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Echo Buds Review (2021): Should You Buy The 2nd Gen Or Stick To The Old Version?

The Echo Buds 1, Amazon’s very first pair of wireless earphones, were launched a couple of years ago and they were able to garner a lot of praise for their affordability and reliability. However, they were met with some critique too, mostly about their design and lack of ANC and USB-C charging.

Which leads us to the new Echo Buds. They’re supposedly Amazon’s answer to the Echo Buds 1’s issues so you can expect to see well-thought-out improvements. But are they really worth the upgrade though? To help you answer that question, here’s an in-depth review of both versions, taking their design, performance, and additional features into consideration.

Echo Buds Review Comparison Chart

ModelEcho Buds 1Echo Buds 2
 Echo Buds (1st Gen) – Wireless earbuds with immersive sound, active noise reduction, and AlexaEcho Buds (2nd Gen) | Wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation and Alexa | Black
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
DesignSealed in-earSealed in-ear
Customizable FitYesYes
Active Noise CancellationNo (Active Noise Reduction only)Yes
Hands-Free AlexaYesYes
Touch ControlsSupports double taps onlySupports single, double, and triple taps
Battery Life5 hours music playback (up to 20 hours with charging case)5 hours music playback (up to 15 hours with charging case)
Quick ChargeYesYes
CompatibilityiOS and AndroidiOS and Android
Voice AssistantsAlexa, Siri, or Google AssistantAlexa, Siri, or Google Assistant
VIP Filter FeatureNoYes

Design

The new Echo Buds are smaller and more comfortable to wear than the Echo Buds 1.

Echo Buds Review design
The Echo Buds 2 (right) sport Amazon’s smiley logo, a feature that’s missing on the 1st gen (left).

While a lot of earbuds these days looks extra sleek, that’s not the case with the Echo Buds 1. They’re large, uncomfortable, and look rather generic, leaving a lot of room for improvement in the design department. Fortunately, Amazon got it right with the Echo Buds 2021.

For starters, they’re 20% smaller than their predecessor, including the outer part. This allows them to lie nicely inside the ear without sticking out too much. They’re much more enjoyable to wear too because they come with little vents that help release pressure trapped in the ears, plus the ear tips don’t go in too deep. Speaking of ear tips, there are six variations to choose from as well as an ear fit tip test so you can choose the one that feels the most comfortable for you.

Another noticeable design improvement on the Echo Buds 2 is the placement of the Amazon smiley logo on the back of the ear buds. This little detail gives them some character and allows you to flaunt your choice of technology just a little bit more. In addition, the charging case that the Echo Buds 2 come in are more compact by 40% than the old version, making it so much easier to stuff into your pocket or bag. One thing that did stay the same though is the IPX4 rating, meaning the Echo Buds 2 will survive your sweaty sessions in the gym but no more than that.

Audio

The new Echo Buds have better noise cancellation, audio quality, and call quality than the Echo Buds 1.

Echo Buds Review audio
The new Echo Buds have ANC while the 1st gen only have ANR.

Instead of active noise cancellation (ANC), the Echo Buds 1st gen have active noise reduction (ANR) which many see as a shortcoming on Amazon’s part. While the ANR on the Echo Buds 1 did a great job of lessening external sounds, it fell short for those who wanted zero background noise while listening to music. For those who were disappointed, you’d be happy to know that the Echo Buds 2021 have been equipped with ANC which Amazon says can cancel out as much as twice the amount of noise. They have an adjustable pass-through mode as well which comes in handy if you’re outside and need to be able to hear traffic and other sounds around you.

In addition to ANC, the new Echo Buds also sport microphones that are much better at handling low frequencies. This means you can expect much better call quality, plus Alexa will have a much easier time understanding your voice commands. Best news of all, the Echo Buds 2nd gen edge out their predecessor in terms of audio quality as well. While the bass on the older version was a little too heavy and lacked clarity, the bass on the new Echo Buds comes through with a satisfying amount of power but still manages to be tight. Of course, there’s not a whole lot of texture and depth there but for the affordable price of the Echo Buds 2021, that’s all too easy to forgive.

Additional Features

The Echo Buds 2 have more features and better touch controls than the Echo Buds 1st gen but they have the same battery life.

Echo Buds Review features
Both the Echo Buds 1 and 2 can last up to 5 hours on a single charge.

When it comes to touch controls, the ones on the Echo Buds 1 are quite strange. They only know how to detect double taps which greatly limits the number of things you can do. Fortunately, the touch controls on the new Echo Buds allow you to do multiple taps as well as hold to access various functions. One tap, for example, will play or pause your music, two taps will skip to the next track, and three taps will let you go back. As for holding, that activates either the ANC or the pass-through mode. If you don’t like the default settings, you can always re-assign the functions to other gestures.

Aside from improved touch controls, the Echo Buds 2 also have two new features that are missing on the 1st gen model. For starters, you don’t have to be scared of losing your earbuds anymore because you can always call out to Alexa for help and she’ll find them for you. There’s also the VIP Filter feature which is set to come to the Echo Buds 2 later this year. With it, setting your boundaries will be so much easier because it will automatically filter out messages and calls from people who aren’t on your VIP list.

As for battery life, there’s no improvement in that department. As with the Echo Buds 1, the Echo Buds 2 also have five hours of battery life. While it’s not the best, especially compared to other wireless earbuds, it’s not the worst either. Five hours still beats the Apple AirPods Pro‘s four hours so that’s a win in our book given that the Ear Buds 2 are so much more affordable.

Verdict

The Echo Buds 2 prove to be a worthy upgrade to the Echo Buds 1.

If you’re eyeing the Echo Buds 1, we say ditch them and go for the new version instead because they have all the improvements that the 1st gen lacked. Not only are the Echo Buds 2 more stylish and comfortable to wear, but their audio quality is noticeably better too. In addition, they’re a lot easier to use, thanks to the touch control upgrades and new features. The best part is that the Echo Buds 2 remain affordable just like their predecessor.

FAQs

📌 How do I make my Echo Buds more comfortable?

Both the Echo Buds 1 and 2 come with various ear tip sizes, allowing you to choose the one that fits your ears most comfortably.

📌 Do the Echo Buds 2 sound better than the old version?

Yes, the Echo Buds 2 have better audio quality than the 1st gen. They have active noise cancellation, better call quality, and a better bass performance.

📌 Do the Echo Buds 2 have new features?

Aside from better audio quality, the Echo Buds 2 have active noise cancellation, improved touch controls, and a VIP filter feature. These are missing on the Echo Buds 1.

📌 Which one should you buy, the Echo Buds 1 or 2?

We definitely recommend the Echo Buds 2 because they’re more stylish and comfortable, plus they sound better and are equipped with new features. Despite these upgrades, they remain affordable.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Denise Jose

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying. Researcher and yoga teacher passionate about article writing, photography, wellness, and mindfulness.