By now, virtually everybody has an Amazon Echo in one way or another; whether it’s the original model or one of its many, many variants, they’re practically ubiquitous. And while the original Echo had decent speaker (for the size – and the price…), it was always lacking a little bit in music capability, and never really on over any serious audiophiles. For that, the Echo needed something a little bit more heavy-duty – and a little bit higher end, which is why Amazon just unveiled the new Echo Link and Echo Link Amp.
The Echo Link a small, rectangular device that allows you to turn any high-end speaker or surround sound system into an Alexa-enabled, Prime Music-connected, all-in-one system. It’s nothing more than a sleek black box with a single volume control dial on the front, and a couple of audio outputs on the back. You’ll need an existing receiver and amp system, but it then takes all of a few minutes to hook up before you’re on your way to enjoying all your favorite streaming tunes over your premium speaker.
If you don’t have an amp, opt instead for the Echo Link Amp, which looks much the same but includes its own 60w-per-channel stereo amplifier that connects to your pre-existing system with ease. Amazon wanted to be certain it is used for audio only, as it doesn’t even have an HDMI input, relying only on analog, optical and coax inputs and outputs on the back.
Now, if you’re looking forward to controlling your music with just your voice, keep in mind that the Echo Link and Link Amp don’t have microphones; you must either use the Alexa app or talk to the Link through another Alexa-enabled device. Is that a problem? No, but an interesting choice by Amazon.
If you’re interested in the Echo Link or the Link Amp, they’ll be out sometime in early 2019, and will run you $199 and $299 respectively. That’s a lot less than you’d spend on a similar device from Sonos, for example. Revolutionary devices? No, but convenient – and affordable – ways to turn your premium, audiophile-ready system into an Alexa-ready smart system.