Smart speakers have grown in popularity in recent years. But when it comes to choosing the bestfor you, the main differences will be reduced to the price, size and quality of the sound. Most smart speakers can easily be paired with other speakers that have better audio hardware, so it’s usually better to opt for a smaller speaker that has the same smart features at a lower cost.
Almost all the options of your smart device include multiroom audio and allow you to turn on the lights, play music, ask a question, ask reminders and much more with a simple voice command. If that sounds appealing, it may be time to surrender to the growing popularity of this growing category of devices and buy a smart speaker.
If you have an affinity for a particular brand, whether you’re an Amazon fan, an Apple obsessive, or a Google tenant, choosing speakers is easy.which paved the way for other smart speakers with the original Echo and . Here’s a .
For those who are platform agnostics, the range of choices might seem daunting at first. Fortunately, we’ve been testing voice control devices on the smart speaker market since they first hit the scene. We’ve covered all the important features of a smart device, from turning on a smart screen to the ease of installing multiple speakers. Here are our thoughts.
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It’s hard to decide which smart speaker and assistant you want in the center of your smart home. Both Alexa and Google Assistant work with a lot of devices. Both help you easily organize and control them with good audio performance. While Google Assistant is a little smarter, Alexa works with more smart home devices and makes it easier to set up voice commands.
Ultimately, Amazon will be given the advantage of a smart home in the category of best smart speakers thanks to Alexi and Amazon Echo fourth generation $ 100.
The latest Echo combines the usual Alexa smart devices with a great-sounding speaker and has a built-in Zigbee smart home hub so you can sync your little sensors with it instead of having to buy more equipment. The device is useful even while you are away, as Alexa can send alerts if your smart speaker detects broken glass or a smoke alarm.
Read our review of Amazon Echo (4th generation).
James Martin / CNET
Google has done an amazing job catching up with Amazon in the smart speaker race. At the moment, choosing between the cheapest smart speakers of these two companies comes down to splitting hairs.
Google Assistant now has almost as many features as Alexa, making the $ 50 Google Nest Mini a solid alternative to Amazon Echo Dot if Google Assistant is your advantage. In addition, Google Assistant is a slightly smarter voice assistant than Alexa. It responds more flexibly to voice commands if you can’t remember the exact name of the smart home device, and Google’s grouped commands, called routines, work with more types of smart devices than similar Amazon routines.
Google Assistant can recognize multiple voices, so it will give you and your spouse different answers if each of you asks for their calendars, although Alexa can now do the same. If Alexa is your voice assistant of your choice, you should choose the latest Echo Dot. It is affordable and offers all the Alexa skills and smart home integrations you need.
All in all, Google still has an advantage, and the Google Nest Mini is a great cheap way to reap the benefits of these smart ones.
Read our Google Nest Mini review.
Apple’s small smart speaker that supports Siri bridges the weird gap between its $ 100 competitors such as Google’s Nest Audio and Amazon Echo, and others that come in small packages like the Nest Mini and Echo Dot.
Features like intercom, audio transmission and stereo pairing make this little smart speaker quite practical. It looks good and sounds great. When it comes to smart home, Siri and HomePod Mini are limited to devices that work with Apple’s smart home platform, HomeKit.
If you like Apple – and if Siri is your smart assistant of choice, and HomeKit is your favorite smart home service – you’ll love Apple’s latest smart speaker. For those who already use an iPhone, Apple TV or the original HomePod the Mini, adding this smart speaker to the collection simply makes sense.
Read our review of the Apple HomePod Mini.
Sarah Tew / CNET
The $ 220 Sonos One allows you to pair two stereo or multi-room sound units, but even a single speaker sounds great when playing a wide range of music genres, and costs significantly less than other smart speakers with superb sound quality such as Google Home Max.
