Amazon Echo Gen 4 Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Jan 18, 2021 at 09:28 am
Amazon Echo Gen 4 Picture
6.4
Music
5.7
Videos/Movies
6.3
Podcasts
8.8
Voice Assistant
5.0
Outdoors
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
Yes
Speakerphone
Yes
Voice Assistant
Yes
Battery Powered
No

The Amazon Echo Gen 4 is a small, spherical speaker with built-in Alexa capabilities. You can activate Alexa using your voice, and the speaker can understand you even if you're far away or if you're in a noisy environment. While its default sound profile is a bit boomy and veiled, you can adjust its bass and treble levels using the adjustments in the Amazon Alexa app. There's also a mic mute button, so you can control when the speaker is listening to you. Unfortunately, because it's powered by AC, it isn't suitable to bring outdoors.

Our Verdict

6.4 Music

The Amazon Echo is passable for music. Out-of-the-box, its sound profile is a bit boomy, and higher frequencies sound veiled and dark. It also lacks low-bass, so you don't feel the deep thump in bass-heavy music genres. There are bass and treble adjustments to help you customize its sound to your liking, which is nice. However, this speaker can't get very loud, and it also downmixes stereo content into mono, which isn't very immersive-sounding.

Pros
  • Bass and treble adjustments.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
5.7 Videos/Movies

The Amazon Echo is sub-par for videos and movies. This speaker downmixes stereo content into mono, which doesn't sound as immersive. Also, its sound profile is a bit boomy and dark, and it lacks low-bass, so you don't feel the deep rumble in action-packed scenes. It doesn't get very loud, either. On the upside, its latency with Android and iOS devices is low. Some apps compensate for latency, so your experience can vary.

Pros
  • Bass and treble adjustments.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • Downmixes stereo content to mono.
6.3 Podcasts

The Amazon Echo is acceptable for podcasts. Its balanced mid-range can reproduce voices clearly, though speech in higher frequencies can sound a bit veiled. It doesn't get very loud either, and there are some compression artifacts present when you play it at max volume. On the upside, it has a Multi-Room feature, so you can pair two Echo speakers together and bring your podcast with you from one room to the next.

Pros
  • Bass and treble adjustments.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
8.8 Voice Assistant

The Amazon Echo is amazing for voice assistant support. It has built-in Amazon Alexa capabilities, which you can activate using your voice. The speaker can understand you even if you aren't very close to it or if you're in a noisy environment. You can also mute the microphone when you don't want it to hear you, which is nice.

Pros
  • Built-in Alexa support.
  • Mic mute button.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
5.0 Outdoors

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

  • 6.4 Music
  • 5.7 Videos/Movies
  • 6.3 Podcasts
  • 8.8 Voice Assistant
  • 5.0 Outdoors

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights No

The Amazon Echo is a small speaker with a distinctive spherical design. It looks very similar to the Amazon Echo Dot Gen 4, but it's a bit bigger. It sits on its base, and there's a ring of light that surrounds the base of the speaker. The lights activate with voice commands, volume adjustments, and when you turn the microphone off. However, it doesn't flash when you play music, and you can't control the colors it displays.

5.4
Design
Portability
Volume
168 in³ (2757 cm³)
Weight
2.0 lbs (0.9 kg)
Power Source
AC Only
One-Hand Carry
Yes

This speaker has inadequate portability. It's small, and you can carry it with one hand, which is nice. However, it's powered by AC, so you have to plug it into a wall outlet for it to work. As a result, it can't be brought outdoors as easily as battery-powered speakers like the Bose SoundLink Micro.

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

The build quality is unremarkable. The speaker feels solid, and the fabric that wraps around it is tight and doesn't seem like it could rip easily. However, it doesn't have an advertised IP rating for dust or water resistance, so you should be careful if you plan to use it around water.

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. On the top of the speaker, four physical buttons let you control the volume, mute the microphone, and activate Alexa without using the wake word 'Alexa'. You can also hold down the 'Action' button for 25 seconds to reset the speaker, or you can press it to silence an alarm. You can also tap the front of the speaker to snooze an alarm. When the microphone is muted, the base of the speaker and the mute button both shine red.

