9 of the best smart speakers according to online reviews
We have checked out online reviews to line up a selection of the very best smart speakers, including devices from top brands like Sonos, Apple, and Sony.
If you’re searching for a new speaker, the market is flooded with options. Whether you’re looking to spend your time listening to music outside, in search of the perfect indoor acoustics, or both, there are hundreds of speakers for you to consider.
But what about smart speakers? You know, the kind that come with built-in voice assistants and can be found in almost any home at this point? If you have a bunch of “smart” devices lying around your home — perhaps a robot vacuum, or even a smart toaster (yes, that’s a real thing) — a smart speaker is pretty much essential in keeping all of them connected. In short, a smart speaker is what makes your home truly smart.
But like regular speakers, smart speakers are also totally saturating the market. You could spend all day scouring product descriptions and review sections to find the best fit for your home — but we would never make you do that. Instead, we compiled a small list of what we feel are the best smart speakers you can get right now.
Are smart speakers worth the money?
Although smart speakers aren’t always the best way to listen to your audio and aren’t really prioritised for music in the first place, we think they’re absolutely worth having if you have the budget for it. (And you might not even notice the audio downgrade unless you’re really looking.)
The real reason to get a smart speaker is — and you probably already guessed it — convenience. Hands-free voice assistants are the name of the game when it comes to smart speakers, as well as compatibility with other connected smart tech like robot vacuums, streaming devices, and much more. Being able to hear your day at a glance, catch up on news, play music, and control most of your smart tech by way of simply asking a speaker is a truly unmatched feeling for those who enjoy doing less. And let’s be honest: Most of us enjoy doing less. Plus, smart speakers don’t always have to break the bank — there are plenty of budget options out there, including the fantastic Echo Dot, which we’ll get into more below.
What’s the best voice assistant?
There are really only three worthwhile voice assistants out there: Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Siri. Out of those three, most would put Siri at the bottom. That’s not to say that Siri is a bad voice assistant, but Apple is just way too exclusive about their propriety operating systems, and Siri is only available to Apple devices — that means if you get a third party brand like Bose or Sonos, Siri won’t be possible for you (although Apple AirPlay is an option). Getting a worse-sounding speaker just for Siri isn’t worth the sacrifice.
Then we get to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and when it comes down to choosing, the answer is probably the most annoying one possible: It’s subjective. It will all rely on your voice assistant habits, and both Amazon and Google have specialties that they do better than the other.
If you’re an online shopper and have an arsenal of smart devices throughout your home, Alexa will probably be your best bet. Amazon’s smart speakers recognise more devices than Google’s Assistant, so you’re more likely to have a better time with an Echo if you really want to go for a true smart home. Alexa’s direct connection to the Amazon store also makes online shopping easy, allowing you to add things to your cart and check out solely through voice commands. If you get a lot of your goods from Amazon, Amazon’s smart speakers are kind of a no-brainer.
While Google Assistant does get edged out by Alexa in terms of skills, it is better at things like general knowledge, location services, and other real-world information that you might need at a moment’s notice. Google Assistant is also great for those with Android phones, enabling easy exchanges of information between your smartphone and smart speaker when using Google-supported apps. Google speakers also tend to be better at networking, so if you’re looking to buy more than one smart speaker to connect them, Google is probably where you’ll want to start.
Both assistants are great, so you can’t really lose with either choice here — just think about what features you want most, and go for the one that fits that vision best.
What’s the deal with wattage?
When you’re shopping for a new speaker, you’re going to see the word “wattage” a lot. While that might be meaningless gibberish to you when you see it on a product page, it’s actually a pretty simple concept.
Basically, wattage defines the limit of how high your speaker can go without distorting the sound. Unless you enjoy really blasting your tunes or you regularly host parties, 50 watts is normally going to be more than enough for the average listener. But if you really like to crank it up, the more (watts) the merrier. While smaller speakers tend to have the least amount of wattage, there are certainly some exceptions.
What are the best smart speakers?
Selecting any sort of speaker is not easy, especially as there are so many devices out there offering similar sets of features. We know it’s a tough decision, so we’ve tried to make your life easier by lining up a selection of the best smart speakers.
We’ve highlighted the very best smart speakers from top brands like Sonos, Apple, and Sony, with something for everyone and every budget. You just need to carefully consider all of these options, and then pick the speaker that best matches up with your set of personal preferences.
These are the best smart speakers in 2021.
Thousands of skills • Rich sound • Good value • Control other devices
Fill your home with music and pick from thousands of skills with this versatile smart speaker.
Echo DotPlay music, answer questions, read the news, check the weather, set alarms, and control compatible smart home devices with this speaker.
You can voice control your music and stream songs from Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, and other services. The Echo Dot produces rich, stereo sound that fills your home with music.
Of course, it’s not all about music with the Echo Dot. You can also ask Alexa to answer questions, read the news, check the weather, set alarms, control compatible smart home devices, and much more.
Excellent sound quality and balanced audio • Minimalistic look will fit nicely into most spaces
Bass could be more powerful
The Google Nest Audio offers style, high-quality sound, and a robust voice assistant that rivals Amazon’s Echo line.
