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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
Echo (2nd Generation) - Smart speaker with Alexa - Charcoal Fabric
Color: Charcoal Fabric|Configuration: Echo|Change
Price:$84.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on January 17, 2018
 My mother is 84 years old and she struggles talking on a cell phone, and I struggle to hear her. She kept bumping the cell phone up against her chin, and when I talked to her I hear numerous beeps when we are talking like someone was dialing out. She is having trouble holding the cell phone up to her head. I talked my mom in to getting an Amazon Echo as a gift from me. My sister helped to set it up since I am in another state. When you make a call with the Echo, it uses the phone number associated with the cell phone that is on your Amazon account. So I changed that to my mothers cell number. So when she makes a call, it shows up as her cell phone number on the Caller ID. Now all she has to do is say "Alexa call Greg", and the Echo dials me up, and anyone in her contact list. She rests comfortably in her easy chair, and she can hear everything I say through the Echo, and I can hear everything my mother says very clearly. She can also ask Alexa to dial any number, that is very helpful as well. This feature alone was well worth the price of buying an Amazon Echo. My mother is learning very quickly all the other skills Alexa is able to do, weather, music, audiobooks, trivia questions, etc. Now that I am able to talk to my mother with ease.

I would have to say this is the BEST gadget I have ever bought on Amazon.

Attached is a Voice Mail from my mother, and how much she LOVES the Amazon Echo
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on November 2, 2017
So it’s been an interesting first few weeks with the Echo and am happy to say Echo 2nd Gen has finally delivered on its promise of improved sound quality over 1st Gen Echo, with the 3rd firmware since launch. If you are confused about a lot of the negative reviews, old firmware is the likely cause of most of them regarding poor sound quality.

Want to keep this short and spare all the gory details, but there was a bug in the launch version of the firmware, which was fixed after a few days, but the first fix, while satisfying some, was not, in my opinion a full fix and left the mid-range frequencies muted and tinny. Today I noticed that Alexa’s voice in this unit sounded much more like Alexa’s voice on Gen 1 Echo’s I own and, after playing some music, suspected they had upgraded the firmware again, and indeed they have. The current firmware is 592452720 and it’s a massive improvement over both the original and updated version 592452420.

So I decided to do some more side-by-side comparisons with the Gen 1 Echo and can honestly say in many areas the sound quality is now actually better than Gen 1 Echo. This is how the product should have sounded at launch! If I have any complaints at this point it’s that the low-frequencies loudness could stand to be bumped up just a tad. (Better yet, PLEASE add an EQ feature to the Alexa app so users can adjust EQ for the room and music type they prefer). I did my comparisons at volume level 8. Anything above that and Gen 1 Echo dynamic range starts to break down, while Gen 2 maintains quality but doesn’t get quite as loud and Gen 1. It’s the right trade off, I would rather it sound good than be louder and sound harsh. At that volume level I went thru a range of music, streamed over Bluetooth, switching between Gen 1 and Gen 2 devices, and found Gen 2 to be an improvement over Gen 1 for the vast majority of the music I tried. I’m impressed with the quality of the audio coming out of this form factor, and impressed how quickly Amazon has responded to feedback on the problems. Kudos, this Echo is a keeper.
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UPDATE 11/4/2017
After all the negative reviews and feedback on the poor sound quality of the 2nd generation Echo it appears that Amazon has taken quick steps to help remedy the issue. I spoke with an Amazon representative on the phone who confirmed that there has been a software update which is rolling out to Echo devices. After getting the update my Echo does indeed sound better! I still wouldn't call it audiophile-quality by any means, but the bass is fuller and the sound is less "tinny" overall.

To check which software version you have, select "Settings" on your Alexa phone app, choose your Echo device, then scroll down the page to where it says "Device software version." The updated version (as of 11/4/17) is 592452420 (previously it was 592452320).

You don't have to do anything to get the update; it will be sent automatically by Amazon. You may see the indicator light on your Echo will pulse blue as the update is installed. The representative I spoke with said you may get it more quickly by not using your Echo for several hours. I hit the mute button on mine and received the update within a few hours. I'm very impressed by Amazon's quick response to this issue!

