Assuming it takes you 10 minutes to read this review, Jeff Bezos will have earned around $2million by the time you get to the end. We don't begrudge the Amazon boss his fortune. After all, his company has manufactured some of the best Bluetooth speakers on the market. You might well be choking on your cornflakes right about now, but it's true. The Amazon Echo range offers very decent sound quality for not a huge amount of money – and, with a Prime account, you get access to just about every song in the history of music to boot.
We were actually rather excited when the online retail giant launched its Amazon Echo Studio speaker in November 2019. Promising a range of features hitherto unseen in the Echo range – including support for Dolby Atmos, Sony's 360 Reality Audio and high-resolution music playback – here was a device that gave the US company its best chance of winning over us proper music fans. Mind you, at $199/£189, it was – and still is – the most expensive product in the Echo range by some distance. At the time of writing, the Amazon Echo Studio also comes out top in our round-up of the loudest Bluetooth speakers.
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Amazon Echo Studio review: Design
We don't know why, but this speaker reminds us of one of those guards that stand outside Buckingham Palace. It's even got a mouth (actually, it's a 'bass aperture', designed to enhance the bottom end and allow for maximum output). We quite like it, although it's not ideal if you're using the speaker to hide a stain on the wall.
The general aesthetic is reminiscent of the Amazon Echo Sub (opens in new tab) – i.e. it's stout, cylindrical and clad in fabric mesh. However, the Amazon Echo Studio is ever so slightly taller (8.1 inches/205mm) and slimmer (6.9 inches/175mm) than its bass-y brethren. It's also slightly lighter at 7.7lb/3.5kg. The Echo Studio is still a weighty beast, though, and even with that aperture doubling up as a kind of carry handle, you might not be inclined to transport it from one room to another.
Surprisingly, the speaker is only available in black. That'll be disappointing to anyone who likes their Heather Greys and Twilight Blues, but at least it's a neutral colour, meaning it should complement any kind of home décor. And hey, you've still got the ubiquitous ring of light at the top of the device to add a splash of colour
Amazon Echo Studio review: Features
Amazon have very much upped the ante with the Amazon Echo Studio. With support for Dolby Atmos and Sony's 360 Reality Audio, not to mention five strategically positioned speakers (two side-mounted midrange, one upward-firing midrange, a front-facing tweeter and a downward-firing woofer), different parts of the music you're listening to will approach your ears from different directions, resulting in an immersive, 3D audio experience. The Echo Studio – like Apple's HomePod and Google's Home Max – will also automatically analyse the acoustics in the room and optimise its playback accordingly (we're curious to know how the speaker would react if it was dumped inside a stadium).
For many, though, the most attractive feature of the Echo Studio will be its support for high-resolution audio – which ties in rather nicely with the fact that Amazon has stopped charging extra for lossless music streaming. Being able to listen to Cadaveric Incubator in glorious HD is something we all aspire to, and with the speaker pumping out a wall-rattling 330W, we can share the experience with our next-door neighbours.
To round off the Echo Studio's feature set, its aforementioned support for Dolby Atmos means that the speaker doubles-up as an effective home theatre system, saving you a few dollars on a dedicated soundbar. And with a Zigbee hub also on board, you can connect your various smart home devices to it and control them with your voice. So, dim the lights and let's see what this thing can do.
Amazon Echo Studio review: Sound
To test out the Echo Studio's audio prowess, we selected a bit of classic Bon Jovi. As Let It Rock – the opening track from Slippery When Wet – emerged from the speaker, our first reaction was surprise at how spacious the cod-classical keyboards sounded. Indeed, throughout the track the mids and highs sounded clear and precise. It was only when the bass kicked in that a modicum of doubt crept in.
It was by no means bad, but it was a little over-baked for our liking. On the whole, we were impressed with the experience, which was tall, roomy and immersive. The 3D sound wasn't an unmitigated success, and there were moments when parts of the song were slightly lost in the mix. But we were left with no doubt that this is the best-sounding Echo speaker we've heard so far - and a great option for music fans.
Amazon Echo Studio review: The competition
If you want to move away from the Echo range's Ideal Home aesthetic and plump for something a little more edgy, you could take a look at the Marshall Uxbridge Voice (opens in new tab) ($239/£170). Sporting the amp manufacturer's iconic cloth-fronted amp design, this is a gutsy 30W box that'll rock your world.
Or how about going down the futuristic route? The Huawei Sound X sees the Chinese manufacturer collaborate with French hi-fi experts Devialet. It may be a little more expensive at $424/£299, but this little speaker is as handsome as HAL 9000 and, with its spacy acoustics, will take you on a true musical odyssey.