Amazon Echo Buds 2 Evaluation: Higher Buds For Alexa Followers

“They’re the right companion for individuals who love Amazon Alexa.”

  • Palms-free Alexa
  • Good sound high quality
  • Prime-notch name high quality
  • Glorious transparency
  • Poor battery life
  • Mediocre ANC

When Amazon launched the unique Echo Buds in 2019, they set a brand new normal for what we may count on from a $130 funding in a set of true wi-fi earbuds. They sounded nice, had efficient lively noise cancellation (ANC), and allow you to discuss to Alexa while not having to faucet any buttons.

They weren’t excellent: Battery life was solely so-so, they have been a bit on the cumbersome facet, there was no wi-fi charging choice, and also you couldn’t customise the controls very a lot. However Amazon had nonetheless managed to set the bar very excessive and, for a time, they have been our high decide for the perfect true wi-fi earbuds.

However since 2019, there’s been an explosion of latest choices and new manufacturers. ANC, which was as soon as an unique and costly additional, is now exhibiting up on earbuds that value $100 or much less. Battery life has improved by leaps and bounds, and getting first rate sound high quality has change into simpler and cheaper than ever.

Because of this Amazon’s newest model, which for readability I’ll discuss with because the Echo Buds 2 ($120 or $140 relying on whether or not you need wi-fi charging or not), must be an actual step up from their predecessors simply to maintain tempo with the market.

Did Amazon succeed? Let’s check out the Echo Buds 2.

What’s within the field?

Amazon Echo Buds 2Simon Cohen / Digital Traits

Amazon leads the way in which when it comes to sustainable, recyclable packaging. The Echo Buds 2 are available a small cardboard field, with solely a tiny quantity of plastic movie used to guard the charging case. There’s no foam and no twist ties. Inside, you’ll discover the earbuds of their case, a USB-C charging cable, 4 sizes of silicone eartips (together with those preinstalled on the buds), two sizes of wing ideas (with a spare set of the smaller dimension included), and a fast begin information.

Design

Amazon Echo Buds 2Simon Cohen / Digital Traits

The very first thing you’ll discover concerning the Echo Buds 2, particularly in case you occur to be conversant in the primary era, is their dimension. Not solely are the earbuds smaller, however so is their charging case. They’re not fairly as compact because the Apple AirPods Professional, however they evaluate favorably with many different fashions, just like the Jabra Elite 75t or Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Professional.

Out there in both a matte-finish black or an eggshell shade that Amazon calls “Glacier White,” the earbuds are clean and seamless, with no outlined space for the touch-sensitive controls. A discrete Amazon smile brand is the one ornament.

The charging case is equally free of decoration. Its rounded corners make it comfy to carry and to pocket, however its backside continues to be flat sufficient to let it stand upright on a desk (or a wi-fi charging mat in case you spring for the $20 improve).

Gone is the Micro USB connector that appeared antiquated even in 2019. It’s changed with the present business normal, USB-C. A small LED indicator on the entrance permits you to see the case’s charging standing or battery degree, whereas a set of comparable LEDs contained in the case provide the identical data about every earbud.

Backside line: These are very comfy buds.

The earbuds pop out and in of their charging sockets simply and well-balanced magnets maintain them there while you’re not utilizing them. One huge enchancment over the earlier mannequin: Even with the most important wing ideas put in, the earbuds make reference to their charging contacts — one thing which didn’t at all times work on the first-generation Echo Buds.

My solely critique is the charging case lid: It opens and closes simply, however the hinge doesn’t have a notch to maintain it from flipping closed unintentionally, which it tends to do lots.

Amazon has saved the Echo Buds’ IPX4 water -esistance score, which implies they will simply face up to some rain and loads of sweat with out being broken — simply don’t immerse them in water.

Setup

Amazon Echo Buds 2Simon Cohen / Digital Traits

Usually on the subject of true wi-fi earbuds, there’s not a lot to say about getting them paired along with your telephone or pill. Opening the case or eradicating the earbuds is sufficient to get them into pairing mode, at which level you choose them from the out there gadgets in your Bluetooth menu and away you go.

