What are the best smart speakers?
Smart speaker technology has progressed in leaps and bounds since it was first introduced to consumers.
Whereas once it was a smart device almost exclusively for listening to music, today’s best smart speakers offer great integration with voice-activated virtual assistants, unlocking a host of new features to guarantee full control of your smart home.
With a great selection of smart speakers to choose from, narrowing down the model which matches your budget and requirements can be tricky.
If you’re looking for something portable, you’ll need to consider its weight, durability, and waterproof status.
On the other hand, if you’re in the market for a comprehensive home speaker set-up covering every room, then quality and compatibility will be higher up your list of priorities.
This comprehensive guide to the best smart speakers will help you cut through all the noise and pick the speaker that works best for you.
As always with smart devices, if you have an existing smart home set-up you’re working on adding to, you’ll need to make sure the smart speaker you choose will work with your existing devices.
Without further ado, let’s check out the best smart speakers on the market right now.
The Best Smart Speakers Compared
Our tech lists are created by researching the best-reviewed products from the most reputable web sources.
Here’s our list of the 10 best smart speakers:
In A Rush? Here’s Our Top Pick:
10. Ultimate Ears – Megablast
While there are times when choosing a smart home device calls for refinement, there are also times when you just want something which delivers in terms of raw power.
In the world of smart speakers, this is best reflected in the Ultimate Ears Megablast, a smart speaker all about delivering high volume at great quality.
The Ultimate Ears Megablast smart speaker comes with Alexa onboard, so if you’re in that ecosystem or want to introduce a great digital assistant, you can jump straight into that experience.
In order to make the most out of the incredibly durable unit — which is also waterproof — it’s best taken outdoors, where the advantages of great sound quality and impressive battery life spring to life.
The Ultimate Ears Megablast might not offer the full range of features compared to some of the best smart speakers, but it delivers a booming audio level for the price range in a stylish package ideal for summers outdoors.
- Great sound
- Compatible with Alexa
- Incredibly robust
- Charging dock sold separately
- Missing some Alexa features
9. Sony – XB402M Smart Speaker
Sony has long since established itself as a company capable of leading the pack across a broad spectrum of products.
Their entry into the smart speaker range, the XB402M smart speaker, stands out as one of the more refined smart speakers available.
The first thing which usually strikes someone about the Sony XB402M is the excellent LED light strips, which can be set to coordinate with the music.
The second thing is the great sound reproduction, which delivers deep basses alongside crisp mid-ranges for an overall sharp and clear sound which impresses even more considering the small size of the unit.
It also features a unique Live Sounds Mode setting that changes how your music sounds, delivering a music festival vibe and making it perhaps the best smart speaker for unique sound settings.
It’s another nice touch to a smart speaker device suited to the music lovers out there.
Overall it’s a fantastic smart speaker for those primarily concerned with quality audio and Alexa’s voice assistant features thrown in and don’t mind paying premium prices to get the very best.
- Excellent sound quality at all volume ranges
- Cool LED light system
- Alexa and Spotify Connect
- No Google Assistant or Apple HomeKit support
- No aux port
- Not cheap
8. Bose – Portable Smart Speaker
One of the great advantages to the best smart speakers lies in their ability to connect to one another and form a wider selection of speakers, whether in the same room (for instance, with pairing speakers to get stereo) or throughout the home.
The way smart speakers can be customized in this way makes for an incredibly flexible smart home rig that enhances how you listen to music and the usefulness of your digital assistant.
Bose has taken their track record as manufacturers of high-quality speakers and delivered a smart speaker which refuses to sacrifice quality for portability.
It can also hook up with other Bose speakers, so if you want to enhance your living room audio with additional home speakers or soundbars, the option is there.
It’s Bose’s best smart speaker in its price range.
A portable smart speaker which delivers the top-notch audio fidelity you’d expect from Bose, this excellent device comes with the added advantage of fitting neatly into your broader ecosphere of Bose speakers when you’re at home.
- Alexa and Google Assistant included
- Good balance of sound across all frequencies
- Nice portable weight
- Could be louder
- Short battery life
7. Amazon – Echo Dot with Clock
Not all smart speakers need to deliver booming bass and a loud high volume.
