The Amazon Echo family of smart home devices is constantly growing - from the first generation Echo through the newest Echo Dot with clock, Echo Show 8 with HD display and camera, including the Echo Flex, a small plug-in speaker that you can use in smaller rooms and plug directly to the wall.
While the sound quality has steadily increased over the years with the latest Amazon All-new Echo 2019 and Echo Show 8 sporting very good sound, nothing compares to the impressive Amazon Echo Studio, with five built-in directional speaker, including a 5.25 inch woofer, 1-inch tweeter and three 2-inch midrange speakers that deliver dynamic midranges and crisp, high frequencies.
Plus, it has a 24-bit DAC and a power amplifier with 100 kHz of bandwidth for high-res, lossless music playback with 330W of peak power.
The Amazon Echo Studio is a very capable music device but it doesn't stop there. You can put it anywhere in the room and it will automatically sense the acoustics of the space and fine-tune its audio playback, providing optimal sound to make the most of any room.
But the engineering marvel doesn't stop here. Thanks to Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio technologies you can get the best of music with 3D effects - these tracks are available through Amazon's Music Unlimited service but you can experience them by saying "Alexa, plat the best of 3D music". Pretty cool.
The design is kind of similar to other Echo smart-speakers: a cylinder with fabric covering its sides. You will notice the opening at the bottom, for the woofer and the buttons aren't exactly on top of the device but on its top edge.
On the back, you will find the power plug, a 3.5" audio in and an optical input. I currently have this optical input plugged to my TV so that all TV sound comes through the Amazon Studio - the sound you get beats your average soundbar and it's so much better than the TV's tiny speakers (unless you have a high-end TV with acoustic surface sound, like the Sony A1 models).
The Amazon Echo studio is also a Bluetooth speaker and you can easily pair with it to play music from your smartphone, tablet or laptop at any time - very cool when playing a videogame on your PC.
If you have the Alexa app on your smartphone you can create multi-room music groups using other Amazon Echo devices. It's a very impressive feature that allows you to link these speakers and play music simultaneously in all devices, perfectly in sync. I have put the Amazon Echo Studio, Amazon Echo Dot with Clock and the Amazon Show 8 in a single group called Everywhere. This allows me to start playing Spotify music on my smartphone or desktop and just clicking on an option on screen have the sound distributed to all these speakers - without skipping a beat. Perfect for when you have a dinner party and want to get the music all around you.
Obviously the Amazon Echo is not just a speaker, but a smart-speaker, with Amazon's Alexa built-in. You can give it instructions by the now ubiquitous "Alexa..." command. To control the speaker itself you can use "Alexa, set volume five" or "Alexa, volume up". You can easily control the equaliser using the Alexa app or just say "Alexa, set the bass to maximum" or "Alexa, set treble to six". And of course, you can go with "Alexa, play today's hits on Spotify" or request a specific radio station from IHeartRadio.
It also works with any Alexa skills enabled in your account e.g. "Alexa, let's play tic-tac-toe".
Most impressive is the ability to enable the Ring (smart home cameras) skill and say "Alexa, show my driveway on Fire TV" (I have an Amazon Fire TV plugged to my TV) and see the live view from your driveway (and in our case the deck as well).
We also have the Philips Hue lights skill connected to Alexa, so we can say things like "Alexa, set all lights off" and all Hue lights will go dark.
And if controlling the Hue lights is not enough, the Amazon Echo Studio is also has a Zigbee smart home hub built-in so it can directly control Zigbee-enabled devices. In our case, we have the Hue skill linked to our Hue account but we could also control the lights directly via Zigbee, bypassing the need of the Hue hub altogether. Zigbee support includes in-wall switches, smart plugs, lights and locks.
Out of the box, the configuration was really easy, with the Amazon Echo Studio using voice to guide you through the steps. Once you discover the device using the Alexa app you can just tell it to use the WiFi network already in your account and it will automatically look (and apply) any available updates. In my case, it was online and ready for use in less than five minutes. Definitely recommended.