May 26, 2024

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Alexa, Google Assistant HomePod, Sonos, and other smart speakers are among the best.

14 min read

The best smart speakers in 2023

Smart speakers are the heart of modern smart home systems.

There have never been more options for smart speakers to control Alexa, HomeKit, or Google Assistant, or to create a centerpiece for a multi-room audio system.

The arrival of Alexa and Google Assistant enabled the integration of connected devices. Without one, you would have to use your smartphone to turn on lights and set temperature. Or, dare say it, a switch.

matter is the latest industry interoperability standard. It’s set to revolutionize the market. You’ll no longer be bound to a particular company’s ecosystem, and its possible flaws, when choosing a smart speaker.

The basic function of a smart speaker is the same. You can use it to play music, check the weather, set up timers, control smart home devices and more. This guide will help you choose the best option for your specific needs.

We’ve selected the best options for you from our reviews. They cover all sizes, shapes, and price ranges. You can choose between a speaker with a display or a speaker that also doubles as a bedside clock. You can choose.

The best smart speakers to buy

the best sonos smart speaker

Best overall smart speaker: Sonos One

Buy now: Amazon, sonos.com | $199 / PS199

The Sonos One was the first smart speaker to hit the market. It had the best sound. It’s no longer the case, since a number high-end audio brands are now in the market. However, the Sonos One is the best-rounded speaker, offering support for AirPlay 2, Alexa and Google Assistant.

As we have noted above, the fact that the Matter smart house will support a wide range of smart assistants won’t make it as attractive to consumers. Therefore, the One could lose its position at the top in 2023.

This model is a good option for both short-term and long-term use. It’s a vast improvement over its predecessor with a faster processor, more RAM, and Bluetooth LE support.

It’s great as a Sonos Speaker within a larger multi-room set up. It’s a small device that can really fill a space with its clear, balanced sound and punchy bass. There’s nothing to disappoint. It’s also a stylish device, available in either black or white.

The Sonos One comes out on top in our books for its versatility, sound quality, and price.

We love

  • Supports Google Assistant as well as Alexa
  • Deep bass, great sound
  • There are many streaming options including AirPlay 2.

We don’t like

  • Microphones are in need of improvement, particularly for Google Assistant
  • There are a few features missing from Google Assistant/Alexa

Read our full Sonos One review.

Also consider: Sonos Move

Sonos launched its first Bluetooth speaker a few months ago. If your budget is beyond that of the One, the Sonos move offers a great sounding smart speaker, with many features that set it apart.

This is a speaker with two parts. It connects to Wi-Fi just like any other Sonos speaker, and acts like one. There’s also built-in Alexa and Google Assistant, AirPlay 2 compatibility, and the ability to easily integrate it into your multi-room audio system.

You can play for up to 10 hours with the battery power of the Move. The Move has Automatic Trueplay which optimizes its sound to the environment around it.

the best alexa echo smart speaker

Best Alexa smart speaker: Amazon Echo Studio

$199 / PS189

Amazon finally released an Echo speaker that sounds great in 2019. It was the Echo Studio. The Studio offers spacious sound and impressive detail, which is unusual for an Echo speaker. It’s still the best choice when it comes dedicated Alexa speakers.

Amazon Music HD is also available, as well as a growing catalog of 3D tracks. The sound is enveloping and uses Dolby Atmos music and Sony 360 Reality Audio codes. The Studio works better with certain songs than others. Even without 3D audio the Studio is a great-sounding smart speakers with Alexa.

The system features three 5cm speakers for midrange, a 25mm tweeter that fires forward, a midrange upward-firing speaker of 5cm (which aids in the 3D audio), as well as a 5.25-inch downward-firing bass driver.

The Echo Studio is essentially a regular Echo with a massive acoustic upgrade. This means that you can use Alexa to ask questions and give voice commands. It also means that your smart home devices will be integrated.

It is a first party speaker and guarantees that you will get all new features ahead of other third-party speakers.

The Studio also acts as a Zigbee Smart Home Hub. This allows you to directly connect to supported Zigbee products, rather than via a separate bridge/hub. For example, Philips Hue light bulbs can be controlled by the Studio.

It still lacks a thread radio despite the fact that it will get a new white color in 2022 and an audio spatial update . This means it can’t be used as a border-router in a smart home of the future (although our alternative choice below can).

