The Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) are the retail big’s second pair of true wi-fi earbuds and the comply with as much as the Echo Buds, which had been launched in 2019. The wi-fi earbuds market has grown exponentially since then, which means Amazon has its work minimize out to compete in a extremely saturated market.
Like every good sequel, the second-generation Echo Buds transcend merely rehashing what made their predecessor profitable. Sound high quality has been improved, contact controls are actually absolutely customisable through the Alexa app, and noise discount has been changed by full-blown noise-cancelling know-how.
They’re not with out flaws – battery life is disappointing and EQ choices are restricted – however hands-free Alexa and a few helpful options make the second-gen Echo Buds a sensible decide for people who rely closely on Amazon’s voice assistant.
Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) assessment: What do you get for the cash?
Like the unique Echo Buds, the 2nd Gen are IPX4-rated earbuds that function over Bluetooth 5.0 and assist the SBC and AAC codecs. There are two variations out there – the mannequin with a wired charging case is £110, whereas the mannequin that helps wi-fi charging will set you again £130. The buds additionally are available in two colors: Black or Glacier White. For this assessment, I used to be despatched the Glacier White model with a wi-fi charging case.
The brand new Echo Buds are roughly 20% smaller than their predecessor and have a vent designed to scale back in-ear stress throughout lengthy listening classes. There are 4 completely different sizes of eartips included, in addition to two sizes of wingtips, and the Alexa app contains an possibility that can allow you to discover the perfect match doable. I discovered the buds very snug to put on and had no points with them working themselves free in my ears.
The surface of the buds home touch-sensitive surfaces through which you execute controls and these are actually customisable through the Alexa app. I discovered it a lot too straightforward to by accident activate single faucet instructions when adjusting the buds in my ears, so disabled the only faucets. This meant I missed out on with the ability to play or pause audio utilizing contact controls, however efficient put on detection, which mechanically pauses audio when one or each of the buds are eliminated, meant this wasn’t a problem.
Rounding out the checklist of options are energetic noise cancellation, a transparency mode and hands-free Alexa assist. The latter allows you to merely utter “Alexa” whereas sporting the earbuds to hail the voice assistant, simply as you’d with any Echo machine. All the standard voice instructions can be found, offering you with the flexibility to play music, get information updates and management your house’s sensible units with out lifting a finger.
With hands-free Alexa and ANC energetic, the buds supply round 5 hours of battery life. This may be prolonged by turning off ANC and enabling Energy Save mode, which disables options like Alexa to attain a lifespan nearer to six-and-a-half hours. No matter whether or not you go for the wired or wi-fi charging case, you possibly can count on a complete battery lifetime of 15 hours, or as much as 19.5h in Energy Save mode. Each instances assist quick charging and ship round two hours of playback from simply quarter-hour on cost.
Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) assessment: What did we like about them?
It could drain the battery quicker, however the ANC is one thing that you just’re going to need to carry on if you happen to’re out and about. Whereas not on par with the perfect earbuds round, the noise cancellation is completely enough for the worth; it dampened the affect of a busy highway considerably and fully eliminated a microwave’s hum, although I did hear the ding when it was completed. Transparency mode isn’t as spectacular however nonetheless will get the job carried out – you’ll be capable to hear a automobile honking, but when somebody’s talking to you, you’ll want to show your music down to obviously make out what they’re saying.
On the audio entrance, Amazon has swapped out the Knowles twin balanced-armature drivers from the primary era for a pair of 5.7mm dynamic drivers. The swap proves a profitable one, as audio high quality is a step up from the unique Echo Buds. It doesn’t at all times come collectively completely however, for essentially the most half, the sound signature hits the suitable notes.
Stereo separation is efficient, with the opening drum solo in Santana’s Evil Methods passing pleasingly from left to proper and again once more, and the soundstage, although comparatively slim, is spacious sufficient to forestall the mids from feeling cluttered. Actually, that is the place the Echo Buds are most spectacular – the bass is meaty sufficient, and trebles are fairly crisp, however the element within the mid-range is high drawer.
This leads to the Echo Buds (2nd Gen) being significantly well-suited to vocal-heavy tracks. One thing with a comparatively easy backing observe, like Elton John’s Your Tune, is a superb showcase for the power of the vocal articulation. Should you’re a podcast fan, you’ll additionally recognize the readability on supply when there are a number of hosts and company speaking over each other.
Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) assessment: What may very well be improved?
The largest disadvantage of the Echo Buds (2nd Gen) is their lacklustre battery life. Whereas 5 hours of playback with ANC enabled isn’t the worst we’ve seen, the 15 hours of whole battery life is decidedly unimpressive. With equally priced fashions just like the Beats Studio Buds and the Lypertek PurePlay Z5 providing as much as 24 and 35 hours, respectively, the Echo Buds are a way behind the competitors on this division.
Whereas sound high quality is respectable on the entire, there have been just a few situations throughout testing the place the treble in additional sophisticated preparations sounded quite messy. There’s loads happening throughout the refrain of Patti Smith’s As a result of the Evening and the Echo Buds struggled to articulate excessive frequencies fully cleanly. The opening of Meat Loaf’s I’d Do Something For Love (However I Gained’t Do That), in the meantime, began strongly with a crisp piano riff however turned distorted when the electrical guitars joined the fray.
That is the form of state of affairs the place an excellent equaliser can save the day, however sadly, the equaliser throughout the Alexa app is rudimentary. It consists of simply three sliders for adjusting bass, mids and treble and feels significantly wanting when in comparison with the competitors. For much less cash than the Echo Buds, you decide up the Inventive Outlier Professional, which provide a ten-band graphic equaliser and quite a few EQ presets, or the Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0, which use a seven-band equaliser, and have a number of preset tunings.
Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) assessment: Must you purchase them?
Should you’re already an Amazon Alexa acolyte and need earbuds providing hands-free voice assistant assist, the Echo Buds (2nd Gen) are onerous to beat. You’ll discover Alexa assist elsewhere however, maybe unsurprisingly, no different buds combine as effectively for the cash.
Nevertheless, the second-gen Echo Buds are a a lot more durable promote for people who aren’t fussed about sensible performance or whose voice assistant allegiances lie elsewhere. They’re nonetheless competent earbuds, with strong audio high quality and a few well-implemented options, however are outclassed by different choices in what’s an especially aggressive market.
It’s value taking into account that, like most Amazon merchandise, the Echo Buds (2nd Gen) are continuously out there for considerably lower than their RRP. Should you time it proper, you could possibly decide up a pair for lower than £100, at which level they turn out to be a much more interesting proposition.