As a very happy owner of three Echo Dots (2nd generation) I was glad to see Amazon release a 2nd generation of the Echo as well. After using it for several days I can say I'm quite pleased with it, and even though it doesn't have any radical new features compared with the 1st Generation Echo or the Echo Dot, there are some notable improvements. I'll summarize these differences first and then describe the new Echo in a bit more detail.

Improvements over the Echo 1st Generation:
- More color and texture choices
- A swappable outer shell
- Ability to output audio to another device or stereo system via Bluetooth or an auxiliary cable
- Dolby-powered speakers
- Significantly lower price!

Differences from the Echo Dot (2nd gen):
- Larger size and swappable outer shell (these are probably obvious)
- 2 speakers (tweeter and woofer) vs. 1
- Power adapter sits flatter against the wall

Overall appearance
I purchased the "Heather Gray Fabric" version. The cloth is a polyester woven fabric made up of lighter and darker shades of gray which certainly gives it more visual interest than if it were just a solid, uniform gray. The neutral color blends in with nearly any decor, and the cloth gives it a softer look which is great for areas of your house where you don't want something that screams "I'm a device!"

In terms of size, the Echo 2nd Generation is almost the same diameter (3.5") as the 1st Generation Echo (3.3"), but it is several inches shorter. To me the original Echo looked like a tower; this shorter version is much less ostentatious.

The top of the device is identical to the 2nd Gen Echo Dot: it has four buttons (volume up, volume down, microphone off, and an "action" button), a multi-colored light ring around the edge that tells you about the Echo's status, and seven tiny holes below which the microphones sit.

A new feature of this Echo is its swappable decorative shell. Simply press a button on the underside of the device and the shell slides right off, allowing you to replace it with any of the other shells that Amazon sells. I'm not sure how many people will take advantage of this feature given that additional shells are $20-30, but it could be useful if you want to change your Echo's look to match a different location in your home.

A final note on appearance: the power adapter for the Echo sits fairly flat against the wall, protruding maybe 1.5". By contrast, the Dot's adapter sticks out from the wall 2-3 inches. The flatter adapter of the Echo is nice if you want to plug it into an outlet that is behind a piece of furniture.

Audio quality
I did a side-by-side comparison of the 1st and 2nd Generation Echos, and despite the new Dolby-powered speakers I did not notice a significant difference in sound quality with either music or spoken text. I certainly wouldn't call it "room filling sound" in any case. Clarity isn't bad, but bass is nearly non-existent. However, the real potential improvement in sound quality comes not from the speakers themselves but from a new feature for 2nd Generation Echo devices: using Bluetooth or a 3.5mm auxiliary cable (not included), you can play the audio through a nearby speaker or stereo system. Yes, this does means you are using two devices to accomplish one thing, but in a sense it's no different than plugging any other sound source into your stereo system. To be honest, I don't generally think of the Echo primarily as a music playback device anyway other than for very casual listening (but I realize that puts me in a minority... admittedly I'm a bit of an audiophile).

Compared with the Echo Dot, however, there IS a noticeable difference in sound. This shouldn't be a surprise given that the Echo has two speakers (a tweeter and a woofer) while the Dot has only one. To my ear the difference isn't so much in clarity but rather in fullness. With two speakers and a bit more acoustic "heft," the Echo's sound has more presence than the Dot's, which to me makes it more tolerable to listen to for a period of time. The difference is even more appreciable with music than with newscasts or other spoken text.

Voice recognition
This is one area where I must confess I'm disappointed. Like the 2nd Generation of the Dot, the Echo 2nd Generation uses seven microphones beneath its top surface to recognize voice commands spoken from any direction. My wife and I both found this Echo to be slightly LESS proficient at detecting our voices and recognizing vocal commands than our Dots are. We did side-by-side comparisons of the Echo and the Dot in several locations around our house and the Dot was nearly always better at picking up our voices (and yes, we only had one plugged in at a time!). I'm not sure why this would be since both devices use similar technology, but the difference was pretty consistent. One possible explanation I can think of is this: Both devices have their microphone openings on their top surfaces, effectively pointing upward. Because the Echo is taller than the Dot, if you put both devices side by side and speak to them from several feet away, your voice will hit the Dot's microphones at a slightly more downward (i.e., direct) angle than the Echo's, which may help the Dot pick up your voice better. Obviously I'm only speculating here, but in support of this theory I have noticed that both devices have difficulty detecting my voice if I speak from below them (for example, if I'm sitting on the floor and the device is on a table).

