Amazon Alexa Speaker review

Many of the most visible and accessible smart home tools today are the home speakers that house advanced voice assistants. For example, if you’re getting ready to go out, a few quick commands can pull up the weather forecast, so you know what to wear. 

Amazon and its voice assistant Alexa are the industry leaders for smart home speakers. They claim that their latest high-end smart speaker, the Amazon Echo Studio, is the most powerful and easiest to use option on the market. We used it along extensively for about a week to determine just how helpful they truly are, and it turns out it’s as helpful and convenient as Amazon claims.

Testing the Amazon Echo Studio

The entire Echo lineup has exploded in popularity recently, so we were familiar with the device going into testing. The space where we conducted the review wasn’t outfitted with any other smart home devices, so we could judge the Echo Studio on its own merits alone.

We were mostly excited to see how well it streamlined daily activities like playing music, checking the weather and listening to the news. For the most part, our testing took place in the kitchen because that’s where we found ourselves most active and in need of hands-free control.

During testing, we made sure to focus on not just the overall functionality, but also the little things you might overlook initially. How accurately it picks up voice commands, how loud you have to speak and how prominent the LED is all contribute to the user experience, especially for consumers who aren’t particularly well-versed in electronics.

What is the Amazon Echo Studio?

Much like the speakers from Sonos, the Amazon Echo Studio is a high-fidelity smart speaker that promises studio-quality sound and claims to adapt to any room. Our initial impressions were that it’s an unassuming device that, while not as compact as other smart speakers like the Sonos One, isn’t overly large. It came in good-quality packaging, complete with a fabric carrying case.

Unlike other Echo smart speakers, Amazon makes a big deal about the Studio’s premium sound quality. This was one of the claims we were most excited to investigate. Most smart home speakers are middling to subpar when it comes to music playback, so an Alexa-enabled speaker that could also stream our favorite tunes was a welcome addition to the kitchen.

We’re also aware that Amazon has gone to great lengths to refine the microphone array within the Echo Studio. To that end, we were impressed with how well it was able to adapt to the wide range of sounds that happen in a busy home daily.

Amazon Echo Studio price and where to buy

Amazon Echo Studio

The Echo Studio is available from Amazon for $200. You can also get it bundled with the Echo Sub for $330.

How to use Amazon Echo Studio

We expected a straightforward setup process, but we were still surprised at how easy it was to get started. Immediately after plugging it in, Alexa spoke up and instructed us to install the Alexa app on a smartphone. We did so and were then walked clearly through setting up the Echo Dot that we were testing alongside the Studio. The whole process was incredibly intuitive, taking less than 5 minutes.

Using the device wasn’t any more difficult. We simply called out to Alexa, and she heard us clearly and accurately the first time. In most cases, the speaker even heard us clearly when we were in the next room.

Amazon Echo Studio benefits

After a week with the Echo Studio, it’s safe to say that Amazon isn’t exaggerating when they boast about the device’s pristine sound quality. At low volumes, it sounded OK, but once we turned it up, we were pleasantly surprised at how rich the audio was.

No matter what genre of music we threw at it, the Studio handled it well, with no distortion or static and clear instrumentation throughout all but the lowest end of the sound spectrum. We suspect that part of this premium sound experience comes from the Studio’s automatic acoustic analysis, which tailors the speaker’s output to sound as good as possible, no matter what room it’s in.

Our success with voice command accuracy was just as pronounced. We tested it in nearly silent environments and while vacuuming. It performed at the same level no matter what. The only times we had to repeat voice commands, we were so far away that it was surprising the microphone picked up our voices at all.

Aside from the basic music and voice command functionality, there were other features we loved about the Studio. There was a dedicated button to turn the microphone off, which provided privacy and peace of mind. The integrated LED lit up when it actively listened to us, so we didn’t have to worry about unintended recordings. We also appreciated how easy it was to pull up the Alexa app and manage the recordings we’d made throughout the day.

Amazon Echo Studio drawbacks

While we didn’t have any glaring issues with it, we did notice a little room for improvement. For example, sound quality dropped noticeably when we placed it on a shelf with some small trinkets and books around it. A 360-degree speaker shouldn’t normally see a huge change in output in that case, and we have a hunch the difference was again due to the Studio’s automatic spatial analysis. Other objects nearby could conceivably mess up the algorithm and make the speaker think it’s in a much smaller room.

Also, while the LED light was convenient and reassuring, it was pretty recessed and not visible from all angles, especially when the Studio was placed near eye level. Finally, it would be nice if Amazon designed a portable, battery-powered version that we could take to events or gatherings outdoors or at a friend’s house.

Should you get the Amazon Echo Studio?

The Amazon Echo Studio is the best-sounding smart speaker available today. Its microphones are the most sensitive and its voice recognition and spatial analysis algorithms are as good as they get. If you enjoy using voice assistants to listen to music, make calls or shop, there’s no better smart speaker.

Consider other products

Amazon Echo Show 10

Amazon Echo Show 10

If you’re looking for a little more versatility and don’t mind sacrificing some sound quality, this smart speaker is an impressive piece of equipment. Its 10-inch touchscreen can display a wide variety of useful information and it even follows you around the room automatically, so you never lose sight of what you’re doing.

Sold by Amazon

Amazon Echo Sub

Amazon Echo Sub

As great as the Echo Studio sounds, it’s still missing something in terms of bass. This subwoofer can fix that, and it works great with most Echo devices.

Sold by Amazon

Sonos One Gen 2 Smart Speaker

Sonos One Gen 2 Smart Speaker

In terms of sound quality during music playback, the Sonos One is the only significant competitor to the Echo Studio. It is a bit more expensive, but some owners argue it offers even better quality. You can even pair multiple Sonos One smart speakers for stereo playback in one room or simultaneous playback in different rooms.

Sold by Amazon

 

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Chris Thomas writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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