If you want the best overall wireless earbuds, the Echo Buds 2 are the way to go. Their upgrades in noise cancellation, sound quality, and wireless charging make them superior to the original Echo Buds in most cases.
However, there are some situations where opting for the first generation Echo Buds could be the smarter move. Read on for a detailed side-by-side comparison to help you decide.
Noise Cancellation: A Major Leap Forward
One of the biggest differences between these two models is how they handle ambient noise while listening. Let‘s take a closer look at the technologies involved:
The original Echo Buds use Active Noise Reduction (ANR) developed by audio leader Bose. This system uses internal and external microphones to detect outside noise. It then generates inverse sound waves to diminish that ambient noise before it reaches your ears.
While ANR makes loud environments quieter, it doesn‘t eliminate them entirely. Sounds like voices, engine rumbles, and more can still bleed through. Reviewers found the Echo Buds only reduce ambient noise by about 15-20 decibels.
But the Echo Buds 2 utilize Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) designed by Amazon‘s own audio engineers. This more advanced type of noise reduction actively cancels out external noise before you hear it.
According to tests by Rtings.com, the Echo Buds 2 ANC blocks about 40 decibels of sound across most frequencies. That‘s nearly double the noise reduction capabilities of the original Echo Buds.
Real world results align with the measurements. I‘ve used both models extensively, and the Echo Buds 2 provide a much more immersive listening experience by shutting out surrounding distractions.
Whether you‘re commuting on a train, flying in a plane, or just trying to focus at home, ANC makes a significant difference.
Now the Echo Buds (1st gen) are still decent for quieting noise in a pinch. Their ANR tech works fine for casual listening.
But anyone who prioritizes sound isolation should spend up for the vastly improved noise cancelling abilities of the Echo Buds 2. It‘s a game-changer.
Battery Life: A Bit Lower, But Still Solid
Noise cancellation tech demands extra battery power. So enabling ANC on the Echo Buds 2 requires some trade-offs.
On a full charge, the Echo Buds 2 provide 4.5 hours of continuous music playback. That‘s 30 minutes less than the original Echo Buds, which last for 5 hours per charge.
However, both versions offer an extra 15 hours of charge via their included charging cases. This brings the total battery life with case to around 20+ hours for each model.
So in terms of absolute battery capacity, there‘s minimal difference whether you choose the 1st or 2nd generation.
But frequent travelers may still prefer the original Echo Buds, since they maximize listening time before needing a recharge. 30 minutes isn‘t much, but can make a difference on long flights or road trips.
On the plus side, the Echo Buds 2 charging case does enable quick charging – 10 minutes in the case provides up to an hour of extra listening. So you can rapidly top up your power.
Overall, while the Echo Buds 2 battery life isn‘t as long per charge, the total battery capacity is still solid for wireless earbuds. And quick charging helps mitigate the lower single-charge time.
Sound Quality: Crisp and Clear
Audio performance is crucial for any set of earbuds. Here‘s how the two Echo Buds models stack up:
Both versions utilize 5.7mm dynamic drivers to deliver sound. These miniature speaker drivers provide crisp, detailed audio reproduction across the frequency range.
In my experience, both the original Echo Buds and Echo Buds 2 produce pleasing sound quality, especially for the price.
Music comes through cleanly, with punchy bass response and non-fatiguing treble. Podcast voices sound sharp and unintelligible.
Enabling ANC or ANR definitely optimizes the listening experience too, by blocking out external noise that could muddy the sound.
Now audiophiles may notice slightly better clarity and depth on the Echo Buds 2. Tests show they offer a bit more accurate mid-range and treble presentation.
But for casual listening, both models provide satisfying, dynamic sound. I‘d rate the Echo Buds as good as any wireless earbuds under $150 in terms of audio fidelity. You‘ll be hard-pressed to find better without spending a lot more.
Wireless Charging Case: A Convenient Upgrade
The Echo Buds 2 case saw a significant redesign. It switched from Micro USB charging to USB-C – the modern standard.
USB-C makes the case much easier to juice up. You can use pretty much any recent charging cable rather than needing a specialized Micro USB cord.
Even better, the Echo Buds 2 case is available with wireless charging support.
The wireless charging case looks and functions identically to the standard case. But it contains an extra coil that allows it to work on any Qi wireless charging pad.
Just set the case on a compatible pad, and it will start charging, no cables required. It‘s super convenient – I just set mine on my desk pad anytime I‘m not using the earbuds.
Wireless charging is not an option at all for the original Echo Buds case. It only works with wired Micro USB cables.
If you already own a Qi pad or hate dealing with charging cables, the Echo Buds 2 wireless case is definitely worth paying a bit extra for.
Other Hardware Differences
Aside from the major upgrades covered already, the Echo Buds 2 bring a few other nice hardware tweaks:
A 21% smaller design resulting in a lightweight, low-profile shape that should fit more ears comfortably.
Vents added to the earbud housings to prevent pressure buildup in your ear canals when wearing them for extended periods.
