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In 2023, smart speakers continue to infiltrate every part of the home, and we see no signs of this trend slowing down. We’ve recently seen a wave of new product offerings from the likes of Amazon, Google, Sonos, and Apple. In addition, the software powering all these devices continues to receive improvements that make the experience of using the best smart speakers feel less like a novelty and more like something helpful.
As this product category expands, we’ve also learned which smart speakers are better suited for specific situations and which are less-than-optimal for others. While some people may be looking for a well-rounded speaker that is the jack of all trades and the master of none, others may be on the hunt for a high-end smart speaker that they can integrate into their home theater setup. Or, they might want a relatively cheap speaker to primarily interact with their voice assistant.
This is good because you can find the right smart speaker with all the features you want and none of the ones you don’t. But with all that choice, figuring out which speaker to buy can be tricky.
To try and make that process a little easier, we’ve compiled a list of the best smart speakers for your smart home. To make this guide, SPY’s tech editor tested 15+ smart speakers over the last two years, spending time with many of today’s popular options for an extended period — with some as long as over a year. We included some of these speakers in our recent Smart Home Awards 2022, and you can find all of our favorites below.
When choosing the best smart speakers, we started by testing which speakers did a better job of recognizing our voice commands by placing each one at a distance of 10 feet away from us. We’ve even added some background noise, like music from another audio source, to uncover how well they can accurately listen to our voice under noisy conditions.
That said, we have a good feel of how the best smart speakers perform in the real world and which features are genuinely must-haves.
The Best Smart Speakers At a Glance
Smart homes became even more prevalent among consumers thanks to the emergence of smart speakers. That’s because the best smart speakers aren’t just another type of wireless speaker for listening to music. Oh no. They’ve become smart home hubs that not only keep us connected but also let us control all the other devices connected to our network.
Today’s most popular smart speakers offer futuristic features, excellent audio quality, intelligent voice assistants, and accurate voice recognition. Best of all, there’s so much variety to choose from, so whether you’re on a budget or looking to go all out, there’s one right for you.
SPY Smart Speaker Reviews: Comparing The Best Smart Speakers of 2023
It’s one thing to read a laundry list of curated items, but it’s another when the chosen models have been tested in real-world situations. That’s exactly how we chose the best smart speakers for SPY readers. These products have been tested for a minimum of four weeks inside our homes and evaluated for sound quality, ease of use, voice recognition, and special features. Most importantly, however, we’ve found reliable smart home companions that justify their price tags.
It’s no surprise that our top three options come from the companies that make the top three voice assistants, so if you strongly prefer Siri, Alexa, or Google Home, choose your smart speakers accordingly.
Amazon Echo (4th Gen)
Best For: People who love good-sounding audio paired with a charming design that can blend in anywhere.
Full Review: What’s New With the Amazon Echo (4th Gen)?
Why We Chose It: In our testing, we’ve found that Amazon makes the best smart speakers, and this is the company’s top speaker for 2023. Simply put, it’s the complete package. Plus, it’s priced modestly.
Amazon updated the design of its 4th generation smart speaker in a big way, and we couldn’t be more thrilled by the results. Seriously, it’s one of our favorite designs because the orb-shaped design makes for a more inviting demeanor.
Every time we say the wake word “Alexa,” we’re always mesmerized by the glowing LED light ring around its base. Small details like this help to establish the Amazon Echo (4th Gen) as having the best design yet in the series.
Music lovers will also be smitten by its excellent audio quality. It’s not too bass-heavy either, so it combines enough of the ranges to fill spaces both big and small with pleasant audio. Even better, we found it simple to set up two Amazon Echo smart speakers for stereo support, a great hack for a wireless stereo speaker setup for a home theater on a budget.
- Excellent audio
- Perfect for stereo sound with TV
- Charming design
- May be too big for tight spaces
Google Nest Audio
Best For: People who are reliant on using Google Calendar, Gmail, and Google’s many other services.
Read More: Amazon Alexa vs. Google Home – Which Is Better?
Why We Chose It: It’s the best Google Assistant smart speaker with exceptional audio quality.
After retiring its first smart speaker, the Google Nest Audio came roaring onto the scene not too long ago, boasting an updated design and beefier audio components, resulting in the best Google Assistant-powered smart speaker you can buy.
Anyone who religiously uses Google’s services will truly appreciate the Nest Audio’s package. For example, it always amazes us that Google Assistant is always on point with informing us about upcoming events on our calendar by asking questions.
