Last month, Amazon launched its Echo Buds (2nd gen) wireless earbuds in Canada, marking the expansion of these earphones outside of the United States.
Amazon sent us the Echo Buds to test so here’s a quick review of how the setup is and how they sound.
Unboxing Echo Buds
Inside the box, you’ll find the Echo Buds themselves, a charging case, plus two sets of wing tips and four pairs of ear tips. Also included is a USB-C to USB-A cable to recharge the charging case—no AC adapter is included in the box.
Most of the packaging is recyclable aside from the small plastic bags holding the wing tips and ear tips. There are some simple instructions to get started:
Here are some more pictures of the Echo Buds in the charging case (it charges via USB-C) and the earbuds themselves. There’s an Amazon ‘smile’ logo on the side, which lets everybody know they’re an Amazon product.
Here’s the back of the charging case:
The Echo Buds have a shiny black plastic side that faces your ears, while the other round side is a (slippery) matte black:
Setting Up Echo Buds
The first step in setting up your Echo Buds is to launch the Alexa app, which will detect the earphones. You’ll need to grant the app to access your iPhone microphone.
The Alexa app guides you to install wing tips, which it says are optional. They provide extra grip and a secure fit for “some users”, explains Amazon.
Without the wing tips, the Echo Buds are actually quite slippery can easily fall out of your fingers and your ears. It’s a bit awkward installing the wing tips, as they slip onto each earbud like a hairnet.
The wing tip rubber attracts dirt and dust easily, but once they are on, they stay put and don’t affect charging while in the case.
The Alexa app also guides you through an ear tip sizing test as well. Once you pick the ear tip that feels good, you press ‘play’ in the app and it’ll tell you if it’s a good fit or not. Apple’s AirPods Pro also have a similar test, as they feature Active Noise Cancellation like Echo Buds.
How Do Echo Buds Sound?
Once you find the right wing tip and ear tips for your ears, popping Echo Buds into your ears requires a slight counter-clockwise twist. Comfort-wise, they feel snug, but it can be a process to twist them into your ears. There is a vent to reduce in-ear pressure, says Amazon. We didn’t really notice
You’ll hear a chime once the Echo Buds are in your ears, indicating they are connected to your device. We played some top pop songs and hip hop in Apple Music. At default EQ settings, Echo Buds sound good with ANC enabled, able to block out ambient noise. By ramping up bass and some mid settings in the equalizer, satisfying bass is available. The Echo Buds do have a lot of emphasis on highs, with treble overpowering at default levels.
All of these settings for Echo Buds are available in the Alexa app. Here, you can find battery status for the earbuds and the charging case. You can also enable a Power Save mode, which will disable Ambient Sound modes, Alexa and more to extend battery life.
On the sides of Echo Buds, you have tap controls. Single-tap for play/pause. Double-tap for next track and triple-tap for previous track. Long-hold and ANC and pass-through modes can be toggled on and off. Alexa will announce when you change between ANC and pass-through modes.
To answer a phone call, double-tapping an earbud will answer and also hang up a call. Our test caller said we “sounded fine” on a phone call.
Compared to AirPods Pro right after testing Echo Buds, we found Apple’s premium AirPods sounding more balanced and able to handle louder volumes without distorting. ANC in AirPods Pro were also able to block out more ambient sound.
Echo Buds cost $154.99 on Amazon.ca and the company’s comparison chart pits them against AirPods Pro, Samsung Galaxy Buds Live, AirPods and Bose Sport Earbuds. Echo Buds are priced significantly less than AirPods Pro, and also are a few bucks cheaper than 2nd-gen AirPods, which don’t compare.
While Echo Buds are cheaper and are packed with numerous features like ANC, Alexa, decent battery life and IPX4 water resistance, you don’t get the simplicity of controls and setup like you do with AirPods. Apple sucks you in by allowing AirPods to easily connect to other iCloud devices.
Price-sensitive buyers will find very good value in Echo Buds. But if you’re an Apple user, it’s hard not to buy an AirPods product. If you favour Alexa and Amazon products, you’ll enjoy Echo Buds as they sound decent and offer enough bass to satisfy most users.