If you’re in adore with Alexa, Amazon’s first-generation Echo Buds were a fantastic set of headphones. Surethey did not have the same sound quality or noise-canceling abilities as superior options from Apple and Samsung, but they were inexpensive, decent, and worked better with Amazon’s voice helper than any other set .
With its next generation, the Seattle-based technology giant refines its buds to something much more competitive. Wireless charging and noise-canceling combine a brand-new pair of 5.7-mm drivers and beamforming microphones to make what is most likely the best overall experience in wireless earbuds below $150.
Add to that a few of the best program integration available now, and the new Echo Buds are a few of my favorite jack-of-all-trades headphones.
New for Gen Two
The new Echo Buds do not really resemble their predecessors, apart from being made from precisely the same matte plastic. The old case was more flat than tall, with the earbuds sitting in an angle inside, while the wireless charging instance is tall and thin.
They look and feel more streamlined. The buds themselves are now totally round on the exterior, and what previously were just two shiny, elevated touch controls are now indistinguishable from the rest of the headphones, save to the Amazon arrow logo.
Noise-canceling processors, new mics, and better drivers mean the new Echo Buds feel a touch bulky, even though they’re still 21 percent smaller than their predecessors. Still, I had no problem with them in my average-sized earholes; they land firmly in the post-Frankenstein’s Monster era of wireless earbuds.
Finding the right fit is a big priority for Amazon. Pop open the case, set them to the Alexa app on your phone, and it is going to make sure you’ve chosen the right ear tip dimensions (Amazon contains four options, along with two dimensions of silicone earfins), due to some fit test inside the program.
I enjoy the Echo Buds’ fit a bit more than AirPods Pro (8/10, WIRED Recommends), because they don’t have the little elephant trunks of the AirPods, but I’ve got to hand it to Apple on noise-canceling. Even with the wrong size of eartips on Apple’s flagship earbuds, they reduce background noise noticeably better than these Amazon buds. Still, the Echo Buds beat AirPods Pro on battery life (5 hours with noise-canceling to Apple’s 4), and they come with a quick charging capability that will get you 2 hours of listening with a 15-minute trip to the wall.
As with most non-Apple headphones, the Echo Buds work better with Android phones than iPhones, though they are compatible with Siri and Google Assistant, in addition to Amazon’s own helper. I spent the vast majority of my listening time using a Samsung Note 20 Ultra 5G that Samsung provided me on long-term loan, and they worked flawlessly. I even paired them to my Galaxy Watch with ease.
If you like Alexa. the best part about the buds is how easy they make it to summon Amazon’s AI assistant. I liked using the Echo Buds to set timers, check the weather before runs, and check my schedule with my hands free.
Obviously, your mileage will vary based on how much you like voice assistants and Alexa in particular, but it’s worth trying the voice-activation feature before you turn it off.
I noticed a dramatic increase in productivity when using these buds as an always-in pair; I used them to remind me to get up and stretch from my desk, play news updates, and tell me the chance of rain, all without pulling my phone out of my pocket. Frankly, I find it to be the closest to”usable” augment