The 8 Best Smart Speakers

Get the perfect sound with these smart speakers

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The Rundown
Best Overall:
Sonos One at Amazon
"Gives you both the smart features and the sound quality you'd want, all for a reasonable price."
"The full size Echo is prettier and more powerful than ever."
"The adorable 4th generation Dot is the culmination of all of Amazon's smart home learnings."
"A voice-controlled, digital assistant for an affordable price."
Best for Google:
Google Home Max at Best Buy
"One of the most popular and effective voice assistants today."
Best for Apple:
Apple HomePod at Best Buy
"Easily makes a case for being the best-sounding smart speaker."
"A wide sound profile with balanced highs and lows that fills up a room nicely."
Best Splurge:
Sonos Beam at Best Buy
"Control your TV — and streaming music services, smart home products, and much more — completely hands-free."

Some wireless smart speakers focus mostly on providing voice assistant functions, while others emphasize audio quality and add voice commands as a bonus — but with the Sonos One, there's no need to choose. The second generation of this product gives you both the smart features and sound quality you'd want, all for a reasonable price.

With both Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant built-in, the Sonos One offers the flexibility to use either of these leading digital assistants. It's great for picking up voice commands to play music or control smart home devices like your lights or thermostat. The wireless connection takes place through your home’s Wi-Fi network (rather than Bluetooth or any wired connections), and it supports Apple AirPlay 2 connection for iOS devices.

In terms of audio, the Sonos One's two class-D digital amplifiers, one tweeter, and one mid-woofer deliver rich, clear sound with strong bass — a noticeable improvement in quality compared with other dedicated smart speakers at this price and size. At 6.3 x 4.7 x 4.7 inches, four pounds, and available in black or white, the unassuming unit fits in just about anywhere. It's easy to pair two Sonos Ones together for stereo sound, add the speaker to a surround sound system, or make it part of a multi-room audio configuration.

Best for Amazon: Amazon Echo (4th Gen)

You might say Alexa was the original household name for smart home assistants, and the Amazon Echo was the smart speaker that gave it form. Now in its fourth generation, the Echo continues to justify why it's one of the most popular smart speakers on the market, and Alexa is still one of the most trusted virtual assistants. Alexa's thousands and thousands of available “skills” give you hands-free access to all sorts of convenient functions, usually specific to third-party apps and services — from getting news to ordering a ride to playing trivia games. Amazon Prime subscribers can also take advantage of having access to Amazon's vast collection of media, which includes a nice selection of free music.

The latest Echo sports a gorgeous, brand-new design, a spherical presentation that's simultaneously very attractive and easy to blend into home decor. It features a laundry list of improvements over its predecessor, including a faster processor, improved sound, better smart home integration, and a built in temperature sensor. Erika, our product tester, loved the 4th Gen Echo's design, power, and value, and praised the AZ1 Neural Engine Processor (which plays a major role in the Echo's excellent voice recognition capabilities).

"A worthwhile investment, the new Echo looks better, sounds better, and it performs better in just about every category." — Erika Rawes, Product Tester

Best Design: Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen)

The Echo Dot has been a fantastic compromise between functionality and price since the release of the first generation in 2016. In the intervening four years, Amazon learned a lot about how to integrate a smart speaker/smart hub into other smart tech, and make it the core of an entire infrastructure of smart home technology. Alexa has continued to improve throughout that time as well, and all of those learnings and upgrades are clearly evident in the adorable 4th generation of the Echo Dot.

First, the design: a cute-as-a-button rounded dot reminiscent of the candy of the same name, swaddled in soft cloth bifurcated into grey and blue. Our reviewer, Erika Rawes, loved the modern elegance of this new spherical form factor. And it's no slouch in terms of performance either. While the 4th Gen isn't a massive improvement over previous iterations, it continues to deliver great sound, amazing voice recognition, and near-flawless Alexa integration (and, by extension, smart home integration).

"The new Echo Dot is a great speaker at a great price...for first-time buyers, it's a no brainer." — Erika Rawes, product tester

Best Budget: Google Home Mini

The smart speaker concept also translates well into inexpensive formats. If you're not hoping for booming, crystal-clear sound, you can get the benefits of a voice-controlled, digital assistant at an affordable price with the Google Home Mini. Less than four inches, the tiny pod makes the Google Assistant available anywhere in your home, allowing you to ask a quick question, get a weather update, set a timer, or call out smart-home commands.

