Amazon Echo Buds review: Best mix of value and features in wireless earbuds

  • Editors' rating
    9.3 Spectacular
  • $129.99

Pros

  • Excellent fit, even with sweat and movement
  • Solid sound quality
  • Good level of noise reduction
  • Hands-free Alexa support
  • Good level of water resistance
  • Great price for feature set
  • Excellent five hour battery life and three extra case charges

Cons

  • Use of microUSB for charging case
Amazon's Echo, Alexa parade: What it all means Here are Larry Dignan's key takeaways from Amazon's 2019 hardware event and what it means for smart home integration, privacy and digital assistants. Read more: https://zd.net/2l96cua

Music helps motivate me when I run so it is critical that I have a reliable wireless headset when out on the road. After a couple of weeks with the new Amazon Echo Buds it looks like I just found my new running companion and at a price less than most all other serious competitors.

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You might think the new AirPods Pro are the best available, but it is clear they are not the best for everyone. After falling out constantly, I quickly returned those earbuds and looked to the latest from Amazon. While the charging case is clunky and the earbuds don't have the sexiest design they have solid battery life, fit like a glove, support Alexa/Google Assistant/Siri/Bixby, have noise reduction technology, and are priced right at just $130. We may even see them at a reduced price as we near Black Friday.

Specifications

The retail package includes a charging case, three pairs of silicone ear tips, three pairs of silicone wing tips, a microUSB cable, and a Quick Start Guide.

  • Speaker type: Knowles dual balanced armature drivers
  • Microphones: Three per earbud: Two external beamforming microphones and one internal microphone
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, proximity, touch
  • Waterproof rating: IPX4 tested to withstand water splashing.
  • Compatible music types: MP3, WAV, WMA, AAC, FLAC
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
  • Battery life: Up to five hours playback or four hours calling with each Echo Bud. Three additional full charges are provided by the case for up to 20 hours of music playback for each bud. Get up to two hours of music playback with 15 minutes of charging.
  • Dimensions: 22 x 23 x 24 mm (each Echo Bud) and 57 x 77 x 29 mm for the carrying/charging case.
  • Echo Buds Weight: 7.8 grams with medium ear tip. The case weighs in at 70 grams.

Hardware

The Amazon Echo Buds come in a rather chunky charging/storage case that is bulky for pockets and doesn't have the latest tech. There is no wireless charging capability for the case and it uses the older microUSB standard to charge up via a cable connection. These are two areas for possible improvement in the Echo Buds 2, but don't let these missing features deter you from giving the Echo Buds a try.

The microUSB port is positioned at one end of the case. On the top is an Amazon smiley logo. On the bottom you will find a small button to initiate pairing when you pair the Echo Buds with multiple devices. The lid of the case closes securely with a small LED indicator light on the front of the case.

The earbuds themselves are bigger than the Galaxy buds I've been using, but similar in size to the Jabra Elite Active 65t earbuds that were my favorite for a year. While the outer earbud part itself is rather large, the part that fits into your ear is small and comfortable. Three different size silicone eartips fit into your ear and the medium size works well for me.

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Some people may be satisfied with just the eartips, but for running I find that the wings are needed to ensure a secure fit through rain and sweat. The silicone wing pieces fit over and around the large part of the Echo Buds with a silicone horn piece designed to fit into the upper part of your ear to hold things securely in place. The medium size again fits perfectly for me and I have been able to wear the Echo Buds for hours with no discomfort or loss of security in my ears.

There are five gold connection points on the Echo Buds that connect to five gold points inside the charging case. There are also strong magnets in the case to help you properly align the Echo Buds so that charging occurs when you insert them. The Echo Buds fit into the case with any size ear tip or wing piece attached, which is a great design feature of the Echo Buds.

The Echo Buds do not have active noise cancellation (ANC) like the latest Apple AirPods Pro or Sony earbuds, but they do have Bose Active Noise Reduction technology. This technology is not as advanced as ANC and doesn't quiet things down as well as ANC, but for $130 it is better than simply relying on good eartip fit to help cut out some noise around you.

