Amazon Echo Link Amp is now available for purchase

For those of you who want better audio quality out of your streaming music, the Amazon Echo Link Amp is now available for purchase. The device was announced last year, along with the Amazon Echo Link, as a solution for audiophiles that want more than the existing Echo line of products have to offer.

Both the Echo Link and Echo Link Amp serve as a bridge between your music and premium audio equipment. While most people are probably fine using the analog 3.5mm audio out of an Echo Dot or Echo Input to drive external speakers, the Echo Link and Link Amp’s digital audio ports provide a superior connection. The difference between the two devices is that the Echo Link Amp has a built-in 60-watt, two-channel amplifier. So, if your speakers are already connected to a receiver, the Echo Link should serve you well enough, but if you want to skip the receiver, the Echo Link Amp allows you to connect premium speakers directly to it.

Both the Echo Link and the Echo Link Amp still require an external Alexa device to control music playback by voice. Neither has a built-in speaker or microphone. The commands given to any of your Alexa devices can be relayed to the Echo Links. The Amazon Echo Link is $199.99 and the Amazon Echo Link Amp is $299.99. For $20 more, you can bundle either device with an Amazon Echo Dot.

Follow me on Twitter (@elias) and Instagram (@esaba) to see what I'm up to.

ShareTweetShare+1

19 comments
  1. Richard Shepherd says:

    For once it’s available outside the US. UK Amazon has them for £289 for the amp available May the 8th and £189 for the link available now. Another note is that it says Apple Music is supported and low-and-behold the UK Alexa app (but not alexa.amazon.co.uk) now allows Apple Music to be linked – hurrah!

  2. Carter says:

    I find it insulting that you use the term audiophile alongside streaming. No self-respecting audiophile would ever stoop so low as to defile themselves with streaming music, much less a 60-watt, 2-channel amplifier. Might as well just encode in 128-bit mp3 and shove in a pair of earbuds.

    • Richard Shepherd says:

      I suppose that depends upon what your definition of an audiophile is. I suspect most of us would define an audiophile as someone who is concerned with the quality of music reproduction (“interested in hi-fidelity sound reproduction” according to dictionary.com/wikipedia). However that is all relative. I cannot afford a £30,000 Kronos turntable with a similarly matched amp and speakers! Nor can I afford a vinyl library and the room to store it in that meets my listening diversity. As such I have to settle for streaming. Some streaming services are bit-for-bit identical to CD or better, if lossless encoded, so shouldn’t be disregarded. As an “audiophile” – defined rather as a lover of audio I’m quite happy with streaming from an access perspective and any effort to make it sound better is most welcome. I suspect the echo link will be no better than any other digital source of streaming such as a Fire TV, Apple TV or Roku connected to an amp/receiver or indeed the amplifier itself as most are streaming enabled these days. My worry is the link amp reviews suggest it is just a poor amplifier regardless of source. I’ve pre-ordered one anyway and will see how it goes!

    • Richard Shepherd says:

      BTW if you are an audiophile you only need a 2 channel amplifier. Anything more takes the stereo recording and messes with it.

      • Steve says:

        Not so. Blu-ray audio discs containing high-resolution 5.1 mixes come to mind.

        • Reflex says:

          I think the point is that the vast majority of music is recorded in 2 channel stereo, so for most music any output other than 2 channel is not accurate to the original recording regardless of the quality or distribution media.

  3. paul Elder says:

    Looking at the specs the optical input is not active, is that correct ?

    • tech3475 says:

      Unless I’m misunderstanding your question, it lists Toslink/optical in and out in the description.

      • paul Elder says:

        Yes it’s does list them but it implies if connected to TV source it’s not active see below
        Echo Link Amp does not support TV/video connections, casting to multi-room music from a line- in or Bluetooth input, or the Amazon Music Unlimited Single .

        • Richard Shepherd says:

          I think that means video connections rather than audio. If the TV outputs stereo PCM then the Link couldn’t tell it apart from a CD player or MP3. Most TVs can be setup to alter the optical output. My TV for instance can do basic stereo PCM all the way up to 5.1 DD+ and 3.1.2 DD+ Atmos. I’m sure the Link can manage it in PCM but the question is can it manage a Dolby stream. I expect not as it doesn’t carry any Dolby certification.

