Wed. Jul 6th, 2022

Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) are not new, but they are new to Australia. Several months after their release, they have made it to Downunder and promise to be a huge improvement over not only the first gen buds, but also an improvement over so many other genuine wireless headphones that are already on the market.

Design

Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) are smaller than their predecessor, but that does not mean they are missing in any way. Instead of the stem AirPod style, they are the in-ear version with a small amount of bulk to the end of the tip – this is where all the magic happens.

To help you get the right fit, Amazon includes four sets of tips in different sizes along with two sizes of “wings”. If you want an even better fit with optimized sound, you can perform the ear tip test inside the Echo app. I’m not entirely convinced of the usefulness of such a test, but performed it anyway.

Each earphone has a touch-sensitive side that allows touch control of your media and / or calls. Touchpads can also control the ANC – these selections and changes are set in the Echo app. Basically, everything takes place from within the Echo app.

There are not only touch controls to trigger your favorite digital assistant, but an always-listening Alexa trigger. Just say “Alexa” followed by your command and it will respond quickly in kind. This is incredibly useful and worked smoothly – provided you have given Alexa permission to perform all the necessary actions, including phone calls, etc.

Echo Buds (2nd Gen) comes with a charging case complete with Qi wireless charging in the premium version (or not, if you choose the cheaper version), but even with this, the cover is relatively small – something that easily slips into a pocket if you must have them with you. The case only charges wirelessly when sitting upright, it’s hard to get it to do that when it’s on a Qi charging stand, but a pillow worked fine. I was able to charge it standing on the stand, but it’s just faster to connect the USB-C cable, so I did instead.

The charging case is complete with battery indicators to tell you how much charge is left in it. The charging case will keep 10 hours of ANC on power with 5 hours of charging in the earphones themselves. If you run out of battery, the cover supports fast charging, where only 15 minutes of charging results in 2 hours of music playback. In my use, I found that this was pretty close to spotting, by reaching the full 15 hours relatively comfortably with the ANC on.

To activate active noise reduction, simply press and hold one of the earphones or simply say “Alexa, noise reduction for.” When you want to hear what’s going on around you, tap Passthrough Mode by pressing and holding one of the earphones again or by saying “Alexa, Passthrough on.” With Passthrough Mode enabled, you can easily adjust the amount of ambient sound you hear through the device settings in the Echo app.

“Alexa, noise reduction enabled.”

“Alexa, move on.”

For those who want to use them during training, there is an IPX4 rating – not enough to swim in them, but enough to survive a sweaty workout. This is far from unusual these days where most headphones offer some form of waterproofing.

So how do they sound?

Let’s start with the setup. The instructions tell you to use the Alexa app, but in the end, a combination of the Alexa app and my Android device’s Bluetooth settings was what was required. Open the Alexa app, press and hold the button on the case for 3 seconds until the headlight flashes blue. The Alexa app will then try pairing with the earphones.

It did not work for me as the instructions said it would, but when I said yes to the pairing pop-up window from the Bluetooth settings, they paired with the phone. The Alexa app then asks to connect the Alexa app with Echo Buds, which causes them to appear in the app and allows you to set various custom settings for your Buds.

After testing the earphones I can say that they sound good. Not the best sound I’ve ever heard – the Bose QC Buds and Sony WF-SP800N sound better, which should be the case given the large size of them compared to the Echo Buds. They protrude much further out of the ears than Echo Buds do. By saying that I have heard much worse than this and was pleased with the sound they offered. There is definitely bass and really good mid and high levels, but unfortunately, no matter how much I bumped into the bass using the Alexa app, it could not match it from the Bose and Sonys mentioned above.

This year, Amazon has included ANC in their Echo Buds, and it’s one of the best ANC implementations I’ve ever used in a true wireless headphone. I found it comparable to the Bose QC Buds – surprising considering the size (and price) difference between the two.

Although Buds (2nd Gen) is made by Amazon and primarily has Alexa support, that does not mean you are locked into the world of Amazon. If you prefer Google Assistant or Siri, you can change the settings for your earphones to trigger one of these. Unfortunately, you can not expect full collaboration with not all supported music streaming services:

“With simple voice commands, users can access their favorite songs and artists on Amazon Music, Spotify or Apple Music.”

Would I recommend them?

There are so many genuine wireless headphones on the market these days that it is hard to recommend one to all users. There are quite a few factors to consider when buying a set or earphones, not least the pricing – something worth considering here given the attractive and aggressive price Amazon has put on them. Amazon Echo Buds (2nd generation), however, ticks most fields:

  • They sound good (but not perfect)
  • They have excellent ANC
  • They offer a range of fits for even the strangest shaped ears
  • They offer full digital assistant support
  • They offer touch controls
  • They have an IPX4 waterproof rating (sweat everything you want)

There really are not many disadvantages to Amazon Echo Buds (2nd generation) – if you want perfect sound quality, you should look at the more expensive Bose or Sony versions for larger bass, but at this price are Echo Buds (2nd generation) ) a good purchase.

Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) come in black and are available on amazon.com.au and according to Amazon they will be back in stock from next Sunday, with the option to receive them before Christmas. The price for Amazon Echo Buds (2nd generation) is currently only $ 129 for the USB-C cable charging option or AU $ 159 for wireless charging, both $ 40 off the suggested retail price.

I’m not sure the wireless charging option is worth the $ 30 extra unless you have a charging pad, you’re sitting at your desk or bench and your technician is sitting there all the time. If it’s not just $ 129, the wired option is ridiculous, and Amazon should be congratulated for such aggressive and consumer-friendly pricing. At that price, they are great value and I can highly recommend them (especially if you are already making full use of Alexa and her abilities) – but come quickly as it is unclear how long they will be that price.

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