I'm going to cut straight to the hunt: the new Echo Dot smart speaker is so much better than the predecessor that it would not be completely out of line to replace a whole houseful of old Echo Dots with new ones. The new echoes look better, work better, and the most important thing sounds much better than the previous model. And it still costs the same $ 49.99.
Amazon has upgraded the audio quality of all its new Echo devices coming out this year, but the improvements are most noticeable at the point, just because of the lack of the previous model. It is not often that there is so much of a leap from one generation of a product to the next. Most improvements are incremental ̵
1; but the new Echo Dot sounds like a completely different speaker than its predecessor. It's not perfect, but it's easily the best cheap smart speaker you can buy right now.
Surprisingly High and Rich Sound
Maintains Low Price
Available Only in Gray Tones
New Power Adapter takes more space on an electrical outlet
Bass response is missing without external subwoofer
The reason why the new echoes are so much better comes down to the new design. It is noticeably larger, which means that Amazon could put a larger, higher and more powerful speaker inside it. Where the last Echo Dot sounded like a tin dish with stuffed bees, the new model is surprisingly high, full and clear. Whether you listen to Alexa, you read the latest weather forecast, audiobook, or Spotify playlist at full volume, it sounds better on the new dot. Not only is the new dot far better than the old dot, but it's significantly better than the Google Home Mini as well. It is richer, fuller and more comfortable to listen to.
The new dot has a 1.6-inch speaker, which is half a inch bigger than the previous model. It's also significantly more powerful: the old dot used a small 9-watt power adapter and a Micro USB cable; The new has a bent 15-watt pile with a proprietary fat coupling. It's a little annoying since the power takes up a lot more space on an electrical outlet, and you can not only use a phone charger (or USB port in the wall) to drive the new dot, but the increase in the sound makes it possible for the interference.
The old dot was excellent for accessing Alexa in every room of your home with little effort, but I had never recommended it to listen to music. (But based on the fact that Amazon has sold millions of dots and music listen, the number one thing people do with smart speakers, that's exactly what most people use.) The new dot is another animal: it actually does justice to the music you are listening to. It is clear, sharp, never muddy, and does not distort itself, even in full volume.
For a larger room, you will benefit from the ability to connect the new dot with another device to create a real stereo pair. Do this and you can easily fill a space to large room with sound. Amazon will even give you a discount if you buy two Echo Dots at the same time. Two stereo stereo echoes do not have the same kind of Sonos One, but they are not far away. They have real stereo separation and cost significantly less.
You can now adjust bass, midrange and tweeter of the speaker with voice commands, but the difference in sound when you do it is hard to notice. Bass is the most lacking: although Echo Dot's new speaker is much larger, it's still relatively small and it just can not handle low frequencies as well. To get the base back, you can add Amazon's new $ 129.99 Echo Sub to the mix, which will restore all missing dumps that Dot is missing. But while I would totally recommend getting two echo dots for a stereo pair, I do not think that Sub is worth the price or the hassle of most people who buy the dot. Nevertheless, two Echo Dots and Echo Sub can produce some impressive output for not much more money than a single mono Sonos One sells for.
It is still possible to send the Dot sound to a larger speaker, either over Bluetooth or through a 3.5mm audio cable. But given how much better the new dot sounds, I do not think most will find the need to do it. Amazon's new Echo Input is a better device for that purpose since it's cheaper and does not even bother with its own speaker.
Amazon replaced the old dot's seven microphone array for a simpler four-mic system to hear your voice commands, but I have not noticed any difference in performance as a result. The new dot can hear my voice commands as easily as the older one, either near the device or on the other side of the room. When the dot plays music in volume, I need to raise my voice to trigger voice control, but it's not uncommon for smart speakers. Voice controls still work when you connect two dots in stereo, but only one will answer your questions (any closer to you).
Along with the increase in size and greater speaker, Amazon also traded the old dot's shiny Plastic Finish for a fabric cover that looks much better. You can get the new dot in charcoal, gray brown or sandstone, all of which are basically different degrees of gray. It's a bit boring, but all the color choices are underestimated and nice looking. You will not find any Google Home Mini-like fun colors here, nor Amazon sales covers for the new dot you managed to get to the old model. But on the positive side, the giant Amazon logo on the front has also been jettisoned.
Aside from the new ability to connect two dots in stereo and adjust the equalizer, the new dot does not necessarily make anything more than the old model. It's still the cheapest and most convenient way for most to access Alexa, which can be used for timers, weather reports, smart home controls, audiobooks, music, podcasts, alerts, and countless other things. The new dot does not add to the experience; It only enhances some important aspects of it.
It seems that I exaggerate the sound quality of the new dot, but it is mainly because the previous model put such a low bar. The new dot is not at the same level as a high-end bookshelf speaker, but it's probably good enough for most. A single dot is also not as high or full-fledged as a major Echo or Google smart speaker, but it's close enough that most people will be happy to save money or set the cost difference to buy more than one dot for more rooms.
Amazon made it clear: the old dot sounded like crap, and the very first smart speakers used to listen to music so that better sound quality was the right move. And when you have a factor in the prize price, which probably will even lower during holiday promotional campaigns, it's hard to find fault with Amazon's new entry level Echo speaker.
Photography by Dan Seifert / The Verge
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