Amazon ​Echo Sub review

Alexa, bring the bass

Amazon ​Echo Sub
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The Amazon Echo speaker line-up isn’t renowned for high quality audio, and Amazon has largely left Sonos to cater to the audiophile crew. But the Echo Sub is the company’s answer to the perennial lack of thump in its smart speaker cohort.

A wireless add-on, it connects to your Echo system and takes over the low-frequency rumbling, letting your Echo speakers to the rest of the work. It will work with Echo, Echo Plus and Echo Show – and enables you to create stereo pairs in a 2.1 set-up, or just a 1.1.

But is it worth the money? Let’s dive in and find out.

Echo Sub: Design

Amazon Echo Sub review

It’s big, it’s round and it’s a statement – the Echo Sub boasts a darn sight more design than most Echo speakers. It’s designed to live on the floor and power bass down off a hard surface, which means forgetting about neat shelf placements – it really kills the sound. That also means you’ll be wanting to hide it away somewhere subtle. If it is on show, it's likely to attract curious comments from visitors.

The Echo Sub has the soft mesh finish you’ll find on most of the range these days, and that makes the whole black unit a lot less brash. What’s more, being only 20 cm tall, it can be hidden pretty comfortably.

Inside, you’ll find a 15cm woofer with 100W of amplification, which can handle frequencies as low as 30Hz. Sure, it doesn’t stack up to subs from audiophile brands, but given the Echo Sub is $129.99versus over $500 in many rivals, it’s pretty good value.

It’s also super easy to set up. Plug into the power and set it up like any device within the Alexa app. Once paired, you can immediately choose which devices you want it to work with. In our home we had an Echo Plus and Echo Show – but you can’t mix pairs, which is a bit annoying.

Echo Sub: Sound

Amazon Echo Sub review

It will be of little surprise that you get a deep bass from the Echo Sub. However, it’s surprisingly well measured, and Amazon does a good job of wirelessly syncing up the sub – not just to play in time, but to balance the sound. It doesn't boom out over your speakers and ruin the sound - and the two keep step nicely. The benefit and warmth to your music is immediate - especially when you get off crummy radio streams and start playing music from your preferred streaming service.

There is some lag when ducking – so when you ask something of Alexa while listening to music, the bass will continue for a split second, which is a little irritating.

You can control the bass and sound of your Alexa Sub set up from an EQ within the Alexa app. This is slightly buried, though, so it’s unlikely you’ll be making regular tweaks: head to the Echo Sub in your list of smart home devices, then choose Audio Controls.

Amazon Echo Sub
Amazon Echo Sub

So, how does it all work in practice? Well, the Echo Sub doubtlessly makes a big improvement to the audio quality of your Echo set up – and if you’ve already amassed Alexa speakers that are doing most of the heavy lifting for your audio, the Echo Sub is a simple, wallet-friendly addition that will make a real difference.

But it’s all quite limited. Obviously, it only works with Echo, Echo Plus and Echo Show, and the maximum supported set up is 2.1. And because you can't blend two different types of speakers in your 2.1 system, it could leave you short changed. This is probably the biggest criticism we'd make.

And despite the huge improvement the Echo Sub makes – there's no getting around that the Echo speakers themselves aren't brilliant audio performers. Even the Echo Plus, with its larger driver, isn’t that great as a speaker – so you’re adding $129 of bass to a system that's not actually that great to begin with.

Echo Sub
The Echo Sub is a cheap and easy way to make a huge difference to the quality of your Echo audio set up. If you have a couple of Echo, Echo Plus or Echo Show speakers in your home, it can make a world of difference. However, the audio performance of the existing Echo range isn’t brilliant, so your decision should be whether you’re better served investing in a more well-rounded, third-party speaker than adding thumping bass to your Echo set up.
  • Balances well with Echo speakers
  • Muted design
  • Better subs out there
  • Echo system not brilliant audio

The latest Echo / Alexa devices reviewed

Amazon Echo (2019) review
Amazon's Echo Dot with Clock review
Amazon Fire TV Cube (2019) review
Amazon Echo Show 5 review
Amazon Echo Wall Clock review
Amazon Echo Input review
Amazon Smart Plug review
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K review
Amazon Echo Show review
Amazon Echo Dot (3rd generation) review
Amazon Echo Plus review
Amazon Echo Studio review

TAGGED    amazon alexa    smart speakers

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