The Amazon Echo Buds, Amazon's first pair of noise-cancelling earbuds, launched two years ago to high praise for its fidelity and active noise cancellation (ANC). However, the buds and case were dinged for their large size and lack of USB-C charging respectively.
Amazon looks to rectify that, and has made a few more improvements with the upcoming Echo Buds 2, available for preorder today. Here's what we know about the new buds, and when you can stuff 'em in your ears.
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Amazon Echo Buds 2: Price and availability
The Amazon Echo Buds 2 is available for preorder today, and will ship on May 13.
For a limited time, the Echo Buds 2 will be available for $99 with USB-C charging, and $119 with wireless charging; after it starts shipping, the price will increase to $119 for USB-C and $139 for wireless charging.
In addition to the traditional black, the Echo Buds 2 will also be offered in white. Customers will also receive six months of Amazon Music Unlimited and Audible Plus for free.
Amazon Echo Buds 2: Design, fit and audio
The Echo Buds wasn't the most attractive pair of true wireless earbuds, but it wasn't overly obtrusive. The Echo Buds 2 looks to conceal itself further, as each bud is 20% smaller than the originals. In addition, the outside of the Buds 2 is smaller, to lie more flush with your outer ear, and the nozzle doesn't penetrate as deep as before. The buds will come with four ear tip sizes and two wing tip sizes, and an Ear Tip Fit Test during setup will help make sure that you've got the right ones.
A small vent should also help relieve pressure and prevent feeling like your ears are waterlogged. Speaking of which, the Buds 2 is IPX4-rated, so will survive your sweaty workouts.
One noticeable change is the large Amazon smile logo on the outside of each bud. If you can't duplicate Apple's dangling earbud design, you have to do something to let others know who's wearing your tech.
More welcome is the 40% reduction in size of the Buds 2's charging case, making it easier for you to carry about. The case will support USB-C and wireless charging (depending on the model you choose), and small exterior lights will let you know when the buds are ready to go.
Amazon Echo Buds 2: Active noise cancellation
Built into each bud are three microphones — two external and one internal — that are optimized to detect more low-frequency sounds. The result, says Amazon, is that there's about a 6dB improvement in active noise cancellation over the original Echo Buds.
Like before, a pass-through mode permits ambient sounds to get through, so if you're using these things while running outside, you'll have a better sense of traffic around you. The intensity of pass-through mode can also be adjusted.
Amazon Echo Buds 2: Touch controls and other features
Like most wireless earbuds, Amazon Echo Buds 2 will feature touch controls. A single tap will either pause or play your music, a double tap advances tracks, and a triple-tap lets you go back. Pressing and holding with activate either ANC or pass-through mode. Gestures can be remapped on either ear to the function that you prefer — such as summoning Siri or Google Assistant — but you'll have to ask Alexa to change the volume.
Two somewhat new features are being added to the Echo Buds 2. If you ask Alexa to find your buds, it will cause the buds to emit a chime, in case you lost them in your couch cushions or something.
Also coming later this year is VIP Filter. First appearing on the Amazon Echo Frames, this feature will automatically filter out any calls or messages not from people on your VIP contact list. This can't come soon enough.
Amazon Echo Buds 2: Battery life
Amazon says that the Echo Buds 2 should last up to 5 hours on a charge when listening to music with ANC engaged. While not tops among the best noise-cancelling headphones, it's not horrible. The Jabra Elite Active 75t, for instance, can last up to 7.5 hours, but the AirPods Pro manages just 4.5 hours.
The Echo Buds' charging case will add about 10 additional hours of playback, and can provide the buds with enough juice for 2 hours after sitting in the case for just 15 minutes. A full charge takes about 1 hour.
Amazon Echo Buds 2: Outlook
At a preorder price of just $99, it's hard not to be tempted by the Amazon Echo Buds 2. If it's anything like the original when it comes to audio quality and noise cancellation, then this set of ANC earbuds looks to be a great deal.
We'll reserve our final judgment until we get a chance to test the Echo Buds 2 out for ourselves.
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