Gadgets

Review: The tiny $149 Echo Sub is a huge audio upgrade

Want to make your music more interesting? Add a subwoofer. That's what Amazon did and, suddenly, the whole range of Echo smart speakers is more interesting. If you are not impressed by the sound of an echo, try retrying it when it is associated with an echo. The subwoofer changes the game.

The Echo Sub is a small round sub-disc covered with the same fabric as the Echo speakers. Currently, it is only available in dark gray. It is designed to sit on the floor or a solid desk and serve the bass notes that Echo speakers can not reproduce. Echo Sub does his job. When paired with an Echo speaker, the audio is more complete and enjoyable, well balanced and healthy. Echo Sub is a must for echo owners.

Review

Amazon supplies TechCrunch with a pair of $ 99 Echo speakers and the $ 129 Echo subwoofer. This kit is available for $ 300, but Amazon also sells the Echo subset with two Echo Plus devices for $ 329. This is the package to get since the Plus models have larger speaker drivers. I suspect the difference will be worth the extra $ 30.

The installation of the system takes about 25 minutes. Each speaker is added individually to the Alexa smartphone app. Once the three speakers are installed, they must be grouped in a virtual group. App prompts make it easy, but I found the process buggy. When trying to combine the speakers into a group, the application sometimes failed to locate one of the speakers. Other times, the two speakers were found, but not the submarine. Eventually, I set it up and finished with two Echo speakers running in stereo and a subwoofer handling the low-end sounds.

The difference that an extra speaker and subwoofer make is beautiful. But that should not be surprising. Stereo music was supposed to enjoy stereo music.

Years ago, the Jambox and its countless clones of Bluetooth speakers convinced a generation that a single speaker is all you need for music. It's a lie. A speaker does the work, but two, work in stereo will always be better. And in this case, with the addition of a subwoofer, it's much, much better.

Let me Live from Des Rocs takes full advantage of the new sound stage. The left and right speakers explode with activity, creating an impossible immersive listening experience with a single speaker from Amazon Echo to Apple HomePod. The stereo layout lets the music breathe.

AKA George Stone Cold Classic comes to life with this setup. The Echo Sub offers a considerably higher track depth, while the Stereo Echos offers a complete experience. Need more evidence? Turn to Van Halen's Panama. One speaker can not give the same experience; the channels are confused and mixed. But when it is played in real stereo with the backup of a woofer, the David Lee Roth anime.

I am impressed by the sound quality of this set of $ 300. Much of the heavy load is discharged on the Echo Sub, allowing the Echo speakers to handle midrange and treble, which are clear and accurate for the price. At $ 300, it's hard to find a better sound system than two Echo speakers and the Echo Sub. And the smart features of the Echo soften the deal.

Amazon provided two $ 99 Echo speakers and they do the work. Echo Sub can also be paired with two $ 149 Echo Plus speakers with larger drivers; I suppose that using two of these speakers produces an even better sound and they are purchased as part of a bundle, they cost only a few dollars more.

The sub-echo works well in most situations. Compared to other subwoofers, it is located in the lower part of the range. It provides essential bass, but the woofer can not shake the walls. He does not beat, in itself. It's a good match for hard rock or powerful pop. it's not for rap that makes the chest vibrate. Think of arctic monkeys instead of Post Malone.

The Alexa application allows users to adjust the volume of the bass, midrange and treble produced by the subwoofer. I found minor settings and unable to radically alter the sound profile of the woofer. Overall, the Echo Sub is a sleek little subwoofer that works well with two Echo speakers.

The Echo Sub can also work with a single Echo speaker. Do you simply own an Echo Smart Speaker? Add a Sub Echo for incredible sound quality improvement.

Amazon is not the only company to associate smart speakers for a new era of stereo sound. Sonos has long allowed homeowners to wirelessly connect speakers to create stereo and surround sound configurations. Two Google Home Max can be combined to create a beautiful stereo ensemble. The same goes for Apple HomePods: two $ 350 HomePods can be connected wirelessly to form a stereo kit. Each of the above mentioned configurations offers excellent audio quality, but they are more expensive than the Amazon solution. Only Sonos sells a dedicated subwoofer.

Amazon, with the addition of Echo Sub, now offers an outstanding audio experience at a price well below that of its closest competitors. The $ 129 Echo Sub is compact and capable. It is the best way to instantly upgrade the configuration of an Echo Smart Speaker. If possible, add a second Echo speaker to create a virtual set of stereo speakers.

Echo Sub is a simple recommendation for homes where an Echo speaker is dedicated to music. If you are forced to choose between adding a second echo or adding a secondary echo, opt for the subwoofer first.

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