With what feels like a overwhelming number of wireless earbuds on the market — like AirPods, Galaxy Buds and Powerbeats Pros — can Amazon’s new Echo Buds cut through the noise?
Released in early November, just in time for the peak holiday shopping season, Amazon’s Echo Buds are an intriguing and more affordable alternative to AirPods, but we wanted to know how they stack up to the competition. Are Echo Buds worth it? How are they different from AirPods?
Amazon Echo Buds Review
I’m a devout user of my Apple AirPods, so I jumped at the opportunity to test out the new Amazon Echo Buds during an Amazon press event in October.
They work like any other wireless earbud: syncing with your devices to stream music, make calls and access smart assistants like Alexa. What makes the Amazon Echo Buds unique is that they can play, block and amplify audio that you’re listening to as well as the sound around you.
The one thing I don’t like about my older generation AirPods (and most wireless earbuds generally) is that you have to take them out to really hear what’s going on around you or if you’re having a conversation with someone. Even if I pause whatever I’m listening to, I still feel like I need to pop out an AirPod to fully capture the conversation — which is a surefire way to lose one, too.
But the Echo Buds use Bose’s “Active Noise Reduction Technology” for sound cancellation. You simply tap them to toggle between blocking sound entirely and amplifying sound with a “Passthrough Mode” feature. This mode essentially amplifies what you hear around you.
These features were exclusive to Echo Buds only for a few weeks, because in late October Apple released the AirPods Pro, which are also noise-canceling and include a “Transparency” mode to let outside sound in — a feature not available with older Apple AirPods like mine.