 

Echo Studio is also a Dolby-Atmos speaker, but it only works with Fire TV devices. Two Echo Studio speakers can be connected to an Echo Sub, for a fully-loaded home theatre setup.

We love

  • Powerful sound
  • Works as a Dolby TV speaker
  • Hi-res audio

We don’t like

  • Sometimes bass is hit or miss
  • The 3D audio quality isn’t the best
  • No Thread Support

Read the full Amazon Echo Studio Review.

Also consider Amazon Echo (4th Gen)

The new Amazon Echo features a 3.0-inch subwoofer and dual-firing Tweeters. It also has Dolby Stereo sound capabilities, can adapt to the environment (like Echo Studio) and is Dolby certified.

It’s not all about the music or the acoustics. Amazon’s 4th generation Echo is the smartest product yet. Amazon’s first generation AZ1 Neural Edge Processor powers the device. Amazon describes it as an “all-new silicon module designed for accelerating machine-learning applications.”

It’s the only Echo device that features a Thread radio. This allows it to function as a Border Router.

best google smart speaker

Best Google smart speaker: Google Nest Mini

$49 / PS49

The Nest Mini, formerly known as Google Home Mini, is the best place to start if you want to be the first with Google Assistant. While we list the suggested retail price, you can often find it for less.

Nest Mini smart speaker is perfect for anyone who wants to create a smart home but doesn’t want to spend a fortune. The new model is even better, with improved sound quality and responsiveness.

The cable is dangling, so it’s difficult to find the right spot to mount this. There are also some audio tricks. You can pair speakers together to create stereo sound or move music from one speaker into another by telling Google to “Hey Google” to transfer the music.

The speakers can be used in conjunction with other Google Home devices to create a multi-room audio system.

The ultrasound feature is supposed to detect when your hand is close while music is playing, and then light up the touch control buttons. However, we found it barely responsive during our testing. These niggles are not worth mentioning, as this speaker is an essential for any smart home.

We love

  • Controls for mobile devices
  • Sound quality is good (but not outstanding)
  • Easy mounting option

We don’t like

  • No audio jack
  • The hover feature does not work
  • A major design flaw is the dangling wire

Read the full Google Nest Mini Review.

Consider Google Nest Audio

The Nest audio, the latest Google smart speaker that is the successor to the now discontinued Google Home was announced a few years ago.

The Nest Mini is positioned between the Google Home Max and the Nest Mini.

Google claims that the new Google Home boasts 50% more volume and 75% greater bass than its predecessor, thanks to an upgraded 19mm tweeter.

Apple HomePod Mini is the best smart speaker for Apple.

Buy now: apple.com | $99 / PS99

Apple HomePod Mini is a smaller version of the larger HomePod, and it may not have as much audio power, but for its size it delivers a powerful punch when playing music. Apple HomeKit is taken to the next step by increasing the level of connectivity.

HomePod Mini is a smart speaker that focuses on music. It also offers advanced smart home functions. It can be used as a HomeKit hub. In a big boost for HomeKit, it also includes a Thread radio. This makes it one the few devices that are able to function as a border-router in the Matter smart house.

The Mini may not reach the same dizzying heights as the original HomePod in terms of sound quality, but it is a smart speaker capable of much more. Unlike the similar sized variants available from Google and Amazon, it can be used to do so much more than just provide digital assistance or control smart homes.

It is more fair to compare smart speakers based on their price bracket, rather than the size. So, once again, the Echo or Nest Audio should be mentioned.

It performs well, even though it’s not as loud or as bass-rich. It actually performs pretty well against the Sonos One which costs twice as much.

HomePod, originally designed to work with Apple Music, is now compatible with other devices, including Spotify. Siri can be used for voice control.

There is also AirPlay 2, which now works with a wide range of speakers. This allows you to loop the HomePod in a multi-room set-up for a home-filling audio experience.

We love

  • Decent audio quality
  • Can be used as a thread border router
  • Price point is great

We don’t like

  • Siri still lacks some smarts
  • Apple Music is Priority.
  • Android users: No love

Read the full Apple HomePod Mini Review.

Also consider: Apple HomePod (2023)

Apple has recently redesigned its flagship smart speaker, reducing the price to $299/PS299.

