The Amazon Alexa speakers have been immensely popular, but they really offered high-end audio. Computing companies have taken advantage of this, Google Home Max, Apple Homepod and multiple Sonos speakers all offer superior audio.
Along with some of the unusual releases, today Amazon has logically released a new range of Echo products to fill in the gap for consumers that want high-quality audio with their smart speakers.
Amazon Echo Plus
The new Echo Plus will likely be the most popular product, this is a follow up to last years Plus model, but should be a lot better for music playback. To improve the audio, Amazon says that the Echo Plus features a three-inch woofer and “increased back volume.”. The new speaker will have local voice control too, so if you lose your internet connection it will still be able to function.
The device also has a temperature sensor built-in, which means you can ask Alexa the inside temperature or use the device in conjunction with compatible thermostats.
You can combine the two speakers to form a stereo pair for further audio enhancements, and it is also compatible with the newly announced subwoofer. The Echo Plus will be priced at $149/ £139.99
Amazon Echo Sub
The problem with all in one speaker is that they don't have enough space inside them to fit a large diaphragm that can move enough air to produce deep low frequencies. This is why Sonos and Bose have subwoofer options with their soundbars.
Amazon hopes to appease audiophiles with the Echo Sub which can pair up with up to two Echo devices providing you with a 2.1 stereo system. The sub has 100W of power and costs an affordable $129.99/£119.99
Echo Link Amp and Echo Link
The above two Echos will certainly be popular with most people, but if you already have an expensive speaker system you probably don't want to replace them with an inferior sounding Echo Plus and Sub. They may sound good for most people but these smart speakers are never going to compete with a large bookshelf or floor standing speakers from the likes of B&O or Monitor Audio.
For these people, you have two choices, similar to the options Sonos provides. The Echo Link and Echo Link Amp are stereo amplifiers with multiple audios in and out options. The Link connects to receiver or amplifier, while the Link Amp has a built-in 60-watt dual-channel amplifier that links your Echo to play music on your stereo. The Echo Link costs $199.99 and will be available later this year, while the Link Amp costs $299.99 and will be available early next year. They support Ethernet and coaxial cables. Neither has a microphone, as they’re meant to work with other Echos.
The pricing of these two seems a bit off compared to the others, but I assume Amazon know people with existing speakers will have no option to buy one of these options if they want an Alexa enabled speaker. $299.99 is still cheaper than buying a 2.1 Echo Plus and Sub set up. No current UK availability or pre-orders
If you want something a little cheaper and are happy with line-out for your connection, Amazon has also launched the affordable Echo Input costing just $34.99.
This is similar to Chromecast Audio and Home Mini merged into one and has line inputs, Bluetooth and a far-field mic. You can then plug the line out into any dumb speaker you may have going spare. No current UK availability or pre-orders