tl; dr: The largest and most powerful echo speaker ever, the Echo Studio, convinces in the test with five drivers and 3D audio on Amazon Music HD. The difference to normal music streaming can not be unheard of. For 200 euros, the Echo Studio is a clear recommendation for anyone who streams a lot of music.
With the Echo Studio, Amazon has introduced the largest and most powerful echo speaker yet, which is not only intended to meet higher sound requirements, but also offers more with 3D audio than the smaller echo speakers. Amazon claims to have worked with Dolby for more than a year to give Dolby Atmos 3D audio with a spatial sound experience.
The speaker adjusts the sound output not only once in the setup of the space, but continuously with the help of seven microphones – Amazon speaks of audio filters, without giving further details. However, continuous sound adjustment will only work if the microphones of the Echo Studio are not muted. It is not possible to deactivate Alexa while maintaining the sound adjustment since the microphones are technically decoupled when voice recognition is switched off.
Five drivers should provide for surround sound
For the sound, the Echo Studio relies on a total of five drivers. A 5.25-inch subwoofer is directed downwards and has a front and rear bass port. A 1-inch tweeter radiates forward, and three 2-inch midrange speakers face up, right, and left. The orientation of the Echo Studio is therefore quite important.
The integrated amplifier provides up to 330 watts, offers 100 kHz bandwidth and a 24-bit digital-to-analog converter (DAC). The claim of a hi-fi loudspeaker is due to the combined optical 3.5 mm jack input of the Echo Studio, via which external players can be connected. For audio formats, the subject supports FLAC, MP3, AAC, Opus, Vorbis, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos, Sony 360 Reality Audio / MPEG-H, and 16- and 24-bit audio encoding (HiRes).
For WLAN, the Echo Studio uses the 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac standards at 2.4 and 5 GHz. The latest Wi-Fi standard, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), is not supported.
The design of the Echo Studio is reminiscent of a cross between last year's Echo Sub and the Echo Plus. The diameter of the Echo Studio is 175 mm, the height 206 mm. Thus, the new model is narrower than the Echo Sub, which brings it to a diameter of 210 mm, but slightly higher than the 202 mm of the Echo Sub. The subwoofer of the Echo Sub is slightly larger with 155 to 133 mm. The weight of the Echo Studio is 3.5 kg – less than the 4.2 kg of the Echo Sub.
Pair with other echo speakers and the Fire TV Cube / 4K
Pair one or two Echo Studio devices with the new second-generation Fire TV Cube, the Fire TV Stick 4K and the Fire TV Stick (2nd generation), so you can enjoy multi-channel video playback with Dolby Atmos support, Dolby Digital 5.1 and stereo audio formats are done wirelessly through the Echo Studio – regardless of the application that is used on the Fire TV; Also YouTube and Netflix are no problem. For the connection between Echo Studio and Fire TV to work, both must be connected to the same Wi-Fi network. In the Alexa app, a home theater from the Fire TV and Echo Studio must be created for the wireless connection of both devices under “Devices> +> Set up audio system”.
The remote control of the Fire TV then controls the volume of the Echo Studio and in the new settings menu to the home theater system in the Fire TV not only this can be changed, but also “Lip Sync Tuning” the synchronization between image and sound, if necessary, be adjusted.
The Echo Studio can be paired with a second Echo Studio or an Echo Sub to further enhance bass response. Also in multi-room setups with other echo speakers, the studio can be integrated. A stereo pair of Echo Studio and Echo (Plus) is not possible, this option is limited to a second Echo Studio. A multi-room setup with other echo speakers is also possible with the Echo Studio.
In addition, the Echo Studio supports the “Advanced Audio Distribution Profile” (A2DP) to transfer music from the smartphone directly to the speaker or from the Echo Studio to another speaker.
Known buttons for controlling the Echo Studio
On the top, the Echo Studio features seven microphones and next to the familiar ring of light, which lights up red when interacting with Alexa Blue and with the wizard disabled, buttons for controlling Alexa's volume, and muting the microphones.
The Echo Studio is also a Zigbee hub
Like the Echo Plus, the Echo Studio also offers a Zigbee hub to connect smart home devices directly to the speaker as the control center. For example, Philips Hue does not require the Hue Bridge.
Setup via the app
Like all other echo speakers, the Echo Studio is set up via the Alexa app. Once the speaker is connected, the Alexa app asks if it should be set up. First, it is then connected to the WLAN and, if available, downloads an update. After setting up the device, the usual settings can be made in the app, for example, to the sounds, notifications and alarm clocks. At first, the Echo Studio does not differ from loudspeakers like the Echo (Plus).
However, once the initial setup is complete, the Echo Studio will automatically play back some test tones, which it will recapture with the microphones to match the speaker characteristics to the acoustics of the room. The procedure with the test tones is unique, but the sound characteristics are adjusted continuously in the use, in order to react to a changed positioning of the loudspeaker or transformation of the room, as long as the microphones are not switched off.
The stereo sound quality of the Echo Studio
As already mentioned, the Echo Studio uses five drivers consisting of a woofer, a tweeter and three midrange drivers. In the test, this separation proves to be clearly perceptible depending on the piece of music, since there is no longer any need to try to cover the mids via the tweeter and woofer, which, for example, leads to echoes that outweigh the highs and basses.
The Echo Studio, however, offers a more sophisticated sound than the echo, in which the tones are less blurred thanks to the five individual drivers. In addition, he has more reserves than the echo, if it gets louder. When the echo starts to hum on the bass and shifts the sound clearly towards the highs, the Echo Studio still has no problems and continues to play cleanly. Not surprisingly, the basses are also punchier than the echo. Although the sound of the Echo Studio is quite bass-heavy as well, this one does not sound bad at the same time – and the bass can also be adjusted by the user in the Alexa app via an equalizer. Basically you want to say that the Echo Studio and the Echo are tuned bass-like, but the Echo the bass in many places but just can not – which is for example in “Take A Look Around” by Limp Bizkit clearly.
In “The Way” by Meshell Ndegeocello the voice and the instruments sound much clearer and more differentiated than on an echo. The same applies for example to “Lost in You” by Dirty Loops. The Echo Studio benefits in particular from the dedicated midrange, the echo with only a tweeter and a woofer does not offer. This is not noticeable in every music, but basically the Echo Studio offers much better mids.
The echo has, it must also be said, in some tracks quite clear advantages in the highs, if they clearly move into the foreground and are played duller on the Echo Studio.
Even without 3D audio stereo when echoing
Even without 3D audio, the Echo Studio gives some stereo sound through its five drivers. The stereo sound can be tested very well with the album version of Michael Jackson's “Thriller”, which has a perfect stereo distribution. The steps at the beginning of the track go from right to left through the room, the bell is only mixed right, while the guitars are on the left. Quite differentiated, this is only noticeable on the Echo Studio when listening very carefully and in a central sitting position, but for example the steps are clearly to be assigned first to the right, then to the middle and finally to the left. What sounds mundane is the case without a stereo pair for the first time in this form on a classic echo speaker, because with an echo (plus) no distinction is possible from right and left. But a classic stereo pair of speakers undoubtedly offers the far better stereo effect.
On the next page: 3D audio, power consumption and conclusion