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How the new Echo & # 39; s from Amazon relate to other smart speakers

This week, Amazon introduced two new smart speakers in the avalanche of announcements during its hardware event 2019: a third generation Echo and what he believes is the best sounding speaker to date, the Echo Studio. As a pioneer of Amazon with the original Echo, the market for smart speakers now has a choice of competitors to choose from. But how do the new Amazon models compare?

Amazon Echo Studio


Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

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If you want the best Echo speaker for music, the $ 199.99 Echo Studio is the one that Amazon wants you to buy. It has five drivers – a 1-inch tweeter, three 2-inch midrange speakers and a 5.25-inch woofer – that should show Amazon Music HD, Amazon's new music streaming layer that lossless streaming offers. It also supports "3D audio" for the few tracks that support it, using formats such as Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio. New to the Echo line-up (but not from Amazon's competitors) is the ability of the Echo Studio to automatically tune the output to the room in which it is located. Just like the regular Echo, the Echo Studio can play music from most popular music services.

My colleague Dan Seifert received a private listening session and said that the Echo Studio "easily challenges" other high-end smart speakers. And because it is priced lower than many of its competitors, it should cause Sonos, Apple and Google to sit up and listen. You can pre-order the Echo Studio today, and Amazon says it will be available on November 7.

Sonos One


Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

For a price of $ 199, the Sonos One is a direct competitor to Amazon & # 39; s new Echo Studio. Although the Echo Studio is only owned by Alexa, the Sonos One gives you much more freedom, with the option to use Alexa or Google Assistant.

The Sonos One cannot automatically detect and adjust its sound depending on the room in which it is located. (For that you have to go through the manual Sonos Trueplay tuning process.) But when it was released, the Sonos One held the crown as the best sounding Alexa speaker in its price range. With the announcement of the Echo Studio, there is a chance that can change.

Apple HomePod


Apple HomePod

Image: Apple

Apple & # 39; s HomePod, launched in February 2018, comes with seven tweeters and a 4-inch woofer that are all controlled by an Apple A8 processor. It also has some handy tricks to quickly adjust its sound to the room in which it is located, just like other smart speakers, but it comes in for a relatively high price of $ 299.

Like many other Apple devices, the HomePod is firmly attached to the manufacturer's ecosystem. It uses Siri, which is not as suitable as the Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, without the option to switch to a competing assistant. For now, Siri can only adjust his responses to one person, although later this fall it will be able to adjust responses to individual votes. You can also only use Apple Music natively. If you want to play music from another music service, you must use AirPlay to stream it from your iPhone to the HomePod. That means that the speaker is not a great option if you mainly listen to Spotify on an Android device.

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However, if you are married to the Apple ecosystem, you will not find Siri on other smart speakers in this list, making the HomePod your only option.

Google Home Max


Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Google & # 39; s $ 299 Google Home Max, released at the end of 2017, is the range from Google that comes closest to Amazon and Apple's high-end speakers. It has four drivers: two 4.5-inch long throw woofers and two 0.7-inch tweeters. According to Dan Seifert's assessment, it sounded better than & # 39; any other smart speaker & # 39; which he had tested at the time. He said, however, that it didn't sound as good as the highest Play: 5 speaker from Sonos, which doesn't have a voice assistant.

The Google Home Max, like many other high-end smart speakers, can automatically tune into the room in which it is located using its microphones. Because it is a Google product, Google Assistant is running. However, it offers support for fewer music services than Amazon or Sonos.

If you are considering buying the Google Home Max today, you may want to wait a few weeks: Google has an event on October 15 where new hardware is expected to be announced, possibly including new speakers, so there is always a chance the Google Home Max could see an update.

Sonos Move


Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Sonos & # 39; Move, the new $ 399 portable speaker, has only one woofer and one tweeter. But in Dan Seifert's review, he discovered that the Move sounded "clearer and sharper" than Apple's HomePod, so it's not slow. It has the now table bet to tune itself to the room in which it is automatically located. (On other Sonos speakers, this tuning process requires that you map the room with an app on your phone.)

The Move is, unlike the other smart speakers on this list, also designed to be moved, well. It charges on a supplied basis, and Sonos says it gets 10 hours of battery from the charger. It also supports Bluetooth to play music when it is not near a Wi-Fi network.

Just like the Sonos One, but unlike other smart speakers listed here, the Move can be performed one of both Amazon & # 39; s Alexa or Google & # 39; s Assistant, so you can choose which virtual assistant works best for you. Just like Amazon & # 39; s Echo it also works with just about every music service you would want.

