Is the Amazon Echo Sub worth buying over other speakers in 2022?

Is the Amazon Echo Sub worth buying over other speakers in 2022?

Amazon has a vast array of smart speakers and other home devices. There are many ways to get Amazon’s virtual assistant into your home, and the list of these Alexa-enabled devices continues to keep growing. If you haven’t been paying attention to Amazon’s ever-evolving lineup of Echo devices, then the Echo Sub may have flown under your radar. I don’t necessarily blame you for letting this one slide because it’s different from other Echo speakers out there.

The real question, however, is if the Echo Sub is worth buying? What is it like using one with other Echo speakers? As much as I like using my Echo Sub on almost a daily basis along with my other Echo speakers, I can’t recommend it to someone in 2022. Here are some reasons why I think you’re better off buying something like the Echo Studio over the Echo Sub:

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Bring your own Echo, please

The Echo Sub, for those that don’t know, isn’t a standalone speaker. As such, it’s got no brains, no wired inputs, or even a microphone. It’s designed to be used with other Echo speakers only. It seemed pretty good back in 2018 when the Echo Sub was released because it was one of the easiest ways to add more bass to your existing audio setup. The idea of spending $130 on a “dumb” accessory in 2022, however, seems unnecessary, especially with the options like Echo Studio that can do a lot more than just adding more bass to your existing audio setup.

    Amazon is currently offering bundles of the Echo Sub which includes either two Echo Dot or two regular Echo speakers for a complete setup.

The $130 price tag seems palatable when you compare it with some other premium speakers out there but it’s worth noting that you cannot use the Sub by itself to listen to music or talk to Alexa and automate your smart home accessories like you would with some other Echo speakers. This means you have to spend at least another $40 on an Echo Dot speaker to get it up and running. Yes, it’s still relatively cheaper but the Echo Studio can do so much more minus all the frustrating limitations of the Sub, like the ones you’ll see below.

Form factor and design: it needs more space

There’s no doubt that Amazon’s Echo Sub stands out in the sea of other subwoofers out there on the market. It’s essentially a bigger cylindrical version of the relatively smaller Echo speakers from its time. It sports dark mesh fabric with a rounded top, meaning it matches the aesthetics of the Echo lineup. It looks like a premium product for the price. But just because it blends in nicely doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s an additional unit that needs more space within your setup.

An Echo Sub next to an Echo Dot 4th gen speaker

I use my Echo Sub with two other Echo Dot speakers, and I can tell you that my audio setup now occupies more space in my room after adding the Sub. The Echo Sub has improved the audio experience overall but the Echo Studio can deliver the same, if not better, experience while taking up less space. The Echo Studio has almost the same dimensions as the Sub but it doesn’t need additional Echo speakers to work, meaning I can ditch the Echo Dot speakers or put them in some other room to save space in mine. Not to mention, I’ll also have to deal with fewer cables overall because I am not forced to supply power for three individual units all with their own cables.

An image showing a button located at the back of the Echo Sub on top of the power connector

While we’re discussing design, I’d like to point out that the Echo Sub only has a single button which is awkwardly located at the back. Considering how difficult and buggy the Sub can be when it comes to the connection (more on this in the section below), I would’ve preferred having this button on the top or somewhere more accessible.

Connection woes

You may or may not have connectivity issues with your Echo Sub, but it has caused me enough trouble to force a dedicated section. Setting up an Echo Sub involves a few steps including setting up a compatible Echo speaker, registering your Sub in the Alexa app, and then pairing the Sub to your existing speakers. You can check out our guide on how to pair an Echo Sub to an Echo speaker to know more about the process in detail.

The frustration sets in when the speakers themselves have trouble connecting — or being connected — to different Wi-Fi networks. I’ve always had trouble getting the Alexa app to either find my Sub or allowing it to connect to the same network as my other Echo speakers. Connecting the Sub to a network would kick the Echo speakers out of that particular network and vice-versa. The app forces you to constantly reset the connection and try the process again. I even had to force close the app multiple times to get it working.

A screenshot showing complaints from users

If you end up sailing on the same boat as me, then I recommend you deregister all Echo speakers from your network, restart the speakers as well as the router, and then start the process all over again. It seems to work when I take the long route, but it’s annoying, to say the least. Turns out, I am not the only one going through these issues. I was able to spot a ton of such complaints on Amazon and Reddit by many users.

Do you know what Amazon could’ve done to make this easier for its customers? Allowing to use pair and unpair with a simple voice command. But sadly you can’t do that with any Echo speakers. It just sticks out like a sore thumb in the case of the Echo Sub because it doesn’t even have a microphone to listen to your sorrows.

Audio quality

This is not my full review of the Echo Sub which is why I’d like to keep this section short with just some relevant information. Without getting into too many details, I can say that the Echo Sub works as intended, meaning it adds strong bass to your audio setup just like any other subwoofer. The powerful bass feels overwhelming at times, which is why I also miss not having a proper equalizer to balance the audio. I find myself playing a lot of music over just the Echo Dot speaker instead of the group, just so I could properly hear the vocals and instruments in the background.

For those who are curious, the Echo Sub delivers down-firing, 100W deep bass sound via a 6-inch woofer. The Echo Studio, in comparison, features five drivers which include a 5.25-inch downward-firing woofer, three two-inch midrange speakers, and a one-inch forward-facing tweeter. The Studio drives all that with the help of a 330-watt amp with a 24-bit DAC. The Echo Studio is technically more equipped to output better audio by itself, and it can also be tuned specifically for the room it’s placed in.

Closing Thoughts: Look for alternatives

Amazon introduced the Echo Sub back in 2018 as a solid addition to one’s smart-home arsenal. It was an easy pick-up for those who already owned Echo speakers but really wanted to, you know, bring the bass home. It had its flaws but it continued to thrive by being the only option that worked with existing Echo speakers to improve the overall audio quality. While it still works as intended, it’s no longer the only option for those who want that extra bass oomph thanks to the arrival of the Echo Studio.

Echo Studio

The Echo Sub isn’t necessarily a bad product because it improves the overall audio experience for those who are already heavily invested in Amazon’s eco-system and own, say, a bunch of Echo Dots and regular Echo speakers. But if you compare it to the Echo Studio which came out a year after the Echo Sub, you’ll know exactly what you miss out on. The Echo Sub just sits in a very weird spot in 2022. Not to mention, it also comes with its fair share of frustrating limitations, making it hard for me to recommend it with all the other options out there.

    The Echo Studio released a year after the Echo Sub came out, and it offers a significantly better experience in terms of both audio quality and usability.

About author

Karthik Iyer
Karthik Iyer

Karthik covers PC hardware for XDA Computing. When not at work, you will find him yelling at his monitors while playing video games.

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