Amazon's Echo range of speakers and audio accessories starts at Rs. 2,999 for the Echo Flex, but the more you're willing to pay, the better the device you can buy. If you've got a high enough budget and want a premium smart speaker, the Amazon Echo Studio is something you can pick. Priced at Rs. 22,999, this is the most expensive smart speaker in the Echo range, and promises everything from better sound to a feature-filled smart home experience.
The Echo Studio has a five-speaker system in a single package, and features the familiar Echo and Alexa experiences. Will that be enough to justify the Rs. 22,999 price tag, though? Find out in our review of the Amazon Echo Studio.
Some of the newer Echo devices from Amazon have experimented with design, but the Echo Studio sticks to a familiar look and feel. The device has a cylindrical shape like the Echo (3rd Gen), but is a bit wider and rounder near the top. It's also huge; the Studio is the biggest Echo speaker yet at around 21cm tall and 18cm wide.
Apart from its dimensions, it's also very heavy at 3.86kg. The weight only really matters when it comes to placement, since this is a wired speaker that needs to be connected to a power outlet to work and isn't intended to be moved around often. The base of the Echo Studio is rubber, which helps keep it securely in place. Like other Echo devices, the Studio has a fabric coating on the outside, with plastic at the top. The Echo Studio is available in only one colour - black.
Another familiar element is the light ring, along with the four-button layout we've grown so familiar with - volume up, volume down, microphone mute, and action. The back of the speaker has the power port, 3.5mm line-in socket, and a Micro-USB port which is used for service-related functions and for a wired Internet connection if needed (with a dongle in between). Near the bottom is an opening that Amazon calls a ‘bass aperture', which exposes the subwoofer driver.
The Amazon Echo Studio is the most capable speaker made by the company yet, and the driver arrangement is impressive. There are five drivers - three 51mm mid-range ones firing to the left, right, and forward; a 25mm tweeter firing upwards; and a 133mm subwoofer firing downwards into the aforementioned ‘bass aperture'.
For connectivity, the device features Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth, and of course it works with Amazon's Alexa voice assistant. All of Alexa's capabilities - streaming music, providing information, letting you shop online, various third-party skills, communications such as drop-in and voice calls - can be used on the Echo Studio.
Setting up the device is easy, using the Alexa app for your smartphone or tablet. There is also a built-in smart home hub, which lets you use certain smart devices from brands such as Philips, Anchor, Syska, Oakter, Wipro, TP-Link and many more, without the need for a separate hub. Usefully, you can also link the Echo Studio to an Amazon Fire TV device wirelessly, letting you use the Studio for sound instead of your TV's speakers.
The Echo Studio is touted as Amazon's best-sounding Echo ever, and it certainly lives up to this claim. We used the device for a few weeks before writing this review; streaming music from various services and watching TV shows and movies on a Fire TV Stick 4K with the sound routed to the speaker.
Starting with our experience with music streaming, the Amazon Echo Studio is, as claimed, the best-sounding Echo device yet. The multi-driver setup made for good separation of frequencies, and having dedicated drivers meant that sound across the range was defined and properly separated. We were also quite impressed with the mid-range, with the three drivers intended for this also handling parts of the lows and highs capably.
Listening to Dance Wiv Me by Dizzee Rascal and Calvin Harris, we were particularly impressed with how distinct and crisp the vocals sounded. This is a typical garage-grime dance number, and the dedicated tweeter and subwoofer ably handled the highs and lows in the track. We enjoyed the drive and excitement that the Echo Studio brought to this peppy track.
The subwoofer is particularly powerful, and the design of its aperture makes for rather impressive lows. Listening to The Less I Know The Better by Tame Impala, we liked the rumble and extension in the bass, which gave the sound some character and made for an impactful listening experience that we'd expect from speakers a bit more expensive than the Echo Studio. It was capable of getting very loud, and even at high volumes, the sound stayed clean.
Another impressive aspect of the sound is its quality even well outside the sweet spot. While most single-box speakers only sound good when within eyeshot of the speaker itself, the Amazon Echo Studio sounded decent even from a distance with walls in between.
The Amazon Echo Studio supports HD and 3D music, along with Sony's 360 Reality Audio and Dolby Atmos Music standards. For now though, none of these formats are officially supported by any streaming services in India, so we weren't able to test them. Various sound formats including Dolby Atmos are supported, and this does work with some content in India; we were able to use the feature when streaming some video on Netflix on our Fire TV Stick 4K.
As a speaker for TV shows and movies, the Amazon Echo Studio truly comes into its element. The sound certainly wasn't on par with what a good home theatre system or even a workable soundbar such as the Sony HT-X8500 can deliver, but it was decent nonetheless. The experience was a definite improvement over what we could hear from some of the TVs that we reviewed recently, including the Mi TV 4X 55.
The sound is wide and spacious, working well even in large rooms. The dedicated mid-range drivers are well utilised this way, providing clear and crisp voices, while the subwoofer does its bit to add to the atmosphere in action-packed TV shows and movies. Perhaps its only real weakness of the Echo Studio is that it is a one-piece speaker, and stereo separation isn't quite as capable as what we'd hear on a proper two-channel setup. It is possible to link two Echo Studio speakers in a stereo setup, but that would drive the price up to Rs. 46,000.
The link with our Fire TV Stick wasn't without its issues, though. Setup was easy, and the products are easy to use together, but we did experience occasional lag in the sound even when using a fast Internet connection, particularly with the YouTube app. This issue could be fixed by rebooting both the Echo Studio and Fire TV Stick, but it did resurface a few times.
When working properly, the Amazon Echo Studio held a stable connection, with the Fire TV Stick's remote controlling its volume for convenient adjustments. Dolby Atmos didn't quite sound as impressive as on a proper soundbar (or even an integrated soundbar like on the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro), but it did make sound feel a bit wider and more detailed than using a TV's basic speakers.
The Echo Studio is capable of listening for the ‘Alexa' wake-word, and its microphones can pick up voice commands from distances and angles that we thought weren't possible for a smart speaker before. The device is also said to calibrate its sound every few seconds based on the environment, although we didn't hear any noticeable evidence of this.
At Rs. 22,999, the Amazon Echo Studio is the most expensive Echo speaker yet. It's also the best one yet, and makes for a better Echo experience than we've had to date. Although linking an Echo speaker with a Fire TV Stick isn't a new feature, it's one that has only truly made sense with the Echo Studio. The core Echo experience - that is, using it as a smart speaker for music - is enjoyable as well.
Although not quite as good as a proper multi-channel speaker setup or a soundbar, the Amazon Echo Studio is far more capable than anything else in the Echo lineup, and sounds considerably better than any other smart speaker we've heard to date. The size, multi-driver setup, and full Alexa suite of features, as well as the fact that it works well with a Fire TV Stick, make this a useful device that is justifiable for the price.
Amazon Echo Studio Price: Rs. 22,999