Support for wireless Alexa commands without needing to touch your phone, after initial pairing.
Improved microphone performance for taking calls and talking to Alexa or other voice assistants. Voice pickup is clearer and more natural.
Automatic ear detection that pauses playback when you remove the buds from your ears.
Firmware updates to continuously improve performance and add new features. The original Echo Buds are no longer seeing major firmware revisions.
While minor individually, these updates combine to make a noticeably more polished and advanced second-generation product.
Price: A Budget-Friendly Option
Considering all the upgrades in the Echo Buds 2, you may expect them to demand a premium price. But that‘s not the case – in fact, they‘re priced lower than the original Echo Buds at launch:
- Echo Buds 1st Gen MSRP: $129.99
- Echo Buds 2nd Gen MSRP: $119.99
What‘s more, Amazon frequently discounts both models by 30% or more, bringing them down to around $80-$90. That‘s an incredible value for a quality set of true wireless earbuds.
So rest assured the Echo Buds 2 provide next-gen features without breaking the bank. In fact, they‘re among the most affordable high-end noise cancelling earbuds you can buy today.
Echo Buds Generations: Detailed Specs Comparison
Want to analyze the specs? Here‘s a detailed breakdown of the Echo Buds and Echo Buds 2 hardware and features:
|Echo Buds (1st Gen)||Echo Buds (2nd Gen)|
|Noise Reduction||Active Noise Reduction by Bose (ANR)||Active Noise Cancellation by Amazon (ANC)|
|Drivers||5.7mm dynamic driver||5.7mm dynamic driver|
|Frequency Response||100Hz – 6.8KHz||100Hz – 6.8KHz|
|Max Volume||105db SPL||105db SPL|
|Battery Life||5 hours music/20 hours with case||4.5 hours music/20 hours with case|
|Quick Charge||2hrs from 15 min charge||1hr from 10 min charge|
|Charging Method||Micro USB||USB-C + Qi wireless case option|
|Charging Time||1.5 hours||1.5 hours|
|Water Resistance||IPX4 (sweat and light rain resistant)||IPX4 (sweat and light rain resistant)|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.0||Bluetooth 5.0|
|Wireless Range||~30 feet (10 meters)||~30 feet (10 meters)|
|Audio Codecs||SBC, AAC||SBC, AAC|
|Earbud Weight||0.19 oz (5.7 g) each||0.17 oz (4.8 g) each|
|Microphones||2 external, 1 internal||2 external, 1 internal|
|On-Board Controls||Tap gestures||Tap gestures|
|Voice Assistant||Alexa + access to Siri/Google||Alexa + access to Siri/Google|
|Customizable Fit||Yes, multiple ear tips||Yes, multiple ear tips|
|Colors||Black, white||Black, white|
|Release Date||October 2019||April 2021|
|Price||$129.99 MSRP||$119.99 MSRP|
As the table illustrates, most core functions are the same. The advantages of the Echo Buds 2 lie in enhanced noise cancellation, smaller size, wireless charging support, and hands-free Alexa access.
Next, let‘s cover exactly when you should choose each model.
Should You Buy the Echo Buds or Echo Buds 2?
Based on this detailed comparison, here are the best times to choose each generation:
Get the Echo Buds 2 if:
You want best-in-class noise cancellation. Their ANC far outperforms the original‘s noise reduction.
Audio quality is your top priority. The Echo Buds 2 sound slightly crisper.
You want the option for wireless charging. It‘s not available on the 1st gen.
You prefer the smaller, lighter size of the Echo Buds 2 for enhanced comfort.
You‘ll use Alexa voice commands often. Hands-free support is easier on the 2nd gen.
You don‘t mind charging more frequently. Their battery runs lower per full charge.
Choose the Original Echo Buds if:
You want to maximize battery life between charges. They last 30 minutes longer than the 2nd gen.
Your budget is tight, and you find the 1st gen on sale for cheaper.
You‘ll mainly use them for phone calls. Their mics pick up voices well.
You don‘t need advanced ANC. Their noise reduction is decent for the price.
You want the tried and true model that‘s been out longer. Some prefer the original‘s fit too.
The Bottom Line
While the Echo Buds 2 are the best option overall, the 1st generation Echo Buds still deliver quality sound and handy Alexa access.
I‘d only choose the originals at this point if you find them substantially discounted or need that extra 30 minutes of battery life per charge.
Otherwise, the Echo Buds 2‘s upgrades are well worth it for a few dollars more. Their noise cancelling and convenience factors really set them apart.
But whether you go with the experienced original or new hotness, Echo Buds deliver performance that rivals earbuds costing twice as much or more.
They make an outstanding value proposition for those seeking great noise reduction, audio, and Alexa integration without breaking the bank.
So consider your needs, check for current pricing, and choose the model that fits your preferences. Either way, I don‘t think you‘ll be disappointed.
I hope this detailed breakdown made the Echo Buds vs Echo Buds 2 decision easier. Let me know if you have any other questions!