REVIEW: Amazon Echo Buds - Alexa on the go
There’s been a lot of new ear buds / phones on the market lately and Amazon are getting in on that trend with the release of the Echo Buds. What separates the Amazon Echo buds apart from the back are two main things – 1) The Price and 2) Bose Active Noise Reduction Technology (note I didn’t say Active Noise Cancellation, more on this later). At 119GPB (approx €130) these are some of the better headphones on the market that have a form of active noise technology included along with balanced armature drives (vs. the normal Dynamic Driver).
Obviously, being an Amazon product, you can use these buds with Alexa. There’s even a hands free mode where, like their speakers, you can just say ‘Alexa’ and she’ll wake up and allow you to skip tracks, make calls, set reminders and any other tasks you would do with your Echo Speakers. I used it to turn on the porch light while I’m on the way home. You can disable this as well if you like and even turn off the microphones for complete privacy if needs be as well. These are nice features to have full control over and kudos to Amazon for allowing that.
The Amazon Echo buds are build very well. They come in a sleet matt black case with subtel Amazon ‘smile’ on top and a pairing button on the bottom. The only other external feature of the case, is the Micro USB charging port (yes, you read that right, in 2020 Amazon are still using the Micro USB Port and well, that’s a bummer as these are the only earphones I’ve seen of late that still use the Micro USB for charging.
The earbuds themselves are very well made and fell solid. In the box, you get a variety of eartips and ‘wings’ to help keep the buds in place. I usually don’t like adding the ‘wings’ onto earbuds as I like to keep them neat looking, but in this case, I found they were very much needed as the buds are a tad on the heavy side. I tried for a week to use them without the wings, but they moved too much in my ears and they kept loosing their seal. Adding the wings definitely stabalised them and I’d recommend adding them if you’re thinking of going for a run or anything with these in.
Once the case is open to reveal the buds they are held in place with some magnets to align the charging pins. I found with the wings on the earbuds, I needed to be extra careful to make sure the charging pins had engaged (I didn’t need to do this when they were not on there).
I was hoping for a lot with Amazons use of Balanced Armature drivers and Bose Noise Reduction Technology and well, I’m left a little disappointed if I’m honest. Lets start with the Noise Reduction. As I mentioned at the start, this isn’t the full fat Bose Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), it’s almost a light version of it. It works pretty well at reducing the background noise, especially when travelling, but if you get the seal just right in your ears then the passive isolation does a pretty good job at keeping the noise out. The Amazon Echo Buds also feature a pass through mode that allows you to hear whats going on around you without taking the buds out. This is great for those times you just need to have a quick chat to someone and don’t want to take the buds fully out.
Where I was disappointed was with the sound quality, while is good, I was hoping it would be way better. The bass is very flat and no matter how I tweaked the EQ in the Alexa App, I couldn’t get the richness I was hoping for. The mid’s and the high’s I’ve no real complaints over, but the lack of rounded bass that I could’t get back in, to me means its a limitation of the Balanced drivers that Amazon choose to go with. I’ve tried other earbuds with Balanced Drivers before and hadn’t noticed this.
The call quality is pretty good and it works well in detecting when I’m speaking and the callers on the other end noted that it was clear and high quality. The Amazon Echo Buds also have sensors to detect when they are in your ear and will pause the music when they are taken out, which is nice and a feature missing on a lot of buds.
You can keep an eye on the battery life of the case and the buds using the Amazon Echo App. Once connected to your phone, you can open the Alexa App and you’ll see the percentage remaining on both buds and the case. This is great feature to have as soo many buds don’t have any real way to know the exact battery life of the buds or the case.
I found am getting between 4 an 5 hours of life between charges (Amazon estimate about 5), so it’s up there with what they estimate, but in reality you won’t be wearing these for that long, so they are kept topped up in the case, which can give about 4 full charges (approx 20 hours of total listening time).
I’ve no real complaints in terms of battery life, I would like them to be a bit longer given their weight, but as I’ve said, for me, there’s not alot of situations where I’d be wearing them for 4-5 hours in one sitting.
The Amazon Echo buds are decent earbuds with Bose Active Noise Reduction built in. The sound quality is ok, but I guess that’s to be expected in this price bracket. Connectivity was rock solid in most situations and I can’t remember a time where they dropped the connection (which is great). If you’re in the Amazon ecosystem and are after a decent pair of buds with Alexa built in, then you can’t really go to far wrong with the Echo Buds (even with the lack of bass).