Can Amazon's new Echo Sub compete with Sonos?
Echo Sub adds serious bass to the Echo line—should you buy it?
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Despite all their amazing features, Amazon Echo smart speakers have never really been about sound quality. Even the larger Echos could only manage mediocre sound with precious little bass. Anyone who really wanted to experience music to its fullest had to pony up for the larger and more versatile speakers on the market such as Sonos, HomePod, Google Home, or they could opt to connect the Echo Input to their higher-quality but otherwise “dumb” speaker system.
The release of the Echo Sub is Amazon's attempt to bridge the gap between their Echo devices and serious speaker systems for music lovers. After spending time with all of the speakers I mentioned above, I tried out the Echo Sub to compare it to the others.
I paired the Echo Sub with the new Echo Plus and turned it loose. The new generation Echo Plus is 75% louder than its predecessor, and though I wouldn’t call it impressive, it is a major improvement. Hey, you can only expect so much from a speaker slightly larger than a can of peas. Enter the Echo Sub.
The Sub can pair with any other Echo speaker to deliver much-enhanced mids and lows thanks to a 6-inch woofer. It can work in conjunction with a single Echo or a stereo pair of Echo speakers, which affords you left and right stereo sound in addition to rumbling bass.
I love me some good bass and the Sub definitely delivers without overwhelming the sound coming from the Plus. That being said, I still don't think serious music lover is going to find all that they’re looking for in a speaker set with the combination of an Echo Plus (or even two Pluses) and Echo Sub.
If you’ve already invested in and Echo Plus for the louder speaker and just want to improve the sound quality, for $129 dollars the Sub is the way to go.
However, if you are just now entering smart speaker market and want a speaker system that will give you goosebumps as well as access to Alexa or Google Assistant, I highly recommend you opt for a Sonos One instead.
Sonos speakers are unique in the smart speaker world in that they allow users to choose which smart assistant they’d like to use. Sonos can either respond as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant, so it works well with just about any smart home setup. And when you first use the Sonos, the app has you walk around as sounds play from the speaker so it can use your cell phone's microphone to adjust the audio according to the layout of your room. The commitment to great music for your space is central to Sonos’s design. The Echo line is primarily about Alexa—sound quality isn’t the focus.
It's worth noting that the Sub is only a sub—it has no microphone and does not work except when paired with an Echo Speaker. If you're already in bed with Echo speakers, you’ll love the addition of the Sub, but it’s probably not going to be life-altering.
Prices were accurate at the time of publication but may change over time.