The Amazon Echo might sound better – but it won't be enough for audiophiles

(Image credit: Amazon)

Amazon Echo speakers may be among the most popular smart speakers in the world, with the power of voice assistant Alexa's smarts combined with low price points.

However, they've never been known for having audiophile-grade sound quality, and even Amazon's flagship model, the Amazon Echo, is lacking in this department.

No doubt the tech giant is hoping that's all about to change, with the launch of two  audio-focused Echo speakers: the upgraded Amazon Echo (2019), and the all-new Amazon Echo Studio.

The new Amazon Echo now boasts the "the same audio architecture as the Echo Plus", which is admittedly, the best-sounding Echo speaker currently available. That means the Alexa-powered speaker now comes with neodymium drivers, a 3-inch woofer and increased back volume, which should make the bass feel stronger, while giving clarity to the mid and high frequencies.

With no support for Hi-Res Audio, the upgraded Echo is unlikely to appeal to audiophiles, despite its new drivers and more powerful bass frequencies. Amazon just doesn't have the long audio heritage of brands like Sonos and Bowers & Wilkins, whose speakers walk the fine line between consumer-friendly prices and high-end audio prowess.

That doesn't mean it's all over for Amazon; in fact, the new Echo Studio could be the first Echo speaker to truly appeals to audiophiles, being the first smart speaker to support Dolby Atmos' virtual 3D audio.

With a 5.25-inch woofer, and 330W of power, the Echo Studio promises to produce "deep, rich bass", according to Amazon. It's not just about the bass, though; a one-inch tweeter and three two-inch mid-range speakers are designed to deliver crisp and dynamic high frequencies.

That sound is customizable, thanks to in-built microphones that "sense the acoustics" of your room, allowing the speaker to fine-tune its audio output so that it sounds good, no matter where in the room you decide to put it.

In a bid to appeal to audiophiles, the Echo Studio boasts a "24-bit DAC and a power amplifier with 100 kHz of bandwidth for high-res, lossless music playback" – which of course, is now available via  Amazon Music Unlimited's new Hi-Res Audio streaming tier, Amazon Music HD.

So, even if the upgraded Amazon Echo can't give audiophiles what they need from a speaker, the Echo Studio could just succeed where it's smaller sibling has failed in the past – and that could be a problem for the big audio brands.

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.