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Lifewire / Benjamin Zeman
Compact 100W design with big sound
Visually matches other current gen Echo devices
Can be paired with two Echo devices for 2.1 stereo sound
Not suitable for large spaces
Only supports playback over Wi-Fi network
Must be paired with a compatible Echo device
Stereo pairing not available with some Echo devices
No Bluetooth or 3.5mm Aux port
No volume or crossover adjustment
Fabric is difficult to clean
The Amazon Echo Sub is not worth buying. The hardware may be decent, but it must have been rushed to market because there are just too many problems, and even more on the software end. Additionally, Amazon’s Echo Plus (2nd Gen) smart speakers have plenty of bass on their own and don’t really need an additional subwoofer.
Part of Amazon’s newest line of Echo products, the Echo Sub is a very compact subwoofer, designed specifically to pair with compatible Echo devices. It shares the same aesthetics as the Echo Plus (2nd Gen) and Echo Dot (3rd Gen) but in a larger package.We’re going to take a look at its overall functionality and sound quality to see if it’s really worth the extra cost.
The Amazon Echo Sub looks like a fatter Echo Plus, covered in one of the same three fabric color choices in a cylindrical design. It’s available in charcoal, heather gray, and sandstone, with the top and bottom manufactured out of black plastic. The four liter sealed chamber has a radius of 8.3 inches and height of 8 inches, enclosing a powerful 6-inch, down-firing woofer and 100W Class D amplifier.
When it comes to looks, there’s not much else to it. Unlike the Echo Plus there are no buttons, microphones, or LED ring on top. The bottom is ported and has a few rubber non-slip pads. The only port is for the power cable and there is one small action button located just above it, and there’s a single LED light in the center of the button.
It resembles a short trash can, and it was hard to find a suitable space for it.
Unlike the Echo Plus, we found its cylindrical shape a little unappealing. It resembles a short trash can, and it was hard to find a suitable space for it. It wasn’t as much about placing it where it would provide the best bass response, it’s just that it really stands out in the room and doesn’t blend in well. The power cable also sticks out a bit too far, and we would’ve preferred a connection on the bottom like the Bose Home Speaker 500 we recently tested.
The three non-slip rubber pads on the bottom are unusually small for a device that weighs more than nine pounds. We have a nagging suspicion they won’t stay on for very long and when they fall off, they’d be very easy to lose. We’re also disappointed there’s no 3.5mm aux port like Amazon’s other Echo devices. That in itself limits compatibility even more.
We’ve shared our frustration with the setup process for other Echo devices like the Echo Dot and Echo Plus in other reviews. The Echo Sub took things to a whole new level, and was the last device to finally and miraculously connect to the Alexa mobile app. After weeks of trying on three different Wi-Fi networks and troubleshooting everything we could think of, one morning the Echo Sub just decided it was time. We opened the Alexa app, went to the devices menu, clicked on the sub and it was added within a few minutes.
Stereo pairing, speaker groups, and multi-room music only support music playback over a Wi-Fi network, and don’t support Bluetooth, 3.5mm AUX in, or TV/video connections. To make things even more complicated, when doing our research, we also found that some Echo devices support different stereo and subwoofer configurations. Amazon’s claim that the Echo Sub is “simple to set up and use” seems like a terrible joke.
With all that said, once we finally got our whole Echo ecosystem setup and working, we could tell that the hardware is actually pretty good.
After the serious undertaking of actually getting our Echo Sub working, we weren’t expecting much when it came to sound quality. Surprisingly, the Echo Sub delivers some powerful bass with decent clarity and articulation. We tested out our Echo Sub and Echo Plus speaker pairing with a variety of music, video, and podcasts.
The Echo Sub is definitely loud enough; in fact, at times it’s too loud, and there’s no volume control. From the high of discovering the Sub’s solid sound quality, this total lack of inline or on-device control was a serious downer. Bass heavy music can easily become overpowering and the only option for reducing it is to ask Alexa to “turn down the bass.” The lack of volume and crossover control is a huge flaw.
The Echo Sub is definitely loud enough; in fact, at times it’s too loud, and there’s no volume control.
Pairing the Echo Sub with the Echo Dot (3rd gen) really highlighted this problem. The Echo Dot is a very small smart speaker and without any control, this pairing just doesn’t make any sense. Ultimately, we decided the Echo Sub just doesn’t work for us. Until Amazon implements some more control options, it was mostly just a distraction.
When looking at other consumer’s comments, we found that Amazon released the Echo Sub before the software would allow adding a stereo/sub pairing to the everywhere group. A software update fixed that, so hopefully Amazon will continue adding features in a timely manner. Until then, there’s little chance of getting good, balanced sound out of this sub and your other paired Echo speakers.
It’s not just the Echo Sub that brings Amazon’s software problems to the forefront. We ran into frustrating problems with every Echo product we tested, except the Echo Show 5 which can be setup on the device itself. The Alexa mobile app needs a major overhaul and from the number of negative reviews, we’re sure Amazon’s know it.
We enjoyed using Alexa as a voice assistant once we finally got our smart hub speakers set up, but that functionality is lacking with the Echo Sub as well. Amazon could potentially add some features like EQ, volume, and crossover in the future, so the Echo Sub might not be a total loss. We’d love to see that happen in the future because the sub doesn’t sound that bad.
The Amazon Echo Sub is very affordable at only $130. There are plenty of other 100W powered subs on the market in that price range but we couldn’t find any compatible with Amazon’s line of Echo devices. When researching other options that work with an Amazon Echo smart hub speaker, we couldn’t find anything that was even close to this price range. For the time being it looks like the Echo Sub is your only option.
The Echo Plus already has surprisingly good bass and with two paired together, more than enough low end for most people. We really don’t think there’s much of a point in adding a subwoofer to your Echo speaker unless Amazon makes some major improvements.
We couldn’t find any reasonable competition for the Amazon Echo Sub at this time. Sonos is a competitor in the market but their wireless sub comes in at a whopping $699, as does Bose’s Bass Module 700 Wireless Subwoofer. Google has yet to release a sub to pair with their Google Home Max or other Google Home products.
When compared to $130 for the Echo Sub, it’s apples and oranges. When it comes to adding a sub to your Echo lineup, the Echo Sub has no competition. If you have the money to spend, though, we suggest ditching the Echo products and taking a look at the excellent line of Sonos or Bose smart hub speakers, soundbars, and subwoofers.
Feels rushed to market.
In time, the Amazon Echo Sub could be a useful addition to Amazon’s Echo lineup but for now it has limited functionality and can only pair with a select few Echo speakers. Although the sound quality is decent, it’s hard to balance the bass when there’s no volume or crossover control. In its current state, the Echo Sub is a hard pass.