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Amazon announced it’ll launch a second generation of its Echo Buds headphones with an upgraded compact and comfortable design, active noise cancellation and hands-free access to Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. You can pre-order the new Echo Buds now — pre-orders get a $20 discount and will begin shipping May 13.
If you’re looking at alternatives to Apple’s AirPods Pro, the Echo Buds (2nd Gen) offer some of the same features after improving on Amazon’s previous design, including enhanced active noise cancellation. Amazon claims this feature cancels twice as much noise compared to the first generation buds (which are no longer available). Other standouts include improved sound quality that reduces distortion while listening to music, talking on the phone or accessing Amazon’s Alexa, along with Passthrough Mode, which lets you adjust the amount of ambient sound that comes through the earbuds.
Launching May 13, these buds will be available in Black and White and cost $120 for the wired charging option and $140 for the wireless charging model. You can currently get them on sale for a limited time — shoppers who preorder the headphones can get them starting at $100 for the wired charging model and $120 for the wireless charging model.
The new design is 20 percent smaller and more lightweight than the first generation Echo Buds, according to Amazon. It also includes built-in vents that reduce ear pressure while using them for long periods of time and multiple sized rubber tips for added comfort. Like the AirPods Pro, the Echo Buds come in a standing charging case, which can be either wired or wireless. Its battery life is estimated at five hours while listening to music (6.5 hours if active noise cancellation is off) and a quick, 15-minute charge can give you two hours of music playback.
You can also access Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant hands-free by saying the wake word and instructing it to make a call, play music, turn on noise cancellation and recommend podcasts, among several other commands. And if you’re in a hurry, you can say “Alexa, find my buds” to any Alexa-enabled device — or press a button on the Alexa app — and you’ll hear a sound indicating your earbuds are nearby.
The Alexa feature can also provide public transit directions along with real-time updates — based on multiple sources both regional and local, Amazon confirmed to Shopping — for seven major U.S. cities: New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Jersey City and Philadelphia. Amazon says it’ll expand transit support for other major U.S. cities in the coming months.