Sometimes a smart speaker calls for a little more discretion, particularly if it’s going to be used in a small home office or bedroom.
In these circumstances, the Amazon Echo Dot with Clock is a perfect choice.
The Amazon Echo Dot with Clock is something of a hybrid between a smart speaker and an alarm clock.
It delivers a crystal clear timepiece alongside a smart speaker with Alexa built-in so that you can control your smart home should you wish to do so (although, unlike the larger Amazon Echo, this doesn’t come with a built-in Zigbee hub).
It’s a great choice for parents considering a smart speaker for their own or their children’s bedrooms (and gives off a cool night-light effect), while the audio reproduction is better than you’d expect when considering its compact size.
A great value addition to the range of Amazon smart speakers, the Echo Dot with Clock offers an Alexa-based device with the added benefit of a timepiece for when you’re waking up or working to a deadline from the home office.
- Useful clock
- Easy to install
- Alexa built-in
- Bass could be better
- No Zigbee hub
6. Bang & Olufsen – Beosound A1 (2nd Gen)
Ask any audiophile to name the top brands available, and chances are they’ll bring up Bang & Olufsen, a company that has been synonymous with the best audio quality for decades.
Their portable smart speaker, the Beosound A1, might not be the cheapest on the market, but when it comes to performance, it’s unrivaled.
This respect for audio fidelity is even more impressive when taking in the Bang & Olufsen’s diminutive size.
Vocals remain sharp and don’t get lost in the mix, while bass never gets distorted or muddy sounding.
This portable smart speaker also comes with Alexa, although you’ll need to connect via Bluetooth to get this to work.
The durability of the Beosound A1, combined with the fact that it’s also waterproof, means that you can be confident it’ll survive any rained-off camping trips, and it can be carried around the home for use wherever you like with ease.
A beautifully constructed portable smart speaker which works great when you’re out and about.
The Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 certainly isn’t cheap, but at the same time, it’s a premium device that sounds incredible.
- Top tier sound quality
- Neat and compact design
- Ample battery life
- Alexa support
- Alexa’s support requires Bluetooth
- Awkward buttons
5. Sonos – Move
Amazon and Google might not have anything to worry about regarding brand recognition, but these household names are facing stiff competition from Sonos.
These superb smart speakers stand out for their support for both Alexa and Google Assistant, combined with sound quality, which sets a benchmark for the industry.
The Sonos Move sees the company moving towards a more portable device, although users are unlikely to take this down to the beach for a day trip (if you’re looking for a more lightweight Sonos smart speaker you can take anywhere, consider the Sonos Roam).
That said, it’ll work perfectly in the garden, while its compatibility with a wide range of Sonos products offers seamless integration into an existing Sonos speaker set-up.
It’s a neat-looking device, too, which delivers a more professional finish compared to some of the more quirky-looking smart speakers on the market.
In this respect, it’s guaranteed to look smart wherever you set it up in the home.
The Sonos Move might not be quite as portable as its name suggests, but it pumps out smooth and clear audio and can be integrated with a home Sonos speaker network, so if you’re in that ecosystem, you can expect seamless integration.
- Lush sound and high volume
- Integration with other Sonos products
- Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant compatible
- No Apple HomeKit support
- Too heavy to be truly portable
4. Bose – Home Speaker 500
The Bose Home Speaker 500 is something of a beast when it comes to smart speakers, which is reflected both in the rich and beefy sound reproduction and the price range.
This is a smart speaker for those who don’t want to compromise on quality and volume and have the budget to match.
Sound performance is optimal with the Bose Home Speaker 500, delivering solid wall-to-wall stereo sound from a single speaker with great balance between bass, mid-range, and high frequencies, so nothing gets lost in the mix.
These smart speakers also work with Amazon Alexa and Apple AirPlay 2, so they’re great for integrating into your smart home ecosystem and functioning above and beyond a basic music player.
At this price, you expect nothing but the best, and the crystal clear treble and great overall dynamics make this a strong competitor for the best-sounding smart speaker available.
Fantastic audio combined with a sleek and durable design makes the Bose Home Speaker 500 a professional, smart speaker for people who don’t have to worry about financial considerations and just want a top-quality device.
