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Amazon Echo Link Amp takes on Sonos for half the money – CNET

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The $199 Echo Link and the $299 Echo Link Amp.

Ry Crist/CNET

Among the panoply of devices that Amazon announced at its event on Thursday, one of the most intriguing was the awkwardly named Amazon Echo Link Amp. This is a $300 streaming amplifier with multiroom and voice control, and it's a companion to the new Sonos Connect-like Echo Link.

While the Link is a strange proposition -- who has a power amp sitting around that they'd connect a $200 Amazon preamp to? -- the Link Amp makes much more sense. 

Sure, at $300 it's a little bit more expensive than we'd hoped for, but it's essentially a "BYO speakers" mini system.

Specs include:

  • 60-watt x 2-channel amplifier
  • Coaxial in/out
  • Optical in/out
  • Line in/out
  • Subwoofer output

The Amp is part of Alexa's expanded multiroom system, which incorporates devices that now include the new Echo Plus and the Echo Sub. As far as its competition in the market the closest is the Sonos Amp, but that device offers HDMI, twice the power and retails for $600. 

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Ry Crist/CNET

Amazon says the Amp offers "voice control music selection and playback with your compatible Echo device or the Alexa app." While it's obvious that the company wants you to interact with the device via voice it's a little disappointing that there's no onboard microphone or even a source indicator. At this stage it's unclear if the inputs will even be selectable or if everything connected will simply play at once. (Hopefully it's the former.)

As far as possible partners for the Link Amp, I'd suggest looking at speakers in a similar $300 band, including the Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2 or the Q Acoustics 3020i.

According to the Amazon Echo Link Amp product page the device has yet to pass certification by the FCC and is not available for preorder. Interested users can join an email list to keep informed of updates, however. Likewise, Australian and UK pricing and availability are not yet known. 

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