  4. Pete A says:

    Maybe it’s worth remembering a few things.
    • I’ve only got 2 human ears. I buy a hi-fi for me not my dog!
    • When someone sings it isn’t stereo, the singer has only one mouth, sitting in a room listening to a musician, the music comes from a single source.
    I am of an age that enables me to have been through the whole”audiophile” thing. Take it from me, it really is a con, your ears can not differentiate the difference between much of the high end equipment. Rely on your own personal taste, not the ravings of a journalist reviewing equipment he was given free!

  5. Ray says:

    If this gizmo is just serving up the same audio files as what’s already coming over your Echo Dot, I don’t understand the value of it. To me it seems like paying a premium for those gold-plated Monster cables — the average ear is never going to hear the difference.

    Now, if they were serving up high-end audio streams, like FLAC or something like that instead of heavily compressed MP3 tracks, that’d be a different story. I would be willing to pay an additional fee on top of my Amazon Music Unlimited subscription if they were were providing hi fidelity recordings. Kinda like the 4K option to my Netflix account. But as is, I don’t see the value in this product.

    • Richard Shepherd says:

      The same audio source (compression depends upon your audio provider – AAC for Apple Music, Ogg for Spotify, MP3 for Amazon Music) but the hardware path is different. A spot uses an inferior DAC and low quality 3.5mm jack. The Link and Link Amp have a better DAC and either an internal amp or a digital output. Who will notice the difference? I don’t know.

      Having read the reviews I’ve cancelled my Link Amp pre-order and spent £50 more for a Marantz NR1509 AV Receiver. It can act as an Echo speaker and also supports Airplay 2 and has a bunch of HDMI inputs. Got it today to replace my Onkyo TX-NR676 which doesn’t support Alexa and only has Airplay 1.

      Hooked it up to my Wharfdale Pacific 40 floor standers and did a little listening test. Kate Bush – Hounds of Love. Original 1985 vinyl pressing vs CD vs Amazon Music via an Echo Plus second edition. The vinyl sounded worst but thats cos my turntable is atrocious. CD was best – sent over HDMI in stereo PCM from Xbox One X. Amazon Music wasn’t bad at all.

      • Ray says:

        How does your new receiver act as an Echo speaker? Does it have an always-on mic that can process Alexa requests?

        I just picked up a Yamaha RX-A770 which has Airplay 2, though I haven’t had a chance to play with it much. I’m interfacing it with an Echo Dot, but would love to eliminate that from the equation if possible, especially if I could avoid having to change the input to the one the Dot is plugged into just to interact with Alexa.

        • Richard Shepherd says:

          No the AVR does not have a mic. It still needs an echo device. However it uses the speaker API just like the echo Link rather than a line in. It registers itself as a valid speaker destination on the network and in the Alexa app and any echo can be instructed to send it audio “Alexa play The Beatles on the living room” etc. The AVR switches “input” automatically and even comes out of standby when needed. It then goes back to the original input on a stop command. If it’s added to a group as the default speaker you don’t have to explicitly name it if talking to an echo in the same group “Alexa play Abbey Road by the Beatles” will work fine.
          At the moment Apple Music is not supported on the Marantz (only Amazon Music) unlike the Echo Link.

          • Ray says:

            > The AVR switches “input” automatically and even comes out of standby when needed. It then goes back to the original input on a stop command.<

            Wait, you mean you can say, "Alexa, what time is it?" and regardless of what input you're on, it'll switch over to your Echo Dot, tell you the time, then return you back to the input you were previously on? Do you recall how you set this up? Did your AVR show up within the Alexa app or something?

          • Richard Shepherd says:

            It only works with music but yes it does that. Speech from Alexa still comes out of the echo speaker. For it to work you enable the HEOS home entertainment skill and then the amp is detected in a device discovery. After that you assign the amp to a room and set the preferred speaker in the room to be the amp and Bob’s your uncle Amazon Music comes out of the hifi automatically.

  6. Mark says:

    Why not just BT stream it to your nice AVR and speakers? Why pay $284 for a device that does little more than either need more speakers or needs more space than a BT adaptor like the SMC line. CD quality streaming for $60. LOL

    • Richard Shepherd says:

      Because Bluetooth isn’t CD quality in its baseline A2DP profile. A quick Google suggests at best you could get high quality bitrates if the audio is sent as source MP3/AAC but in reality most devices reencode to SBC which is apparently a very lossy codec so quality suffers in the reencoding. aptX Bluetooth is better but my iPhone doesn’t support it neither does my AVR.
      However that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t use it. I’m quite happy with Bluetooth at home and in the car as I am not a “quality audiophile” but I felt obliged to challenge your statement of CD quality over Bluetooth.

FOLLOW ELIAS

Elias’s Latest Instagram