Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) review: Fine if you’re already trapped by Bezos

Quick verdict: The Amazon Echo Buds 2 are a solid addition to your earholes if you’re already integrated in the Alexa ecosystem. But if you’re not, its hard to find anything here that really stands out.

Pros

  • Alexa integration is good if you’re someone already using the ecosystem
  • Decent price
  • Comfortable
Cons

  • You have to use the Alexa app to set them up
  • Sound is just okay
  • Wireless charging case costs extra

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The headphone market is currently awash with true wireless earbuds. All the major players have gotten in on the game, including Amazon. The Amazon Echo Buds 2 is the tech giant's second bite at the proverbial cherry and they're certainly an improvement.
But with so many options at increasingly lower price points, is chatting to Alexa enough to make these things stand out?

Design

Amazon Echo Buds 2

The Amazon Echo Buds 2 adhere to the strong tradition of true wireless earbuds – black, roundish and largely indistinguishable from other brands.

There's certainly nothing wrong with the aesthetics. They're just deeply derivative and boring. There is also a white variant if that's more your thing.

That also goes for the rectangular charging case and about a medium size in the wireless earbuds world. Not huge, but not small. However, a stand out feature is that the 3 LED lights on the case indicate how much charge it has, which is a nice touch.

Fortunately, the buds themselves are quite comfortable and secure. They come with 4 ear tip options and they never threaten to come loose even during vigorous exercise such as running and boxing. But if you are concerned, 1 tip option is a dedicated 'sports fin'.

I also found that they remained comfortable even during longer listening sessions, like on long walks or using them throughout a workday for calls and music.


Amazon Echo Buds 2 review: Performance

Amazon Echo Buds 2

While the audio performance of the Echo Buds 2 isn't the best in class, they're certainly an improvement on the previous generation. This is thanks to the new 5.7 millimetre drivers and a Realtek chipset that utilises Bluetooth 5.0.

The 3 microphones in each bud help with noise reduction and voice pick-up. This also helps with the active noise-cancellation (ANC) features. While it isn't best in class, the Echo Buds 2 do a very good job for their price bracket and are a huge improvement on the original echo Buds.

As someone who uses the AirPods Pro regularly, I found the ANC of the Echo Buds 2 blocked out more roadside and commuting noise. I was impressed.

And if you're someone who prefers to be aware of your surroundings, you can put the Echo Buds 2 on ambient mode easily. Again, they do a good job. While the outside world is dampened somewhat, enough noise gets in to feel safe.

You can toggle between these 2 modes with the touch controls on the Echo Buds, which work with a tap and a hold. Alternatively, you can use the Alexa app to program this to lower and raise the volume instead. The controls work just fine – I had no issues with responsiveness or being too sensitive.

When it comes to the much-lauded Alexa integration, it works really well, especially if you have other Amazon products throughout the house. This allows you to control them through your headphones.

For more simple use, you can ask Alexa the same kinds of questions you would ask of a smart speaker, like the weather, time and your calendar for the day.

And lastly, you can of course also use the integrated Alexa to control your audio content, as well as the noise-cancellation in the headphones completely hands-free.


Amazon Echo Buds 2 review: Audio Performance

Amazon Echo Buds 2

Much like most aspects of the Echo Buds 2, the audio performance is fine for a product in this price range.

In fact, all round I found them to be quite balanced if a little flat. In general, the lows, mids and highs blend together well and don't fight each other. And that's perfectly acceptable, especially if you're not an audiophile or are mostly using them casually – like for the gym.

It just means that you don't get the same kind of complexity as you would with more expensive earbuds. You won't have your soul rocked by the ethereal tones of Stevie Nicks or your eardrums brutalised by a particularly hectic kick drum in your favourite metal track. But again, that's not what they're designed for.

And if you do want to play with the sound a little, you can. The Alexa app lets you mess with the EQ – just don't expect the kind of results you'd get from the likes of the Sony WF-1000XM4.

But all in all, they go alright. Just don't bother wasting a Tidal subscription on them.


Amazon Echo Buds 2 review: Battery

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The battery life of the Echo Buds 2 is middling at best. You certainly won't get the kind of performance as the Sony WF-1000XM4 or Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2. But you also won 't be paying anywhere near as much for Amazon's more modest offering.

The Echo Buds 2 offer an overall playback of 15 hours from a fully charged case. The buds themselves only get 5 hours per charge. And while this seems not ideal, its actually the same as the AirPods 3 (with spatial audio turned on) and more than what the AirPods Pro offer. That being said, you get far more additional juice out of Apple's charging cases.

I found the battery claims to be fairly accurate and as someone who reverts back to AirPods Pro earbuds in between review units, I didn't find the 5ish hours to be problematic.

That being said, we are getting to a point with wireless noise canceling buds where we should be expecting beefier batteries without dropping $300–400.


Should you buy Amazon Echo Buds 2?

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  • Buy it if you're already ingrained in the Amazon Alexa ecosystem and are looking for some decent buds.
  • Don't buy it if you're not bullish on Amazon.

Here's the thing. The Amazon Echo Buds 2 are fine. They do a good job for the price, they're pretty comfortable and the ANC works well enough.

But its standout feature is the Alexa integration, which isn't relevant for everyone. If you don't have smart home products or are ingrained in the Google, Samsung or Apple ecosystems… the value proposition diminishes.

And this is because the wireless earbuds market has become increasingly competitive over the last 12 months. While you still have the high-end players like Sony and Sennheiser, there are some cracking buds available for under $200, including the $119 Jabra Elite 3, and truly excellent $128 Sony WF-C500 mid-range buds.


Amazon Echo Buds 2 review: Pricing and availability

The RRP of the Amazon Echo Buds 2 is $149, but that goes up to $179 if you want the wireless charging case, and you definitely do.

And while we're here, can we please get rid of the trend of having to pay extra for a wireless charging case? Just include it. Sure, you can get a wired one in the OG RRP but this just seems like a weird play in 2022.

Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen)

Specifications

Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen)

Build

Category
In-ear
Colours
Black

Connectivity

Wired/Wireless
Wireless
Bluetooth
Yes
Bluetooth Version
5

Features

Battery Life
Up to 5 hours

How We Test

The Amazon Echo Buds 2 were tested over a month-long period.The earbuds were used to listen to music, podcasts and phone calls.

The author has been testing and reviewing headphones for over 5 years and won best reviewer at the 2021 IT Journalism awards.


Images: Tegan Jones

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