Amazon Echo Input Review

Turn a dumb speaker into a smart one with this handy Alexa upgrade
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Verdict

A simple, small and well-designed speaker upgrade, the Amazon Echo Input brings Alexa to any speaker – but it could do with a less restrictive Bluetooth connection.

Pros

  • Very small
  • Great price
  • Works with Bluetooth and wired speakers

Cons

  • Not all features work over Bluetooth

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £34.99
  • Microphone and activation controls
  • Bluetooth
  • 3.5mm ouput
  • Amazon Alexa integrated

What is the Amazon Echo Input?

One of the main uses of the Echo Dot was to hook it up to an existing speaker, turning a dumb unit into a smart one. As useful a trick as this was, it was a waste of the speaker built into the Dot. The answer? The Amazon Echo Input.

This new Echo is basically an Echo Dot, only there’s no speaker, so you can just hook it up to an existing speaker using the 3.5mm or Bluetooth connections. If you don’t want the option for a speaker at a later date, the Echo Input is a well-priced add on.

Related: Which Amazon Echo should you buy?

Amazon Echo Input – Design and build quality

The Echo Input looks as though someone has just pulled the top section out of the Echo Dot 3rd Gen. Sitting just 14mm high, with an 80mm diameter, this is the smallest Echo device available and easy enough to place near – or on – an existing speaker. Finished in matte plastic, available in black or white, the Echo Input is neat and unobtrusive.

Amazon Echo Input side view

On top sit two buttons: one to mute the Echo Input and one to kick Alexa into life without having to say the wake word. The volume controls from the Echo Dot have gone. At the rear, there’s a micro-USB input for power and a 3.5mm output, although you can also use Bluetooth with a few restrictions (see below).

Amazon Echo Input top down

Amazon Echo Input – Features

Since the Amazon Echo Input uses Alexa, you get the same range of features as on other Echo devices. As Alexa is constantly being upgraded and changed, I’ve covered the main Alexa features in my Amazon Alexa Guide; the basics and differences are covered here.

First, it’s worth talking about volume control. Although the Amazon Echo Input doesn’t have physical controls, you can use your voice to adjust the line output volume between one and 10. How this affects your speaker depends on how loud the volume is set on that unit. For example, I found that if I turned down my speaker and set the Echo Input to volume four or lower, I couldn’t hear anything.

This isn’t really a negative point, but something to watch out for. My advice is to set your speaker at a comfortable max volume with the Echo Input set to volume 10. Then, changing volume on the Echo Input will have the desired effect on your speaker.

As a general assistant, the Echo Input does a good job, with Alexa able to provide upcoming calendar appointments and find answers to simple problems. If Alexa can’t do what you want, there’s usually a skill available that will add the feature.

For smart home control, Alexa still rules with the largest range of supported devices. There are neat extra controls, too, such as being able to create Amazon Alexa Routines to control multiple devices with a single command. If you’re just after smart home control, the Echo Dot makes more sense thanks to its built-in microphone.

If you connect the Echo Input via Bluetooth then you can’t use the Drop-in or voice-call features; these are only supported when you use a 3.5mm audio cable.

As with the new Echo Dot, the Echo Input has four far-field microphones. Generally, the Input works well, even at distance. If the device is placed near a loud sound source – a TV, for example – then Alexa can struggle to understand you. However, the Input will dip the sound to the connected speaker, allows you to make your command over any music you have playing.

Amazon Echo Input controls

Amazon Echo Input – Sound quality

The sound quality is dependent on the speaker to which you hook up the Echo Input. Over Bluetooth, I found that the connection was clear, although I preferred the 3.5mm audio cable for higher-end speakers. It’s handy being able to play music using just your voice, turning an old dumb speaker into a smart one that responds to audible commands.

It’s worth pointing out that the Echo Input doesn’t support multiroom groups when paired with a Bluetooth speaker; that’s another reason that you might want to use a 3.5mm audio connection.

Amazon Echo Input 3.5mm input

Although you can’t hook the Echo Input up to your Sonos speakers directly, you can use the Sonos Skill to control playback if you want. Hopefully, Amazon will release a new Skill that will let the Echo Input connect directly to a Sonos player over Wi-Fi.

The latest Alexa smart speakers support Amazon Echo stereo pair mode, where you can use one speaker for the left channel and one for the right. The Echo Input isn’t listed as supporting this mode, but we’ve asked for clarification; if it does support being part of a stereo pair then you’d want to use two identical speakers.

The Echo Sub isn’t supported – primarily, I believe, because it would be difficult to autotune the sub as Amazon wouldn’t know what device the Echo Input was connected to.

Related: Best Bluetooth speakers

Why buy the Amazon Echo Input?

If you have an old, high-quality speaker sitting around, the Echo Input makes for a good addition. Its small size and relative flexibility mean that the Input is a simple and unobtrusive way of upgrading an older device.

The Bluetooth restrictions – not supporting multiroom audio or Drop-in – are a little frustrating and may limit the Echo Input’s use in some situations, or force you to use the 3.5mm connection. That said, if you were primarily looking at the Echo Dot to connect to an existing speaker, the Echo Input is a neater, cheaper, smaller way of doing the same thing.

Verdict

A simple, small and well-designed speaker upgrade, the Amazon Echo Input brings Alexa to any speaker – but it could do with a less restrictive Bluetooth connection.

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