However, Google invested in making Nest Audio a powerhouse in the sound quality department. Its bass output is noteworthy because it can still churn out some deep-sounding bass while maintaining the mids and highs. The result? It’s music to the ears.
- Resounding audio performance
- Accurate voice recognition
- Modestly priced
- Dense construction, heavy for its size
Amazon Echo Studio
Best For: Music lovers who crave superb audio.
Read More: Best Alexa Devices for 2023
Why We Chose It: No other speaker offers 3D spatial audio that adapts to any room or condition. On top of that, it can make for an impressive home theater speaker setup.
No other smart speaker comes close to matching the unparalleled power of the Amazon Echo Studio. We’ve placed it in many different rooms, and with each new placement, we’re impressed by how it adapts to its surroundings.
Even from across the hallway in another room roughly 15 feet apart, we were still astounded by how crisp and clear it sounded while playing music. At higher volumes, too, the Echo Studio has never once faltered or crackled since we’ve had it.
Every room is designed and laid out differently, so you have to appreciate the intelligence of the Echo Studio’s ability to adapt with the help of its Dolby Atmos technology. Best of all, it’s the only Alexa-powered smart speaker that supports tracks mastered in spatial audio and Ultra HD.
- Deep bass
- Optimized for any room
- Outstanding for home theater experience
- Design is a bit generic
Bose Portable Home Speaker
Best For: Even with the high price tag, this is the best outdoor smart speaker for your home. It’s ideal for parties, outdoor events, family get-togethers, and whenever the weather’s great outside.
Review: A Compact Speaker With Sound Befitting the Bose Name
Why We Chose It: You’ll never have to worry about the weather ruining your fun because this smart speaker is water-resistant.
Big things come in small packages. Don’t let its size fool you because the Bose Portable Smart Speaker is built to go with you on all your adventures. For its size, it produces incredible bass that reverberates through the air no matter where it’s used.
Sure, we typically keep it connected to its power source at home, where we can access Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa while connected to our Wi-Fi network. However, its built-in rechargeable battery allows us to use it outdoors because of its IPX4 water-resistant design. We were charmed by how it still managed to play music clearly when there was so much ambient noise around.
There are tons of great portable Bluetooth speakers for parties and outdoor events, but the Bose Portable Home Speaker deserves to be your go-to outdoor speaker. Like all of the best smart speakers, its excellent sound quality, features, and attractive design gives it pride of place.
- Portable size, perfect for outdoors
- Lots of power for its size
- Water resistant design
- Very expensive
Apple HomePod Mini
Best For: Apple users who want access to Siri without using their iPhone or iPad.
Review: How Does Apple’s Smart Speaker Fare in an Already Crowded Market?
Why We Chose It: Despite its diminutive size, we’re impressed by how it analyzes the acoustics of a room and optimizes its sound quality.
Apple’s second smart speaker proved far more successful than its first. Not only is its price point a lot easier on the pockets, but its computational audio technology left a big impression on us. That’s because its Apple A5 chip provides real-time tuning by analyzing the sounds it will be playing and the room’s acoustics to deliver perfectly balanced audio.
We experienced this firsthand after pairing two speakers to an Apple 4K TV to stream a movie. Nothing’s worse when dialogue is overwhelmed by the sound of explosions going off in a scene. With the HomePod Mini, we were blown away by how it toned down the sound from explosions while there was dialogue between two characters. The best smart speakers need stellar audio quality, and Apple’s HomePod Mini delivers big sound.
It’s also one of the few smart speakers available in various bright colors, so there’s one to match your style and decor.
- Compact design
- Optimized sound based on room
- Big sound for a small speaker
- Doubles as a HomeKit Hub
- Cord could be longer
Best For: People throwing parties indoors or out need a flexible smart speaker to not only deliver incredible sound but can even work in the rain.
Read More: Sonos Is Bringing Its Famous Sound Outside the Home With Its New Portable Speakers
Why We Chose It: Because it’s a versatile smart speaker that packs a built-in battery for use anywhere you need to play music for parties, events, and small gatherings.
Sure, the Sonos Move is still a relatively compact-sized smart speaker that can fill rooms inside the home with robust audio, but we love that it features an IP56 construction that withstands minor water splashes. Seriously, this thing packs a lot of audio power — so don’t be fooled by its size.
