Is the Premium Alexa Speaker Worth the Cost?

If you think you’ll get the most out of it, the Echo Studio offers exceptional value at $200. Its two biggest competitors, the Apple HomePod and Google Home Max, are more expensive and are generally not rated as highly. Provided you’re happy using the Alexa assistant over Google Home or Siri, it’s the Echo Studio is the more capable wireless speaker.

Key Features

  • Peak output 330W; 24-bit DAC; 100 kHz bandwidth
  • Built-in Zigbee smart home hub
  • Automatically senses the acoustics of your space, fine-tuning playback for optimal sound.
  • Dolby Atmos

  • Brand: Amazon
  • Dimensions: 6.9-inch x 8.1-inch
  • Weight: 7.7 lb
  • Integrations: Alexa, Dolby Atmos
  • Woofer Size: 5.25-inch downfiring
  • Audio: Three 2-inch (51 mm) midrange speakers, one 1-inch (25 mm) tweeter, one 5.25-inch (133 mm) woofer with bass aperture to maximize bass output

  • Amazon’s most powerful and best sounding speaker
  • Compact and easy to add to any room
  • Incredible listening experience when paired with a second Studio and Sub
  • One of the best wireless speakers at the this price point

  • Amazon’s most expensive speaker
  • Audio improvements over Echo may not be worth it to everyone
  • Dolby Atmos 3D audio doesn’t sound great with non-3D music
  • Multi room music/pairing is hit or miss

Buy This Product

The Echo Studio is Amazon’s best-sounding Alexa-enabled speaker, but at $199 it’s also the most expensive audio only device. Compared side-by-side with the Echo 4th Gen (our review), the Echo Studio provides a fuller sound stage that is instantly noticeable. It’s perhaps not as impressive of an upgrade as going from the Echo Dot to the regular Echo, but it is still significantly better and more enjoyable to listen to. If you want the absolute best listening experience Amazon offers and your budget and space allow for it, the Echo Studio can deliver an incredible wireless audio experience.


Setup, Features, and Controls

The setup process, similar to Amazon’s other Echo devices, is very simple. Just plug the Echo Studio in and shortly after the speaker will announce that it’s ready to be used. If you already have the Alexa app installed on your phone, you’ll see the newly added speaker, and you can add it to a room or group.

This smart speaker gives the usual Alexa features, letting you stream audio, giving you voice commands, and home control. Unlike some cheaper and older Echos, the Studio also works as a ZigBee hub for supported smart devices. Exclusive to the Studio, it is also Amazon’s first speaker to bring 3D audio with Dolby Atmos.

When Alexa is activated, or you have a notification, you’ll find the iconic halo LED ring at the top. The speaker can be controlled wirelessly via the Alexa app (which isn’t ideal), with voice commands using the “Alexa” hot-word, or with its physical buttons (Alexa/Action button, Volume Up, Volume Down, or Mute Microphone).

Who is the Echo Studio For?

Whether the Echo Studio is a good fit for you is going to depend on how you plan to use the speaker. For more casual listening sessions at volumes between 20-40%, I find sitting a couple of feet away from the Echo Studio helps you really appreciate its improved sound quality. Measuring 8.1 x 6.9 inches, it’s a little over twice as tall as the Echo (4th Gen), but not much wider. As such, it doesn’t actually need that much more floor space.

With its second 0.8-inch tweeter, the new Echo is already a solid upgrade over the previous generation. It lost its 360-degree sound, becoming more directional, but it’s louder, with richer audio quality. The Echo remains one of the best smart speakers you can buy for under $100 (our full review of the Echo). It regularly goes on deep sale, including during Prime Day, making it an exceptionally great deal and a cheaper way to fill your home up with Alexa-powered speakers.

Being larger, the Echo Studio can pack a lot more inside. It has three 2-inch midrange speakers, one forward-facing 1-inch tweeter, and one 5.25-inch downward-firing woofer. The standard Echo has an additional tweeter, albeit slightly smaller at 0.8-inches, but it also has a much smaller 3-inch upward-firing woofer. It also completely lacks any mid-range speakers and as such, the audio will sound more like it’s coming from a contained space.

