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Amazon Echo Dot Gen 4 Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Jan 12, 2021 at 07:15 am
Amazon Echo Dot Gen 4 Picture
5.7
Music
5.2
Videos/Movies
6.3
Podcasts
8.8
Voice Assistant
4.9
Outdoors
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Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
Yes
Speakerphone
Yes
Voice Assistant
Yes
Battery Powered
No

The Amazon Echo Dot Gen 4 is a budget-friendly speaker with built-in Alexa voice assistant capabilities. It has an outstanding voice assistant performance, as the speaker can understand you even if you aren't close by or if you're in a noisy setting. You can even mute the microphone if you want privacy. However, its sound profile is a bit dark and dull, and it also lacks low-bass. Fortunately, there are bass and treble adjustments in the Amazon Alexa app.

Our Verdict

5.7 Music

The Amazon Echo Dot 4th Gen is middling for music. Its balanced mid-range reproduces vocals and lead instruments clearly, but it also sounds a bit dark and veiled. Like many of the small speakers we've tested, it also struggles to reproduce low-bass, and it doesn't get very loud. However, the Amazon Alexa app offers bass and treble adjustments to help you customize its sound.

Pros
  • Bass and treble adjustments.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • Doesn't get very loud.
5.2 Videos/Movies

The Amazon Echo Dot 4th Gen is disappointing for videos and movies. It can reproduce voices clearly, though they may sound a bit dark or veiled. However, it lacks low-bass, so you don't feel the thump and rumble in action-packed scenes. It doesn't get very loud, either. While its latency with Android devices may be too high for watching videos, it performs better with iOS devices. Some apps compensate for latency, so your experience may vary.

Pros
  • Bass and treble adjustments.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • Doesn't get very loud.
6.3 Podcasts

The Amazon Echo Dot is acceptable for podcasts. It has a neutral mid-range that can reproduce voices clearly, though they may sound a bit dark or dull. However, it doesn't get very loud. You can stream podcasts from your phone or tablet to the speaker wirelessly via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, but you can only pair it to one device at a time, which can be disappointing.

Pros
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatible.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
8.8 Voice Assistant

The Amazon Echo Dot 4th Gen is amazing for voice assistant support. It has built-in Alexa capabilities, and the speaker is voice-activated. It can understand you even if you aren't close to it or if you're in a loud setting. There's also a mic mute feature, which is handy if you don't want the speaker to listen to you. However, it doesn't get very loud.

Pros
  • Has mic mute button.
  • Excellent ambient noise performance.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
4.9 Outdoors

The Amazon Echo Dot has to be plugged into an outlet to work, so it isn't suitable for outdoor use.

  • 5.7 Music
  • 5.2 Videos/Movies
  • 6.3 Podcasts
  • 8.8 Voice Assistant
  • 4.9 Outdoors
  1. Updated Jan 12, 2021: Review published.
  2. Updated Jan 07, 2021: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights No

The Amazon Echo Dot is a small speaker with a distinctive spherical design. It sits on its base, which is flat. There's a ring of light that surrounds the base of the speaker that activates for voice commands, volume adjustments, and when you turn the microphone off. However, it doesn't flash when your music is playing. You also can't change the color.

5.8
Design
Portability
Volume
45 inยณ (730 cmยณ)
Weight
0.7 lbs (0.3 kg)
Power Source
AC Only
One-Hand Carry
Yes

This speaker has middling portability. It's small and lightweight, and you can easily carry it with one hand. However, it's only powered by AC, so you have to keep it plugged into a wall outlet for it to work.

6.4
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Good
Water Resistance
Unspecified
Dust Resistance
Unspecified
Impact Resistance
Unspecified
Floats In Water
Unspecified

The Amazon Echo Dot has a passable build quality. The speaker itself feels solid, and the fabric surrounding the speaker is tight and doesn't seem like it could rip easily. However, it isn't rated for dust, water, or impact resistance like some of the other speakers we've tested, like the Sony SRS-XB23.

6.0
Design
Controls
Ease Of Use
Great
Feedback
Great
Music Play/Pause
No
Call Answer/End
No
Volume Up/Down
Yes (Physical)
Track Next/Previous
No
Microphone On/Off
Yes (Physical)
Additional Controls
Yes

The controls are mediocre. The four physical buttons let you adjust the volume, mute/unmute the microphone, or activate Alexa without using the wake word, "Alexa". You can also hold down the Action button for 25 seconds to reset the speaker or tap it to silence an alarm. Also, tapping the front of the speaker snoozes your alarm.

Design
In The Box

  • Amazon Echo Dot
  • Power cable
  • User Manual

Sound
5.5
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
-1.08
Std. Err.
3.37 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
118.1 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
17.5 kHz

The Amazon Echo Dot has middling frequency response accuracy. It struggles to reproduce low-bass, so you don't feel the deep thump and rumble in bass-heavy music like EDM. Its balanced mid-range can reproduce vocals and lead instruments clearly, but it lacks detail in the treble range, so your audio can sound dark or dull. However, you can use the bass and treble adjustments in the companion app to adjust the speaker's sound.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
6.6
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
2.69 dB
Stereo
No (mono)

The soundstage is okay. It has to downmix stereo content into mono to play it, which doesn't sound as immersive. Fortunately, its directivity is impressive, so the soundstage is perceived as open and spacious.

5.6
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
78.4 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
2.51 dB

The Amazon Echo Dot has sub-par dynamics. It doesn't get very loud, and it has some compression artifacts present when you play it at max volume. It may not be suitable for listening to music at parties.