With the Echo Buds 2, it’s barely totally different. You should obtain and set up the Amazon Alexa app first in case you don’t have it already after which open the charging case lid.

The app mechanically finds the earbuds and walks you thru the remainder of the method. It’s fast and painless until you’re utilizing an iPhone with numerous beforehand linked gadgets in your Bluetooth menu. If that’s the case, it might take a very long time for the Echo Buds 2 to be acknowledged. It labored for me finally, however I needed to conduct a manufacturing facility reset on the earbuds by holding down the pairing button on the charging case for 10 seconds.

Consolation, controls, and connections

Amazon Echo Buds and Echo Buds 2Unique Amazon Echo Buds (left) and Echo Buds 2 Simon Cohen / Digital Traits

With a smaller general form than the unique Echo Buds, the Echo Buds 2 are certainly somewhat extra comfy, and I think about that folks with smaller ears will certainly discover them simpler to put on. However it’s the Echo Buds 2’s vented design that makes essentially the most distinction to the “really feel” of carrying them.

To elucidate: Plenty of of us discover that after they put earbuds of their ears, the expertise of getting their ears totally blocked by an object is disagreeable. It may well additionally, below sure circumstances, create a sucking or pushing feeling inside your ear canal, to some persons are particularly delicate.

To alleviate this, some earbuds, just like the Jabra Elite 85t, are being constructed with tiny vents that permit somewhat air go by way of the earbuds. The venting on the Echo Buds 2 actually does make a distinction, but it surely additionally comes with some compromises, which I’ll contact on beneath.

Backside line: These are very comfy buds. You should use the non-obligatory wing tricks to safe their match for vigorous exercise, however I discovered they stayed put simply tremendous with out them.

The Alexa app — which you’ll must get essentially the most out of the Echo Buds 2 — has a match check device that helps you establish in case you’ve chosen the appropriate eartips. It’s very useful. All too typically, individuals will select the eartips that they suppose are proper for them, primarily based on their perception round ear dimension (“I’m a medium”) as an alternative of selecting the ideas that present the perfect seal. Given how crucial seal is for sound high quality and ANC — particularly in a vented earbud design — taking a match check is a superb concept.

Professional tip: Should you ever discover that earbuds sound weak, or there’s not as a lot bass as you’d hoped, you’re virtually undoubtedly utilizing the improper eartips. Strive one dimension bigger, and don’t be afraid to make use of totally different sizes in every ear — we aren’t (properly most of us) extremely symmetrical beings.

Bluetooth connectivity is rock-solid and I didn’t expertise any dropouts.

I nonetheless want bodily buttons for earbud controls, however the contact controls on the Echo Buds 2 are nearly as good as they arrive. You get 4 contact gestures: Single faucet, double faucet, triple faucet, and tap-and-hold. They’re the identical for every earbud and allow you to management play/pause, name reply/finish, monitor skip ahead/again, and ANC/transparency modes. Having the identical controls on every earbud means you should use only one with none lack of choices, but it surely additionally means there are only a few customization choices.

Within the Alexa app, you possibly can change the tap-and-hold operate from ANC/transparency to voice assistant entry (Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant), however the different gestures can’t be modified.

Notably, as with the first-generation Echo Buds, you possibly can’t management quantity with out utilizing your telephone’s buttons. The shortage of customization and quantity management is somewhat annoying, particularly because the Alexa app has so many different choices, however no less than Amazon has added the single- and triple-tap choices — the unique Echo Buds solely had two gestures.

The Echo Buds 2 have put on sensors that may mechanically pause and resume music while you pull the buds out or reinsert them. This works like a attraction, responding to adjustments immediately.

Bluetooth connectivity is rock-solid and I didn’t expertise any dropouts or weirdness between the 2 earbuds, however their vary is restricted. I used to be solely in a position to stray about 25 ft from my telephone indoors — a a lot shorter distance than most true wi-fi earbuds I’ve examined.

Sound high quality

Amazon Echo Buds 2Simon Cohen / Digital Traits

Clear, well-balanced sound is what you possibly can count on from the Echo Buds 2.

