A solid pair of true wireless buds with enjoyable sound, decent noise-cancellation, and good quality for the price. The Amazon Echo Buds(2nd Gen) lack pizzazz and excitement, and they’re best suited for those in the Alexa ecosystem, but they are a good value alternative to the bigger brands with a performance that is reliably steady across the board.
- Warm audio presentation
- Decent noise-cancellation
- Good call quality
- Alexa integration
- Anonymous looks
- Overall battery life is low
- Not the most adventurous sound
- Best suited to Alexa users
Voice assistantHands-free Alexa, along Siri and Google Assistant support
Wing-tipsTwo wing-tip sizes for more secure fit
Charging caseChoice of wired charging or wireless charging case
Suffice to say that the original Echo Buds were a most ordinary effort with one impressive feature – Bose Noise Reduction.
And so, what does the follow-up – the Echo Buds 2 – do with its best feature? It ditches it completely. It wouldn’t have been my first choice to do so.
Nevertheless, like other tech brands that have jumped into this space such as Google, Amazon is still learning and in the Echo Buds 2nd Generation, it is seeking to offer a better performance at a still affordable price. Though there are still areas for improvement, the Echo Buds 2 are a welcome step-up over the original.
- Deliberately anonymous looks
- Tap controls
- Compact charging case
The original Echo Buds had what I would call a generic look, and the 2nd Generation doesn’t fall from the tree with its unassuming appearance. The aesthetics are mostly the same, a mix of glossy and matte plastic finishes, but the ratio is better on the Echo Buds 2, contributing to a less conspicuously cheap look.
You wouldn’t know they were Amazon earbuds by looking at them. The Amazon branding is deliberately low-key – black logos on black finishes suggest Amazon wants these buds to be as inconspicuous as possible. A Glacier White colourway is available for a more distinct look, but still vanilla look.
Amazon gets the key points right with the design. The fit is snug – there is a little movement once seated, but there’s also room to manoeuvre and twist around and find the best fit (the logo should face upwards). Otherwise, the seal created is a good one to block out external sounds. Comfort-wise they’re solid with no oiliness or aches, though there is a little itchiness every now and then.
Four pairs of ear-tips (small to extra-large) are included to find a fit that works for you. There are also wing-tips – small and large – offering a more stable fit for those who exercise regularly, a helpful touch to increase the Echo Buds 2’s value, while its IPX4 rating will help guard against sweat, water, and rain.
Tap controls are responsive. A tap covers playback, a double tap skips forward, a triple tap skips back, and a hold moves between noise-cancelling modes. Volume is not supported by default but can be added through the app.
The charging case is compact and as anonymous as the buds are (the Amazon logo, strangely, is on the underside of the case). Really, Amazon has done what is expected and delivered an earphone that meets what’s required. No flash but it gets the job done.
- Solid noise-cancellation
- Good call quality
- Plenty of app customisation
While dropping the Bose Noise Reduction initially sounded like a faux pas; the active noise-cancellation is pretty good in light of the asking price. At best it’s solid – on a journey to work it removed the low-frequency train ‘bumps’ and while it doesn’t remove all the noise within the carriage itself, it’s enough to be less of a nuisance.
On the London Underground, it’s more of the same. Wind noise outside the carriage is noticeable, and arguably the Echo Buds could be more assertive in suppressing the noise it’s still loud enough that I can hear it over my music. On a bus I noticed it’s weak dealing with the rumble of the engine once it stops, so it does appear to struggle with loud, impactful noises. These earbuds won’t provide as much protection as the JBL Live Pro 2.
It deals with wind fairly well in blustery conditions, though there’s a little whisper of wind noise from time to time. Voices are quietened, and general environmental noises are reduced if not quite booted into touch. It’s not the most comprehensive ANC performance but it’s good enough.
The transparency mode is another aspect that’s decent. There’s a noticeable bump in awareness (volume of music is reduced), and the presentation is clear and natural, avoiding sounding harsh, or overly amplifying certain sounds and raising the noise floor. Again, it’s decent, but there are others that are clearer such as the EarFun Air Pro 3.
Call quality is like the (original) Technics EAH-AZ40. Vocal clarity is good, it suppresses sounds well as well as ably dealing with wind noise, keeping distractions for the person on the other end of the line to a minimum. There are true wireless that cost three times as much that get themselves into a pickle with call quality, so the Echo Buds 2 puts in a good shift.
