Is it now the best smart speaker?

2022 Echo Studio on a desk

Roger Vengas / Android Authority

Usually, what you hear is what you get with your purchase Smart speaker. Software updates may add improvements and support for new formats and services, but the overall sound quality tends to remain unchanged. After all, why would you shell out for anything less than what your megaphone can do when you’re trying to impress buyers?

We loved it Echo Studio when Amazon first launched it in 2019. However, at the end of 2022, the company began rolling out a firmware update with big promises: better midrange clarity, deeper bass, and improved sound field separation, even for music without spatial audio support.

To be honest, at first this seemed like a poor excuse not to release a second-generation studio alongside Sada Dot (5th generation). But after I finally got the Studio with the new firmware, I’m convinced that the first-gen model is now one of the best smart speakers on the entire market—at least in terms of what it aims to do.

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

Amazon Echo Studio

Multi-speaker design • High-quality sound for most styles of music • Compatible with Alexa

See review

See review

How good is the Amazon Echo Studio after the update?

A top-down view of the 2022 Echo Studio

Roger Vengas / Android Authority

It’s not a day and night difference after the update, but the Echo Studio had initial issues that kept it from challenging other high-end speakers like Sonos one. Perhaps the biggest is the general lack of class. For example, the vocals sometimes blend with the rest of the stage, because the middle voice may be overwhelmed by the treble. Meanwhile the bass was “bloated and muddy,” as we said in our original book Amazon Echo Studio review. Don’t get me wrong – the studio was fun to listen to, but for $200 you might have expected higher quality.

The crazy thing is that Amazon seems to have fixed some basic issues and then some. The sound is better balanced after the 2022 update, which makes it a pleasure to listen to ambient music Or movie soundtracks as much as metal, electronic dance music, or rap (if you like it). The vocals and instrumentals stand out in the mix, and the bass is deeper and more nuanced, even if you’d still do better technically with a dedicated subwoofer (the wireless Echo Sub is your only option in this case).

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

Let’s talk about bass a little more. For most purposes, the Studio’s 5.25-inch subwoofer delivers massive output, enough to thrill a desk with modest lows, regardless of the harsh bass hits. You might want a larger party space or Fire TV home theater system (more on that later), but the average person won’t have any complaints after the update.

My favorite addition is actually Amazon’s improvement on the traditional stereo mix. For music you don’t already support spatial sound In the form of Dolby Atmos or 360 Reality Audio from Sony, Amazon uses custom processing technology to scale up the audio and create an exact replica. While there’s still a difference versus the real deal, the results are impressive—I found myself on the waiting list old favourites On Spotify just to hear a new dimension for them. Don’t expect any such miracles with mono blends, unfortunately.

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

Echo Studio volume and alexa controls

The Echo Studio’s direct competitor is the Sonos One, and it’s similarly priced. Both speakers are also high definition, high fidelity products that support automatic room tuning.

But the differences are growing very quickly. You need an iOS device to turn on Sonos Room Tuning, and the Studio quickly adjusts itself. The Echo Studio has always offered more bass, and it’s the only one of the two that supports spatial audio. The Sonos One mostly holds its own by supporting both Amazon Alexa And google assistant, and produce crystal clear sound, which is important if you prioritize fidelity. The studio focuses exclusively on Alexa, and even includes a zigbee hub to pair things like smart bulbs with the platform.

The Echo Studio fits into any space dedicated to “serious” listening.

After the software update, I think I really prefer the Echo Studio over the Sonos One. I wouldn’t complain if I had to switch permanently, but the superior bass effect and spatial processing are hard to ignore. blow away Nest Audio I usually use it for work listening, and sometimes the HyperX Cloud II wireless headset that I use for games and meetings.

Ironically, the studio’s biggest threat may be 4th generation Echo. The Sonos One and Echo Studio are both superior in terms of specs—the standard Echo lacks spatial audio or any mid-range drivers, for example—but it’s an Alexa speaker for half the price that still sounds excellent in places like the bedroom or kitchen. It’s way over priced, which makes me wonder if part of the incentive to update the studio is improving perceived value.

Where the studio justifies is in the living room, or any other space meant for “serious” listening. One unit can dominate a room, and if you have the money, you have the option of pairing up with a second studio for true stereo action and massive volume. Introducing the Echo Sub can make for a great home audio package.

Is Amazon Echo Studio Still Missing Anything?

The rear ports are on the 2022 Echo Studio

Roger Vengas / Android Authority

Yes, mainly in the home theater arena. While you can use 3.5mm or mini-TOSLINK for the physical connection, there’s no HDMI port for eARC, and you’re still only connecting one speaker. The only way to use two studios with a TV is to create a wireless home theater set in the Alexa app, then pair that with a Fire TV device like stick 4k max or Omni TV. You’re in luck if you have a device like Chromecast or Apple TV 4K.

Musically, spatial sound is mostly reserved for Amazon Music Unlimited. Which is a shame, since most operators subscribe to either Spotify or Apple Music. To make matters worse, you don’t automatically get Unlimited with a Prime subscription, and there are relatively few songs that are Atmos-optimized. Just a small piece of people will hear Studio in its full glory.

Amazon Echo Studio 2023 review: The verdict

Front side shot of Echo Studio

Amazon’s speakers and display products seem to be on hiatus. The company didn’t announce any major new hardware during its fall 2022 event, unless you count the fifth generation Echo Dot. It is said there were Thousands of layoffs from the Worldwide Digital division a few months later, an effort to stem billions of dollars in losses blamed mostly on Alexa. It seems safe to say we shouldn’t be expecting a second-gen Echo Studio model anytime soon, which might be the main reason we’re getting a software update. Plus a new Glacier White color option, which makes the Echo Studio look like the 2018 HomePod.

There are a few things I’d like Amazon to do with the Echo Studio, whether through additional software updates or a complementary product. It would be nice if the company could figure out how to expand spatial audio support, for example adding the Apple Music format. I’m not holding my breath, over Apple’s obsession with possessive forms as much as anything else.

A big update to the Echo Studio has given Amazon’s best smart speaker a new lease of life.

Amazon should also expand its TV connectivity with more and better port options, perhaps considering improved PC/Mac support. My testing involved mostly app- or audio-controlled listening at my desk, and I eventually found myself wondering what it would be like to connect directly to my laptop and enjoy spatial audio in games and other desktop applications. You can actually connect directly, to be clear, but that includes a single speakerphone, using Bluetooth or a compatible cable, and no support for desktop surround formats.

Overall, I have to hand Amazon fame for giving the studio a new lease of life. Whether or not the future model gets any of the upgrades I’m after, the model we have right now is a great speaker that ranges in music, Alexa smart home control, and pairing with Fire TV devices.

Amazon Echo Studio

Amazon Echo Studio

Multi-speaker design • High-quality sound for most styles of music • 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 on the market. The latest update has greatly improved the sound quality, making it a competent music player.

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