Their soundstage isn’t particularly extensive or deep, however they’ve a very beneficiant frequency response that may be altered extensively utilizing the EQ settings within the Alexa app.

Out of the field, the sound is bass-forward — excellent for exercises or listening to a wide range of genres, from hip-hop to EDM. However transfer the three-band equalizer’s sliders round and you may tweak it from huge and booming to gentle and ethereal.

Sadly, with none EQ presets within the app or the power to create your personal, you could end up transferring these sliders round every time you turn content material sorts, from music to podcasts, in an effort to get the perfect stability.

Like numerous true wi-fi earbuds, the Echo Buds 2 have a candy spot for sound high quality on the subject of quantity degree. At round 60%, they ship a full, wealthy efficiency. However that stability can drop off fairly sharply as you scale back the quantity.

I’ve a sense that that is partly because of the vented design. They naturally block much less exterior sound than non-vented earbuds, so it’s worthwhile to enhance the quantity to compensate — even when utilizing ANC.

Noise cancellation and transparency

Amazon Echo Buds app

Amazon Echo Buds app

The primary Echo Buds used Bose’s lively noise discount (ANR) expertise, however the Echo Buds 2 have swapped that for Amazon’s personal ANC tech. Amazon claims this transformation delivers a big enchancment in efficiency. It “successfully cancels out twice as a lot noise,” says the reviewer’s information that accompanied our Echo Buds 2 loaners.

ANC on the Echo Buds 2 is a combined bag.

I spent about an hour swapping forwards and backwards between the 2 variations to see if I may confirm this declare, however I couldn’t. Right here’s the dilemma: Whereas it’s true that the Echo Buds 2 cancels extra audible sound while you use ANC slightly than the ANR on the Echo Buds, it’s additionally true that the vented design of the Echo Buds 2 allows extra sound to start with.

The Echo Buds 2’s ANC additionally produces an audible background hiss when it’s engaged. This could possibly be the results of an overeager ANC setting, however not like transparency mode, which may be adjusted, ANC is both on or off.

The unique Echo Buds don’t produce as pronounced a shift in sound while you change on ANR, however they do such job of passively isolating sound within the first place that they don’t actually must be as aggressive. Plus, there’s no new noise launched when ANR is turned on.

Briefly, ANC on the Echo Buds 2 is a combined bag. You’ll in all probability get essentially the most out of it when listening to music whereas commuting or in a busy area like a Starbucks, however in case you’re hoping to create a cone of silence for improved focus — the sort of magic sound erasing that the AirPods Professional and Jabra Elite 85t can carry out — you could be disillusioned.

The premier characteristic of the Echo Buds 2 is hands-free entry to Amazon’s voice assistant.

Transparency mode, then again, is superb. You possibly can fine-tune how a lot exterior sounds are amplified, and on the excessive finish of this spectrum, the earbuds even provide some listening to enhancement.

What I’m much less thrilled about is the time it takes to shift between ANC and transparency. From the time you’ve initiated the tap-and-hold gesture to the time these modes have modified, as much as six seconds have elapsed. That is perhaps acceptable while you’re swapping modes as you enter or exit a constructing, but when somebody is making an attempt to speak to you, you need to change as quick as potential — ideally right away.

All about Alexa

Amazon Echo Buds 2Simon Cohen / Digital Traits

It ought to go with out saying that the premier characteristic of the Echo Buds 2 is hands-free entry to Amazon’s voice assistant. Should you personal Echo sensible audio system, or an Amazon Hearth TV gadget, or one of many many third-party audio system that allow you to work together with Alexa, it’s superior to have her at your beck and name regardless of the place you’re or what you’re doing.

I’m not going to enter the entire issues you may get Alexa to do — that listing is much too lengthy — but it surely’s price highlighting some instructions which might be particularly helpful on the go:

Music, quantity, modes: You will get Alexa to regulate nearly all features of your media expertise, together with altering quantity (which might’t be accomplished with gestures), answering calls, switching between ANC and transparency, and selecting music from all kinds of providers like Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, and extra. She’ll even learn out your remaining Echo Buds battery life.

