Alexa, How Do You Say, “mediocre?”
Amazon, yes, the giant technology conglomerate run by the richest man in the world, present yet another pair of earbuds. It seems every technologically focused manufacturer has made earbuds at this point.
So, with all the resources in the world available to the creators of this product, how does it actually compare to its very obvious competition.
Let’s find out in our in-depth Amazon Echo Buds review…
At first touch, you know these aren’t premium. The price tag says average, but these feel a bit under average, think Ali Express, not Amazon.
The earbuds and their extremely slippery case are made of a cheap plastic that does not feel durable at all. Luckily, it’s just the feeling; after a few accidental drops (we did mention the case is slippery), the earbuds and case were still fine.
The plastic is coated in a glossy black that does look modern and sporty. They clearly aren’t trying to rip-off any other competitors, cough cough… Apple. Thus, we have a safer looking design that looks like most average consumer earbuds.
They come equipped with touch gestures, which by default was pretty easy to use and quite accurate. Within minutes we were skipping, changing the volume, and pausing the music.
The earbuds do have voice control over virtual assistants, Alexa, Google, or Siri. It’s to be expected from the people who brought you Alexa. That’s like Apple making earbuds that don’t have Siri support.
You’ll also find a variety of ear tips so you can get the perfect fit.
How Do They Sound?
Boy, the people who developed the sound for these headphones must love bass, and then some.
The bass frequencies on the Echo Buds sound almost twice as loud as anything else playing. This creates a wall of bass that leads to auditory masking. This is when a certain frequency is so loud, that all the other ones get overshadowed to the point that you can barely hear them.
It’s kind of difficult to review a pair of earbud’s sound, when it’s difficult to hear anything else. The mid-range gets lost the most here, female vocals and higher register male vocals take the back seat to any bassline and kick drum. The highs sneak past the bass sometimes, but lose a lot of clarity because of the overbearing bass.
The earbuds get their noise cancelling technology from Bose, you know, the company that’s famous for their impeccable ANC found on the QuietComfort 35.
Bose does an amazing job here. It’s about the best part of the earbuds. Low hums are almost two thirds quieter with the ANC. This means most of the daily hustle and bustle will fade into thin air whilst using the ANC on a bus commute or flying on a business trip.
But at a much more premium price. The Apple Airpods Pro and Sony WF-1000XM3 are still the best in class, but with the Echo Buds at almost half the price, these will be a big upgrade for the average consumer.
The microphone isn’t great, but no one ever complained either. It does de-emphasize the lower frequencies, meaning if you have a deep voice, you might need to speak up to be audible.
We also experienced some clipping and distortion when we spoke at a higher volume.
The microphone does well to pick up the word “Alexa” for the most part. It did struggle in very noisy environments like a busy coffee shop or noisy bus commute. Quite awkward, when you need to shout Alexa at full volume to get a command done in a coffee shop.
Connectivity & Battery Life
The earbuds use Bluetooth version 5 to connect to your device. So, expect a decent stable connection at your home or office through a few walls.
The earbuds come with AAC codec support, great for hi-res music aficionados who use Apple devices. But don’t get too excited, there is no aptX or LDAC here, sorry Android users, you get no love from Amazon.
Not that it makes that much of a big difference, considering the sound quality on display here is pretty poor.
The earbuds will last you five hours on a full charge, miles behind its competitors. This means you get less than a quarter of a day’s playback on a full charge, and not even a full workday!
The only saving grace here is the quick charge. Expect two hours of playback on a 15-minute charge. The strangest part of the charging is the fact that Amazon opted for a micro-USB charger. It’s extremely outdated at this point, and you’d probably have to drag around the micro-USB cable just to charge the earbuds.
However, the strangest thing about the batteries was the uneven draining rate between the two earbuds. With both earbuds charged full, the left earbud died 20 minutes before the right earbud, and we have no explanation as to why.
Who Are The Amazon Echo Buds For?
These earbuds might seem like a steal at the price, which they kind of are. If you aren’t an audiophile or even an avid music listener, you might not even notice the sub-par sound quality. Good for you, but we can’t say the same.
At half the price, and at least on paper, and most of the same features as the WF-1000XM3 and Apple Airpods Pro, it’s easy to see why so many people would be interested. It’s unfortunate that these earbuds come off feeling like Amazon rushed to get these out just to compete in the ever-growing earbud market before it got too saturated.
So Many Other Options
If you’ve got more to spend, or you were already looking at the aforementioned alternatives, you would be better off sticking with those. Apple users will be very happy with their Airpod Pro, and any audiophile will appreciate the amazing sound and ANC on display from the WF-1000XM3.
If you’re looking for even more options, check out our reviews of the Best Sound Quality Earbuds, the Best Headphones and Earbuds for Sleeping, the Best Wireless Earbuds for Small Ears, the Most Durable Earbuds, and the Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds, currently available.
Amazon Echo Buds Pros & Cons
- Fast Charging.
- Great noise reduction from Bose.
- The sound quality lacks a lot of clarity.
- Battery life is sub-par.
- Micro-USB charging.
The Echo Buds retail at an exciting price, but won’t excite you as much once you’ve used them. With an overbearing bass-heavy sound profile and under average battery performance with micro-USB charging, we can’t really recommend these earbuds to anyone. Not even someone we don’t like, and that’s saying a lot.
If you’re looking for options within the same price range and don’t mind losing the ANC feature, the Creative Outlier Gold offer up to 14 hours of audio playback and aptX and AAC codec support. In our opinion, this is a much better option.
And, if you’ve got some extra cash, definitely buy the Sony WF-1000XM3 for class-leading audio and ANC.
Better luck next time, Amazon…