The bottom line is that overall functionality -- what the Echo 2nd generation "does" -- is nearly identical to the 1st generation Echo and the Dot. Keep in mind that the Alexa assistant software on which all Echos operate is run on Amazon's cloud, not your individual device. This means that as Amazon adds features to Alexa they automatically become available on all Echo devices. So, you can use any of them to:

- Stream music via WiFi from multiple sources
- Control smart home devices
- Make hands-free calls to other Echo devices or phone numbers in North America
- Make purchases from your Amazon Prime account
- Listen to news feeds, podcasts, etc.
- Do anything else in Alexa's ever-growing skill set, such as make shopping lists, set timers/alarms/reminders, play games, tell you your daily schedule, and any other skills Amazon dreams up for Alexa in the future.

Personally I have two favorite Alexa skills: the Flash Briefing and the drop-in feature. The flash briefing is fully customizable daily "digest" of news and other information which you can hear any time by asking "What's my flash briefing?" There is a huge list of content you can add to your briefing including news updates, weather forecasts, sports and traffic updates, and educational snippets along with many that are just humorous or entertaining. Using the Alexa phone app or your Echo account page you can select exactly what content you want in your briefing and in what order you want to hear it. For example, I configured mine with NPR news, BBC news, the weather, and a word of the day. I love having an on-demand synopsis of the latest news from my favorite sources.

My other favorite feature, "drop in," essentially opens a two-way communication channel between any two Echo devices, sort of like an intercom. Simply ask Alexa to "drop in on [the living room, the kitchen...]" and you are instantly connected. My wife and I use this feature all the time when we need to communicate from opposite ends of the house. You can turn drop-in capability on or off for each of your Echo devices individually, and you can also choose whether each device can drop in with ANY Echo device or only those in your own home.

[Note that the drop-in feature is NOT the same thing as Alexa's hands-free calling feature. Hands-free calling allows you to call most phone numbers and Echo devices in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada from your Echo by saying your contact's name or number. Just like with a phone call, the other person must choose to answer your call before you can communicate. By contrast, with the drop-in feature communication is instantly established. For this reason you will probably want to use drop-in only with your closest family and friends, and probably only for certain rooms in your home!]

A few (minor) complaints
Unfortunately the Echo 2nd Gen shares an annoying trait of the Echo Dot: widely varying volume levels within the daily Flash Briefing. As you listen to the briefing, some components (such as One America News) come through quietly while others (like Fox News) are much louder. I don't know whether this variability is due to differences in how each component of the feed is produced or whether it has to do with the device itself, but in any case I hoped the phenomenon would be less pronounced with the 2nd Generation Echo than it is with the Dot. Unfortunately, it is not. Just be prepared to adjust the volume at the beginning of each segment.

Another complaint I have is the inability to listen to certain feeds outside of the Flash Briefing. One America News is an example here: you can listen to the channel's live feed any time, but you can only hear the channel's "top stories summary" as part of your Flash Briefing. This issue is probably more software than device related, but still, it bugs me.

A few tips
1) The Echo seems to pick up voices best when placed at or below eye level (i.e., roughly the level from which your voice emits). Mine has trouble detecting voices coming from below it, so I don't recommend placing this on a high shelf.

2) When you select news feeds for your Flash briefing I recommend picking one U.S. source and one international source (I use NPR and BBC - both are excellent). If you add too many feeds you'll get a lot of overlap and hear the same story several times.

3) If you have multiple Echo devices in your home, sometimes speaking to one will cause others to respond as well, especially if they are in close proximity (like in adjacent rooms). One way to prevent this is to change the wake word of one of the devices to "Echo" or "Amazon." The only downside is that you then have to remember which wake word you assigned to each device!

4) Some speakers have a bit of a "burn-in" period, so in an attempt to improve my Echo's sound I left it playing music for much of the first few days I had it. The sound did seem to improve a LITTLE, (the lower frequencies filled in some), but it's still not stellar. But if you're not happy with the sound at first, let it play frequently for a few days and it may improve a bit.

