The cheapest Echo Dot speaker is $74. In our review, we wrote, “It would be unkind to expect a small speaker to do anything but voice and its fine for that. It has no bass, limited mid-range and no treble. The best description for a music signature is ‘painful’ with fairly high levels of distortion at a maximum volume of 75dB.”
But people were buying the Echo Dot as the entry-level to
add Amazon Alexa and its far-field mic capabilities. The Echo Input costs $55
and means you don’t pay for a speaker you probably don’t need.
It comes with a 5V/1A (5W) USB-A to micro-USB charger/cable.
Now if you are like me and every power socket is in use, you will be happy to know that it works fine on a standard PC/amplifier/router/Roku
USB-A 2.0 5V/.5mA (2.5W) port as well.
First, we attached a JBL
Extreme 2 via 3.5mm cable and opened the Alexa Android app. Note even though
the speaker is battery powered it needs another
240V power point for continued use.
Press add a device,
add Amazon Echo, Echo Input and then connect it to your Wi-Fi network (2.4 or
5GHz). It then prompts for speaker connection – Bluetooth or AUX.
Remember that the attached speaker must be amplified – Echo
Input’s 3.5mm output has a very basic pre-amp (no amplifier) so it won’t drive wired
headphones or speakers.
Voila – done! It worked with AUX.
Well not quite.
We had issues later changing from AUX to Bluetooth.
At first, we thought it might
be that the Bluetooth speaker was about 4 metres away but moving it closer made
no difference. We also wondered if the USB port on the PC was underpowered – it
made no difference with the charger. We reset the speaker to factory defaults –
No, it was just not
Persistence paid off, and
the JBL was finally recognised when we placed it beside the Echo Input. Our
best guess is that the JBL supports multipoint connections (will connect to two
Bluetooth sources) and the Echo Input does not like that.
When you say Hey Alexa it chimes to confirm it has heard the
watchword. I am not sure that is necessary
as a blue LED lights up too, but you can turn it off in the app. The app also emails
you if your speaker becomes disconnected or
if Alexa if unresponsive.
We found response time fine over an AUX connection. But as
the day evolved, it was hit and miss – well
all miss. We would get the chime but no audio response.
We found on Echo Input’s website, “Speakers connected by 3.5
mm audio cable may power off if not used for an extended period. When possible,
we recommend turning off the speaker’s power-saving mode by following the
On Bluetooth, we found
that lag time could be a little long often missing the first few words of Alexa’s
response. This is both a power saving and
Bluetooth wake-up issue.
Echo Input like Echo Dot has the same four far-field mics.
It claims to be able to hear you across the room – and it can when things are
at normal ‘household’ <50dB quiet.
Almost every smart speaker has issues with far-field mics
and speaker volume. The JBL Extreme 2 is a very gutsy 2 x 20W stereo speaker with
good mid/high bass. We found that music over 60dB, especially music with bass and mid bias renders Alexa Input catatonic
despite the device supposedly reducing the steaming volume (see later).
The trick with Echo input is to place it closer to where you
would normally issue commands and place the speaker a little further away. Or
shout! We tried many different locations, and
it made no difference.
The 3.5mm AUX cable is stereo (3-pole) as such should support
a stereo signal. Signal levels were acceptable, and
there was no lag. Sound quality was fine, but
stereo separation was noticeably lower, if not absent.
Bluetooth only supports the SBC codec and should support a
stereo signal. We noticed a loss of volume, quality and importantly stereo
separation when Bluetooth streaming from Spotify compared to directly connected
Samsung Galaxy S10+. We need to investigate more if it does support stereo pairing mode (the JBL is stereo
in one device).
It does not support Multi-room setup on Bluetooth. It is fine
We found using Alexa to increase and decrease volume (it
will increase from 1-10) was ineffective. Yes, you should set the speaker manually
to maximum level first and use Alexa after but it was not as linear or precise as
I am sure it can alter the 3.5mm or Bluetooth signal output
levels slightly, but it really is best to
adjust the speaker volume manually. Similarly, if a speaker goes to sleep, Alexa may not always wake it.
It will not work with Sonos speakers at present – a new
skill is coming.
The main use is to add Amazon Alexa to an existing amplified
speaker or for that matter an amplifier and speakers. Or perhaps place it
somewhere that you need to reinforce Alexa dead
voice spots. To that end, it is cost
effective and unique.
It’s not going to
control that device as well as it would an integrated speaker – it is just a smart
music output device.
And that is probably my biggest gripe. The JBL speaker is one
of the best stereo BT devices you can buy. Alexa Input worked intermittently with
it. It was nowhere near as reliable and responsive as using Bluetooth with a Samsung
Galaxy S10+. And the sound quality was adequate at best. Unfortunately, we did
not have another speaker to test – that is on the list!
Post review note: We have briefly tested a Bose SoundLink Revolve+. This is a mono 360° speaker with both Bluetooth and 3.5mm AUX inputs. The sound quality on AUX and Bluetooth is better leading me to believe the Echo Input does not support stereo output nor does it like Multi-point Bluetooth speakers. We will report if we find more information.
Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
Add Amazon Alexa Alexa vocie capabilites to a dumb speaker
To many issues with the JBL Extreme Bluetooth speaker used in the test
It cannot control attached speakers the way is can integrated ones.