Best Smart Speakers

Good sound that works with a smart home comes at a price

Best Overall
Amazon Echo Studio
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Price:
$199.99
  • pro
    3D sound
  • pro
    Studio quality
  • con
    More expensive
Best for Hardcore Audiophiles
Sonos One
4 out of 5 stars
4
Price:
$234.00
  • pro
    Excellent sound
  • pro
    Alexa built in
  • con
    Sonos policies
Best Smart Hub
Amazon Echo Show 10
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
Price:
$249.00
  • pro
    Display
  • pro
    Rotating
  • con
    A bit much for some
Best Budget Pick
Google Nest Mini
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
Price:
$49.99
  • pro
    Fraction of the cost
  • con
    Multiple colors
  • con
    Small
Most Discreet
Google Nest Audio
4.8 out of 5 stars
4.75
Price:
$99.99
  • con
    ”Thoughtfully designed”
  • con
    Multiple colors
  • con
    Plug required
Brianne Sandorf
Mar 23, 2023
Icon Time To Read8 min read

If you love listening to music, it makes sense to get a smart speaker you can control with your voice. Or, if you have smart lights and smart locks, you might like smart speakers as your next step in creating a connected home.

To help you choose the best option, we’ll talk about the best smart speakers and why we like them.



Best smart speakers
Model
Price
Voice assistant
Details
Echo Studio$199.99Alexa
Sonos One$234.00Alexa
Echo Show 10$249.00Alexa
Google Nest Mini$49.99Google Assistant
Google Nest Audio$99.99Google Assistant

Data effective 10/03/2022. Offers subject to change.

What to look for in a smart speaker

There are three ways to look at smart speakers.

  1. As a quality speaker that can also respond to voice commands
  2. As a smart home hub that can also play music and podcasts
  3. As a little of both

#1 is what hardcore audiophiles are looking for, while #2 is the realm of smart home enthusiasts.

And #3 is more for casual users who aren’t obsessed with audio quality or smart home ability. They just want a little home upgrade.

By looking at audio quality, smart home compatibility, price, and aesthetics, we’ve tried to make selections that will appeal to each of these groups.

Smart speaker features that work best for home use:

  • Audio quality
  • Compatibility
  • Aesthetics
  • Price

If you use your smart speaker for anything sound-related, you want it to sound okay.

And if you want to use it for anything smart home-related, it needs to be compatible with at least a few smart home devices and protocols.

Since you’ll probably put the speaker in a well-trafficked living space, you don’t want it to be a complete eyesore.

And of course, it doesn’t matter how great it is if you can’t afford it.

Want to read more?

Echo Studio: Best overall

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
pro Smart home hub
pro 3D audio
pro Major compatibility
pro More expensive than most other Echos
Price:
$199.99

If you want full home control with an incredible-sounding speaker, try Echo Studio.

Amazon usually stresses “smart,” not “speaker.” But the Amazon Echo Studio makes good use of both aspects with a top-notch speaker that also works as a smart home hub. That’s the best of both worlds.

Echo Studio equipment

Many smart home hubs (including some Echo models) have average speakers. We love that Amazon put sound first by creating a super speaker–smart hub combo. The Echo Studio even has 3D audio.

What’s 3D audio?
Pin

In real life, we naturally experience audio in 3D (spatial audio from all directions). 3D audio speakers try to mimic that effect.¹

In short, it’s called the Echo Studio because it delivers a sound studio-level experience.

Echo Studio price and features
Model
Price
Smart home integrations
Details
Echo Studio$199.99Ring, Wyze, Arlo, Ecobee, August, Schlage, Yale, Philips Hue, LIFX, Sengled, Kasa, and more

Data effective 10/03/2022. Offers subject to change.

As you can see, the compatibility of this thing is nearly endless. Echo was the first smart speaker on the market, and it shows by the sheer magnitude of products it connects with.

The Echo Studio is one of the more expensive Echos, and it’s hard to justify the cost purely from a smart home perspective. You can get the same level of smart home control with an Amazon Echo Dot. But you won’t get as good of sound.

Other Amazon Echo smart speakers users love
Info Box

Consumers and reviewers love the sound of the original Amazon Echo. And since the tiny Amazon Echo Dot got a new and improved speaker, people are also having a better listening experience with that one. (Especially with the version with the smart display clock.)

Sonos One: Best for hardcore audiophiles

4 out of 5 stars
4
pro Excellent sound
pro Alexa built in
pro Sonos partnership with Ikea
pro Sonos update policies
Price:
$234.00

With Sonos One, you get superior sound with Alexa built right in, but your speaker is from a reputable speaker company instead of coming from a tech-associated brand.

We know that for serious sound lovers, labels can matter. If the idea of an Amazon- or Google-branded speaker makes you wince, we suggest going with the Sonos One from Sonos, a company that’s spent the last 20 years perfecting its sound game.²

Digging Sonos?
Money

Check out other Sonos products, like the Sonos Arc or Sonos Roam.

