I decided I must pair two Studios since I had two Echo Plus’s stereo paired with an Echo Sub and it sounded pretty darn good. So I had to try the Studio paired in stereo, and since I had the Sub, I threw that in too. What else am I going to do with it? The Sub added a lot to the two Plus’s. I wondered would you even notice it with the two Studios? I’m here to say that you definitely notice it. You notice it’s not there, I can tell you.
Most smart speakers are certainly highly intelligent but they typically disappoint woefully when it comes to the soundscape.
The all-new Echo Studio changes this and puts sound quality uppermost. One of 15 products announced at Amazon’s latest hardware event, Echo Studio is available for pre-order now.
Studio is an attempt by Amazon to compete with Google’s powerful Home Max and Apple’s inimitable HomePod but it’s much more competitively priced.
Before we explore what makes this new smart speaker the best Amazon product of the year in more depth, here’s a quick glimpse at the leading benefits and drawbacks of Echo Studio:
What We Like
- ZigBee hub onboard allows you to control all compatible devices in your connected home without needing to lash out on a third-party gateway
- Booming audio thanks to 5 speakers and Dolby Atmos for even deeper, richer sound
- Pair Echo devices for stereo sound packing even more of a punch
- Sync with any Fire TV device to overhaul your entertainment
- Benefit from all of Alexa’s 85,000 skills and growing to get help with just about any aspect of your day
- With the nifty Drop-In function, you can harness Echo devices in your home like a de facto intercom
- Take advantage of Amazon Music HD for 50 million high-def songs to uprate your listening experience further with a 90-day subscription bundled so you can try before you buy
- Echo Studio automatically analyzes the living space then optimizes sound settings to suit
- Exceptionally easy to set up so you’ll be up and running in minutes flat
- Multi-layered privacy with button to physically disconnect mics, ideal if you don’t want an always-on listening device in your home
What We Don’t Like
- Reasonably substantial footprint coming in quite a lot larger than the original Echo so make sure you’ve got the space to accommodate
- 3D audio polarizes opinion so you might want to road test the Studio before committing to purchase
- Mid-range could be improved and vocals sometimes feel a little obscured
Price and Overall Value
We’ll lead off with the price since this is one of the main attractors of this all-new smart speaker.
While you’ll need to dig a little deeper than for the lower-end Echo devices, Studio comes in far more keenly priced than either Google Home Max or Apple HomePod. Going head-to-head with the Sonos One in terms of pricing, it will be interesting to see how sales there stack up as we edge into 2020.
Given that you’ll also benefit from that integrated Zigbee home hub previously the preserve of Echo Plus, it really is staggering how much value Amazon have layered into this awesome smart speaker.
You’ll get a robust and powerful speaker, a streaming device and a hands-free smart home controller rolled into one for less than a couple of hundred bucks. Just a few short years ago, this would have been unthinkable.
So, while you can certainly find cheaper alternatives, we’re blown away by the value stack this smart speaker represents.
You’ll get an added bonus if you pre-order Echo Studio, too. Enjoy a 3-month trial of Amazon Music HD at no extra cost. This gives you ample opportunity to determine whether you consider a paid subscription worthwhile.
Design and Build
Amazon’s Echo line has grown in more ways than one. Not only can you now pick up more models than ever before, Echo Studio seems like it’s a regular Echo jacked up on steroids.
You’ll get the same barrel build and mesh cover but Echo Studio stands 8 inches tall and measures roughly 7 inches across. It’s on the bulky side of compact.
The only other notable new design tweak is a small opening near the bottom. Sound from the downward-firing woofer is able to better escape and spread out across the room.
Quite clearly, you don’t base buying a smart speaker purely on looks so how about the sound?
Now, audio is where Echo Studio steps firmly up to the plate and delivers a home run while its lesser teammates underwhelm.
You’ll get 330 watts of peak power with Echo Studio. You have a pair of 2-inch mid-range speakers that come mounted on the sides. A single upward-firing mid-range speaker and a sealed 5 ¼-inch woofer complete componentry capable of an immersive and powerful sound.
The directional sound offered up by this device means you should set it up somewhere with a little bit of space around the speaker for best results. This directional method bounces sound off the surfaces of your room. The mics are always listening and optimizing the sound.
If you want to amp up your home theater, pair a couple of Echo Studio and enjoy show-stopping audio on that new smart TV.
You can further your TV audio efforts by wirelessly pairing Echo Studio with a Fire TV device.
3D sound comes courtesy of Amazon Music HD divides opinion. Since you get a free trial, the best bet is to have a good listen and see how you find this innovative but slightly artificial soundscape.
As you know, the draw of smart speakers is the fact they can do so much more than fire up your favorite playlist.
How else does Echo Studio stand out in a glutted market, then?
Performance and Features
Setting up Echo Studio couldn’t be much quicker or easier using the nimble Alexa app.
At this early stage, you’ll hear a few tones issuing from Studio. The device will automatically adjust its acoustic properties to fit the room it’s in.
For the majority of people investing in a smart speaker, the key selling point is the AI-powered digital assistant onboard. With full Alexa functionality, you’ll be able to get help organizing your day from asking for the weather report and news in the morning to asking Alexa to turn on the lights and heating when you get home from work.
In terms of smart home control, the integrated Zigbee home hub gives you much more flexibility. Since many smart devices use different communication protocols, you need a third-part hub to act as a kind of translator. While not overly expensive, it’s still one more thing to budget for. Echo Studio allows you to bypass this and you’ll get that Zigbee radio baked in.
Pairing Echo Studio with Fire TV is another way Echo Studio differentiates itself from the rest of the range and also the competition. Embrace Dolby Atmos soundtracks across all major streaming services. This is not limited to Amazon Prime Video so Netflix et all will all work equally well. You can expect superior sound to that offered by your TV speakers or a similarly-priced soundbar.
Today, we just wanted to give you an overview of the all-new Echo Studio before it hits the shelves.
We’ll be returning to explore this promising new speaker in more depth once we’ve got our hands on one for some long-term testing.
For now, if you’re looking to get the party started with a bang in 2020, Echo Studio is well worth popping on your Christmas list. You’ll get bass-heavy and potent sound, a versatile digital assistant and a home hub in one enticing package. What’s not to love?
Bookmark Pick My Reader as your go-to resource for everything from e-readers to the alluring Amazon ecosystem for your connected home. We’ve got a very busy slate for the holiday season so come back soon. We’ll be looking at the all-new Echo Frames and also exploring some of the other exciting Amazon products set to drop in early 2020. See you soon!