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Apple HomePod 2 vs Echo Studio: What’s the difference?

If you’re looking for a smart speaker capable of delivering immersive spatial audio, there are two devices that might immediately come to mind: the Apple HomePod 2 and the Amazon Echo Studio

Both speakers earned an impressive 4.5-stars from our reviewers, but which is better? 

We’ve put the HomePod 2 and the Echo Studio head-to-head to help you decide which speaker is the best fit for your home. 

Pricing and availability 

The Apple HomePod 2 came out in February 2023 and costs $299/£299, while the Amazon Echo Studio launched at the end of 2019 and is currently priced at $199.99/£219.99. 

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HomePod 2

Design 

The HomePod 2 and the Echo Studio have similar cylindrical designs with fabric finishes. Both speakers are also available in a choice of black or white. However, there are a number of differences between the two both in terms of style and controls. 

The HomePod 2 looks a lot like the original HomePod. It’s small at just 168mm tall and the neutral mesh background helps it to blend into softer environments, but it’s quite heavy at 2.3kg. 

On top of the speaker is a screen that pulses when you play music or interact with Siri. The display includes touch controls, meaning you can press to play and pause, adjust the volume and hold down to chat with Siri. 

The Echo Studio is much taller and heavier than the HomePod 2 at 206mm and 3.5kg. The speaker is wrapped in a coarse, scratch-resistant fabric which, like the HomePod 2, allows the Echo Studio to blend into its background rather than draw attention to itself. 

Unlike the HomePod 2, the Echo Studio has four physical buttons, including volume up, volume down, an Alexa button and a button to cut the microphone, effectively preventing Alexa from listening in on your conversations. 

There’s also a ring that circles the top of the speaker that lights up whenever you say Alexa’s name with different colour indicators for different actions, such as volume up and microphone off. 

Amazon Echo Studio
Echo Studio

Features 

The most obvious similarity between the HomePod 2 and the Echo Studio is that both devices are smart speakers with their own voice assistants. The HomePod 2 has Siri and the Echo Studio has Alexa. 

Both smart assistants can play music, answer questions, offer updates on the news, weather, traffic and sports scores, and command other supported smart home devices. 

One major restriction to the HomePod 2 is that it cannot be set up or used to stream music without an iOS device. For this reason, Android users will likely have an easier time opting for the Echo Studio. 

With Siri, you can ask the HomePod 2 to play specific artists, albums and songs from Apple Music. You can also listen to Spotify and tracks from other music services via AirPlay, though you can’t set them as default or control them via Siri. You can also transfer music from your phone to the HomePod 2 seamlessly by holding your device on top of the speaker, which is a neat feature for when you enter your home. 

Like the original HomePod, there’s no Bluetooth support to connect other devices and we did find the HomePod 2 to be a little slow at times, likely due to its reliance on AirPlay 2. 

Smart home support covers a large number of manufacturers, including Google, Amazon and Apple itself. This is largely thanks to the embedded Thread radio that allows it to support Matter devices. Smart home tech can be controlled through Siri commands once they’re set up in Apple Home and we found actions actually happened faster than when we asked Alexa on an Echo Show 8

Apple can also tell you how warm and humid your room is thanks to built-in temperature and humidity sensors. 

Lastly, you can pair two HomePod 2 devices for stereo sound or connect the HomePod 2 to your TV to use as an Atmos-capable speaker. 

The Echo Studio, on the other hand, does come with Bluetooth support, meaning you can connect a wide variety of devices to the speaker to play music. You can also cast songs directly from the Amazon Music HD app or through Spotify Connect, which we found to be the best way to listen on this speaker as Bluetooth offers noticeably lower volumes. 

Alexa, meanwhile, enables a wide range of skills from checking the weather to managing the lights and central heating, with Zigbee support for compatible smart home devices. Alexa can also play music from your service of choice, meaning you aren’t restricted to one platform when it comes to the voice assistant as you are with the HomePod 2. 

You can combine two Echo Studios to play music left and right in stereo, or add an Echo Sub to create a 2.1 system with bigger bass. The Echo Studio can also connect wirelessly to the TV Cube (2nd gen) and Fire TV Stick 4K to boost your TV audio. 

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HomePod 2

Audio quality 

Both the HomePod 2 and the Echo Studio come with spatial audio support, meaning music sounds more immersive than that produced through a standard smart speaker. 

Both speakers also benefit from software that tweaks the audio depending on the room and positioning of the device. 

The HomePod 2 offers fantastic audio performance and we found it to be comfortably the best-sounding smart speaker of its size. Spatial audio adds depth to tracks, vocals are crisp and clear, and bass is fantastic. 

The Echo Studio, meanwhile, is the best-sounding Echo speaker by some distance, but not the best-sounding speaker in its price bracket. 

The woofer gives the Echo Studio a stronger and weightier sound than most speakers at its price, but midrange and treble can fall short compared to similarly priced speakers. We found the bass gave tracks a lot of power and drama, but it could be overwhelming, dominating over vocals and treble at times. 

Echo Studio

Verdict 

If you live in an Apple household and are searching for a fantastic-sounding smart speaker with hands-free smarts from Siri, opt for the HomePod 2. 

If you’re an Android user looking for more flexibility when it comes to music services, as well as wide-ranging smart home support from the Alexa voice assistant and Zigbee, look toward the Echo Studio instead.

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