Top critical review
If you thought this was a Sonos killer like me, we were wrong.
December 21, 2018
Here is my review after playing with it for 30 minutes....
1) When you first install the Link and you think you can change audio settings, don't bother. You need to wait "up to 2 hours" for it to update the firmware, there is no way to force it. Mine updated itself in around 20 minutes after install.
2) The Link cannot transport audio from the inputs to the rest of the network. They are simply pass-through to the local output.
3) The Link cannot be used as a preferred speaker for a group unless it is in the group. It is treated like any other Echo. Sonos looks like a distinct speaker device. Since a speaker can only be added to one group, you won't be able to use it as a global source without making a group containing all of your Echos. This is going to be horrible if room awareness ever gets improved (come on Amazon, room awareness is currently terrible too).
4) You cannot set the output to a fixed volume level, only variable.
5) The Link does not duck (decrease volume when you trigger an Echo). Enjoy yelling at your Echo to try to overpower the audio, especially talk radio (like NPR).
6) For some odd reason, you need to put the Link on wifi during the initial setup, even if you already have it hard wired to Ethernet.
7) Volume cannot be adjusted from the Alexa App device settings. You must use targeting via voice or, while playing music from the app directly, or physically on the unit. On any other normal Echo device, you can do it from device settings.
8) Sometimes the Preferred Speaker is not used and the local Echo plays the audio instead. This isn't a Link only problem and perhaps is related to some queued reconfiguration? It does not happen consistently so I'm not sure what to think.
A Sonos Connect can do all of the above, easily.
If you want to put Echo audio into your system via a higher quality DAC or digital, this is the device for you. That is pretty much all the device is good for right now, it is lacking in every other area and for $200, pretty much everyone is going to be disappointed by something. If $200 is all you have, check craigslist for a Sonos Connect. It does a better job of integrating with Alexa than Amazon's own product.
We are going to need Amazon to do some serious software updates before this is really worth $200 or even worth integrating into your system.
Received a call from Amazon 30 minutes after this review. I was conferenced in with a Link developer named Diana.
Diana acknowledged the feedback and wanted to discuss points #3 (preferred speaker) and #5 (ducking):
#3: She stated that it can be used as a preferred speaker for multiple groups. After discussing this, I realized that she was describing this as if it were created as a multiroom audio group first. The catch with this is that you cannot create a multiroom audio group with a single speaker in it (the Link). You must create it with more than 1. So, if you have another dummy echo that you don't mind being in the same group as the Link, you can create this and then use it. You should be able to create a multiroom audio group with one device, the Link.
#5: Diana believed ducking works. I tested it with her on the phone, it did not work. I have also tested ducking with the Echo Input and a secondary Echo as the preferred speaker, none of the configurations work. The only configuration I can successfully duck with is a Sonos preferred speaker. Has anyone been able to get ducking to work with the Link? Please comment, I'd love to know.
I have to give some credit to Amazon, they were very prompt on reaching out. Diana would not discuss the roadmap and would not acknowledge if any of my other bullets are on the roadmap.
NOTES: I am using the IOS Alexa App to do my configuration.