Available in charcoal, chalk, aqua, and coral colors, the Home Mini offers a simple design. Four gentle LED dots light up on top as status indicators, and you can tap on the sides to control the volume. Its sound output is decent enough for the size, but connecting it wirelessly to a bigger, better speaker is ideal if you're concerned about audio quality.

Best for Google: Google Home Max

Harnessing the power of Google AI, Google Assistant is one of the most popular and effective voice assistants on the market today. You can ask questions in a fluid and natural way and get helpful, coherent responses. And it doesn't hurt to have access to the entire knowledge base of the internet, thanks to the Google search engine.

Even though you can use Google Assistant on Android phones and other devices, Google Home Max is the speaker to get if you're serious about how your music sounds. Compared to other Google Home products (and to most smart speakers in general), the Home Max puts an emphasis on audio quality that's easy to hear. Within the clean, simple exterior are dual 4.5-inch woofers and dual 0.7-inch tweeters working together to produce big, room-filling, bass-heavy sound. It's further enhanced by a Smart Sound feature that uses machine learning technology to set equalizer settings based on the acoustics of the room and the speaker's placement.

You can set up the Google Home Max to stream from YouTube Music, Spotify, Pandora, and other services. And with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and wired auxiliary connection options, you have a lot of flexibility in your audio sources.

Best for Apple: Apple HomePod

Siri has been a familiar presence on iPhones for a long time, and you can bring Apple's digital assistant into your homes with the HomePod. While the device doesn't quite match the voice-assisted functions of its competitors, it easily makes a case for being the best-sounding smart speaker. Its impressive seven tweeters and one subwoofer produce crisp, detailed, and powerful sound, rich in bass but overall very balanced. Six microphones and advanced processing allow the speaker to dynamically adjust to your room's acoustics, as well as to help Siri hear commands over loud music.

With superior audio quality and the ability to connect with iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers through Apple AirPlay, the HomePod is an ideal choice for Apple devotees. Unlike Alexa or Google Assistant, however, Apple's digital assistant lacks a selection of third-party skills. Siri can only play songs from Apple Music, and it can't access Spotify, Pandora, or other internet radio through voice control, but you can stream them from your iOS device through AirPlay. You also get smart-home control for any Apple HomeKit-enabled smart devices.

Best Bose: Bose Home Speaker 500

Bose audio products are widely trusted for their quality and reliability, and the Home Speaker 500 fits right in line with its reputation. The premium-priced device touts “wall-to-wall stereo sound,” with a pair of drivers aimed in opposite directions. It's not exactly the same as two separate stereo speakers, but it does create a wide sound profile with balanced highs and lows that fills up a room nicely.

The Home Speaker 500 benefits from both Alexa and Google Assistant, and a sensitive eight-microphone array picks up voice commands effectively — even from across a room. In addition to its digital assistant's features, the smart speaker also supports wireless connections via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Apple AirPlay 2, along with a wired 35mm audio input.

With an elegant design, the speaker has options in black or silver. It's also not quite as minimal as other smart speakers, with the inclusion of a small color LCD screen to display info and album art for the current song you're playing.

Best Splurge: Sonos Beam

Upgrading your TV's audio with a new speaker is a smart choice, and upgrading to the Sonos Beam soundbar is the way to go. With it, you can control your TV — and streaming music services, smart home products, and much more — completely hands-free with built-in Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, as well as Siri through Apple AirPlay 2. Besides the wireless connectivity, there is an Ethernet port and HDMI with an Audio Return Channel (ARC) for sending TV audio back to the speaker. You can also take advantage of the brand's great multi-room audio system capabilities if you have other Sonos devices.

At 25.6 x 4 x 2.7 inches, the Beam is noticeably compact for a soundbar and can easily fit under most TVs or mount on a wall. (Sonos also makes non-voice controlled soundbars that are larger and pricier.) Despite the small size, you get powerful, high-quality sound whether you're watching TV or listening to music on its own. The Beam is loaded with a center tweeter, four full-range woofers for mids and lows, and three passive radiators to move air and improve the bass sound. A Speech Enhancement feature makes spoken dialogue easier to hear, and Night Mode tones down sounds that could wake the rest of your house.