Sonos One equipment

The Sonos One is first and foremost a speaker, so the sound is much better than what you get with some products. Although the speaker isn’t an Amazon product, Alexa’s already integrated, so you don’t need to buy a separate Echo to control your music. Your voice works with the speaker alone.

You don’t need to buy a separate Echo to control your music.

Finally, Sonos is working with Ikea to create furniture with smart speakers. So if you want some new Swedish furniture, your Sonos One should be compatible.

Sonos One price and features
Model
Price
Smart home integrations
Details
Sonos One$234.00Alexa, Google Assistant, Sonos, Apple Airplay 2

Data effective 10/03/2022. Offers subject to change.

As you can see, this speaker costs a lot but isn’t crazy expensive. You get high-quality sound without breaking the bank!

In the past, Sonos quit updating the software for previous speaker versions. With that behavior pattern, there’s a chance that if you get a Sonos speaker, it’ll become outdated before you’re ready for an upgrade.

Still, the risk is worth it in most cases, because this speaker is awesome.

Sonos app
Info Box

You can get the Sonos app from Google Play or the App Store.

Echo Show 10: Best smart hub

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
pro Display
pro Rotating
pro Video calls
pro Camera clips
pro Expensive
pro A bit much for some
Price:
$249.00

Amazon really upped its smart speaker game by creating the Echo Show, a speaker that shows its smarts through a screen. The Echo Show 10, with its 10.1-inch rotating display, is the newest (and smartest) offering in the line. It’s also quite expensive.

Echo Show 10 equipment

Unlike the Echo Studio, the Echo Show 10 is focused on the smart home hub angle. The audio is perfectly fine, but no one’s going to put an Echo Show in their sound studio, at least not for playback purposes.

Instead, the Echo Show 10 digs into its role as a smart home hub by displaying photos, recipes, and soundtrack deets; streaming albums, camera clips, and video calls; and using its rotating base to track you as you walk around the room. It’s both awesome and a little creepy at the same time.

The Show also works with all the regular Amazon suspects. We especially recommend using it with camera brands—you can easily see your camera clips on the screen with a voice command.

Echo Show 10 prices and features
Model
Price
Smart home integrations
Details
Echo Show 10$249.00Ring, Wyze, Arlo, Ecobee, August, Schlage, Yale, Philips Hue, LIFX, Sengled, Kasa, and more

Data effective 10/03/2022. Offers subject to change.

So what are the drawbacks? The additional smart home features add a premium to the cost. In other words, the Echo Show 10 is darn expensive, especially compared to other Echo products. At least, unlike with the Studio, it’s easy to see what improvements you’re getting for your money.

And the way the screen follows you around as you’re walking can feel like too much. We’ve seen a four-year-old so skeeved out by it that he crawled under a kitchen table. So that takes some getting used to—and some people may just never warm up to it.

Google Nest Mini: Best budget pick

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
pro Fraction of the cost
pro Multiple colors
pro Wall mount
pro Small
Price:
$49.99

The Google Nest Mini is inexpensive but small.

Google Nest Mini equipment

If the idea of spending $100+ on a smart speaker makes you cringe, we suggest the Google Nest Mini. This tiny speaker doesn’t cost much (relatively speaking), works as a smart home hub, and is compatible with a lot of products.

Seriously, this is one of the cheapest smart speakers you can buy, but it still works well. And as a Nest Hub, it’s a one-shop stop for connecting and controlling Google Assistant–compatible products.

And, if you want, you can even mount it to the wall!

Google Nest Mini colors
Info Box

You can get a Nest Mini in a bunch of different colors, including a stunning sky blue.

Google Nest Mini prices and features
Model
Price
Smart home integrations
Details
Google Nest Mini$49.99Arlo, August, Chromecast, Apple TV, Honeywell, Nest, Abode, ADT, SimpliSafe, Philips Hue, LIFX, Sonos, and more

Data effective 10/03/2022. Offers subject to change.

Like Echos, Google Homes and Nest Hubs are compatible with heaps of smart home products. And even if you're not interested in buying more Google Nest products, you’re pretty much guaranteed to find a smart thermostat, smart light bulb, smart plug, or smart security system that will work with the Google Nest Mini.

We were honestly surprised to learn that this speaker is the Google Assistant pick for so many people. It’s smaller than the other speakers, so the sound quality isn’t as good as the bigger Google Assistant devices. There just isn’t as much space to resonate.

Google Nest Audio: Most discreet

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.75
pro “Thoughtfully designed”
pro Multiple colors
pro No battery
Price:
$99.99

Most audiophiles religiously believe that a sound system should be heard but not seen. They want the best sound but also want the equipment to be as unobtrusive as possible. Google Nest Audio checks off both those boxes with a good sound and a discreet, Insta-friendly design.

Google Nest Audio equipment

The Google Nest Audio seems to be Nest’s response to the Echo Studio, but it doesn’t just sound good. It’s also, like, super grammable. It comes in trendy pale colors with a slim shape that doesn’t look like your average speaker.