Active Features
0
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
N/A
Charge Time
N/A
Power Saving
No
Charging Port
No Battery

This speaker doesn't have a battery, and you need to plug it into a wall socket to operate it. According to the manufacturer, it enters 'Low Power Mode' when it's idle to help reduce its energy consumption, but we don't test for this.

10
Active Features
Voice Assistant
Alexa
Built-in (Wi-Fi Only)
Google Assistant
No
Siri
No
Voice Activation
Yes
Microphone Mute
Yes
Far-Field Performance
Excellent
Ambient Noise Performance
Excellent

The Amazon Echo Dot has exceptional voice assistant support. It has built-in Alexa support, and you can activate it with your voice. It understands you, even if you aren't very close to the speaker, and it can separate your voice from background noises. Also, you can mute the microphone if you don't want it to listen to you.

9.3
Active Features
App
App Name
Amazon Alexa
iOS
Yes
Android
Yes
EQ
Bass/Treble
Stereo Pair Mode
Yes
Party Mode
Yes
Multi-Room
Yes

The Amazon Alexa app is incredible. It offers bass and treble adjustments, so you have some control over the speaker's sound profile. You can pair two Echo Dot speakers together to create a stereo pair, which helps create a wider soundstage. Also, you can connect multiple speakers to play music across a large area or through multiple rooms in your house thanks to the Party Mode and Multi-Room features.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Wired
Aux Input
Yes
USB Audio
No
Other Ports
No

The Amazon Echo Dot comes with a 3.5mm AUX port, so you can wire your devices like your smartphone to the speaker to play audio.

7.4
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
Unspecified
Bluetooth iOS Latency
111 ms
Bluetooth Android Latency
163 ms
Bluetooth Range
214.9 ft (65.5 m)
Multi-Device Pairing
No

This speaker is Bluetooth-compatible. Thanks to its superb range, it stays connected even if your device isn't very close to the speaker. While its latency with Android devices may be too high for watching videos, it performs better with iOS devices. However, some apps compensate for latency, so your real-world experience can vary.

6.5
Connectivity
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Version
Wi-Fi 5
Wi-Fi Frequency Band
2.4GHz & 5GHz
Apple AirPlay
No
AirPlay Latency
N/A
Google Chromecast
No
Chromecast Latency
N/A

The Amazon Echo Dot has fair Wi-Fi connectivity. While it's Wi-Fi compatible, it doesn't support Apple AirPlay or Google Chromecast connections.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

We tested the 4th Gen variant of the Amazon Echo, which has a smaller spherical design that sets it apart from the previous generations. This speaker is available in several different colors, including 'Glacier White', 'Charcoal', and 'Twilight Blue'. We tested the 'Charcoal' variant, and you can see the label here. We expect the other color variants to perform similarly.

Amazon also offers an Echo Dot variant with a digital clock feature, which is available in 'Glacier White' and 'Twilight Blue'. Unlike the variant we tested, it has an LED clock display to help you keep track of the time. Also, there's a Kids Edition of this speaker, available in 'Panda' or 'Tiger', that comes with additional parental controls. 

If you come across another version, let us know in the discussions so we can update our review.

Compared To Other Speakers

The Amazon Echo Dot is a small, budget-friendly speaker with a built-in Alexa voice assistant. It's an excellent choice for voice assistant support, and the speaker can understand you even if you aren't close to it or if you're in a noisy setting. However, like most small speakers, it struggles to reproduce low-bass and it doesn't get very loud.

Apple HomePod mini

The Amazon Echo Dot Gen 4 is a better speaker for voice assistant support than the Apple HomePod mini. The Amazon offers a mic mute button, and it has a better ambient noise performance, so it can understand you better in noisy settings. Also, it has bass and treble adjustments for customizing its sound. However, the Apple is better for music and videos, as it has a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box and a better soundstage.

Amazon Echo Gen 4

The Amazon Echo Gen 4 and the Amazon Echo Dot Gen 4 are both excellent voice assistant speakers, however, the Echo is a better choice for listening to music. The Echo has a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box, and it can reproduce a more extended low-bass. Also, it gets louder, though it has some more compression at max volume. It's a bit bigger than the Echo Dot, too.

Google Nest Mini

The Google Nest Mini and the Amazon Echo Dot Gen 4 are similar speakers, so depending on your usage habits, you may prefer one over the other. The Amazon is better for voice assistants since it has a better ambient noise performance, so the voice assistant can understand you better in noisy settings. While the Amazon has built-in Alexa support, the Google has built-in Google Assistant. Unlike the Amazon, the Google also supports Chromecast.

Google Nest Audio

The Google Nest Audio and the Amazon Echo Dot Gen 4 are similar speakers, so depending on your usage habits, you may prefer one over the other. The Amazon is better for voice assistant support, as it has a better ambient noise performance. However, the Google is better for music and videos. It has a more balanced sound profile out-of-the-box, and it gets louder. It also supports Chromecast, unlike the Amazon.

Apple HomePod

The Amazon Echo Dot Gen 4 is better for voice assistants than the Apple HomePod, but the Apple is a better choice for music, videos, and podcasts. The Amazon comes with a mic mute feature, it supports Bluetooth, and it has bass and treble adjustments, unlike the Apple. However, the Apple has a more balanced sound profile out-of-the-box and a better soundstage. It can get louder, and it supports Apple AirPlay.

Sonos Move

The Sonos Move is a more versatile speaker than the Amazon Echo Dot Gen 4. The Sonos can be battery-operated, so it's portable enough to use outside. It has an IP56 rating for dust and water resistance, though we don't test for this. It also has a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box, and it can get louder. However, the Amazon is a bit better for voice assistants thanks to its ambient noise performance, which helps the voice assistant understand your commands more clearly in noisy environments.

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