Even better, Sonos One has both built-in Alexa and Google Assistant – just choose which one you want to use for your voice commands during setup. In addition, Sonos has Apple’s AirPlay 2 so you can control it with any Siri-enabled device, including your iPhone.
Add to that the Sonos One is a smart speaker with great sound, a reasonable price that can fit into households of smart hubs located around Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri. It is a difficult terrain to win.
Read our review of Sonos One.
Other smart speaker options
These smart speakers are our favorites, but you still have a lot of other options if you’re looking for something specific in audio performance. Read our reviewif you want to learn the advantages and disadvantages of each of them and opt for a smart home device per platform.
Note that neither the original Amazon Echo norappeared above because you can get the same options for smaller ones with smaller (Dot and Mini) versions. Still, if you want a smart speaker that shares the difference between affordable price and superb sound, both are still solid options.
If you like the idea of help that always listens, but you want something more visual, take a look at ours. Smart screens essentially combine a smart speaker with a touch screen so you can watch videos on YouTube, make video calls, scroll through images and control your touch gadgets. Amazon and Google have several options in this category of smart screens that are evolving in the development of smart home technology.
Determine which platform or features you want and should be able to quickly narrow down your options and find the best smart speaker for you and your family.
Frequently asked questions about the best smart speakers
Are there stereo smart speakers?
Almost any Amazon Echo smart speaker can be stereo paired with another Echo speaker. The list is quite long, so check out Amazon’s stereo compatibility page. You will find a list of speakers that can be paired for stereo sound.
All Google smart speakers can be stereo paired, as long as they are identical models. Google’s Nest Audio speaker is the best option for stereo pairing, and two packages of these speakers often offer a $ 99 discount on MSRP per speaker. You’ll be able to set up speakers in your Google Home app and tell Google which speaker is right and which is left. Bass and treble settings can also be adjusted from the Home app.
Apple’s HomePod Mini (the only smart speaker Apple currently produces) can be paired with another HomePod Mini for left and right listening. You can also pair your HomePod Mini with your Apple Surround Cinema TV. These smaller speakers won’t impress you, but it’s a nice extra feature.
If cinema surround sound is your top priority for smart speakers, Sonos offers the best sound quality in our opinion. Two Sonos speakers (same model) can be stereo paired.
If you are interested in connecting your speakers to a larger system, the following smart speakers are equipped with an auxiliary connector:
Who is the smartest voice assistant?
Today, the race is extremely close between Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. Apple’s Siri is on the board, but in a solid third place when it comes to true reliability, knowledge and understanding of human requirements.
Overall, we prefer Google Assistant because of its superior cadence, naturalistic tone, and ability to understand (and answer) questions and consistently track queries. However, it’s close enough that you can safely invest in Google Assistant or Alexa based on other preferences such as speaker style, devices, and compatibility with other popular smart home products.
Alexa is almost as good, so you really can’t go wrong no matter which assistant you choose. You will learn its features and how to communicate with your assistant to get the best answers and useful information.
For fun, here’s our deep dive into the “personality” of each assistant.
Which smart speaker is the loudest?
In our testing of Apple, Amazon and Google smart speakers, we think the Amazon Echo (Gene 4) offers the most when it comes to pure volume. Nest Audio is also close with powerful sound.
However, the Sonos One (2nd gen) is our current choice for the best sound quality, especially if you are considering using the speakers in stereo or as a cinema system for watching television.
Read our reviews of Amazon Echo (4th generation) and Nest Audio to learn more about the sound quality of these two leading models.
Which smart speaker is best for free music?
Amazon smart speakers come with the ability to play music from free or paid subscription levels on Pandora, Spotify and other popular music streaming platforms. Plus, if you have an Amazon Prime account, you can play music from the huge Prime Music catalog.
Google’s smart speakers have similar options for streaming music, but while Amazon requires a paid subscription to Prime to listen without ads via Prime Music, Google includes YouTube Music Premium for free – $ 10 a month that also offers a wide range of ad-free content music choices .