That’s on purpose, by the way—Nest describes the Audio as “thoughtfully designed.”

Google Nest Audio prices and features
Model
Price
Smart home integrations
Details
Google Nest Audio$99.99Arlo, August, Chromecast, Apple TV, Honeywell, Nest, Abode, ADT, SimpliSafe, Philips Hue, LIFX, Sonos, and more

Data effective 10/03/2022. Offers subject to change.

The Audio doesn’t have a battery option, and while that’s typical of smart home hubs, it’s a little weird for this particular design. You can’t place it on a high shelf or these wall mounts or anywhere else that’s out of reach of an outlet—at least not without drawing attention to the trailing cord. Welp.

View Plans

Other smart speakers we like

We considered more than 30 speakers. Not all of them could be winners, but here are a few we like enough to mention separately.

Apple HomePod Mini

pro Easy iPhone compatibility
pro High-end speaker
pro Not as widespread as Echo or Google Home
Price:
$99.99

“Siri, find me something that costs a lot.”

If you’re looking for something expensive and exclusive, look no further than the Apple HomePod Mini. This futuristic-looking speaker has a higher price point than our other recommendations.

It’s also perfect for Apple evangelists who want something compatible with other Apple gear.

Sonos Beam

pro Excellent sound
pro Alexa built in
pro Expensive
Price:
$472.95

If you want the ultimate home theatre, consider the Sonos Beam smart soundbar. You get that sweet Sonos sound in soundbar form. And, like with the Sonos One, Alexa’s built right in.

Yes, it’s expensive, but if you’re an audiophile, you might just find that the price is right.

Bose Portable Home Speaker

pro Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility
pro Resistant to water
pro Popular brand
pro Expensive
Price:
$399.00

The Bose Portable Home Speaker is our favorite portable speaker we’ve seen. It works with Alexa and Google Assistant, has Bluetooth connectivity, and is water-resistant.

Plus, the sound is fantastic (as we tend to expect from the Bose name).

The portable problem
Bullhorn

Portable smart speakers are kind of a weird thing. Setting up the smart functions of a speaker takes some work. And when you unplug it and move it to a new location with a new Wi-Fi network, you have to reset those functions. That makes it hard to use on the go, at least if you want to do anything smart-home related with it.

Will your speaker remember all its commands when reconnected to its original Wi-Fi? We’re not sure. But either way, portability in smart speakers isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be.

Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM 3

pro Waterproof for up to 30 minutes
pro Alexa built in
Price:
$194.99

This speaker appears to be virtually indestructible. If you for some reason want a speaker that can be immersed in water for half an hour (maybe you're a part-time mermaid?), this is for you.

Oh, and it also has Alexa.

Recap: Best smart speakers for home use

When it comes to smart speakers, you have lots of different options. It all comes down to what you want.

As a reminder, here’s what we’re digging.

  • Get the smart home graces of an Echo with studio-level sound thrown in with an Echo Studio, our overall best smart speaker.
  • Great sound and Amazon Alexa control without branding yourself as an Echo nerd? Yes please. You can get all that with Sonos One.
  • The Echo Show 10 really leans into the smart hub label with its rotating display.
  • Cut the expense while still getting the power of Google Assistant with Google Nest Mini.
  • The Google Nest Audio offers something more discreet for the minimalist aesthetic.

Methodology

We looked at 30+ smart speakers and considered:

  • Audio quality
  • Compatibility
  • Aesthetics
  • Price

We also long-term-tested several of the speakers, like the Echo Show 10 and the Google Nest Mini.

Smart speaker FAQ

Does a smart speaker need a screen?

No. Most smart speakers come without a smart display, though some have mobile apps you can access through your phone.

But with the advent of the Echo Show and Google Nest Hubs, we predict that screens will eventually become a smart speaker norm.

Which virtual assistant is the best virtual assistant?

That’s hard to say in today’s market. With evolving features like bilingualism and voice recognition, voice assistants keep getting smarter and more articulate.

We’ll make it easy and say that we’ve noticed that Amazon’s Alexa has the best spatial awareness, while Google is better with imprecise wording. We haven’t spent as much time with Apple’s Siri (yet), so we can’t speak much to her. And Cortana is … Cortana.

Play Video

What makes a speaker smart?

In this review, we define a smart speaker as a speaker with some type of voice command or voice control. The voice control can either be built in or provided by a connecting smart device.

Sources

Brianne Sandorf
Written by
Brianne Sandorf
Brianne has a degree in English and creative writing from Westminster College and has spent 6+ years writing professional, research-based content. Before joining Reviews.org, she wrote safety and security content for ASecureLife.com. Her pieces and quotes are published across the web, including on MSN.com, Social Catfish, and Parents.com. Hobbies include wearing a seatbelt, wearing a life jacket, and keeping her arms and legs inside the ride at all times. Contact her at brianne@reviews.org.

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