Which one to buy?
If you are trying to decide between the Echo and the Dot, think carefully about how you plan to use the device. The single biggest practical difference between the two is that the Echo has fuller, better quality sound. So if you plan to use the device mostly for listening to music, news, podcasts, or whatever, you will probably appreciate the Echo's better acoustics. On the other hand, if you want to use it mainly for voice control of smart home devices, the Dot is more than sufficient. I have a Dot in our home theater room that I use exclusively to control the lights in that room. For that type of single-purpose application anything more than a Dot would be overkill.

Bottom line
Although the Echo 2nd generation may not have any earth-shattering new features compared with the 1st generation, its significantly lower price and ability to send music to another speaker or stereo system make it a winner. If you already own a 1st generation Echo there probably isn't a compelling reason to upgrade because the difference in sound quality isn't significant. But if this is your first Echo device you will probably be very pleased with it. And if you are deciding between the Echo and the Dot, which one you purchase comes down to how you want to use the device. For heavy listening, the Echo may be preferable for its better acoustics; otherwise, the Dot is a great deal -- especially at half the price of the Echo!
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on November 2, 2017
Update: Amazon has pushed a software update and sound quality now sounds great.

I was originally disappointed in the 2nd Gen as my original review (below) shows. Shortly after posting the review Amazon reached out to me for additional information. They contacted me again today and said they took my, and others, feedback regarding the sound quality seriously. The Amazon rep informed me my Echo was selected to be part of a test group asked me if I would want to install a new software update to address the problem. She walked me through the steps to ensure the update was applied and asked me to test the audio (she stayed on the phone while I did this).

With my 2nd Gen and original 1st Gen Echo in a multi-room group (that's a really nice feature) I had Alexa fire up my playlist. I was surprised to find the 2nd Gen now sounded much improved. As I walked between rooms with the two Echo's I was also surprised that the 2nd Gen sounded better than my 1st Gen, the bass and mid-range had a better quality. Not believing my own ears I had my wife also give it a listen and she agreed.

The Amazon rep said they were working with a small group of customers like me to verify the update and they would be pushing the update to all customers very soon (update to my update, looks like Amazon is now pushing out the software broadly!). You can check your software version by using the Alexa app and looking at your Echo device settings. FYI, after the update my Gen2 shows Device Software Version 592452420 (the original was 592452320).

Other than audio, the Gen 2 is nearly identical to the original Gen 1 with exception of form factor. The Gen 2 is shorter (5.9") and wider (3.5"). For comparison Gen 1 was 9.2" x 3.3". The Gen 2 has many 'skin' options, I chose the fabric option. Comparatively the Gen 1 had a look of plastic and metal. The Gen 2 cover is removable so you can replace with other skins.

As for responsiveness, Gen 2 specs show better microphone array. From my use I've not noticed anything improved. That said I was very happy with the Gen 1 responsiveness to commands, the Gen 2 continues to be as responsive.

All other functions seem to be the same as Gen 1 including blue ring that indicates "listening", buttons on top to activate for "Alexa" and button to mute the microphone array. There is also a 3.5mm jack port and bluetooth to connect to other speakers. There is a design change, with Gen 1 you would turn the ring to change volume, that's been replaced with +/- buttons (following same design change as the Dot releases).

---[Original Review - 1 Star]---
I bought my first Amazon Echo back in 2014. Since then I've added a second Echo (1st gen), a tap and 3 dots. I've added Vaux Cordless Home Speaker VAUX Cordless Home Speaker + Portable Battery for Amazon Echo Dot Gen 2 Gray/Ash to two of my Dots. I've given Echo as gifts. In other words I'm all in on Amazon Echo system and have been for a long time.

Amazon advertises this as 2nd Generation as "improved sound". I thought the original Echo (1 gen) sounded great so I fell for the 2nd gen hook, line and sinker. Unfortunately after listening to it I find it's a sinker indeed, or perhaps a stinker.

I did an informal test with my 1st gen and new 2nd gen Echo. I had them both play a set of songs. I'm just going by what my set of ears tells me, but the 2nd gen is DISAPPOINTING when it comes to sound quality. While it does seem to have a deeper bass, the overall quality sounds tinnier than the 1st gen. Whatever "powered by Dolby" is supposed to bring to the 2nd get unit is not much, this 2nd gen is just not up to par with the original when it comes to audio.

