The Amazon Echo Studio’s big update makes it one of the best smart speakers out there

Roger Fingas / Android Authority

Typically, what you hear is what you get when you buy a smart speaker. Software updates can add refinements and support for new formats and services, but overall sound quality tends to remain the same. After all, why would you put less than what your speaker is capable of when you’re trying to impress buyers?

We liked the Echo Studio when Amazon first released it in 2019. In late 2022, however, the company began rolling out a firmware update with big promises: better midrange clarity, deeper bass, and better separation. of the soundstage, even for music without spatial sound. support.

To be honest, this initially seemed like a lame excuse not to release a 2nd generation Studio alongside the Echo Dot (5th generation). But having finally gotten my hands on a Studio with the new firmware, I’m convinced that the first generation model is now one of the best smart speakers in the entire market, at least for what it’s intended to do.

About this Amazon Echo Studio 2023 review: I tested the Amazon Echo Studio for four days. The unit was supplied by Amazon, but Amazon had no say in the direction of published content.

Amazon Echo Studio

Multi-speaker design • Quality sound for most music styles • Compatible with Alexa

see comment

see comment

How good does the Amazon Echo Studio sound after the update?

Roger Fingas / Android Authority

It’s not an overnight difference after the update, but the Echo Studio had teething problems, preventing it from challenging other high-end speakers like the Sonos One. Perhaps the greatest was a general lack of separation. Vocals, for example, sometimes blended into the rest of the soundstage, because the mids drowned out the highs. Bass, meanwhile, was “puffy and muddy,” as we mentioned in our original Amazon Echo Studio review. Don’t get me wrong: the etude was pleasant to listen to, but for $200 one might expect higher quality.

The crazy thing is that Amazon seems to have fixed essential problems and then some. The sound is more balanced after the 2022 update, making it as enjoyable to listen to ambient music or movie soundtracks as metal, EDM or rap (if you like). Vocals and instruments pop through the mix, and the bass is deeper and more accurate, though technically you’re still better off with a dedicated subwoofer (the wireless Echo Sub is your only option in this case).

The Amazon Echo Studio is one of the best smart speakers you can buy.

Let’s talk a little more about the bass. For most purposes, the Studio’s 5.25-inch woofer delivers massive output, enough to shake a desk with even modest bass, not to mention punchy bass. You may want more for a large party space or a Fire TV home theater system (more on that later), but the average person won’t have any complaints after the upgrade.

My favorite addition is actually Amazon’s improvement of conventional stereo mixes. For music that doesn’t yet support spatial audio in the form of Dolby Atmos or Sony’s 360 Reality Audio, Amazon uses custom processing technology to enlarge the soundstage and create a facsimile. While there’s still a difference to the real deal, the results are staggering: I found myself queuing up old favorites on Spotify just to hear a new dimension of them. Unfortunately, don’t expect such miracles with mono mixes.

How does the Amazon Echo Studio compare to Sonos One and Google Nest Audio?

Volume control and Alexa by Echo Studio

The Echo Studio’s most direct rival is the similarly priced Sonos One. Both speakers are also high-fidelity products that support automatic room adjustment.

However, the differences grow very quickly. An iOS device is required for Sonos room adjustment to work, while Studio adjusts on the fly. The Echo Studio has always produced more bass and is the only one of the two to support spatial audio. The Sonos One mainly distinguishes itself by supporting Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant and producing ultra-clear sound, which is important if you prioritize fidelity. The Studio is solely Alexa-centric, even incorporating a Zigbee hub to pair things like smart bulbs with the platform.

The Echo Studio is best suited for any space dedicated to “serious” listening.

After the software update, I think I sincerely prefer Echo Studio over Sonos One. I wouldn’t complain if I had to change permanently, but it’s hard to ignore the impact of the upper bass and spatial processing. It beats the Nest Audio that I usually use for work listening and sometimes the HyperX Cloud II wireless headphones that I use for gaming and meetings.

Ironically, the Studio’s biggest threat may be the fourth generation Echo. Both Sonos One and Echo Studio round it out in terms of specs — the standard Echo lacks spatial audio or midrange drivers, for example — but it’s an Alexa speaker that’s half the price and still sounds great in places like a bedroom. bedroom or kitchen. It beats its price, which makes me wonder if part of the incentive for the Studio upgrade was to improve perceived value.

Where Studio is justified is in the living room, or in any other space devoted to “serious” listening. A single unit can dominate a room, and if you’ve got the money, you have the option of pairing it with a second studio for true stereo panning and impressive volume. Introducing an Echo Sub can make for a killer home audio package.

Is the Amazon Echo Studio still missing something?

Rear doors on Echo Studio 2022

Roger Fingas / Android Authority

Yes, mostly in the home theater area. While you can use 3.5mm or mini-TOSLINK for a physical connection, there’s no HDMI port for eARC, and you’re only connecting a single speaker anyway. The only way to use two studios with one TV is to create a wireless home theater group in the Alexa app, then pair it with a Fire TV device like the 4K Max Stick or Omni TV. You’re out of luck if you have something like a Chromecast or Apple TV 4K.

Musically, spatial audio is mostly reserved for Amazon Music Unlimited. That’s a shame, as most streamers subscribe to Spotify or Apple Music. To make matters worse, you don’t automatically get Unlimited with a Prime membership, and relatively few songs are Atmos-powered. Only a handful of people will hear a study in all its glory.

Amazon Echo Studio 2023 review: The verdict

Front profile shot of Echo Studio

Amazon’s speakers and display products appear to be in a waiting pattern. The company didn’t announce any major new hardware during its Fall 2022 event, unless you count the fifth-generation Echo Dot. There were reportedly thousands of layoffs from its Worldwide Digital division a few months later, an attempt to stem billions of dollars in losses attributed primarily to Alexa. It seems safe to say that we shouldn’t be expecting a second-generation Echo Studio model any time soon, which may be the main reason we received a software update. As is the new Glacier White color option, which makes the Echo Studio look like the HomePod of 2018.

There are a few things I wish Amazon would do with the Echo Studio, whether it’s new software updates or a sequel product. It would be great if the company could figure out how to expand spatial audio support, for example by adding the Apple Music format. I’m not holding my breath, as much with Apple’s obsession with proprietary formats as with anything else.

The Echo Studio’s big update has given Amazon’s flagship smart speaker a new lease on life.

Amazon should also expand TV connectivity with more and better port options and possibly think about better PC/Mac support. My testing mostly involved listening via apps or with voice control in my office, and I ended up wondering what it would be like to connect directly to my laptop and hear spatial audio in games and other desktop applications. You can already connect directly, to be clear, but that involves a single speaker, using Bluetooth or a compatible cable, and no support for desktop-specific surround formats.

Overall, though, I have Amazon to thank for giving the Studio a new lease on life. Whether or not a future model gets any of the updates I’m crossing my fingers for, what we have now is a great speaker for music, Alexa smart home control, and pairing with Fire TV devices.

Amazon Echo Studio

Amazon Echo Studio

Multi-speaker design • Quality sound for most music styles • Compatible with Alexa

One of the best smart speakers you can buy

Powered by Amazon’s Alexa smart assistant, the Echo Studio is one of the best smart speakers out there. A recent update has significantly improved the audio quality, making it a competent music player.

#Amazon #Echo #Studios #big #update #smart #speakers

Add Comment