Amazon's line of Echo speakers are useful if you want to leverage the company's Alexa digital assistant. But as musical accessories go, they've never been top-of-the-line. The Amazon Echo Studio, announced at an Amazon press event today (Sept. 25), is here to change that.
The device seems primed to go toe-to-toe with the $299 Apple HomePod and the $199 Sonos One smart speakers, which also offers premium sound and a built-in digital assistant. After hearing the Echo Studio for ourselves, it definitely seems legit.
Amazon Echo Studio price and availability
The Amazon Echo Studio is available for preorder now on Amazon, and costs $199.99. You can also pair the Echo Studio with a Smart Plug for $204.98.
Amazon says that the Echo Studio will ship November 7.
Amazon Echo Studio design and specs
The Echo Studio exists to deliver audiophile sound quality. As such, the speaker supports 3D audio from Dolby Atmos, provided from three midrange speakers, one tweeter, and a 5.25-inch bass driver. A large slot towards the lower third of the speaker lets the bass ring out.
This is significantly more powerful than any existing Echo speaker. At least in theory, this should also provide stronger, more accurate bass than the HomePod can generate, but we'll have to test that.
Size-wise, the Echo Studio looks to be about the same height as the HomePod, but an inch or two wider; it's considerably larger than the Sonos One smart speaker.
On the top of the Echo Studio are the buttons you'll find on any other Alexa speaker: volume controls, a mic off button, and an action button that lets you manually turn on Alexa. A ring of LEDS around the top provides a visual indicator that Alexa is listening.
Amazon Echo Studio audio performance
The Echo Studio can really bring the noise. A single Studio easily filled a room that was about 15 feet square. Bass was full and chest-thumping, but not at the expense of mids and highs.
Similar to the HomePod, the Studio uses its built-in microphones to measure the acoustics of a room and dynamically adjust the audio profile coming out of its speakers. Sonos has a similar system, but it requires you to manually make the adjustments.
If you have two Echo Studio speakers, you can also pair them together in order to create left and right channels.
Echo Studio Fire TV compatibility
The Amazon Echo Studio is also compatible with all existing 4K Fire TV devices, which should be good news for videophiles who want to pair their streaming devices with more powerful speakers. Many videos available through Amazon Prime offer Dolby Atmos functionality, meaning that viewers should get more nuanced sound than they would from a simple stereo program.
The Amazon Echo Studio looks like it could give both the Apple HomePod and the Sonos One a run for their money in terms of audio quality. Two advantages that the Sonos One have is that Sonos' system works with far more streaming services, and has a wider variety of speakers and soundbars that you can interconnect. And, the Sonos One can work with both Alexa and Google Assistant.
Still, at $199, the Echo Studio is a powerful new entrant into the high-end smart speaker market.