Design
In The Box

  • Amazon Echo 4th Gen
  • Power cable
  • Quick Start Guide

Sound
6.9
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
-1.22
Std. Err.
3.54 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
54.2 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
18.2 kHz

The Amazon Echo has fair frequency response accuracy. Its sound profile is a bit boomy, but also dark. Like many small speakers, it struggles to reproduce low-bass, so you don't feel the deep thump in bass-heavy genres like EDM. However, its balanced mid-range can reproduce vocal-centric content clearly, though higher-pitched speech can sound a bit veiled. You can use the bass and treble adjustments in the Amazon Alexa app to help customize its sound to your liking.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
5.8
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
4.06 dB
Stereo
No (mono)

The soundstage is middling. It downmixes stereo content into mono, which doesn't sound as immersive. While its directivity is decent, its soundstage isn't perceived to be as open and spacious as some of the other speakers we've tested, like the Apple HomePod.

5.6
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
84.8 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
3.96 dB

The Amazon Echo has middling dynamics. It doesn't get very loud, and there's some compression present when you play it at max volume. It may not be ideal to use at parties or in large rooms.

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

The Amazon Echo doesn't have a battery, so you have to plug it into a wall socket to get it to work. According to the manufacturer, it enters Low Power Mode when it's idle to help reduce its energy consumption.

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

This speaker has exceptional voice assistant support. It has built-in Amazon Alexa capabilities, which you can activate using your voice. The speaker can understand you, even if you're far away or in a noisy setting. You can even mute the mic when you don't want the speaker to hear 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 fantastic. There are bass and treble adjustments so you can customize its sound to your liking. You can pair two Echo speakers to create a stereo pair, which helps create a larger soundstage. Also, the Party Mode and Multi-Room features let you connect multiple speakers to play music across a large area or through multiple rooms in your house.

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

This speaker has a 3.5mm AUX port, which you can use to wire your smartphone directly to it to play audio.

7.5
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
Unspecified
Bluetooth iOS Latency
141 ms
Bluetooth Android Latency
119 ms
Bluetooth Range
305.1 ft (93.0 m)
Multi-Device Pairing
No

The Amazon Echo 4th Gen has good Bluetooth connectivity. While you can only pair it with one device at a time, it has low latency with iOS devices. Its latency with Android devices is even lower, making it suitable for watching videos and movies. 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

This speaker is Wi-Fi compatible. However, it doesn't support Apple AirPlay or Google Chromecast connectivity, which can be disappointing for some users.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Amazon Echo 4 comes in several different color variants: 'Glacier White', 'Twilight Blue', 'Charcoal', and a special edition in collaboration with the global health charity 'PRODUCT(RED)'. We tested the 'Twilight Blue' variant, and you can see the label for the model we tested here. We expect other color variants to perform similarly.

We also tested the 4th Generation version of this speaker, which has a new spherical design and an additional tweeter compared to the 3rd Generation.

If you come across another version, let us know in the discussions.

Compared To Other Speakers

The Amazon Echo is a small speaker with built-in voice assistant capabilities. It has a similar design to the budget-friendly Amazon Echo Dot Gen 4, but it has a better-balanced sound profile and a more extended low-bass for listening to music and watching videos. You can activate Alexa using your voice, and the speaker does an excellent job picking up your voice, even if you're far away or in a noisy setting. However, like many small speakers, it doesn't get very loud.

Amazon Echo Dot 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 Audio

The Amazon Echo Dot Gen 4 and the Google Nest Audio have very similar performances, but the Amazon is a better choice for voice assistants. The Amazon does a better job understanding your voice in noisy environments, and it also has lower latency with iOS and Android devices over a Bluetooth connection. However, the Google supports Google Chromecast, unlike the Amazon.

Apple HomePod

The Apple HomePod and the Amazon Echo Gen 4 are both excellent speakers for voice assistant, but the Apple is more versatile overall. Out-of-the-box, the Apple has a more balanced sound profile, and it has a better soundstage. It supports Apple AirPlay, while the Amazon supports Bluetooth. Also, the Amazon comes with a mic mute button, unlike the Apple, and it offers bass and treble adjustments so you can customize its sound.

Sonos Move

The Sonos Move is a better speaker overall than the Amazon Echo Gen 4. The Sonos is better-built, and because it can be battery-operated, it's suitable to use outdoors. Also, its default sound profile is better-balanced, and it can get louder. However, the Amazon is a bit better for voice assistants, as it can understand your voice commands better in noisy environments.

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