- Sound quality is among the very best
- Alexa built-in
- Great microphones
- Very expensive
- Boring display
3. Amazon – Echo Studio
The second entry from Amazon on this guide to the best smart speakers is the Amazon Echo Studio.
It’s one of the most popular smart speakers on the market and perhaps the best in its price range when it comes to all-round functionality within a broader smart home ecosystem.
The Echo Studio comes with all the voice control you expect from an Amazon device and allows you to access Amazon Music HD along with other music streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora, and Tidal.
What’s more, it also connects up to your Zigbee Hub for exceptional smart home integration.
So, if you already have, for instance, Philips Hue smart lights set up around the house, you’ll be able to use the Echo Studio to set them to match whatever mood you’re in.
It’s also a neat-looking and sturdy smart speaker which will look great in whatever room you use it, and if you have more than one, it’ll act as an intercom, so you can call the kids down for dinner without having to leave the kitchen.
Zigbee hub features team up with the versatility of Amazon’s smart home ecosystem to deliver a solid all-round smart speaker which performs well in the audio department and won’t leave you strapped for cash.
- Works as Dolby Atmos home theater system when used with Fire TV
- Excellent selection of compatible streaming services
- Spacious sound
- Bass can be a little off
- 3D Ultra HD music requires an Amazon Music HD account
2. Amazon – Echo Dot (4th Gen)
Our final entry from Amazon’s range of smart speakers strips down some of the features and product size when compared to their higher-end offerings.
However, what it loses in versatility it more than makes up for in delivering a smart speaker which is truly great value for money.
The Echo Dot smart speaker is Amazon’s most popular smart speaker, which isn’t surprising given the low price point for such a decent smart device.
While it may not feature the Zigbee hub, which lends its more expensive counterparts such versatility, it comes with Alexa as standard, so there’s still plenty of scope for using voice commands beyond simply changing the music.
The price range also makes it an ideal choice for those looking to buy multiple smart speakers to spread around the home.
You can easily tell it to play music everywhere, which is great if you’re vacuuming the entire house and need something to distract you.
With its cool spherical design and raft of features, Amazon’s fourth-generation Echo Dot also manages to deliver better sound quality than most dedicated speakers in its more affordable price range.
- Great smart speaker on a budget
- Compact design
- Amazon Alexa compatible
- Flexible line in/out jack
- Bass quality could be better
- Lacks a Zigbee hub
1. Sonos – One (Gen 2)
Our top pick for best overall smart speaker brings us once again to Sonos, a lesser-known smart speaker manufacturer but also one which looks set to grow in popularity thanks to the company’s strong commitment to exceptional audio fidelity.
Indeed, the first thing which stands out when listening to the Sonos One is the quality of music reproduction – nothing in its price range matches this device when it comes to delivering a sophisticated sound.
With multiroom connectivity and support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, the Sonos One is also a versatile wireless speaker for those already invested in a smart home ecosystem.
The Sonos One smart speaker also supports AirPlay, so if you’re an Apple consumer looking for something a little more special than their Homepod Mini, this is well worth considering.
Outstanding audio reproduction combined with comprehensive support for virtual assistants, the Sonos One delivers on quality across the board and earns its place as the best overall smart speaker.
- Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant both supported
- Multiroom connectivity
- Exceptional sound quality
- It doesn’t support Bluetooth
FAQs About Smart Speakers
Still not quite tuned into the full range of possibilities a smart speaker can bring to your home?
We’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions to help guide you through the best smart speakers and make the best decision for all your smart home needs.
Q: What is a smart speaker and how does it work?
A smart speaker is a voice-activated device that allows you to control the music you listen to and access a range of other smart home control options via a voice assistant.
The digital assistant available depends on the model of smart speaker, with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant being the most popular assistants.
Smart speakers work by using the virtual assistant to recognize the user’s voice commands, whether changing the track on Spotify or asking for a weather report.
Virtual assistants are activated by specific commands depending on the brand (for instance, if you’re using an Apple device, you’ll say “Hi Siri” to activate it).
Once activated, the speaker will listen to your question, run it through the system, and deliver a response.
Q: What is a smart speaker used for?
