Amazon released not just smart speakers at today's big event, but also a pair of wireless earbuds. The Echo Buds are Alexa-powered of course, but that's not the only thing unique about them. Thanks to a Bose partnership, they also have active noise reduction (ANR) on board. And, based on my brief experience with them, that noise-reduction really works.
When the noise reduction was enabled, I could hear the Ed Sheeran's dulcet tones clearly even in a crowded demo area here in Amazon's headquarters. It was as if the din of the room melted away. The difference was even starker when I enabled the Echo Buds' passthrough mode (simply double-tap to do so), which lets surrounding noise through.
The fit was pretty good as well. The design reminds me a lot of Bragi's since discontinued earbuds, and an Amazon spokesperson tells me that the Echo Buds will come with three different ear tip sizes -- small, medium and large. I found fitting in the ear buds to be pretty easy, but I noticed that other people experienced a bit of a learning curve putting them on for the first time. The fit is actually pretty key in how good the audio will sound too, as a proper, secure fit will allow for greater noise reduction.
As mentioned, they're powered by Alexa, which lets you do all the usual functions with Amazon's voice assistant. I asked the buds for the weather and to play and pause music, and it did so without issue.
Thanks to that active noise reduction, the audio quality far surpasses that of Apple's Airpods. But the jury's out on whether it compares well to other true wireless earbuds however. Some, like the Sony WF-1000XM3, have actual noise-cancellation tech, which blocks out more sound than simply ANR. That said, the Echo Buds are also a lot cheaper at $130.
The Echo Buds are available for pre-order today, and they'll ship around the holidays this year.