Reviewed in the United States on November 11, 2019
There will be plenty of reviews for the Studio in stand alone, single speaker use. It does sound excellent that way. But if you pair two Studios and throw in the Echo Sub, that is an extraordinary composition! That is the way to do the Echo Studio! That is how I'll review it here.
I decided I must pair two Studios since I had two Echo Plus's stereo paired with an Echo Sub and it sounded pretty darn good. So I had to try the Studio paired in stereo, and since I had the Sub, I threw that in too. What else am I going to do with it? The Sub added a lot to the two Plus's. I wondered would you even notice it with the two Studios? I'm here to say that you definitely notice it. You notice it's not there, I can tell you.
The sound of this whole system (two Echo Studios and the Echo Sub) is quite exceptional. I would have to say it's thrilling! Yes, it costs $530 but that is bound to come down and did I tell you that it sounds incredible? It commands a respect, it really does. There is such a depth to this. The bass is deliberate and authoritative. Very punchy. It has exceptional dynamic range (at high volumes this can be startling) and the stereo image is just stunning. An enormous stage. Those 6 midrange speakers sound sweet indeed. Be sure to turn everything up in the equalizer in Audio Settings of the device in the Alexa App. This thing likes loud! It can easily handle max volume for extensive listening.
You crank this up to ten and it literally takes over the room. If you can listen at that volume for awhile with this system (you must live without neighbors) you will be found with a huge smile on your face.
All of Amazon's music library is now available in lossless CD quality streaming or better, which shines on this. The new celebrated 3D formats also sound excellent, though I thought there'd be more to them (Abbey Road sounded great but I didn't think it was transformed). But anything you play on this will sound exceptional. I really can't believe Amazon has taken it this far from the original Echo. Bravo! I notice that the Apple Homepod is now down to $200 at Best Buy. Would two of them paired sound better than this setup? I truly doubt it. They'd need a subwoofer and none, as far as I know, are available for it.
A few things. The circling Alexa lights are now on top of the speaker. You can no longer really see them from the side, which is unfortunate. I love those lights! And two, the Studio comes with this "spatial" setting set. I recommend turning it off. In the Alexa app, go to the device and then Audio Settings and below the equalizer is that on off button for the spatial effect. I don't find it adds anything even though it really changes the acoustics. But if you want to hear music as it was recorded, leave this off.
Oh, and I have to say that Amazon still does not make it super easy to set this all up. You have to start with a new or deregistered speaker. Set up each separately and then pair them. But it's anything but obvious or close to foolproof. Come on, Amazon!
And I feel I must tell you that you can't connect to the Studio by Bluetooth when stereo paired. It will only play through one Studio, the first one you set up. To use the Studios in stereo pair with the Echo Sub, you can only stream. And you can only stream if you pay.
Finally, then, these things are big. Really quite large. And seemingly only available now in black, though there's a gray one in Amazon's web site ads. This is not a speaker that sits demurely upon a table. It's almost as big as the Echo Sub, if that helps visualize it. But you will definitely be challenged as to its home, because that is where this will stay, like forever. Especially if you go for the whole magilla. But I urge you to at least try it (the whole magilla!). But be prepared, I guarantee you won't send them back!
UPDATE: After a software update, the Spatial effect is now the preferred way, so leave it on. Turning it off now makes the music too flat. I think it may even turn off one of the mid range speakers. But something's missing!
After two years, these still shine as brightly as ever. But the thing that must be emphasized is that this system of two Echo Studios and the Echo Sub is designed to take full advantage of Amazon Music’s HD streaming service, since these can work together only with streamed audio. Using that enables you to get at least CD quality audio recorded in lossless FLAC files (what Amazon calls HD, 16-bit/44.1kHz) for everything in the catalog, and Ultra HD (up to 24-bit/192kHz) available on an ever-growing list of recordings. In addition, it is also capable of playing Amazon’s (admittedly still in limited quantity) so called 3D Audio recordings (Amazon Music supports Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio spatial audio formats). If you don’t get the Amazon Music HD package ($12.99 monthly with Prime / $14.99 without), then you will be missing out on what these speakers are designed to deliver. Amazon’s Ultra HD music must be heard on a system that supports it to be appreciated. It truly is something else in audio quality, significantly better sounding than any CD or LP. And Amazon Music’s catalog is growing by leaps and bounds every month. It is currently quite vast, even its Classical Music selection which has exploded in the two years since the Echo Studio was introduced.
Using the Amazon Echo Link ($140), you could get this same quality streaming audio (or even better depending on your amp and speakers) for an existing Hi-Fi setup (at least I think you can- there seems to be some confusion about whether it supports the full 24-bit/192kHz Ultra HD), although you could not get 3D Audio with the Link. You could also use the Echo Link to attach any other sub-woofer to your Echo Studio pair but that would also require an additional amplifier thrown in. However, if you don’t have that Hi-Fi system already, these (2 paired Echo Studios and the Echo Sub) are the way to go to take full advantage of Amazon Music HD at a very favorable price. Just compare their cost to that of a good Hi-Fi system consisting of amplifier, pre-amp, two speakers and a sub-woofer as well as the Echo Link you’d need. The Echo speakers here are a definite bargain for getting excellent audio with minimal wires or fuss!