Amazon Echo have expanded their linup of smart home devices with the Echo Studio. Having already placed about 6 Amazon Echos around my home, adding another seemed like a good idea.
While the basic Echo features a microphone array and speakers, that’s about the point the similarities stop. The Studio is absolutely a speaker with smarts built in, rather than the echo which is a smart device with a speaker tacked on.
Echo Studio uses five directional speakers and advanced audio algorithms including Dolby Atmos technology to deliver an immersive music experience. This means that no matter the audio format you prefer music will simply sound fantastic on Echo Studio. All of the music services you know and love on Alexa are supported on Echo Studio, which includes Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn.
With five built-in directional speakers, Echo Studio has been engineered to create premium sound with space, clarity, and depth. A 5.25″ woofer and 330W of peak power produces deep, rich bass by using the bass port at the bottom to maximize airflow and bass output from the woofer.
Echo Studio has a 1-inch tweeter and three 2-inch midrange speakers that deliver dynamic midranges and crisp, high frequencies. Plus, it has a 24-bit DAC and a power amplifier with 100 kHz of bandwidth for high-res, lossless music playback. Echo Studio also automatically senses the acoustics of your space and fine-tunes audio playback to deliver optimal sound—no matter where you put the device in the room.
Curves in all the right places
The now familiar external fabric looks elegant and actually matches our home decor nicely. It wraps a pretty sizable speaker, but once you understand the internals packed inside, its understandable.
While the Echo Studio is a cylinder, there’s actually forward, left and right firing speakers, so it is essentially directional. At the base, there’s a horizontal slot that provides an apeture to maximize bass output. This actually serves as a nice breakup from an otherwise large object sitting on your bench, desk, or table.
The top is where the smart stuff happens. It houses a large, familiar blue echo ring that activates when you feed it a wake word to let you know the device has heard you.
Stand out features of this device.
When you first setup the Echo Studio, you’ll notice a new step not available on the Echo Dots. This step is the automatic calibration which adapts the speaker output to the room you put it in.
The Echo Studio emits a pleasent sound sequence that is listened to by the microphone array. This information is gathered, calclulated, then used to adjust the speaker output based on the acoustics of your space, fine tuning playback for optimal sound.
With the Studio, you get all the standard Alexa capabilities, like the ability to ask Alexa questions, play music, or even control other smart home IoT products. The built-in smart home hub allows you to ask Alexa to control your Zigbee-compatible devices. This could be lights, blinds, or other AV equipment.
Naturally Alexa’s IFTTT support means you can integrate Alexa with a growing list of online services. This means commanding your home, just by yelling commands from across the room is possible, but when those commands involve responses, you’ll be met with that great audio quality from the Studio.
5 speaker set up to produce powerful bass, dynamic midrange, and crisp highs. The Dolby Atmos tech adds space, clarity and depth.
Unlimited music choice
Stream songs from Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Deezer and now even supports the Spotify Free Tier. Previously Spotify playback on devices was something exclusive to Pro accounts, but thankfully the Echo Studio has the option for all Spotify users to play their favourite playlist (albeit with ads and skip restrictions).
Keep your family in sync
Those of us with multiple Alexa devices, can use them like an intercom to talk to any room in the house with Drop In and Announcements.
Designed to protect your privacy
With multiple layers of privacy control including a microphone off button that electronically disconnects the mics. There’s also volume up and down buttons, as well as a dedicated button to start alexa listening to your commands, rather than having to always say the wake word.
Not everything’s perfect
In terms of issues, there’s few to discuss. Probably my main point to raise is really one of awareness. The cyldindical design of the Studio may be confused with the many 360 degree speakers on the market. These can be placed in the middle of a room and have the sound resonate in every direction.
The Echo Studio has a wide soundscape, but probably closer to 270 degrees, rather than the full 360. This means it works great on a kitchen bench, or office desk. Once you known and understand that it needs to be connected to an AC outlet, it’s likely going on a bench of some description.
Overall there’s very few products I review that are this polished, have this level of features and has the right price tag.
PRICE & AVAILABILITY
How much and when can you get one ?
The Echo Studio is available now for an affordable A$329.00. You can pick it up directly from Amazon and naturally its on the list of Prime devices, which means Amazon Prime Subscribers can get free and fast delivery. If you’d prefer to pick one up at retail, JB Hi-Fi also have the Studio for A$329.00.
At about 6.5x the price of a basic Echo device, the fairer comparison would be with Apple’s HomePod which is a massive A$469.00. This really does highlight the value on offer with the Echo Studio.
The Echo Dots I have around the house have great microphones, but the speakers are barely acceptable. Thankfully the Echo Studio perfectly addresses that shortoming. The Studio provides a great listening experience, so requesting Alexa play music was something I found myself doing more often.
The closest device to this would be the Sonos One, as it also offers decent sound, with Alexa on-board. While the Studio has a slightly larger footprint, the sound quality and espcially the bass you get from it, far is seriously impressive for its footprint.
As long as you appreciate the Studio does not output its sound in 360 degrees (rather 270), then I have absolutely no problem recommending it. The speaker works great on the kitchen bench, in your home office or even on your bedside table.
I actually think Amazon has a great opportunity to expand the product’s feature set in future iterations. If they were to add smart lighting support, this could make for a great bedside lamp. The opportunity is then sell two for a main bedroom, one on each bedside table and potentially connect the speakers in a stereo configuration.