Amazon Echo Studio Spec Comparison

SpecificationAmazon Echo StudioSonos OneApple HomePodGoogle Home MaxSonos Move
SpecificationAmazon Echo StudioSonos OneApple HomePodGoogle Home MaxSonos Move
Voice AssistantAlexaAlexa, Google AssistantSiriGoogle AssistantAlexa, Google Assistant
connectivityBluetooth, 3.5 mm / mini optical Toslink, Wi-Fi (exact tba standards)Ethernet, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Sonos appAirPlay 23.5 mm connection, Spotify Connect, Google Cast, BluetoothBluetooth, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Sonos app
Speaker drivers1-inch tweeter, 3 x 2-inch mid-range drivers, 5.25-inch woofer1 x tweeter, 1 mid-woofer4-inch woofer, 7 x tweeters2 x 4.5-inch woofers, 2 x 0.7-inch tweeters1 x tweeter, 1 x mid-woofer
Expansion optionsCombine with a second Echo Studio in stereoPair with the second Sonos One in stereo, or use as rear surround speakers with Sonos Beam, Playbar, PlaybasePair with second HomePod in stereoPair with the second Google Home Max in stereoCombine with second Sonos Move in stereo
Weight lbs)7.74.085.511.76.61
Dimensions (in.)8.1 x 6.9 x 6.96.36 x 4.69 x 4.696.8 x 5.6 x 5.613.2 x 7.4 x 69.44 x 6.29 x 4.96
Starting price$ 199$ 199$ 299$ 299$ 399
Misc.Room tuning (automatic), "3D audio" (Dolby Atmos, Sony 360 Reality Audio), built-in Zigbee, Fire TV wireless audio outputRoom tuning (manual)Room tuning (automatic)Room tuning (automatic)Operates on batteries, IP65 water resistance, Room tuning (automatic)

Amazon Echo (third generation)


Image: Amazon

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Amazon & # 39; s new third generation Echo is a lot like its predecessor: it's a short, dust-covered speaker, but Amazon claims it will have better sound quality with a 0.8-inch tweeter and a 3-inch woofer ( just like the existing Echo Plus). It still costs $ 99.99 and, like other Echos, can play music from just about any music service you want, including Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, and Pandora. It has Alexa on board, but it lacks the Zigbee smart home hub that comes with the Echo Plus and Echo Studio, so it won't be as handy as that if you want it to be in the center of your smart home.

If you just need something to play music while doing things in your house, the Echo is probably a good option. You can pre-order the new Echo today, and Amazon says it will start shipping on October 16.

Ikea Symfonisk


Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

Ikea & # 39; s Symfonisk is a bit of an outlier on this list, because it is the only speaker that does not have a voice assistant. But we thought it was worth recording, because it can be placed in an existing Sonos network and the price of $ 99 puts it in direct competition with the new Amazon Echo.

When we reviewed it earlier this year, we thought it outperformed the current Echo from Amazon in terms of sound quality. It also integrates nicely into the Sonos ecosystem, which means that you can operate it using the Sonos app and use it as part of a multi-room Sonos setup. If you don't mind operating the speaker with your voice, this is a pretty attractive option.

Google house


Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Of course, the Google Home is a more direct competitor to Amazon's latest Echo device, especially after Amazon lowered its price to $ 99 earlier this year. However, Google's midrange smart speaker was first released in 2016, and the hardware is not updated since then, making this device almost three years old at the moment.

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Technically, there is nothing wrong with that. It's not that smart speaker technology has changed dramatically in the last three years. So if you want to get into the Google ecosystem instead of Amazon, this is your best option for this price.

Amazon Echo (3rd gen) Spec Comparison

SpecificationAmazon Echo (3rd gen)Ikea Symfonisk bookshelf loudspeakerGoogle house
SpecificationAmazon Echo (3rd gen)Ikea Symfonisk bookshelf loudspeakerGoogle house
Voice AssistantAlexaN / AGoogle Assistant
connectivityBluetooth, 3.5 mm, wifi (exact standards tba)AirPlay 2, Sonos app, Spotify ConnectGoogle Cast, Bluetooth
Speaker drivers0.8-inch tweeter + 3-inch woofer1.15-inch tweeter, mid-range driver of 2.75 inches2-inch driver, 2 x passive radiators
Expansion optionsPair with the second Amazon Echo in stereo and add Echo Sub for 2.1 system.Combine with a second Symfonisk in stereoN / A
Weight lbs)1.726.111.05
Dimensions (in.)5.8 x 3.9 x 3.912 x 4 x 6 inches5.62 x 3.79 x 3.79
Starting price$ 99$ 99$ 99
Misc.Dolby processing

So what to choose?

We do not yet have to fully assess the Amazon Echo Studio or the third generation Echo, so it is impossible to say how one of Amazon's new speakers will compete with the immediate competition.

However, based on specifications alone, it is clear that there is not much difference between many of the speakers on the market. The best speaker for you will probably come down to which ecosystem of devices you are currently investing. Sonos is a good choice if you are still on the fence, not sure if you are the Alexa type or the Google Assistant type, but certainly not the Siri type.