Review: The $199 Echo Link turns the fidelity up to 11

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The Echo Hyperlink takes streaming music and makes it sound higher. Simply wirelessly join it to an Echo machine and plug it right into a set of good audio system. It’s the lacking hyperlink.

The Hyperlink bridges the hole between streaming music and a pleasant audio system. As a substitute of settling for the analog connection of an Echo Dot, the Echo Hyperlink serves audio over a digital connection and it makes simply sufficient of a distinction to justify the $200 worth.

I plugged the Eco Hyperlink into the audio system in my workplace and was happy with the outcomes. That is the Echo machine I’ve been ready for.

In my case the Echo Hyperlink took Spotfiy’s 320 kbps stream and opened it up. The Hyperlink creates a wider soundstage and makes the music a bit extra full and expansive. The bass hits a contact tougher and the highs now have a new-found crispness. Lyrics are clearer and simpler to choose aside. The variations are delicate. Every part is simply barely improved over the sound quailty discovered when utilizing an Echo Dot’s 3.5mm output.

Don’t have a set of good audio system? That’s okay, Amazon additionally simply launched the Echo Hyperlink Amp, which contains a built-in amplifier able to powering a set of small audio system (learn the evaluation right here).

Right here’s the factor: I’m stunned Amazon is making the Echo Hyperlink. The machine caters to what have to be a small demographic of Echo house owners seeking to enhance the standard of Pandora or Spotify when utilizing an audio system. And but, with out assist for native or streaming excessive decision audio, it’s not ok for audiophiles. That is for wannabe audiophiles. Hey, that’s me.

Evaluate

There are Echo’s scattered all through my home. The gadgets present a incredible option to entry music and NPR. The tiny Echo Hyperlink is ideal for the system in my workplace the place I’ve a pair of Definitive Expertise bookshelf audio system powered by an Onkyo receiver and amp. I’ve a turntable and SACD participant linked to the receiver however these are a problem once I’m at my desk. The vast majority of the time I take heed to Spotify via the Amazon Echo Enter.

I added the Onkyo amplifier to the system final 12 months and it made an enormous distinction to the standard. The music instantly had extra energy. The 2-channel amp pushes tougher than the receiver, and resulted in audio that was extra expansive and clear. And at any quantity, too. I didn’t know what I used to be lacking. That’s the trick with audio. More often than not the audio sounds nice till it instantly sounds higher. The Echo Hyperlink offered me with the identical feeling of discovery.

To be clear the $200 Echo Hyperlink doesn’t present an evening and day distinction in my audio high quality. It’s a slight improve over the audio outputted by a $20 Echo Enter — and don’t overlook, an Echo machine (just like the $20 Echo Enter) is required to make the Echo Hyperlink work.

The Echo Hyperlink offers the additional juice missing from the Echo Enter or Dot. These inexpensive choices output audio to an audio system, however solely via an analog connection. The Echo Hyperlink gives a digital connection via Toslink or Digital Coax. It has analog outputs that’s powered by a DAC with a superior dynamic vary and complete harmonic distortion discovered within the Enter or Dot. It’s a straightforward means to enhance the standard of music from streaming providers.

The Echo Hyperlink, and Echo Hyperlink Amp, additionally function a headphone amp. It’s an attention-grabbing element. With this jack, somebody may have the Echo Hyperlink on their desk and use it to energy a set of headphones with none lack of high quality.

I arrange a easy A/B check to identify the variations between a Hyperlink and a Dot. First, I linked the Echo Hyperlink with a Toslink connection to my receiver and an Echo Enter. I additionally linked an Echo Dot via its 3.5mm analog connection to the receiver. I created a bunch within the Alexa app of the gadgets. This allowed every of the gadgets to play the identical supply concurrently. Then, as wanted, I used to be capable of change between the Dot and Hyperlink with only a contact of a button, offering a straightforward and fast option to check the variations.

I’ll go away it as much as you to justify the fee. To me, as somebody who has invested cash into a top quality audio system, the additional value of the Echo Hyperlink is value it. However to others an Echo Dot could possibly be sufficient.

It’s vital to notice that the Echo Hyperlink works a bit in a different way than different Echo gadgets linked to an audio system. When, say, a Dot is linked to an audio system, the inner audio system are turned off and all the audio is distributed to the system. The Echo Hyperlink doesn’t should override the companion Echo. When an Echo Hyperlink is linked to an Echo machine, the Echo nonetheless responds via its inside audio system; solely music is distributed to the Echo Hyperlink. For instance, when the Echo is requested concerning the climate, the forecast is performed again via the audio system within the Echo and never the audio system linked to the Echo Hyperlink. Usually this permits the proprietor to show off the high-power audio system and nonetheless have entry to voice instructions on the Echo.

The Echo Hyperlink takes streaming music and immediately improves the standard. In my case the enhancements have been slight however noticeable. It really works with all of the streaming providers supported by Echo gadgets, but it surely’s vital to notice it doesn’t work with Tidal’s high-res Grasp Audio tracks. The very best the Echo Hyperlink can do is 320 kbps from Spotify or Tidal. It is a limiting issue and it’s not stunning. If the Echo Hyperlink supported Tidal’s Grasp Tracks, I might doubtless join that service, and that isn’t in the very best curiosity of Amazon which hopes I join Amazon Music Limitless.

I spoke to Amazon concerning the Echo Hyperlink’s lack of assist for Tidal Grasp Tracks they usually indicated they’re thinking about listening to how clients will use the machine earlier than committing to including assist.

The Hyperlink is attention-grabbing. Google doesn’t have something comparable in its Google Residence Line. The Sonos Amp is analogous, however with a built-in amplifier, it’s a more in-depth competitor to the Echo Hyperlink Amp. A number of high-end audio firms promote parts that may stream audio over digital connections but none are as straightforward to make use of or as cheap because the Echo Hyperlink. The Echo Hyperlink is the best means to enhance the sound of streaming music providers.



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