If you already own a few Amazon Alexa devices and you need some new wireless earbuds, this Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) review is the right place to be.
They’re the best cheap headphones for Alexa users because you can speak to the voice assistant hands-free. That means you can get the answers to your burning questions, control your smart home and change the music - all without having to touch a thing.
Comfortable, secure and water-resistant, the Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) will be good for exercise, no matter what you're into. Audiophiles may not be so keen on them though because the sound isn't as precise as the very best true wireless earbuds you can buy. But in saying that, music will sound clear and balanced to just about anyone else. I think they’re great value for money!
If you’re looking to spend even less than this, take a look at the best budget wireless earbuds for some cheaper options.
Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) review: price and what’s new
You can buy the Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) with a wired charging case on Amazon for $120 in the US, £110 in the UK and AU$170 in Australia. If you’d rather have the wireless case, it’ll set you back $140 / £130 / AU$200. Make sure you check our Amazon discount codes to get a cheaper price.
There will be regular deals on these headphones so watch out for those, or take a look at the widgets on this page to see the best prices on them today where you are.
Improving on the first generation, the Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) should be more comfortable and more pocket friendly because both the earbuds and the case are smaller than before.
There are also new vents on each bud that should stop pressure build-up making them easier to wear throughout the day, and it’ll make your own voice sound more natural when you speak with them in your ears.
A new refreshed design makes them look a lot smarter with a new Glacier White colourway added to the mix alongside the standard black. And you can choose to buy them with either a wired case or one that supports wireless charging.
When it comes to functionality, Amazon has upgraded the noise reduction technology to full noise cancellation while sound has also had an upgrade.
Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) review: design and fit
Setting up the earbuds is just like setting up any new Alexa device. When you open the charging case, the two LED lights will flash blue and a pop up should appear on your phone screen. You’ll then just need to follow the instructions and you’ll be good to go!
Thanks to the new design, the Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) look a lot smarter than before. From the outside, you'll see matte black circles with a very discreet Amazon arrow across the outside. Each one weighs 5.7g and measures 20.0 x 19.1 x 19.1mm, they’re small but they do stick out slightly from your ear which won’t be to everyone’s tastes.
The matching charging case weighs 44.4g and measures 66.8 x 28.6 x 39.1mm, it’s about the size of a TicTac box, but the corners are rounded and smooth. It’ll fit in the palm of your hand and you can slip it into even the smallest of pockets.
Like the buds, the case has the Amazon arrow hidden away on the bottom in very faint grey. You'll also find a USB-C port on the back to charge it which is placed next to the tiny Bluetooth reset button.
In the box, the Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) come with four sizes of silicone ear tips and three sets of wingtips so you’ll be sure to find the most comfortable and secure fit for you. To help that along, you can use the Ear Tip Sizing Test in the Alexa app. It’ll run the test for you, you just need to sit still and the app will let you know how well that size fits you.
The earbuds feel fine over long periods of use, I wore them for a good few hours before feeling any fatigue. They stayed secure through workouts too, especially when I put the wingtips on.
You’ll be able to use these for most types of activity because the earbuds are IPX4 water-resistant so will survive splashes of rain or sweat - they’re well suited to the gym, to runs and to the commute.
Controlling the music through the touch controls is easy. By default, you’ll need to tap once to play or pause, twice to skip, three times to go to the previous track and hold down on the bud to turn on the ANC. If a call comes through then you’ll just need to double-tap to answer it or if you’re on a call double-tapping will hang it up. If those don’t suit you, or you’d rather have other types of controls like volume up and down, you can assign new actions to the commands in the app.
Another way to control the music is through the Alexa voice commands. You just need to say the wake word 'Alexa' and tell her what you want. Not only can you pick a new tune or turn up the volume, but you can also ask questions and control your smart home tech through these as you would through a smart speaker.
The earbuds’ battery will last up to 5 hours from a full charge (going up to 6.5 hours with ANC and Alexa wake word switched off). With the charging case, you’ll get a total of 15 hours of music (or 19.5 hours with ANC and Alexa wake word off). That’s quite far off the amount you get on some other true wireless earbuds, but it should be fine as long as you don’t listen to music all day every day.
If you don’t have long to charge them back up to 100%, a quick 15 minutes in the case should give you about 2 hours of listening time.
Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) review: performance and features
The Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) have new and improved dynamic audio, I listened to a few different genres and the sound was crisp and balanced across the board with punchy bass and tonnes of energy.
Vocals, in particular, were crystal clear, cutting through the bass with no trouble at all. If anything there was slightly too much emphasis on the treble but you do get manual equaliser settings in the Alexa app so you can adjust the audio accordingly.
Of course, you can’t expect the precision of high-end wireless earbuds like the Sony WF-1000XM4 because the audio isn’t anywhere near as refined. You can sometimes miss out on some details in the track and the bass won’t quite knock you sideways, but I don’t think that’s a dealbreaker. For a pair of cheap headphones, these perform quite well.
One area I would say the Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) fell down in was the active noise-cancellation, it’s great that Amazon has added that in here and it goes some way to cutting out distracting noises but it doesn’t do the best job. I could still hear keyboard taps and office chat through the music. When I was testing them out, there were even times that I couldn't really tell whether the ANC was switched on or not.
There’s also a pass-through mode that allows you to hear your surroundings, it definitely did that, outside noise became balanced with the music so you can hear things much more clearly.
Each earbud has three built-in microphones. They work well. Alexa rarely missed the wake word and my voice came through clearly on calls although there was still some background noise to contend with.
Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) review: verdict
The Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) are a big improvement on the originals - they look cooler, they sound better and the feature-set is more accomplished. Long story short, these are a much more convincing pair of wireless earbuds than what came before them.
If you’re looking for near-perfect sound then you won’t find that here, but then you can’t really expect that at this price. Your music will sound fine, and you’ll be able to adjust it through the app if you aren’t happy with the default equaliser settings.
The battery life leaves a lot to be desired but then again, 5 hours from a single charge will actually be alright for most people and will quite easily get you through a long train journey before you chuck them back into the case to charge up again.
Anyone who is a fan of Alexa, or who already has compatible smart home products set up at home will get on well with these. The best part is that you can easily switch songs when your hands are busy so you won’t have to stop halfway through a workout when a slow tune comes on, for example.
You will basically get all of the benefits of an Alexa smart speaker packed into two tiny earbuds. That's sure to be their biggest draw, and it's the only element that really sets them apart from the crowd.
Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) review: also consider
Those who care about sound above all else should buy the Panasonic RZ-S500W instead. While the touch controls need a bit of work, they are some of the best sounding cheap headphones you can buy and the noise-cancelling does a great job at keeping your focus entirely on the music.
More interested in having a stylish pair of headphones? The Audio-Technica ATH-SQ1TW are much cheaper than this and they come in loads of funky colours. They don’t have noise-cancelling but the sound is pretty good.