The unit otherwise functions like the original and other than the form factor I see nothing that's an improvement. I haven't seen that it "hears" better. And it doesn't sound better for sure.

Perhaps I'm too focused on the sound of Echo 2nd gen, but when Amazon makes it a point to expressly market it as being "improved sound", I'd expect the sound to be noticeably improved. It doesn't and therefore give it a 1 star rating.
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on March 1, 2018
Let me preface this review by revealing a few facts about myself. I am male, aged 75 years old, and more tech savvy than most people my age, but if you can use a modern computer, and own one, you should have not problem using this device. IT IS SO FAR, MIRACULOUS, and intriguing! I bought mine about a week ago, and waited till a couple days ago to jump in with "both feet" and set it up. Even though I once did computer tech support for Dell computers, It was a long time ago now, and a lot of tech has evolved since then, and i have the same fear of new things as most people my age, though admittedly higher skills. I also own an Iphone 6s plus, of which I have mixed emotions. The Iphone is made by apple, and Apple's idea of "intuitive" and mine are very different. Microsoft is much better at designing "intuitive" into an operating system than Apple. Aniyway, You will need some type of connected WIFI device to use this product. (read that Cell Phone with it's own WIFI abilities, and Bluetooth built in) You will need to download the "Alexa App. " on that device to set up the Alexa products.

From that point on, simply plug in the Echo device into a regular 110V. wall outlet, it comes with a plug in adapter. There are no batteries in this device, although some have them. A NOTE HERE" YES, YOU CAN UNPLUG IT WITHOUT IT LOSING ITS BRAINS AND REQUIRING REPEAT SET UP. So though not specified anywhere I read it evidently has some on board nonvolatile memory built in that will allow this. ( i spent several research sessions attempting to find this out, and finally had to bite the bullet and just try it. ) I moved it from one room location to another and within a few seconds it greeted me and said it was operational. NOW I AM ONLY AN OLD GUY WITH PRETTY GOOD HEARING ABILITIES YET, (NOT EXACTLY AN AUDIOPHILE ) BUT WITH DOLBY DIGITAL SOUND, THIS IS ONE NICE SOUNDING SPEAKER SYSTEM,

Now I am still learning about this product. Every new thing I try I am pleasantly surprised. I plan to get at least a smart home door lock and thermostat to use with it in the future, and several light switches. I am no great fan of the "RING DOORBELL" (due to frequently needed battery recharging) at this point, but I understand Amazon has purchased that company and will soon have an interface app available to use with the "Ring System" If you want to keep up with the march of technology, this device is probably your best doorway to that end, since Amazon is committed to pursuing it. Others may drop out along the way. (NEW) I made a hands free phone call to my son this moring as a test of the phone capabilities. Sound on my end was like he was in the room. The Alexa app and it's capabilities are evolving technologies. Features will be added. (Mine did an update download while playing music) Don't be disappointed. It is attractively packed, and very capable, but the "instructions" are not detailed and are sketchy. Lean about it online as I did before you purchase it. Read as many reviews as your eyes and attention span will allow, and take the plunge! An education awaits you!
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on November 3, 2017
Sound not good at all my jbl bluetooth speaker sounds better than this... Update on review for those having issues with sound here are the steps to resolve

. Press and hold the Microphone off and Volume down buttons at the same time until the light ring turns orange (about 20 seconds). Then the light ring will turn blue.
2. Wait for the light ring to turn off and on again. The light ring will then turn orange again as your device enters setup mode.
3. Open the Alexa app to connect your device to a Wi-Fi network and register it to your Amazon ac
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Top Contributor: Smart Homeon November 12, 2017
I’ve had my Echo 2 for over a week now. It’s our 8th Alexa product, but our first full size Echo. We have several Dots throughout the house, some with auxiliary speakers and some not. The Echo sound quality is far superior to any of them, including those with auxiliary speakers, and speech pickup is very good. I placed this Echo in a large room where the acoustics are challenging. Dots placed there in the past had great difficulty hearing and understanding commands, but the Echo has performed flawlessly. We are so pleased, I’m planning to order several more to replace some of our Dots. We are also very pleased with the look of this new Echo. The interchangeable sleeve is very classy looking and blends well into our decor.
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on November 5, 2017
Sound is not great. A review of the Echo as a music speaker.

