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Wireless & Bluetooth Speakers

Amazon Echo Link adds Alexa and inputs to powered speakers for $200

The Amazon Echo Link adds the ability to stream multiroom music to an existing powered system.

echo-link-amazon-event-1-2018
Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

If you've got a nice set of powered speakers sitting around and want to upgrade to a full-fledged system, the Amazon Echo Link is one way to do it.

Amazon has a bunch of Echo devices already, but the $199 Link might be the most confusing. The little box is reminiscent of a classic audio preamplifier, with a volume knob on the front and bunch of audio inputs and outputs on the back. You connect the audio outputs from your devices to the Link, then connect the Link's audio output to a set of powered speakers -- like Audioengine or Adam Audio -- or to an AV receiver. 

The Link works with Alexa, so if you have a compatible Alexa device like an Echo Dot ($40 at Amazon), you can control the system with voice commands hands-free. You can "control music selection, volume and multiroom playback on your stereo with your Echo or the Alexa app" in Amazon's words.

The full features and functions of the device are a bit obscure, and Amazon's current product page doesn't help much -- there are few details, and a statement saying the Link hasn't yet been "authorized as required by the rules of the Federal Communications Commission." 

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One use for the Link seems to be multiroom audio. Connect an audio device to the Link in one room and sound from it can be streamed to other Alexa speakers or devices within the home, either in individual rooms or in every room, like a party mode.

One weird thing about the Echo Link is the volume control. Most people buying this product will already have a volume knob on the speakers or device they connect it to, making the Link's volume control redundant. We assume it's there to enable Alexa volume commands, but if we were to list two things more necessary than volume on the Link's front panel, they would be a) an input selector and b) a display. 

Overall the $35 Echo Input or $50 Echo Dot, both of which allow audio and music from Alexa to be piped over powered speakers, and work with multiroom audio too, seem to make a lot more sense for people looking to add voice to their systems. Meanwhile the Amazon Echo Link Amp also seems more useful gadget because it has built-in power, so you can connect any set of speakers.

Specs on the Link include:

  • Coaxial in/out
  • Optical in/out
  • Line in/out
  • Subwoofer output

The Link ships later in 2018. Availability and UK and Australian pricing are yet to be announced.

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