Google Nest AudioThe Google Nest Audio offers style, high-quality sound, and a robust voice assistant that rivals Amazon’s Echo line.
The Nest Audio produces well-balanced, rich audio (even though the bass could use some work), as well as a robust Google Assistant experience that has never been better.
At this price, the size, convenience, and sound quality that the Google Nest Audio brings to the table easily rivals Amazon’s comparable Alexa-compatible speakers. If you’re a Google Assistant user, the Nest Audio won’t let you down.
Great audio quality • Easy switch from WiFi to Bluetooth • Durable enough to take on trips
Large size can make travel inconvenient
The Sonos Move has the quality and flexibility to be a great at-home smart speaker, as well as portable Bluetooth speaker.
Sonos MoveThis easy-to-use, rechargeable speaker streams over Bluetooth as well as WiFi, which is convenient if you want to use it at home or on the move.
The Sonos Move is also strong enough to handle the occasional drop or bump. While it is portable, it’s not the easiest to travel with over long distances, due to its weight and bulky size, but you can rest assured that you’ll always get a quality audio experience.
It’s quick to set up, easy to control through the Sonos app, and you can easily switch from WiFi to Bluetooth streaming when needed. It’s also weather-resistant and able to stand up to humidity, rain, snow, dust, sun, and salt.
Apple HomePodApple’s HomePod scores high marks when it comes to sound quality, and features many of the same benefits of the Google Home Max, save for a few.
To put it simply: If you like the idea of the Google Home Max but prefer Siri when it comes to smart assistants, the HomePod is the way to go. It has great sound quality just like the Google Home Max, a beautiful and minimalistic design, automatic room calibration, and a super simple setup process.
If you’re married to only buying Apple products for your tech, the HomePod is definitely your best bet.
Portable • 24 hours on a single charge • Great reviews for sound quality
If you’re willing to shell out, this portable smart speaker packs a punch.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A1Customers ranging from audiophiles to casual listeners say it’s loud when it needs to be and quickly surpassed their expectations.
Customers ranging from audiophiles to casual listeners say it’s loud when it needs to be and quickly surpassed their expectations. It can also go for 24 hours on a single charge, which is a real plus when it comes to portability.
There are eight speakers in the B&O play lineup and the A1 is the smallest.
Can fill two rooms with audio • Great reviews on bass • Control all your music with the Sonos app • Compatible with Alexa
The Sonos is a popular smart home option for a reason: it makes listening to your music at home really easy.
Sonos OneYou control everything using the Sonos app, which consolidates all of your music libraries and playlists.
Despite its compact size, the Sonos One can fill two rooms with deep, rich audio. It comes with two Class-D amplifiers for continuous sound without interruption or dropouts. The 3.5-inch mid-woofer was designed to deliver deep bass that Amazon reviewers loved.
You can control everything using the Sonos app, which consolidates all of your music libraries and playlists. You can play the same song throughout your home or customise the speakers to play a different track in each room. This Amazon’s Choice device can also be connected to any Alexa-enabled device so you can control the speakers with the sound of your voice.
Lightweight and portable • Extra bass feature • Can be connected with another speaker for stereo sound
Not waterproof or shockproof
This lightweight speaker’s price varies wildly based on your preferred colour, but could be a good portable option if you love bass.
Sony SRS-XB12A single driver faces up for 360-degree sound, or you can turn the speaker towards you for more direct listening.
If you’re looking for a tiny speaker to throw in your bag and take with you, this one by Sony is a perfect fit. This speaker is designed with extra bass in mind. A passive radiator works with the internal speaker to enhance low-end bass response, giving it a boost. So deep bass that’s usually nonexistent with smaller speakers isn’t lost with the Sony XB12.
There is a single driver that faces up for 360-degree sound, or you can turn the speaker toward you for more direct listening. It is neither shockproof nor fully waterproof like some of its portable competitors, but you can connect the device with an extra speaker for stereo sound, and it has up to 16 hours of battery life.
Durable design • Crisp audio
No charge out port • Can’t be paired with another speaker
If you’re looking for a portable mid-sized Bluetooth speaker without all the bells and whistles, this could be it.
Bose SoundLinkThis little speaker offers solid sound for its size, and its durability makes it perfect for trips to the park or the beach.
Bose SoundLink offers solid sound for its size, and its durability makes it perfect for trips to the park or the beach. Reviewers say that the audio is crisp and clean, even at maximum volume.
It doesn’t come with a charge out port, and you can’t pair two of them together for a wider sound range like many of its competitors. But if you’re looking for a personal, budget-friendly, mid sized Bluetooth speaker without all the bells and whistles, this could be a good option.
Cheap • 18-month warranty • 15 hours of continuous playtime • Powerful sound
Rich sound that fills the room from a tiny little speaker that doesn’t cost much at all.
Anker SoundCore MiniThis super-portable wireless Bluetooth speaker offers excellent stereo sound and enhanced bass.
It’s a super-portable device that delivers powerful sound and robust bass through an advanced driver and passive subwoofer. You also get 15 hours of continuous playtime on a single charge, which is more than double that of comparable speakers on the market.
This selection of impressive features shouldn’t really be available at this low price point, but we guess that’s why it’s so highly rated.