the music. You have to hear it to believe it, but the improvement is definitely there. Does it improve the Studio too?
Turns out it does. So much so in fact that this user just switched back to Amazon Unlimited music for just $7.99 a month plan from Spotify (which is $9.99 a month). At the time of this writing Amazon now includes Ultra HD music for less than a Spotify premium membership anyways. Seems like a no brainer to me. Better audio quality for less money. Thank you very much, I’ll take it.
The Echo Studio shines brightest with a more premium quality stream being pushed through it. I love it and feel like I’ve been missing out for years now. I’m so glad I got the chance to test this little beast out. Does it beat out great stereo speakers – depending on the setup – probably not. Is it the best sounding Echo and sound coming from a single device? For $200 I think so. Better is out there – but at a steep cost.
It is now well-established that the best Echo device is here, (and has been for a few years now – I’m late to the ballgame). Obviously, I can still command my Smart Home with my voice. My ceiling fans, televisions, and lights are still controllable with a few simple commands to the Studio or any Echo device. The Studio brings additional options to my porch with its support of Zigbee devices (Click here for info on what Zigbee is). Basically I can now control devices that in the past some Echos did not support in the Smart Home.
Immerse yourself in a sound quality no other Echo has brought to date. The Echo Studio is the premium Echo speaker I’ve been waiting for. If I could change one thing, I would shrink it without losing sound quality. Honestly that is it. I’m curious how this would sound in stereo, and that is an option if I ever get a second one. The Studio performs at its best when paired with HD music, but even without a higher fidelity sound, it easily outperforms its predecessors. If you like your Echo for music, you will love the Echo Studio.