While first and foremost smart speakers are used for listening to music, their ability to work with a virtual assistant opens them up to a much wider range of features.
In addition to playing music, most smart speakers will be able to answer questions via the virtual assistant, as well as ordering products or takeaways with simple voice commands.
They can also be used to use voice activation to control a range of additional smart home devices, for instance, telling your smart thermostat to change the temperature or adjusting your smart lights to alter the mood.
For these actions, you’ll need to ensure your smart speaker is compatible with your other smart devices, and if necessary, install a smart hub device that will grant you this access.
Q: What makes a smart speaker smart?
While a smart speaker is in many ways the same as a normal speaker, the inclusion of a microphone that allows users to use voice commands for their music and digital assistant makes it “smart.”
Smart speakers are always “on,” so users don’t have to do anything other than talk, and they will hear your requests and respond accordingly.
Q: Do I need a smartphone to use a smart speaker?
While it’s possible to interact with your smart speaker via voice commands, you’ll need a smartphone or tablet to be able to set up most smart speaker devices.
Once set-up is complete, you’ll find that voice commands are your go-to means of communicating with your smart speakers.
Q: Are smart speakers stereo?
Since an individual smart speaker can only be positioned in one place, you’ll only achieve true stereo sound if you pair it up with another device of the same brand.
For instance, hook up two Google Nest audio products or two Amazon Alexa smart speakers, and they’ll deliver great stereo sound to your home.
Q: How do smart speakers play music?
Smart speakers play music by connecting you to your streaming music platform of choice via the smart speaker’s in-built virtual assistant.
Since most people use their smart speakers to play music (hardly surprising given the name of the product), most smart speakers are versatile in terms of the streaming services they’ll allow you to access.
If your streamer of choice is Spotify, chances are you’ll be good to go with pretty much any smart speaker, but if you’re using a more niche service, you’ll need to check for compatibility before taking the plunge.
Q: Can smart speakers make phone calls?
Simply put, this depends on the brand and model of the smart speaker you go for.
Amazon’s Alexa allows users to make calls, and Google Home has also delivered the goods in this department, either by calling a Google contact or dialing a number you speak out loud.
Sadly this doesn’t extend to being able to call other Google Home speakers, so you’ll be restricted to phones, unlike the Amazon Echo, which works better in conjunction with other Echo devices.
Q: Which smart speaker is best for Spotify?
Spotify has become such a ubiquitous music streaming platform that most smart speakers can work just fine with it.
As always, we do recommend checking first just in case you’re going to be left without your favorite tunes, but all the brands featured in this guide to the best smart speakers are fine if you’re a fan of Spotify.
Q: Are smart speakers worth it?
If you love great music and want a sound system that brings flexibility in terms of where you can use it and what else it can offer, the best smart speakers are excellent value for money, particularly when compared to dedicated audio set-ups.
If you already have a smart device rig in your home, then a smart speaker brings additional control to your smart lights, thermostats, and other smart gadgets, provided you make sure they are compatible.
Q: How To Choose / Which One To Choose
Before choosing your smart speaker, you should consider a variety of factors.
What budget are you working with?
This includes considering whether or not you’ll be looking to add additional smart speakers in other rooms of the house, in which can you might want to select one which comes well below a premium budget.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for the very best in audio quality, you’ll have to fork out the cash, and it might not deliver the same versatility as other models for an integrated smart home ecosystem.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you spot the key factors worth bearing in mind when choosing which smart speaker to go for.
With an ever-expanding range of products to choose from, the smart speaker market can feel crowded.
But this range of choice also means there’s something available to suit everyone’s needs, and as this guide demonstrates, a bit of research can help narrow down the options.
Listening to your favorite music on the go or building up the very best in-home smart speaker systems has never been easier.
Here’s a quick recap of the 10 best smart speakers:
- Sones – One (Gen 2)
- Amazon – Echo Dot (4th Gen)
- Amazon – Echo Studio
- Bose – Home Speaker 500
- Sones – Move
- Bang & Olufsen – Beosound A1
- Amazon – Echo Dot With Clock
- Bose – Portable Smart Speaker
- Sony – XB402M Smart Speaker
- Ultimate Ears – Megablast