Alexa Fast Tips Friday: Echo 2 vs Other Alexa Devices

I received my Echo Second Generation on Halloween and, as promised, today I’m sharing my thoughts on Echo 2 vs other Alexa devices: how Echo 2 sound quality and other features compare to the rest of the Alexa device family.


No Louder Sound


There are plenty of reviews available that compare the new Echo 2 (UK readers click here) to the new Echo Plus (UK readers click here), but I’ve been asked by readers to offer my thoughts on how the Echo 2 compares to the original Echo, Show and Tap so they can decide if it’s worth replacing their current Alexa device with an Echo 2.


Sound Quality: Is It Better?
I think the answer to this question depends on whether you intend to listen to music directly from the Echo 2’s speaker, or use its AUX out port or Bluetooth capability to connect to an external speaker.

If you’re not connecting to an external speaker the original Echo’s sound wins, hands down. I feel the Echo Show and Tap’s sound are superior to Echo 2 as well. Other reviewers have noted the Echo 2’s sound is tuned to offer more treble and less bass, and I have to agree. To my (admittedly unsophisticated, consumer-grade ear), the Echo 2’s speaker sounds a little tinny when playing music, and in terms of the Alexa device family, it really only sounds better than the Dot.

If you’re planning to connect to a premium external speaker, then the Echo 2 can deliver something the original Echo can’t: Dolby digital sound processing. A high-end speaker such as the BOSE SoundLink Revolve (UK readers click here), UE Megaboom (UK readers click here) or SONOS Play (UK readers click here) can definitely make good use of the improved sound engineering. However, if you don’t already own one of those high-end speakers it’s important to remember that SONOS and UE are offering new versions of their speakers that have Alexa built in. Going with one of those speakers may be the better option if you’ve already made up your mind to go with a high-end sound solution and don’t already own a premium external speaker.


Alexa’s Hearing: Is It Better?
The microphone array has been updated in Echo 2. It does seem better than most existing Alexa devices at picking out voice commands from background noise and at hearing you even when the device itself is playing music at high volume, though it’s hard to tell much of a difference when compared to Tap. This isn’t surprising, since the Tap was specially designed for playing music and is optimized for outdoor use.

Still, if you tend to listen to your Alexa-streamed music on an original Echo at high volume, or use your original Echo in a noisy environment, this may be a deciding factor for you. The Show has other features neither Echo nor Echo 2 have of course, so the microphone array probably isn’t the most important factor there.


What Else Is Different In The Echo 2?
Frankly, not a lot. It’s about the same circumference as the original, though a little over three inches shorter. Echo 2 has added an AUX out port, so for people who want to use a corded external speaker this is an important improvement over the original Echo and Show. The port accepts a standard 3.5mm cable, so you’ll have to buy an adapter if you plan to use component cables. There’s no volume ring on Echo 2, volume is controlled via push buttons on top of the device (like on the Dot) or voice commands only.

Echo 2 also comes with your choice of external faux wood, metal or fabric finishes, and that’s pretty much it in terms of differences.


Personally, since I don’t own (and don’t plan to buy) any premium external speakers I’ll be sticking with my Echo Show (UK readers click here) and original generation Echo for the time being.