In brief: Amazon at its annual hardware event in Seattle on Wednesday announced its first high-end smart speaker. The Echo Studio is described as the most innovative speaker Amazon has ever built and will likely compete directly with the likes of Apple and Sonos in the high-end home speaker market.

Developed largely for Amazon's new premium streaming music service, the Echo Studio boasts five drivers including a tweeter, a trio of mid-range speakers and a 5.25-inch woofer. It's also equipped with an array of microphones that not only listen for Alexa commands, but help to tune the speaker automatically to its environment.

The Echo Studio also supports 3D audio (courtesy of Dolby Atmos and Sony's 360 Reality Audio) and you'll even be able to pair two together for "stereo" sound for home theater setups. Amazon said the speaker can also be paired to a 4K Fire TV for improved playback capabilities.

Dan Seifert with The Verge got an early demo ahead of the press event and "walked away suitably impressed." Seifert said it sounds better than prior Echo devices with the ability to fill a room with music that is enjoyable to listen to. "It's the kind of thing that should make Sonos worry, especially at the Studio's price point," he added.

The speaker affords 330W of peak power, Amazon said. It also has a 24-bit DAC and a power amplifier with 100 kHz of bandwidth for "high-res, lossless music playback." There's even a built-in Zigbee smart home hub that can be used to control compatible smart home devices.

Amazon's new Echo Studio will be available to pre-order today in a variety of finishes priced at $199. It'll ship to Prime members by November 7, according to Amazon's product page.

Lead image courtesy SlashGear