Software

In order to get the full experience with the Amazon Echo Buds, you need to install the Amazon Alexa app to your Android or iOS smartphone. After installing this app and signing in to your Amazon account, pair your Echo Buds via Bluetooth through the Amazon Alexa app. The Echo Buds will then appear on your Alexa home panel with battery status for each bud and the charging case shown under the Echo Buds identifier. Below this are quick toggle buttons for Bose Active Noise Reduction (ANR) and Alexa hands-free functions.

Tap on the Echo Buds widget in Alexa to access all of the settings available to you. These settings include Bose ANR toggle, passthrough toggle and volume slider, equalizer settings, eartip sizing test, touch gesture settings, sidetone settings during calls, Alexa hands-free capability, microphone mute toggle, and other device settings (location, time zone, measurement units, etc.).

There are a lot of features and functions present in the Amazon Alexa app and using the Echo Buds has rekindled my use of Alexa for many other things. I continue to explore what I can do with Alexa while I run and am enjoying the Echo Buds experience.

If you prefer to skip Alexa, you can flip the toggle to turn it off and then use your favorite wireless assistant (Siri, Google, or Bixby) by customizing the touch gestures on the right and left Echo Buds. There are many functions you can choose for double tap and press and hold actions on the Echo Buds so explore this area as you setup your new earbuds.

Daily usage experiences

Given that the Apple AirPods Pro provide exactly what I have been asking for since the first AirPods were released, I bought a pair and tried them out. After a couple of runs and a few days of use I had to return them because they kept falling out of my ears, even after trying all available eartip sizes. The AirPods Pro active noise cancellation is excellent and the best I've heard on a wireless earbud, but if the earbuds can't stay in they are worthless.

My Amazon Echo Buds arrived at the same time as the AirPods Pro and I ran with them three times while also wearing them for my daily train commute. They stayed securely in place in every condition I ran with them and the Bose active noise reduction works better than standard earbuds that work to isolate sound just with a seal.

Alexa support has turned out to be much more useful than anticipated as I never have to touch the earbuds to control my music playback, volume, or even check on other things while running. The Echo Buds have actually changed my running routine a bit and I'm better off because of them.

The $130 price is right for the quality of music and functionality. I don't look to my running headphones for high end audio quality, but good quality and volume with the ability to keep working in rain or heavy sweat conditions. I thought the Echo Buds sounded great and did a bit of tweaking with the equalizer as I like a bit more bass to music when I run.

The Amazon Echo Buds don't blaze new trails in earbud technology, but they offer what people need for exercise or commuting while providing easy Alexa hands-free functionality.

See also: AirPods Pro review: Noise cancellation and improved design are valuable additions  

Specifications

General
Bluetooth Profiles Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP), Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP), Hands-Free Profile (HFP)
Packaged Quantity 1
Product Type True wireless earphones - Bluetooth - wireless
Headphones
Headphones Form Factor In-ear
Bluetooth Profiles Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP), Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP), Hands-Free Profile (HFP)
Sound Output Mode stereo
Active Noise Canceling Yes
Bluetooth Version Bluetooth 5.0
Miscellaneous
Included Accessories 3 pairs of ear tips, 3 pairs of wing tips (small, medium, large), charging case
Color Category black
Power
Run Time (Up To) 5 hour(s)
Battery
Rechargeable Battery rechargeable
Recharge Time 2 hour(s)
Header
Brand Amazon
Product Line Amazon
Packaged Quantity 1
Battery / Power
Run Time (Up To) 5 hour(s)
Internet of Things (IoT)
Intelligent Assistant Compatible Alexa, Siri
Dimensions & Weight Details
Width 0.9 in, 2.2 in
Depth 0.9 in, 3 in
Height 0.9 in, 1.1 in
Weight 0.3 oz, 2.5 oz

Where To Buy

Price
$129.99

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Where To Buy

Amazon Echo Buds

Part Number: B07F6VM1S3
Price
$129.99