Apple has kept the design of the HomePod largely the same. Apple has changed the design of the HomePod to include five tweeters, instead of the previous seven. The touch screen on the top is also now edge-toedge.

HomePod 2’s ability as a border router for Thread is arguably a more impressive upgrade, compared to the HomePod 1 which only offered basic Thread support. Apple S7 now has sensors that measure temperature and humidity.

The HomePod Mini is a smaller version of the larger model. We think that, from the perspective of value, more people would be better served by the smaller variant.

Amazon Echo Dot (5th generation) review

Amazon Echo Dot 5th Generation: Best smart speaker for the money

Buy now: Amazon | $49.99 / PS4.99

Although you can technically save more money by choosing the Echo Dot 4 instead, the fifth-gen model is still very affordable – our choice for the best smart speaker on a budget.

You can get multiple Echo Dots for the same price as one smart speaker. They will be placed in each room of your house or apartment. If you have kids, you may also want to consider the Children’s Edition which has new safety features and requires children to say “please” before making a request. It also comes in a variety of animal designs.

It’s not hard to find a good deal on the Dot and Dot with Clock, as they are regularly featured in sales. The Dot is still spherical, but the internal processor has been upgraded to be lightning fast. It can also act as a gateway in the Eero mesh network.

The two can be connected for stereo sound or used as part of a multi-room setup. Amazon does have more expensive speakers. But, if all you want is to control your smart lights and only have a couple of connected gadgets then this will do.

We love

  • The sound quality of the music is excellent
  • Place anywhere
  • Unbeatable value

We don’t like

  • The bass is slightly lacking
  • Standard Clock Edition should be available
  • The 3.5mm audio connector has been removed

Read the full Amazon Echo Dot (Fifth Generation) review.

The best smart speaker with screen : Google Nest Hub

$89.99 / $79.99

The Nest Hub works like a screen on your Google Home speaker. In fact, it’s what it is. Google Assistant still behaves the same way, but now you can see the weather, movie showtimes, and other information.

Home View allows you to control your smart home and watch YouTube videos, among other things.

Home View is one of its best features. You can get a quick top-down view of your smart home by swiping down from the top. You can control your lights or check their status. Easy to use.

The sound is ok – slightly more bassy than Nest Audio or Nest Mini but not as good for music. The display is also small and lacks a camera, which you will find on Google Smart Displays from third parties.

Nest Hub 2nd Gen features the same 7-inch, camera-less form factor as its predecessor, but with a few refinements in design.

The latest Nest Hub has a new chip that allows for faster Google Assistant. It also includes a third microphone for better music listening and a 50% increase in bass.

Soli, a radar-based system for gesture recognition, is available on the Nest Hub. It allows you to tap on the air in order to pause or resume media playback on the device. The device can also be used to detect sleep, by monitoring chest movements. Our testing shows that the accuracy is also excellent compared to other trackers.

The Echo 4 can also be used as a Thread border-router in a smart home setup, the same functionality that is available on Apple’s HomePod and Amazon Echo 4 models. It’s not yet active, but Matter 1.0 will enable it in early 2023.

We love

  • Great display
  • Smart home touchscreen controls
  • Clever Sleep Tracking

We don’t like

  • The sound quality of the music isn’t great
  • The support for Matter/Thread hasn’t been fully rolled out.

Read the full Nest Hub Review

Consider also: Amazon Echo Show 8.

Amazon’s echo show 8 offers the best of Alexa in an 8″ display.

This is the smart display for Alexa fans. If you prefer a Zigbee-enabled radio, then you should opt for the larger Echo Show10 with its moveable base. We think that the middle child in the Show family, the Echo Show 10, is the best performer.

 

Sonos Arc: Best smart speaker soundbar

Buy now: sonos.com | $799 / PS799

The Sonos Arc Soundbar features Dolby Atmos surround audio, HDMI compatibility (ARC/eARC), and a curved grille that delivers 270-degrees of multi-directional sound.

It comes in matte black and white and is a step above the Sonos Beam or Sonos Ray. This dedicated TV speaker offers not only Atmos support, but also stereo sound and Dolby 5.1 compatibility.

