Amazon Echo Sub Bundle Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
With a powerful subwoofer and two satellite speakers, the Amazon Echo Plus and Echo Sub bundle offers an immersive listening experience for a reasonable price. It isn't the best sounding home sound system out there, but it does cost less than most of the competitors, and is a great addition if you already have some Echo products and are looking to make them sound better.
Should I get the Echo Sub Bundle, of two Sonos Speakers?
The Echo Sub Bundle ($330) with its subwoofer and two speakers is quite similar in both price and function to buying an Alexa enabled Sonos ONE and a non-Alexa Sonos PLAY:1 to connect it to ($350 total). So which is better? If you like bass heavy music, the subwoofer of the Echo Sub Bundle will likely please you more, but if you prefer a crisper sound and/or eventually want to build a multi-room, multi-speaker sound system then Sonos is definitely the way to go.
The Amazon Echo Sub Bundle has turned Amazon's Echo lineup into a serious home sound system competitor. Accordingly, it earned a fairly high overall score in our testing.
The Echo Sub Bundle did quite well in our sound quality tests, falling just behind the top scorers.
The Echo Sub Bundle's sound has a solid foundation thanks to the titular Echo Sub. It produces very powerful, resonant low-end that gives any kind of music a lot of body. In fact, its bass power is on par with that of the Bose Home Speaker 500 and a bit more powerful than that of the Sonos PLAY:1. The two Echo Plus speakers also provide relatively good clarity and separation. They don't sound quite as clear as the competing Bose or Sonos speakers, but the fact that you get two of them and can thus create a bit of a surround sound experience does add some value.
The Echo speakers work beautifully when using Alexa voice commands, but we did run into some issues in other areas, which resulted in a good but not stellar user friendliness score.
First the good: Alexa voice commands are seamlessly intuitive, and Alexa itself is likely the best virtual assistant on the block (though this is a subjective matter of opinion). Initial setup is incredibly easy, and the Echo Sub links to the corresponding Echo Plus speakers without any fuss. Linking a device via Bluetooth is as easy as saying, "Alexa, enter Bluetooth pairing mode," and it will pop up on your device's Bluetooth menu. The Echo Plus can also act as a Zigbee smart hub, which makes it easier to connect to other smart devices like light bulbs and thermostats (note: many manufacturers are baking Alexa compatibility right into their devices, so this feature may not be as important depending on what devices you have).
Most of our slight annoyances we encountered came with the associated Alexa app. The app works very well for managing the Alexa smart features, but it presented some challenges when using it to control music. Finding and selecting songs is seamless, but we ran into a lot of lagging and glitchiness when trying to pause, fast forward, or rewind within a song. This may not be an issue at all for most people, but for those that like to rewind songs so they can listen to that guitar riff again, it's less than ideal. We found both the Sonos and Bose apps to work better in this regard.
The Amazon Echo Sub Bundle is impressively loud, with the bass being particularly thundering. We felt it had plenty of power to fill our large testing apartment with sound, even with a dozen people hanging out in it. The Echo Sub Bundle will likely be able to power all but the biggest, loudest parties.
While the Echo Sub itself has no connectivity, it must be linked to and Echo Plus to work, the Echo Plus can connect in pretty much any way you'd like. It can stream music or other audio via WiFi, connect directly to any mobile devices via Bluetooth, and has a 3.5mm auxiliary in/out.
At $330, the Amazon Echo Sub Bundle is one of the least expensive ways to get a subwoofer and two satellite speakers that we've found. For those that like the Echo ecosystem and want to make it sound better, it's a good value. However, we think people who are really particular about sound quality will be better served by spending a bit extra on the $400 Bose Home Speaker 500, or getting started on a Sonos multi-speaker system.
The Echo Sub Bundle offers a great way to elevate your Echo devices into a fully fledged home sound system. While we really like how the Echo Sub Bundle sounds, you can still get slightly better sound from the likes of Bose and Sonos.
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