If you are in love with Alexa, Amazon First Generation Echo Buds were a great pair of headphones. Sure, they didn’t have the same sound quality or noise-canceling capabilities as premium options from Apple and Samsung, but they were cheap, decent, and worked better with Amazon’s voice assistant than they did. any other pair.
With its second generation, the Seattle-based tech giant is refining its heads for something even more competitive. Wireless charging and noise cancellation join an all-new pair of 5.7mm drivers and beamforming microphones to create what is arguably the best overall experience in wireless headphones under $ 150.
Add to that some of the best app integrations available today, and the new Echo Buds are some of my favorite all-around headphones.
New for the second generation
The new Echo Buds don’t really look like their predecessors other than being made from the same matte plastic. The old case was flatter than it was tall, with the headphones placed at an angle on the inside, while the new wireless charging case is tall and thin.
They look and feel more streamlined. The buds themselves are now fully round on the outside, and what were previously two glossy, raised touch controls are now indistinguishable from the rest of the earbuds except for the Amazon arrow logo.
Noise-canceling chips, new pickups, and better drivers mean the new Echo Buds feel a bit chunky, despite being still 21% smaller than their predecessors. Still, I had no problem with them in my medium sized ears; they land firmly in the post-Frankenstein’s monster the era of wireless headphones.
Finding the right fit is a high priority for Amazon. Open the case, pair it with the Alexa app on your phone, and you’ll be sure you’ve chosen the right size tip (Amazon offers four options, as well as two sizes of silicone tips), thanks to a fit test inside the app.
I like the cut of the Echo Buds a bit more than AirPods Pro (8/10, WIRED recommended)because they don’t have the little elephant trunks of the AirPods, but I have to hand it over to Apple for noise cancellation. Even with the wrong size of tips on Apple’s flagship headphones, they reduce background noise noticeably better than those Amazon headphones. Still, the Echo Buds beat the AirPods Pro on battery life (5 hours with noise canceling for Apple 4), and they come with a fast-charging capability that will give you 2 hours of listening time on a 15 minute ride to the wall.
As with most non-Apple headphones, the Echo Buds work better with Android phones than iPhones, although they are compatible with Siri and Google Assistant, in addition to Amazon’s Assistant. I spent the vast majority of my listening time using a Samsung Note 20 Ultra 5G that Samsung provided me with on a long term loan, and they worked perfectly. I even paired them with my Galaxy Watch with ease.
Alexa on board
If you like Alexa. the best part about the buds is how easy they are to invoke Amazon’s AI assistant. I enjoyed using the Echo Buds to set timers, check the weather before races, and check my schedule hands-free.
Obviously your mileage will vary depending on your appreciation of voice assistants and Alexa in particular, but it’s worth trying the voice activation feature before you turn it off.