Amazon Echo Studio 2023 Smart Speaker
PAT PILCHER is gobsmacked at the beaut sound and stupendously smart capabilities of the new iteration of Amazon’s Echo Studio speaker.
The Echo Studio 2023 is Amazon’s latest attempt at what they claim to be an audiophile smart speaker. It follows last year’s model (read Witchdoctor’s review here) and on paper, it looks compelling. Like its older sibling, it makes good use of sound reflected off walls and ceilings to deliver 3D audio and Dolby Atmos. With support for high-definition audio, Alexa, and Zigbee, there’s plenty for smart home enthusiasts to get excited about.
As I’d already reviewed an Echo Studio the previous year, I was prepared for the big box and its XXL form factor. While it’s a chunky monkey, it does come in a cloth Alexa bag inside a recyclable cardboard box. No Styrofoam or plastic was harmed in the packaging of this doodah.
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The other key difference with this year’s model is that it comes in what Amazon calls Glacier White. This allowed it to stand out from my existing Echo Studio, lending it a crisp look that feels more modern than the original Studio’s charcoal grey finish.
Along with a refreshed colourway, the Studio has had numerous software upgrades to deliver improved 3D audio and Dolby Atmos. It’s no shrinking violet, weighing in at just a hair under 3.5kg. Compared to the Echo Dot, it’s sizeable and at 205.7mm tall by 175.2mm wide, it isn’t petite. On its top, it sports the usual summon Alexa, mute and volume buttons. There’s also a light ring to indicate when Alexa is listening as well as its volume level.
Like its predecessor, it has a cylindrical design and a horizontal rectangular gap near its base, which is part of a tuned bass cavity. Under its hood sits a 5.25-inch woofer, three 2-inch mids and a single 1-inch tweeter.
Getting set up was (as I’d come to expect from Echo hardware) bombproof. I plugged it in, opened the Alexa app on my phone, and followed onscreen instructions to add it to my Wi-Fi network. Part of the setup process involved calibrating the room’s acoustics by playing and listening to a series of tones to optimise the audio for its location.
After the setup process was completed, I signed up for Amazon Music Unlimited, which is sadly not part of my Amazon Prime subscription (read about that here). That said, the Echo studio will play nice with TuneIn Radio, Spotify and a multitude of other music and radio streaming services.
With a sizeable catalogue of high-bitrate, Spatial Audio songs mastered in Dolby Atmos and 360 Reality Audio on offer, it was an excellent choice for putting the Echo Studio through its paces.
‘Love, Sunshine And Happiness’ by Salmonella dub was room-filling, crisp with oodles of deliciously solid bass. The vocals stood out, and there was real depth to the audio, even though it only came from a single speaker. Asking Alexa to play some Jean Michelle Jarre, the audio was crisp. It again sounded spacious as a multitude of floaty synth pads wafted out. Even though the Echo Studio costs a mere $359, the audio it cranked out sounded as if it was generated by a speaker costing at least 5–10 times that. ‘Poised’ is the word that springs to mind most when trying to summarise the Echo Studio’s audio output. Everything feels very precise and accurate yet warm and engaging.
Pairing the 2023 Studio with its older sibling was a doddle. Using the Amazon app, I got both speakers set up as a stereo pair in mere minutes. The audio belted out by the paired Echo Studios was easily on par with a decent amp speaker setup costing many times more. Adding an Eco Sub (read Witchdoctor’s review here) added additional weight to the plentiful bass already on offer, making an audible difference to movies and TV.
Speaking of which, the Echo Studios played nice with the Amazon Fire Stick plugged into my telly. The audio delivered was a definite step up from the usual anaemic flatscreen TV acoustics, or even what most soundbars can crank out. It also meant that the fire stick could display lyrics to any Amazon Music Unlimited tracks I’d asked Alexa to play. Movie soundtracks popped, explosions rumbled, and birds tweeted while actor dialogue was crisp.
While the 2023 Echo Studio is not petite compared to its standard Echo speaker siblings, its bulk is easily made up for by the sheer quality of the audio it delivers. Suppose you’re already in the Amazon ecosystem and are looking for music and/or a superior soundbar alternative. In that case, the 2023 Echo Studio delivers in spades. While you’ll need to cough up a subscription to Amazon Music Unlimited to get the very best out of it, the Echo Studio will give you audio you’d normally only get by paying a considerably larger premium.