Battery is five hours per charge (6.5 hours without ANC or Alexa wake word) but only 15 hours in total with the charging case, which is less than expected, especially when cheaper true wireless like the Majority Tru Bio and Edifier W240TN average about eight hours. Performing a battery drain with a Spotify playlist at 50%, the Echo Buds 2 dropped to 79 and 81% respectively for each bud, so five hours seems easily doable.
There is another version with a wireless charging case that’s about £20 / $20 more but that seems unnecessary to offer two options given the number of cheap true wireless buds that boast this feature as standard.
A 15-minute charge through USB-C provides another two hours of playback. A Power Save feature disables Ambient Sound modes, Alexa and other features to preserve battery life.
Bluetooth support is v5.0 with Bluetooth codecs up to AAC and support for use with two devices at the same time. The wireless performance was steady enough walking from Charing Cross station through a busy Trafalgar Square and onwards to Leicester Square, managing to get through without issue.
I have found on other occasions that there’s a brief breakup that can sometimes pause long enough to make me think I’m about to receive a call. I do wonder if that’s less the buds and more my phone, but it doesn’t happen as much with other headphones.
There is an app, and of course it’s the Alexa app. Like with any Fire TV or Echo device, click on the cog settings on the main page and that takes the user deeper into the myriad options available. There’s an Ear Fit Tip sizing test to ensure you’ve got a tight seal: there’s customisation for EQ, controls and side tone during calls, hands-free Alexa (Google Assistant and Siri are supported), along with a very accurate Find My location if the buds get lost.
The Audio Personalisation is Amazon’s version of a listening test to craft an audio profile that works for your hearing range. I’ve never really thought these profiles worked, but I imagine those who’ve lost some sensitivity at certain frequencies may benefit. Wear detection is supported too, so taking the buds out will automatically stop music playback.
- Warm, smooth presentation
- Not the most dynamic
- Textured low frequencies
The Amazon Echo Buds 2 aren’t the most adventurous-sounding true wireless pair I’ve tested. There’s a focus on detail and clarity in a broad sense, paired with a warmth to the low frequencies and smoothness to the midrange for a performance that goes down easily enough in sonic terms.
Like the Google Pixel Buds A-Series, the Echo Buds 2 gets the basics right, but the result is a sonic signature that sits on the safe side of the fence. Amazon is dipping its toes into the water rather than dive bombing in.
It sounds fine at default volume levels but has a reserved quality to it. Push the volume and the soundstage becomes more expansive.
Dynamism is not the most profound even as volume levels go up, the Echo Buds 2 push for a sound that’s steady than dynamic and energetic, but there’s a sure sense of balance across the frequency range, and it avoids how turgid and soporific the original model sounded.
There’s a nice tinkle and sharpness to the high frequencies in Graffit6’s Stare into the Sun, cushioned by a warm, rich-sounding bass. With Phonat’s Intimate Confessions the bass has a nice texture and solidity to it – the sonic signature may not be the most adventurous, but it is likable.
The midrange isn’t the sharpest or defined but in Gun’s N’ Roses’ Welcome to The Jungle there’s decent detail afforded to Slash’s guitar riff alongside the punchy kicks of the drum, with Axel Rose’s vocals located in a small pocket in the centre of the soundstage.
Smoothness is what the Echo Buds 2 is going for, and it’s a warm, comfortable sound that’s consistent across many music genres I listen to. They lack a sense of energy, but Amazon’s buds are a fun listen and most definitely an improvement over the original’s weak audio.
Should you buy it?
If you’re in the Amazon ecosystem
Alexa and integration with other Amazon products is the main reason to get these buds.
You are looking for more excitement
Visually they look drab and the Echo Buds 2’s sound is on the safe side. Plenty of the best true wireless earbuds from the likes of EarFun and Soundcore gazump the performance of these buds.
Steady as it goes seems to be the mantra for the Echo Buds 2. It feels as if Amazon looked at a checklist of what should be included and followed it to a tee. That’s not an issue as such, but the Echo Buds do lack excitement and style.
They’re a consistent and competent pair of earbuds: comfortable to wear, solid noise-cancellation for the money, and a sound quality that’s easy on the ears. It’s enough to get a recommendation given that they’re an able all-rounder for the price, and inevitably there’ll be some crazy discounts come Amazon’s various sales events and Black Friday.
How we test
We test every set of headphones we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
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Tested across several months
Tested with real world use
In order to get the most of the Echo Buds 2 performance, you would need an Amazon account to take advantage of its Alexa integration.
Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen)
5.7 mm dynamic
Black, Glacier White
20 20000 – Hz