Amazon is reportedly looking to offer an Echo that more directly competes with high-end speakers like the Sonos line of devices or Apple’s HomePod, according to a report from Bloomberg.
The speaker should be released sometime next year and will be somewhat wider than the existing Echo models, including four separate tweeters to help boost the sound quality.
It will also offer access to the company’s Alexa voice assistant. Bloomberg notes that it’s also likely to work better for the high-fidelity audio version of Amazon’s music streaming service that has previously been reported to be in the works.
This could make for an interesting working relationship with some of Amazon’s existing partners, including Sonos, as it sounds like this will be a direct competitor. Newer Sonos speakers, including the Sonos One and Sonos Beam, support Alexa voice commands out of the box.
While both Echo devices and Sonos support multi-room streaming and speaker grouping, Sonos has always had far superior audio quality when compared to the Echo hardware – albeit at a premium price.
The device is being developed by Amazon Lab126, a research and development arm based in Sunnyvale, California. The company’s hardware foray keeps customers wedded to its ecosystem — buying products from Amazon.com and using services like Prime Video and Prime Music.
Amazon has previously attempted to improve the Echo’s sound with tweaks and offered a standalone subwoofer and device that links the speakers to a stereo. It is also planning a high-fidelity version of its music service that should mesh better with the new Echo.