The Amazon Echo Dot is a nifty little device. But, sometimes, I wish I could take it upstairs with me. How cool would it be to have it in the kitchen and play music at a decent volume? Well, Ninety7 feels your pain. They offer you the Vaux.
If, like me, you opted to get an Amazon Echo Dot there will be occasions where it is found slightly lacking.
I have mine plugged in to my Hi-Fi amp, so volume is not issue. However, I would love to be able to have one in each room, or at least make it more portable.
Just think, being able to take it from the living room and in to the kitchen so you can listen to some tunes whilst cooking and control your music by voice. You could have Alexa wake you up in the morning and then take the Dot downstairs to read you the news during breakfast.
The Vaux not only equips the Dot with more volume, but also gives it legs. Kinda.
Ninety7 Vaux design
It is a chunky, slightly flattened cylinder with a fabric-like surround. This makes it look like it’s a 360-degree speaker, more on that later.
It comes in both white and black designs to match both types of Echo Dots.
The speaker stands at 163mm tall with a diameter of 106mm. So, it’s shorter than a regular Echo and a little bit more squat.
There is a flap at the rear that allows you to fiddle with the cable when attaching or detaching the Dot.
Finally, aside from the microUSB port for charging, there is a 3.5mm input jack allowing you to plug in your phone or other audio device.
Ninety7 Vaux performance
The Vaux looks nice enough sat on a shelf but, on closer inspection, it might be found lacking when compared to more expensive alternatives.
Getting the Vaux up-and-running could not be easier.
The speaker is charged using the microUSB port. Naturally, you can still use it when it is plugged in.
The Vaux doesn’t come with a USB cable or wall plug. However, I am guessing Ninety7 are assuming you already have the ones that come with the Dot.
The power button also acts a status indicator. It shows orange when charging, blue when it’s on and then it will flash blue when the battery is running low.
The first point I should make, which is obvious but still worth saying, is that you need decent Wi-Fi coverage.
I have a good router downstairs as well as extenders in the furthest corners of upstairs. This is important as the Echo Dot doesn’t automatically switch between Wi-Fi networks as you move around.
Also, that 3.5mm input port. When you plug something else in to the speaker it overrides the cable plugged in to your Dot. This means you will no longer be able to hear Alexa when you have other devices plugged in.
Finally, the Vaux, like the Echo Dot, isn’t weather-proof. In this case, best to keep an eye on the weather if you plan to go alfresco with Alexa.
Audio is clear without any interference noises such as humming or buzzing.
Treble is good and the mid-range is nice and direct.
The low-end is also well presented. Some bass hunters may want more, but I find the Vaux’s projection great for an all-round speaker. We have to take in to consideration that dialogue will make up a large proportion of this speaker’s duties.
I feel that the EQ is pretty spot on for everything from party tunes to talk radio and podcasts.
However, push your Dot beyond 50% volume and things get a bit distorted. Saying that though, this speaker is loud. So, anything beyond half volume is more than you would normally need.
Whilst on the subject of volume, remember to turn your Dot down after listening to music. I forgot and upon walking in to the living room and saying “Alexa, good morning”, I am certain the whole street heard her response. Also, Vaux doesn’t really do whisper quiet.
Compared to the full-fat Amazon Echo, the Vaux is a little less refined although it does seem to be louder with more bass.
Additionally, the big Echo has a much wider soundstage thanks to 360-degree coverage. The Vaux, however, has a definite sweet spot front and centre. You still get OK sound if you’re behind the Vaux, it’s just not as evenly presented as the Echo.
At 25% volume the Vaux easily surpasses its claimed six-hour battery life when streaming from Spotify.
This is great if you’re getting on with your chores or chilling out in the garden (as long as it’s not looking like rain).
Don’t get caught out though. As Vaux is also powering the Echo’s processing and Wi-Fi connectivity, you can’t just leave it unplugged for days at a time. In fact, playing some tunes and then leaving it unplugged overnight meant I was faced with a slumbering Dot.
Ninety7 Vaux review conclusion
For £50, the Vaux is a great addition to your Dot. It might not deliver audiophile-like sound quality, it does make your Dot mobile, portable and much louder.
Battery life is good, and I am sure that being able to gather around your Dot to play with the Echo Buttons will prove fun.
Granted, the Vaux is the same price as another Echo Dot. However, I think I prefer carrying around a single Dot to where I need it, instead having one upstairs and one down.
I reckon the Vaux is a great way to make your Echo Dot even smarter.
Ninety7 Vaux price and availability
You can buy the Vaux speaker dock for the Amazon Echo Dot in black or white right now for £49.99.