With Echo Buds, Amazon presents some interesting true-wireless earbuds. They feature active noise reduction – licensed by Bose – and integrate very well with their system via voice control. As a bonus, they are very reasonably priced.
The Echo Buds come with four sets of ear tips and three sets of wing tips so that, in most cases, you can guarantee the correct fit that is essential for a good listening experience. They look quite appealing, but not necessarily stylish or particularly robust.
The carrying case has an integrated rechargeable battery and a pairing button, and a magnetic lock holds the earplugs in place. In practice, I had significantly more problems with correct insertion than I’ve had with some competing products.
Each earpiece has a touch-sensitive sensor surface on the outside for function control. Three microphones are installed on each side, which results in clearer speech intelligibility in both directions during telephone calls, provided that the background noise level is not too high.
The part of the Echo Buds that protrudes from the ear is relatively bulky. This makes wearing comfort a question of personal taste. The headphones themselves sit securely, twisted inside the auricle and ear canal – but I wouldn’t call them a sports model. However, with a weight of less than eight grams per side, plus sweat and water resistance according to IPX4, they are definitely suitable for use while taking part in sports and exercise.
With regard to the range of functions, a distinction must be made between those functions which are internal to the device and those which are controlled by the app: Basically, Echo Buds not only support Alexa, but also Siri and other voice assistants. But the Alexa control is particularly impressive: Depending on your Amazon status, you can call up Internet radio stations via voice control and as a Prime or Music Unlimited customer you can even browse the available streams. This allows you to call up specific artists or songs, including a link to Spotify. You can also make voice searches, start phone calls and control other Alexa devices. This kind of control is remarkable and has a lot of potential for the future.
If, on the other hand, you want to control music and communication directly on the device, the choice of options is less extensive. Two functions can be configured per earpiece: Double click, and tap and hold – Amazon has probably avoided single clicks due to possible operating errors. In both cases, you need to tap the sensor surface, which transmits a disturbing noise to your eardrum.
If you reserve one function for switching between noise cancelling and pass-through (see below) and another for starting and pausing music playback, two functions remain. You then have to decide between volume control or making it possible to skip through titles. As a rule, you will also need to use your smartphone.
The configuration of these functions is done via the Alexa App, which also provides a three-band equalizer. One useful feature is the possibility to communicate with just one earpiece, and the automatic pause of music playback with the removal of the earpiece is convenient.
In terms of battery performance, Echo Buds deliver equally convenient runtimes. The headphones last for about five hours. The charging case extends the battery life to a maximum of 20 hours of operation, which can be used when on longer journeys. The case also has a quick-charging function, so that after 15-minute of charging time, the Echo Buds will run for a further two hours. The connection to a computer or to a power supply unit is made via Micro-USB.
The noise cancelling technology used in these headphones has been licensed by Bose. The system is not adjustable, but it does serve its purpose effectively. They don’t achieve the intensity and configurability of competitors like the Sony WF-1000XM3, but they create a quiet area in noisy environments like flights or train rides. Static and low frequency noise in particular is further reduced beyond the already good passive external isolation. In addition, the pass-through function offers the option of switching ambient sounds to your ears so that you can better perceive the environment and communicate clearly. The intensity of this switching can be adjusted in five stages via the app. At the same time, you can also decide whether the noise reduction is switched off.
Of course, when it comes down to it, it’s the sound that counts. For the Echo Buds, Amazon relies on two Knowles Balanced Armature drivers – on each side. As for the electronics, the chip combination “Analog Devices ADAU1777” and “Realtek RTL8763B” is used, which means they are limited to using codecs SBC and AAC. It’s a pity, because aptX in every variant and LDAC is missing – especially for Android.
The sound itself is powerful, but accentuates the bass a little too much. The resulting sound can’t be described as audiophile, but if you consider these headphones’s focus on functionality and their price of about 130 Euros, you wouldn’t expect it to be. Echo Buds are better considered as practical as true wireless headphones for daily use.
So the bass range is bit forward, but fortunately not too thumping. For mobile use and for listening to a combination of modern genres the tuning is passable, although the imbalance, which continues into the present but slightly too voluminous low bass, is accompanied by masking effects in the higher frequency ranges. Nevertheless, voices and acoustic instruments are reproduced well in the mid-range and, where necessary, with appropriate proximity. Distorted rock guitars also sound suitably rich to the ear.
Finally, in the highs, Echo Buds avoid disturbing harshness, but as expected, do not offer the shiny, rich details of more expensive designs. I would describe their dynamic response, which shows up in the likes of jazz and classical recordings, as passable. Finally, Echo Buds are reliable when it comes to stereo panorama and panning effects, but are at a disadvantage when it comes to spatial imaging compared to open headphones constructions or even loudspeakers.
Echo Buds offer a considerable range of functions at an attractive price, especially if you’re working with Alexa. Sound-wise, these rather clunky true wireless headphones from Amazon deliver a slightly bass accentuated sound, which is okay considering the price, but doesn’t make them stand out. On the plus side they have practical noise reduction and an appealing runtime. In my opinion, the controls on the device would have been a bit better if the touch sensors reacted more sensitively.
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principleBalanced Armature (2x per side)
- Weight without cableeach 7,8g, case 70 g
What's in the box
- 4 pairs of earpieces in different sizes sizes
- 3 pairs of ear hooks in different sizes sizes
- USB charging cable
- Charging Case
- BT codecs: AAC, SBC
- BT version: 5.0