The brand new Echo Buds ship crystal-clear voice high quality.

Alexa Transit: I couldn’t check this characteristic as a result of it’s not but out there exterior of the U.S., but it surely seems very useful. Alexa can now reply to a sequence of queries and instructions associated to getting round, whether or not you’re strolling (“Alexa, how do I get to the Empire State Constructing?”) or utilizing public transit (“Alexa, what’s the standing of the Q practice?”). The responses are context-sensitive, so if there’s multiple Q practice, it’ll choose the one which’s nearest to you. Setting areas like house and work within the Alexa app makes these interactions much more helpful.

I discovered that the Echo Buds 2 have been very attentive to the Alexa wake phrase, and Alexa’s response time to varied instructions was fast and I wanted to repeat myself far lower than I did with the Echo Buds. Should you rely upon Alexa whereas at house, I think you’ll shortly start to marvel the way you ever survived with out her while you’re not at house.

Battery life

On the one hand, the Echo Buds 2 provide the capability to increase their regular five-hour play time to six.5 hours by turning off ANC and the power to make use of Alexa with a wake phrase. However then again, their charging case solely holds two full costs (the earlier model held three).

So with ANC and Alexa engaged, you’re a most of 15 hours of stamina. That’s significantly lower than every other true wi-fi earbuds on the identical value. The $130 Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Professional, as an illustration, get seven hours per cost, and 26 hours while you embody the charging case.

A 15-minute fast cost offers you as much as two hours of music playback.

I didn’t get sufficient of an opportunity to totally confirm Amazon’s battery claims, however from what I may see, they seem like correct.

Name high quality

For many true wi-fi earbuds, name high quality is one thing of an afterthought. Many declare to do job of it, however in my expertise, few truly do. The Echo Buds 2 are the exception. They ship crystal-clear voice high quality.

I walked by way of some very busy intersections, with numerous visitors and different competing sounds, and someway it at all times gave the impression of I used to be standing in the course of an empty room.

You could possibly get barely higher name high quality from the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, however on condition that they value greater than twice what you’ll pay for the Echo Buds 2, I doubt you’ll get outcomes which might be greater than twice nearly as good.

Extras

Should you allow location providers on the Alexa app, you should use it to search out your lacking Echo Buds 2. The app will present the earbud’s last-known location, and may power the buds to emit a chime so long as they’re not insider their charging case.

Should you don’t personal a Fitbit or an Apple Watch, the Echo Buds 2 have a built-in accelerometer that may do primary step-counting. You possibly can monitor your walks or runs and the app will maintain a historical past of your achievements.

Our take

With the Echo Buds 2, Amazon has addressed a number of of the weaknesses of the unique Echo Buds whereas truly dropping the value by $10 in case you don’t want wi-fi charging. And although they don’t knock it out of the park on each characteristic (ANC and battery life come to thoughts), they’re nonetheless an outstanding choice for individuals who need to take Alexa in every single place they go.

Is there a greater various?

You’ll discover a number of fashions of true wi-fi earbuds that allow you to entry Amazon Alexa, however solely the Echo Buds 2 (and the unique Echo Buds) allow you to discuss to Alexa hands-free.

Due to this, they’re in a category by themselves.

However in case you don’t thoughts having to press a button earlier than talking, I can consider two wonderful options together with:

  • $130 Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Professional: Higher sound, higher ANC, and higher battery life.
  • $150 Jabra Elite 75t: Higher sound, higher ANC, higher battery life, customizable controls.

What’s the guarantee?

Amazon backs the Echo Buds 2 with a one-year guarantee.

How lengthy will they final?

The Echo Buds 2 look like very well-built, as is their charging case. You possibly can change the eartips after they put on out. The largest concern will likely be battery life. At 5 hours per cost, if that ought to drop significantly over the course of regular use, you could find yourself needing to exchange them quicker than earbuds which have an extended start line.

Must you purchase them?

Sure. Should you love the concept of taking Alexa with you in every single place you go, the Echo Buds 2 are an reasonably priced, comfy, and great-sounding set of true wi-fi earbuds.

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