As if Amazon’s Alexa wasn’t pervasive enough, she has now found her way into your earbuds! The Echo Buds are $129.99, which is on the cheaper side compared to other true-wireless earbuds. But do they offer any other noteworthy qualities besides the built-in Alexa integration? Let’s find out in this Amazon Echo Buds Review.
Amazon Echo Buds Review
To summarize, the Echo Buds are a good buy if you just need something that gets the job done at a lower-than-average price point. Everything else is so-so, except for the Bose Noise Reduction, which is a cool feature that can’t be found on other earbuds at this price range. But if you want better sound quality, Bluetooth controls, or fit, there are much better options for only $20-$30 more.
The Echo Buds come with a black plastic charging case that is on the larger side, but still easily fits into a pocket. Maybe it’s just me, but I think the plastic build and the Amazon logo make it look tacky. Also, the case charges via micro-USB instead of USB-C. At this stage in the wireless game, it feels a bit archaic.
Also included are 3 pairs of silicone eartips (S,M,L) and 3 corresponding pairs of silicone wings that slip on like a beer koozie. The buds match the case, but with more black gloss than black matte. They certainly won’t draw any unwanted attention.
Battery life comes in around 5 hours, extended to 20 with the charging case.
Even using the largest eartips available, the fit on the Echo Buds leans toward loose. Luckily, the silicone wings provided stop the Buds from falling out. But I never had a seal quite as tight as I would’ve liked.
But overall, the fit is average. The buds don’t protrude too far from my ears, but don’t sit flush either. They do have an IPX4 waterproof rating (which makes them splash-proof), so I’d feel comfortable taking them to the gym.
Functionality on the Echo Buds provides a few hits and a few misses.
The most noteworthy feature is the Alexa integration. I’m going to assume that if you are interested in Echo Buds at all, Alexa is the one of the main reasons. And as long as you’re okay with 1) downloading the Alexa app, 2) allowing the app to use your phone’s microphone and GPS location all the time 3) agreeing to all of Amazon’s Terms of Service regarding your Privacy and Personal Data, then you can use Alexa to get maximum functionality out of the Echo Buds.
Beyond Alexa’s myriad functions, the App allows you to tweak the EQ settings, adjust the amount of sound that passes through when you turn off Noise Reduction, and map different commands to the touch-responsive gestures.
But the touch controls are sub-par. Only two gestures are recognized: double tap and long hold. You can set the commands differently on each earbud, which allows you to cover most functions you’d want to use. But there’s no way to control the volume (unless you ask Alexa), and the lack of single-tap response feels needlessly limiting. Other earbuds handle the controls much more intuitively.
The EQ I found useful, however. And options for tweaking the noise pass-through levels, as well as the sound of your own voice during phone calls are nice bonuses.
Active Noise Reduction
The noise reduction provided by Bose is the next strongest selling point on the Echo Buds. It’s not quite the same as active noise cancellation, but provides a similar effect. Low-frequency humming in the background, like the sound of air conditioning or a refrigerator pleasantly disappear. Plus there wasn’t any of that pressurized sensation you sometimes get from active noise cancellation.
There aren’t any other true wireless buds in this price range that offer any active noise reduction, so if that’s a priority for you, definitely consider the Echo Buds. They’re pretty much your only option unless you want to jump significantly in price.
Sound quality on the Echo Buds is good for the price point. They actually sound similar to the Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW (normally $169), but with less punch in the low end.
The Echo Buds have a relatively neutral sound, with touch of emphasis on the bass. Certain higher-end earbuds can provide more emphasis in the lows, mids or highs depending on the model, but the Echo Buds are a good all-arounder.
So sonically, the Echo Buds don’t excel in any area, but they provide well-balanced sound that should please the average consumer.
The Echo Buds have left me with a mixed impression. If we forget for a moment that they’re the only earbuds with built-in Alexa integration, what are we left with? Battery life, fit, design, and sound quality are all middle-of-the-road average. The Noise Cancellation is great, but the Bluetooth controls are not.
If the price were $99, the Echo Buds would be amazing. But they’re only $20-$30 cheaper than the next shelf up in true wireless. If you don’t use Alexa, I can’t really imagine why you’d want these over a slightly pricier alternative. Maybe if you want some active noise reduction, and want to stay under $200. But that’s about the only non-Alexa niche these earbuds occupy.
Pros- Active Noise Reduction at a good price, Alexa integration
Cons- Weird controls, kind of boring and average
Find the Echo Buds on Amazon (duh)
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