The Apple HomePod is back! Yes, the smart speaker that Apple discontinued in March 2021 has returned in HomePod 2 guise for a second foray into the wireless speaker market.
But what about the competition? Which product does the HomePod 2 have in mind? Is there actually competition for it? Well, from our perspective, one of its closest competitors can be found in Amazon’s Echo stable of smart speakers in the form of the Echo Studio.
It looks and feels like a rival, although there are some differences – which we’ll get to later down the page. Join us as we put these two wireless speakers head to head and try to help you decide which one is right for you.
Apple HomePod 2 vs Amazon Echo Studio: price
So the HomePod 2 was announced on January 18, 2023 with a price tag of £299 / $299 / AU$479. That’s actually a small price drop compared to the original HomePod, which hit the market with a price tag of £319 / $ 349 / AU$499.
The Amazon Echo Studio undercuts the HomePod 2, coming in at £190 / $200 / AU$329. It launched in 2019, so it’s been around for a while, and we’ve seen occasional price drops, mainly around big sales events such as Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday. Price drops from Apple are quite rare, especially with brand new products, so we expect the HomePod 2 to hold its full asking price at least for the foreseeable future.
Apple HomePod 2 vs Amazon Echo Studio: design
The HomePod 2 retains the cylindrical shape of the original. It’s also again wrapped in a woven fabric that’s made from 100 percent recycled materials — even the power cable is covered in the same material this time around. On top is a backlit display with capacitive buttons that stretch from edge to edge. It measures 16.8 cm × 14.2 cm (6.6 in × 5.6 in) and weighs 2.3 kg (5.16 lb).
Apple hasn’t confirmed the power of the HomePod 2’s internal amplifier, but it does drive a 10cm (4in) high-excursion driver and an array of five horn-loaded tweeters.
The Amazon Echo Studio, on the other hand, is slightly larger, measuring 20.6cm x 17.5cm (8in x 7in) and weighing 3.5kg (7.7lb).
It also has a solid, cylindrical shape and is covered with a charcoal or glacier white substance.
Here the power is provided by a 330W amplifier, driving two 5cm (2in) left and right midrange speakers, a 25mm (1in) forward firing midrange tweeter and a 5cm (2in) up firing midrange speaker. Bass is provided by a 13.5 cm (5.25 in) down-firing bass driver. There are physical volume controls on the top, along with a microphone mute and Alexa wake button.
Apple HomePod 2 vs Amazon Echo Studio: Features
The features on the HomePod 2 largely match those of the original model. So it’s heavily centered around Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant, and voice control. And, of course, it’s aimed squarely at Apple device owners. Android users can now look away (although we’d prefer it if you could read this page sooner).
Do you have an Apple iPhone? Well, you can pass whatever you’re streaming to the wireless speaker by simply tapping the two devices together. HomePod 2 can also transfer suggested playlists and podcasts to your iPhone if both devices are near each other. We haven’t seen the new speaker yet, so can’t comment on music app support, but the original only offered Siri voice control with Apple Music and we’d be surprised to see this extended to competing services on the HomePod 2.
On the audio front, the HomePod 2 supports Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos, plus lossless playback through Apple Music. Of course, you can link a pair of HomePod 2s together if you want to listen in stereo, and you can add another pair to an Apple TV 4K as an alternative to a soundbar.
Similarly, the Echo Studio is built to integrate into Amazon’s ecosystem and work with the Alexa voice assistant. Typical functions such as timers, reminders and alarms are accessible through the Echo Studio and you can ask Alexa all sorts of questions.
You also get immersive audio support through Amazon Music if you subscribe to the streaming service. Content available on the service in both Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio is also supported.
Fire up the Echo Studio for the first time and it will fire test tones and adjust the output to the characteristics of your room. It doesn’t sound as advanced as the HomePod 2, which can intelligently scan its environment in real time and optimize sound accordingly, but we won’t know exactly how accurate the HomePod 2’s calibration is until we sample it in our test rooms, of course.
Apple HomePod 2 vs Amazon Echo Studio: sound
We’re currently waiting for a test sample of the HomePod 2 before we can report back with sound quality findings from our test room, but we’re hoping for big things given Apple’s claims. If it can deliver a heavy, authoritative sound like its predecessor, we should be in for a treat. Whether Spatial Audio support will bring anything to the party also remains to be seen.
We tested the Echo Studio when it first came out and it impressed us relatively well, for the money, thanks to its open, airy presentation. However, we were not convinced by the quality of the bass response. In late 2022, Amazon announced it was rolling out a software update to “improve stereo sound and [enhance] the clarity and bass response” and we haven’t heard this new version of the Studio yet, so it’s a good opportunity to see how the Studio has improved (or not) as we test the HomePod 2. Stay tuned for all our findings .
Apple HomePod 2 vs Amazon Echo Studio: Initial Verdict
Frankly, we were never sure why the original HomePod got the chop; it was a five-star performer and, in our eyes at least, capable of thrilling and room-filling audio. But that’s all in the past.
Now the HomePod 2 is here, and it’s looking to reclaim its crown with a more powerful processor, additional smart home features, and claims from Apple that it’s capable of “next-level acoustics.” The Echo Studio is the “best-sounding smart speaker ever,” according to Amazon, but it would have struggled with the original HomePod. Perhaps the latest software update has taken the audio quality to a new level. We will see…
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