Today at a special event, Amazon unveiled a bevy of new Echo devices, including several aimed a bit upmarket. The Echo Studio is Amazon’s answer to the Google Nest Max and Apple HomePod. It’s larger than a normal Echo, and supports 3D audio and Dolby Atmos.
It has five device drivers: one downward-facing woofer, one front-firing, 1-inch tweeter and three mid-range, 2-inch speakers aimed at different directions. Inside are several microphones that allow the speaker to work like a standard Echo device.
“It is the most innovative speaker we have ever built and has unbelievable sound,” said David Limp, SVP of Devices at Amazon. “It has space, it has clarity, it has depth.”
Amazon entered this market last year with the Amazon Echo Link and Echo Link Amp. Both were clearly designed for consumers looking for a better way to bring voice services to existing home audio systems. The Echo Studio enters the same space but in a different way. Consumers looking for better sound with Alexa no longer have to lean on a traditional audio system.
The speaker is supposed to produce improved audio placement by bouncing sound off walls. Like the Apple HomePod, this design allows consumers to get near-surround sound quality from a single speaker — though we’ll have to test the two speakers side-by-side to hear the differences. Also like the HomePod, the Echo Studio supports stereo pairing, too, allowing two speakers to play the part of left and right speakers.
In preparation for the new hardware, the company also this month launched a lossless streaming tier for its Amazon Music streaming service, called Amazon Music HD. The service delivers 50 million songs in higher-quality audio for $14.99 per month or $12.99 per month if you’re a Prime subscriber.
The Echo Studio joins an ever-increasing amount of Echo speakers. At $199 (and available to pre-order today), the speaker sits just $50 more than an Echo Plus. Or $30 less than two Echo Dots with an Echo Sub. Or, the same price as two $99 Echo speakers that are also capable of stereo virtualization. Amazon has long offered Echo products at various price points, and it seems it’s content on continuing that trend.
At the same event, Amazon also unveiled a new $99 Echo device and a $59 Echo Dot with built-in clock called, appropriately, Echo Dot with Clock. The company also announced multilingual support, allowing Alexa to respond to multiple languages at once.