Amazon's Echo Studio got a new firmware update that greatly improved its performance. The company sent me one to review, and I put it through some tests to see how it compares to my previous Echo and Echo Dot, along with comparable speakers like the Sonos One and Apple Homepod.
The Amazon Echo Studio is a smart speaker that was initially released in 2019 as a premium-audio upgrade to its Echo speaker. It features a 5.25-inch woofer, three 2-inch midrange speakers, and a 1-inch tweeter, with a total power output of 330 watts. It allows you to easily access Alexa, Amazon's AI-powered voice assistant.
By connecting your Amazon account and accessing Alexa skills, you can control your smart home devices, order from Amazon, listen to podcasts/music, and more. It supports both Zigbee and Matter and is 8.1 inches tall, 6.9 inches diameter, and weighs 7.7 pounds.
At launch, the Echo Studio had some issues with sound quality, including a lack of separation, bloated and muddy bass, and mids that drowned out treble. However by the end of 2022, Amazon released a software update that improved the speaker's sound quality.
After the update, the Echo Studio's sound is more balanced, with better separation, clearer vocals and instruments, and deeper and more precise bass. The speaker's 5.25-inch woofer delivers enormous output, enough to rattle a desk with even modest lows. Additionally, Amazon has enhanced conventional stereo mixes using custom processing technology to widen the soundstage and create a facsimile of spatial audio for music that doesn't already support Dolby Atmos or Sony's 360 Reality Audio.
It's relatively easy to set up--just download the Amazon Alexa app on your phone, plug it in, and add it to your home network through the app. Its setup is intuitive and includes sound calibration that can nail the perfect acoustics for whatever room you place it in.
The Echo Studio's main rival is the Sonos One, which is similarly priced and also offers high-fidelity sound and automatic room tuning. The Sonos One supports both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, producing ultra-clear sound, which matters if you prioritize fidelity. However, the Echo Studio has more bass and is the only one of the two speakers to support spatial audio.
The Echo Studio is best suited to any space devoted to "serious" listening, such as a living room or home theater. A single unit can dominate a room, and if you have the money, you have the option of pairing it with a second Studio for true stereo panning and overwhelming volume. You can also add an Echo Sub to really boost the audio, but I don't have one available to test it personally.
Despite the update, it is still missing some features, such as an HDMI port for eARC, automatic spatial audio support for Spotify or Apple Music, and better TV connectivity options. And it may be more speaker than you want, especially if you're just in the market for a basic smart speaker.
Echo Studio had a slow start, but rather than redesigning the hardware, Amazon opted for a firmware upgrade at the end of last year. This greatly improved the audio, and it could become a great foundation for a home theater setup if you don't mind adding a bunch of microphones to your home with Amazon on the other end.
However, there are still some missing features that rival Sonos One has, and it's big and heavy for a smart speaker. Still, this is a great home speaker that can handle everything you dish at it (so long as it's Amazon-approved).
Final Grade: B+