Echo Buds 2023 release review: Great sound quality, not-so-great fit

by NEW YORK DIGITAL NEWS


Amazon’s 2023 Echo Buds are a major departure from their 2021 release, with a completely different design and a much tinier price tag (which has dropped even lower during Cyber Week). Like the older release, though, they keep Alexa right in your ear — giving you easy and convenient access to a hands-free assistant.

I tested the 2023 release Echo Buds to help you decide if the $50 earbuds are worth buying.

First impressions

When I opened up the small white case, I fully expected to see white earbuds. However, the interior of the case and the earbuds themselves are black. Maybe it’s just me being picky, but I feel like all-white or all-black would look a little sleeker.

open echo earbuds case

The Echo Buds case opens like a ring box.
Credit: SaVanna Shoemaker / Mashable

However, I do love that it opens like a ring box instead of the flip-top lid I’ve come to expect from wireless earbuds. It’s like I’m proposing to myself each time I open the case.

One minor disappointment: The case charges using USB-C, but doesn’t come with its own charging cable. Not a massive deal, but it’s always nice to have extra cables.

Connectivity

It was really easy to set up these earbuds through the Alexa app. And yes, you will need to download the Alexa app on your phone in order to set them up.

As soon as I put the earbuds in my ears, they connect to my phone immediately and I’m able to start playing music.

To connect to other devices, you would simply connect via Bluetooth (but this is after you’ve done the initial setup via Alexa on your phone). To enter pairing mode, hold the button on the case down until it starts flashing blue. Pretty standard for wireless earbuds.

closed square earbuds case

The pairing button is located under the indicator light and the small divot you use to open the case.
Credit: SaVanna Shoemaker / Mashable

I tried this on my Bowflex treadmill and my Tonal. I had no trouble connecting the buds to the Tonal, but unfortunately could not get the treadmill to detect them.

Controls

The controls on the Echo Buds are also really easy to use. Single tap to pause or play, double tap for the next track, triple tap to play the previous track, and long press to talk to Alexa. Being able to ask Alexa to play a different song or album is really helpful, especially if you’re in the middle of something and you don’t want to break your concentration to fiddle with your phone.

I love that the audio pauses when you take an earbud out and starts replaying when you put it back in. It’s also difficult to accidentally trigger the controls when you’re being really active, which is nice. 

Sound quality

I was really impressed with the sound quality of these earbuds. They were noticeably better than other earbuds I’ve tried, including my JBL Tune earbuds. In a few familiar songs I listened to, I was able to notice some sounds that I’d never heard before. Now, according to customer reviews for the Echo Buds, true audiophiles weren’t as impressed as I was with them — but they were a definite upgrade for me.

Battery life

I was also really happy with the battery life. During my testing, which involved using the earbuds for about 30 minutes to an hour each day, the case battery drained about five to 10 percent each day. With casual, non-daily use, they could easily last for a few weeks I think. 

Comfort and stability

The Echo Buds are “semi-in-ear,” meaning they don’t sit very snugly compared to other earbuds. However, they do allow you to still hear what’s going on around you — which is definitely important if you’re going to be using them for outdoor workouts. Not ideal if you’re looking for something that’s noise-canceling, though.

To be honest, I wasn’t crazy about the fit. In testing these earbuds, I learned that one of my ear holes is definitely smaller than the other. No matter how I tried putting the earbud in my right ear, it always slid out a little bit — making it feel very unstable and like it would fall out easily. This was the case both with and without the clear silicon tip on the earbud.

To test how well they stayed in place, I tried wearing the earbuds during my regular household chores, during a treadmill workout, and during a floor workout. Even though the right side constantly felt like it would fall out, I was pleasantly surprised at how well they both stayed in place.

Update: As I was writing this, I sneezed and the right earbud fell out and vanished into the ether. Whomp whomp.

As far as comfort goes, I found they were about as comfortable as any other earbud I’ve tried. After about 30 minutes, I was ready to take them out and give my ears some relief.

Are the 2023 Echo Buds worth it?

For the price ($49.99), I think this is a great pair of earbuds — especially if you already use other Alexa devices. I haven’t tried AirPods myself, but some customer reviews say that the Echo Buds were pretty comparable — at just a fraction of the cost.

However, since it requires the Alexa app for setup, I’m not sure these buds are the best choice for people who aren’t already Alexa users.

Although I was impressed with the sound quality, I was a bit disappointed with the fit and with the constant sensation that one of the earbuds was going to fall out at any moment. Still, they could be an excellent choice if you’re outdoors a lot since they still allow you to hear what’s going on around you.





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