Amazon Echo Studio review: The main event
Should I buy the Amazon Echo Studio?
It’s not a massive secret that most smart speakers don’t sound good and if you’re the kind of person who has previously dismissed smart speakers due to their tendency to skimp on audio quality, the Echo Studio might just be exactly what you’re after.
It doesn’t just sound good. It sounds great. Amazon’s best smart speaker comes with plenty of other perks but, at the heart of it, the intense and emphatic audio playback allowed for here sets the Echo Studio apart from most of the other options.
Dollar for dollar, the Echo Studio might just be the best-sounding smart speaker you can buy.
Price when reviewed
In Australia, the Amazon Echo Studio is priced at AU$349.
Amazon Echo Studio full review
if you’re after the best first-party Alexa smart speaker, it’s hard to walk past the Echo Studio.
Essentially, Amazon’s latest is pitched as the first smart speaker capable of truly satiating the desires of audiophiles. It’s a taller, wider and better version of the earlier Echo Plus that can tune itself to the environment around it. It even supports 3D audio.
Under the hood, the Echo Studio boasts a 24-bit DAC, a 330W power amplifier with 100 kHz of bandwidth. There’s five drivers worth talking about here. One 5.25-inch woofer, three 2-inch midrange speakers and a single 1-inch tweeter.
As mentioned, the major drawcard for the Echo Studio is the ability to analyse the acoustics of the environment around it in order to optimise the experience accordingly. This thing is basically an Echo HomePod and, much like Apple’s smart speaker, the self-tuning speaker delivers compelling results.
In some ways, the Echo Studio feels like the product that the HomePod ought to have been. After all, it delivers in the one way that Apple’s effort couldn’t. It’s also got a built-in ZigBee hub, making it ideal for smart home setups.
It doesn’t hurt that Amazon have considerably improved the setup experience here. This process feels much faster, easier and frictionless than it used to be.
When it comes to the smart side of the equation, the functionality of the Echo Studio is more or less synonymous with the rest of the Echo line-up. You invoke Alexa’s name, the speaker lights up and you’re able to listen to music, deliver news and sports scores, get weather updates or control your smart home devices remotely.
It takes up space in a way that no other Alexa-powered smart speaker does but the Echo Studio might just be the best of the bunch.
Price & Availability
In Australia, the Echo Studio is one of the most expensive Alexa speakers you can currently buy with an Australian at recommended retail price of $329.
You can buy it through Amazon here.
Design & Build
Where the other Echo speakers do their best to blend into the background, the Echo Studio feels like it demands attention. It casts an imposing silhouette and takes up space in a way that other smart speakers fear to emulate. Other smart speakers try to find a healthy compromise between form and function, the Echo Studio is unafraid to take a stand and stake out some ground for itself.
Inevitably, that approach leaves the Studio with something of a reputation. Thankfully and for the most part, Amazon’s most expensive smart speaker delivers on those expectations. It’s got pretty much everything you’d want and then some.
To start with, Amazon’s latest smart speaker is a taller, wider and better version of the earlier Echo Plus. Like that speaker, the Studio has a built-in ZigBee hub, making it ideal for smart home setups. However, as opposed to the Plus, the Studio makes an emphatic and explicit play for those who care about the fidelity of their listening experience.
Under the hood, the Echo Studio boasts five drivers worth talking about. One 5.25-inch woofer, three 2-inch midrange speakers and a single 1-inch tweeter. There’s also a 24-bit DAC, a 330W power amplifier with 100 kHz of bandwidth and support for both Dolby Atmos and 3D Audio.
With the ability to analyse the acoustics of the environment around it in order to optimise the experience, this thing is basically an Alexa-powered version of the HomePod. It helps that Amazon have considerably improved the setup experience here. This whole process feels much faster, easier and frictionless than it used to be.
As for how it sounds, we came away quite impressed with the Echo Studio. It offered up fittingly rich bass and projected incredible well, even across wide or long spaces. Compared to my regular three-piece Sonos system (which consists of two Sonos One speakers plus a Sonos Beam), the Studio didn’t quite eclipse the former but it certainly managed to make an impression.
Pumping “Heartless” on my Sonos and then on the Echo Studio, I found that Amazon’s speaker emphasized the bass on tracks in a way that sometimes drowned out or overshadowed the vocals. Jumping further into the Weeknd's catalogue, this proved a recurring issue.
Across the board, the degree of competition between the two outputs was much closer than I expected. Overall, I found that my Sonos setup won out most of the time. Then again, of course it would. The Echo Studio costs $349. My three-piece Sonos system probably costs about triple that. The fact that the two setups are comparable at all says something about the quality of the hardware Amazon are now shipping.
Specs & Features
Dimensions: 206 mm x 175 mm
Weight: 3.5 kg
Smart Assistant: Alexa
Connectivity: ZigBee, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Ports: 3.5mm audio-in, mini-optical Toslink line-in
When it comes to the smart side of the equation, the functionality of the Echo Studio is more or less synonymous with the rest of the Echo line-up. You’re able to use the Echo smart speaker to listen to music, deliver news and sports scores, get weather updates , control your smart home devices.
Aside from the integrated ZigBee connectivity and HomePod-style self-tuning, there’s not much to set the Echo Studio apart from the rest of the Echo roster. That’s not necessarily a bad thing - consistency of experience is one of Amazon’s biggest strengths, after all. However, if you’re coming to the Echo Studio with the expectation that Amazon’s most expensive Alexa speaker will offer a radically different quality of service to their cheapest, those expectations are going to let you down.
The Bottom Line
If you’re after the best first-party Alexa smart speaker, you can’t go past the Echo Studio. It sounds the best, it’s the most capable when it comes to integrating with other tech in your home and it’s an impressive showcase for just how far Amazon’s forays into hardware have come.
Dollar for dollar, the Echo Studio might just be the best sounding smart speaker you can buy.
If you're keen to spend a few less dollars, check out our guide to the best smart speaker here.
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