We are new Echo users and have never owned the 1st generation products. We have two 2nd gen Dots and one of the new Echos. While the Echo sounds better than the dots, it's inferior to even mid range bluetooth speakers. I understand it's not supposed to be a stand alone speaker but Amazon touted this as "Dynamic bass throughout the room." Not even close. The low end is not very good and the sound starts to distort at max volumes. My comparisons are based two older model speakers, JBL Charge 2 and Bose Mini while listening to Classic Rock, Pop and Classical music.

All other features work as advertised.
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on November 9, 2017
I was very exited about trying out the new echo 2nd generation. After all, I was cautious and did not buy the 1st generation but after seeing all the reviews about the it is decided it's time to get mine. I waited to buy the 2nd Gen as like anyone else the ad said it will be improved quality on the 1st generation.
I was pleasantly surprised when I heard the music play. It did not sound as good as they tried to sell it. Poor quality from the music though Alexa's voice is sharp and crisp. The voice control is very responsive even from my other room which is impressive. All the functions performed exceptional for me except the music playback which was the most important feature I wanted. I planned on buying the 3 pack for the entire home, but that is on hold unless there's significant audio improvement.
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on November 2, 2017
***Update 11/4/17: I wish I hadn't raised my review to 5 stars yesterday, because I got the firmware update that other reviewers have commented on last night on 2 of my 3 new Echoes (version 592452420), and I'd like to be able to bump it up another star now that I have. These speakers sound great for their size, better than the original Echo. And they are definitely a great speaker at the $99 price point (and an even better deal if you get them cheaper). It's unfortunate that these speakers didn't ship with this version of the software. It would have saved Amazon a lot of returns. I'm glad I had faith that Amazon would fix it, because they certainly did.

***Update 11/3/17: raising my review to 5 stars from 3. The more I listen to the new Echo, the more I like the sound when playing music (perhaps my ears are just getting habituated to them? Perhaps, but the sound really does seem to be richer than when they came out of the box). These speakers sound is just very different than the first generation. As you can see from reviews so far, those of us who had the first generation Echo have been unusually harsh, while those who are just buying this Echo as their first full Echo product generally love it. I think it’s all about expectations.

11/2/17: I purchased the three-pack of the All-new Echo because I wanted to grow my family of Echo products now that Amazon allows for multi-room audio syncing, which already included 3 of the original Echoes as well as an Echo Dot that I have hooked up to the Klipsch 2.1 Promedia speakers via a line-in connection.

I think my impression of the new version of the Echo is in line with some reviews I've read online from some of the tech magazines, which is that the audio quality seems to be a step down from the original Echo rather than an improvement. The instrumental parts of a song get muddied together while the vocals get pushed forward a bit too much, and the bass is much weaker than it is with the original Echo. However, the size and looks of this speaker is a huge improvement over the original Echo (and it actually makes me much more aware of how ugly the grill on the original Echo really is [unfortunately, this had to be preserved on the non-cloth shells of the new Echo).

That said, I noticed that the more I listened to one of the new speakers over a few hours, I started to notice that I was appreciating the sounds more. I'm not sure if my ear was just habituating to the speaker or if the speaker has a bit of a break-in period. But, when I went back to one of the other new speakers that hasn't been used much, I still noted a difference.

I will also say that when I bought my first original Echo, I was likewise not very happy with the sound (and I had similar complaints). Yet, over time, the speaker seemed to sound better, and I eventually decided to buy two more on Prime Day last year. I think that Amazon regularly updates the software on their products, and I believe that they tweaked some of the EQ on the original Echo to make it sound better (however, I can't find any documentation to back that up; I have found the latest Tap update specifically says it was partially made to improve the bass on that speaker).

Overall, I'd probably give this four stars if the "improved" sound hadn't been so hyped, only to see that they sound worse to me. I'm still impressed by Alexa and the ease with which I can play pretty much any music I want just by asking for it via Amazon Music Unlimited. I also love the multi-room audio feature. I'd love to see the ability to pair two speakers in a stereo mode, but just being able to sync them at all is pretty great for now. I also love the fact that Amazon appears committed to adding useful features, such as the ability to make voice calls with a simple voice prompt, which I've really appreciated when I'm trying to take care of my 8-month old.

I will update my review as I use these speakers more, particularly if I notice any improvement in audio quality.
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