With attention-grabbing audio and great smart assistant performance, the Echo Studio is a solid option for those seeking a beefed-up revision to the Amazon Echo blueprint. We only hope you can find enough space for it on your shelves.
Combination of Echo smart features with higher-caliber audio
Great responsiveness to voice commands
3D spatial audio with support for Dolby Atmos
Not the most elegant design to accommodate in the home
Bass could be too full-on for some users
Livingetc knows design.
That’s pretty much what you get with the Echo Studio, the new smart speaker that Amazon is describing as its “best-sounding smart speaker.”
All your favorite Echo features are still here – not least combining Alexa and that telltale LED ring. But it's the Echo Studio’s premium audio features, including room adaptation and Dolby Atmos compatibility, that promise to power Amazon right to the canopy of the best smart speaker market. We got hands-on with the Echo Studio to find out whether the speaker lives up to its stellar potential.
Read on to learn what we thought about the speaker – and if you’d be interested in a simpler, sleeker Amazon smart speaker with a beautiful LED display, check out our review of the new Amazon Echo Dot with Clock smart speaker too.
Echo Studio: Key info
- Smart platform: Alexa
- Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth connectivity with some Bluetooth speakers, 3.5mm input, optical input (used for Dolby Atmos)
- Power: Mains
- Dimensions: 20.6 x 17.5 x 17.5cm
- Weight: 3.5kg
Echo Studio: Design
In our view, the Echo Studio has an inoffensive – and ultimately, uninspiring – aesthetic. It’s a smooth, mesh-covered cylinder with just a handful of manual buttons on the top of the device: volume up and down, mic on/off, and an action button. The most interesting design elements at play are the multi-colored LED status ring at the top of the speaker and the gap between the bass driver and the base of the device.
Despite its unassuming style, the Echo Studio is pretty in-your-face. It requires quite a lot of space – above and beyond its 17.5 cm-diameter footprint.
With four speaker cones positioned around its cylindrical form (as well as a downward-facing bass driver), the Echo Studio requires at least 15 cm of clearance around its circumference in order to sound its best.
So, the size and speaker layout of the Echo Studio demand space and prominence wherever you place it. If you’re happy for the speaker to be a focal point, you could keep it on a coffee table or kitchen island. Or, for a more low-key presence, you could place the Echo Studio on a suitably deep shelf – perhaps within a spacious alcove, if you have one.
On a more positive note, the Echo Studio should almost always sound at its best wherever you find a space for it. This is thanks to the speaker’s automatic room adaptation, which uses the Echo Studio’s microphones to assess the acoustics of the room, and then tweak the speaker’s audio filters to achieve its ideal sound quality.
The Echo Studio comes in two colorways – Charcoal and Glacier White – which gives you a little extra sway over how the speaker plays into your interior.
Pete Wise is a freelance journalist, product reviewer, and lifelong music lover. As a writer for Livingetc, Ideal Home, T3, and many others, he’s reviewed a huge array of headphones, speakers, and entertainment gadgets – smart or otherwise. Pete put the Echo Studio through its paces by using it to listen to a variety of music, including rock, folk, electronic, and pop, as well as listening to the radio and using some of the speaker’s smart assistant capabilities. The Amazon Echo Studio was supplied for testing purposes, and you can head to our guide if you want to know more about our review process.
Echo Studio: Set-up
Considering its generous connectivity and rich array of features, the Echo Studio is remarkably easy to set up.
We had our review unit up and running within a few minutes of removing it from its packaging. In order to use the speaker as intended, you’ll need to connect it to your WiFi and the Amazon Alexa app on your smartphone. It’ll take a little while to set up the different aspects of the Alexa smart assistant – including your location, linkage with any music accounts or smart home products you’d like to use with the speaker, and permissions for other members of your household to use the account. Every step of setup is clearly orchestrated by the Alexa voice assistant via the speaker.
The Echo Studio doesn’t need to be used in isolation. For an even more immersive sound, one of these speakers can be grouped with other Echo devices or third-party Bluetooth speakers connected to your Amazon Alexa app.
Echo Studio: Performance
What sets the Echo Studio apart from other Amazon Echo models is the power and quality of its audio output. When listening to music from Spotify and TuneIn radio, we were impressed with the speaker’s dynamics – the contrast between loud and quiet moments – and the separation of frequencies, which helped the different instruments in songs to stand out from each other.
One of the Echo Studio’s headline innovations is its use of ‘3D spatial audio’, which basically means that it assesses the acoustic character of the room and refines its output to create a surround-sound effect. In our testing, this effect was clearly evident. The speaker consummately filled any room we placed it in with its distinctive, ear-enveloping sound.
Those who like plenty of choice over how they listen to their music, podcasts, audiobooks, TV audio, or whatever else will be pleased with the Echo Studio’s inclusion of a wired AUX input, where you can plug in a 3.5mm cable to play music from any compatible source you like. There’s also an optical input, which will come in handy if you’re going to use the Echo Studio with a TV that features Dolby Atmos surround sound.
Another facet of the Echo Studio is that it’s really quite loud, with up to 330W of power behind its speakers. The upper reaches of the speaker’s volume settings would be ideal for house parties or listening to music really loud if that’s your jam. We thought that the speaker sounded its best around the middle of its volume range, with superb detail and clarity at moderate levels.
In terms of smart assistant functionality, the Echo Studio did an amazing job of picking up our voice commands from around the house – and it was effective at answering those queries, too. If we were going to be hyper-critical, we’d say that Alexa’s responses arrived just a smidgeon slower than they do from some of the brand’s other Echo speakers.
Echo Studio: Our verdict
If you admire the best Alexa speakers for their smart assistant capabilities but just wish that they sounded richer and more powerful, the Echo Studio could be a good choice for your home. It really is a step up from any other Amazon speaker in terms of audio quality. And if you want a smart speaker that you can use with a TV featuring Dolby Atmos, this speaker is one of the best options out there – at least if we don’t include soundbars.
With that said, we have some reservations about the Echo Studio. Its powerful bass can sound over the top, and the style and size of the speaker will give some buyers an interior design headache. These factors kept the Echo Studio from getting a very high Livingetc rating – but that doesn’t mean to say it won’t suit your taste perfectly.
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Pete Wise is a freelance writer based in Leeds. As a product reviewer, Pete has written hundreds of articles on topics ranging from kitchen appliances, audio systems and smart home tech to hiking boots, home brewing kits, and hot sauce. His reviews have been published by T3, Ideal Home, BBC Good Food, Expert Reviews – and now, Livingetc.
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