When sitting close by and listening at the same volume, the Echo Studio isn’t necessarily louder, but it sounds more lively and dynamic. Instruments and vocals feel more separated, and you can tell that the sound is coming out of a larger space. Bass is also more refined without being overdone.

When the volume is turned up, you can definitely feel its bass, but it won’t shake your house. It manages to sound good when the volume is turned all the way up without any noticeable distortion. If you want additional bass, you can pair the Studio with an Echo Sub (our review) for additional performance. The pairing can be a little hit or miss, but when it works right, it’s a great combo.

Further away, at about 50% volume or less, I’d say the differences become less noticeable, especially if you’re not particularly listening for it. In a blind test, popping in and out of my living room where I had them both placed, it was difficult to tell which speaker was playing music and which was off. It wasn’t until I took a few moments to stop what I was doing and listen, that differences came through. This doesn’t speak poorly of the Echo Studio, as the Echo (4th Gen) is very impressive in and of itself, but it does highlight that if you’re mostly listening from further away at lower volumes, the Echo Studio may not be worth the upgrade.

Connectivity and Codecs

Similar to Amazon’s other smart speakers, The Echo Studio can be used to play music, podcasts, and other audio wirelessly or via Bluetooth. The Echo Studio also has a 3.5mm port, however, it only supports line-in, whereas the newer Echo (4th Gen) also supports line-out. This might not be too much of a surprise, considering the Echo Studio is a more “pro” speaker, and it’s less likely you’d want or need to use the line-out feature, but it would still be nice to have.

The Echo Studio supports FLAC, MP3, AAC, Opus, Vorbis, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos, Sony 360 Reality Audio/MPEG-H, (16-bit), and Hi-Res (up to 24-bit). In fact, it’s the first wireless speaker to offer Dolby Atmos. Using its built-in microphones, the Studio works out where nearby objects are in the room. It then calculates micro-audio delays to bounce off these surfaces to give you the impression that the audio is coming from all over, surrounding you, rather than coming straight out of the speaker.

To get the most out of this, you’ll want to listen to 3D-mixed songs, as available from Amazon Music’s Ultra HD format. The effect can pretty good, but again, you’ll need to be relatively close to the speaker to really enjoy it. By default, the Echo Studio also applies the 3D effect to regular stereo mixes. The experience isn’t necessarily bad, but I would say in its current state, Dolby Atmos on the Echo Studio is best reserved for movies and shows only. The 3D audio effect tends to do more harm to music rather than enhance it. Music sounds more muddied and parts of tracks felt poorly mixed or overlapping. It’s hard to explain, but I would recommend disabling this from within the Alexa app.

One of the Best Wireless Speakers at $200

If you think you’ll get the most out of it, the Echo Studio offers exceptional value at $200. Its two biggest competitors, the

Apple HomePod and Google Home Max, are more expensive and are generally not rated as highly. Provided you’re happy using the Alexa assistant over Google Home or Siri, it’s the Echo Studio is the more capable wireless speaker.

If you’re working with a tighter budget or don’t feel like you really need the extra sound quality, the Echo (4th Gen) is still a great option that saves you $100 on average. Depending on your setup, you could put that extra cash towards a second Echo, then pair the two in stereo. This could give you a better experience than a single Echo Studio. If you want the ultimate wireless Alexa experience, go for two Echo Studios and pair them with an Echo Sub to add some extra bass.

Many users will be deciding between this and the cheaper Echo. The Echo Studio is a very impressive smart speaker that gives you the best wireless speaker for its price and size. But to get the most out of it, you’ll want to either sit close, turn up the volume, or use it to play 3D music. If budget isn’t a concern, the Echo Studio gives you Amazon’s best wireless listening experience while still being significantly cheaper and better sounding than much of the competition.

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