  • Compared:Sonos Beam v Sonos Arc

The Arc features 11 drivers, including eight elliptical-shaped woofers, and three silk dome tweeters. It uses Sonos Trueplay to ensure you get the best sound possible for your room.

The Arc is an excellent addition to Sonos’ portfolio if you want a good impression of home-cinema sound without all the disruption that a typical surround-sound system may cause.

The Sonos Arc is a great choice for voice assistants, whether you prefer Alexa or Google Assistant. It’s an AirPlay 2 Speaker, too.

We love

  • Superb audio performance
  • Dolby Atmos
  • HDMI Options

We don’t like

  • Costly
  • HDMI may not be compatible with your TV

Read our full Sonos Arc review

Roku Streambar is another option.

Roku’s Streambar comes in a smaller size than the previous Smart Soundbar, which was 32 inches long. It is only 14 inches.

This is a clever device that kills two birds with one stone. It will not only make your dumb television smarter, but also fix the biggest problem that even the most modern TVs suffer from – tinny audio.

The Streambar is a great way to enhance the audio on your TV. It also has a variety of music streaming options, so it can also be used as a speaker.

Smart speakers: What you need to know

It’s worthwhile to do some research before you buy your first (or your next) smart speaker. Here are some important things to consider…

What should I spend?

The price is probably the most important factor. For around $50 or PS50, you can get an Amazon Echo Dot and a Google Nest Mini. If you are not sure about smart speakers, have a limited budget or are new to smart homes, this is a great way to get started.

The sound quality of these tiny speakers is not the best, even though Amazon and Google are making improvements. If you want people to be able to hear your music, then you will need something larger.

These speakers are priced between $100 and PS100. These speakers are closer to $100/PS100.

They have the same basic functionality as mini speakers but come with microphones that can hear you better. The sound is also perfectly adequate, but if you are looking for high-end audio, you will need to spend more money.

Smart speaker sound quality

The importance of the speaker will vary from person to person. Audio experts are now collaborating with tech giants to improve sound quality, which is important for music.

There’s a lot of audio quality in the Echo Studio, Google Nest Hub Max and Bose Home Speaker 500.

This is less important for smart speakers in the kitchen and living room, but it’s still important to make the right choice.

 

Choose an assistant and choose a thread

The arrival of Matter has made the decision between Google, Alexa, and Siri, which was once a major factor, a much smaller one.

It’s still a good idea to choose the device you prefer, as companies will continue to roll out exclusive features. The idea, however, is that moving forward all devices within the smart home should be able connect seamlessly.

  • Comparison: Alexa v Google Assistant

On paper, this means that you can own an Amazon doorbell and an Amazon speaker, for example, and they will all work together. It used to be either one or the other unless you wanted a disjointed user experience.

Even in the Matter of utopia, we still have to make decisions.

You’ll need at least one device that can be used as a thread border router in your home. (We’ve included a list of these devices in our guide).

There are many products that can act as Thread border-routers. They’re not all the white-box hubs. You may already own some speakers in your home. As you will have noticed, many of the ones we listed above offer support.

Our full guide contains all the information you need about the best matter devices and controllers.

Does it support multi-room music?

Most of the best smart speaker can be used as part of a wireless multi-room audio system.

As mentioned above, it is clear that brand-specific speakers, such as those made by Sonos or Apple, are also part of their native multi-room platforms – as well as the Smart Home Ecosystem to which their voice assistant belongs.

Did you know you can configure an Alexa Echo Multi-Room Audio System, or Google and Nest smart speakers to multi-room music?

Both are easy to set up, and they offer a great deal on a multi-room ticket.

 

What about smart displays

Smart displays offer many advantages over traditional speakers, and now there are numerous options available from Google and Amazon as well as Facebook.

Why would you choose a speaker over a standard one? They are great for certain places around the home – but not necessarily under the television. These are great in the kitchen, where you can follow along with recipes.

You can also access information quickly with visuals. For example, you can view a full week of weather forecasts and YouTube videos.

Smart speakers that have displays add an extra layer of interactivity. Instead of listening to the options, you can swipe and tap your way through your assistant’s results. It can be faster to use for the right person.

There are some major caveats to these smart speakers. Audio quality isn’t quite as good as with other smart speakers because they are all facing one way. However, it’s improving, and larger Echo Shows, as well as the Nest Hub Max, are decent at playing music.

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