In addition, you can amp parties because of its quick and simple pairing with other Sonos speakers you might have around. Instead of just having it playing in one area of a party, you can boost the experience by quickly adding a second Sonos Move. And, of course, you’ll have your choice of Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa to choose for controlling your smart home.
- Battery powered
- Portable enough for travel
- Simple pairing
- Excellent sound
- Straightforward design
Why We Chose It: Who says speakers have to look so boring? The Marshall Uxbridge Voice flaunts the stylish designs the company is known for with its line of amps.
This portable smart speaker powered by Google Assistant looks oh-so-good just sitting wherever and playing music. Marshall’s iconic design is hard to miss with this one, just because every minor detail has been thought out.
It’s the kind of thing we enjoy placing in a centralized area inside our home, mainly because its timeless design deserves to be seen. We also appreciate the ability to fine-tune its audio performance by simply pressing the corresponding physical buttons on the top of the speaker.
Not only does it look good, but it also has the intelligence of any other Google Assistant-powered smart speaker to control our smart home. There’s also an Alexa version as well.
- Iconic design
- Bluetooth connection as well
- Supports Alexa or Google Assistant
- Loudness could be better
Amazon Echo Dot (5th Gen)
Best For: Diehard Amazon users who religiously use services like Prime Shipping, Prime Music, and Kindle.
Full Review: Amazon’s Most Affordable Echo Smart Speaker Can Now Expand Your Home’s WiFi
Why We Chose It: You won’t find an easier (and more affordable) way to bring Alexa into the home.
Sharing the same design language as its big brother, the smaller Amazon Echo Dot (5th Gen) is a better fit for tighter spaces — such as nightstands, cramped desks, or small shelves. It’s the sort of thing that can discreetly blend into its surroundings because it’s more compact.
This latest version in the series boasts improved sound performance with its upgraded 1.7-inch front firing speaker driver. There’s certainly more focus with the mids and highs this time around, so lyrics and voices get some much deserved attention with better clarity. Additionally, we love how Amazon has given its new smart speaker the Eero built-in function to make it double as an Eero mesh Wi-Fi extender to cover any spotty Wi-Fi areas you may have at home.
- Compact design
- Doubles as an Eero access point
- Affordable cost
- Audio power can be challenging for larger spaces
Best For: People who want to set up a wireless speaker system without it being too complicated.
Full Review: Sonos Roam Is a Perfect Portable Speaker
Why We Chose It: You can have several of these speakers in your home and play music simultaneously. Best of all, you’re still getting incredible audio out of each speaker, thanks to Sonos’ Trueplay technology.
Looks can be deceiving. That’s undoubtedly true with the Sonos Roam and its compact, friendly design. It is small enough to fit in a backpack without taking up much room and produces impressive audio. What we love is how it utilizes Sonos’ Trueplay technology to analyze the room’s acoustics to optimize its audio quality. The result? You get clear-sounding audio.
Furthermore, we love how easy it is to pair with another Sonos Roam, smart speaker — and the process doesn’t require users to use an app. All that’s needed to pair it with another Sonos Roam quickly is to hold down the button on the speaker for a few seconds. Next thing you’ll notice will be music playing simultaneously on both.
- Lots of audio power for its size
- Lightweight, easy to travel
- Easy setup for multi-speaker setup
Google Nest Mini
Best For: Anyone on a tighter budget who wants to bring Google Assistant to all corners of a home.
Read More: Your Google Assistant Have a Little Fun With These Commands and Questions
Why We Chose It: Don’t let its small size fool you because this is one of the smartest smart speakers.
At first glance, it didn’t look like the design of the Google Nest Mini didn’t change all that much from its predecessor. However, the small notch on the underside gave us creativity on where to place it. We enjoyed how wall mounting could make it invisible in a room.
Beyond the design, the Google Nest Mini is backed by the intelligence of Google Assistant. We frequently found it handy for making dinner reservations or ordering a pizza by simply asking Google Assistant. You may never need to call yourself again; it’s that convenient.
Since it’s affordable, it’s the sort of thing you can buy and add to nearly every room in your home without spending a fortune. Voice control from anywhere in the home can be a reality with this smart speaker.
- Super affordable
- Can be wall mounted
- Compact design
- Weaker audio for music
Amazon Echo Dot (5th Gen) with Clock
Best For: Instantly being able to tell the time while in bed, without relying on your phone.
Full Review: Expands Your WiFi, Respects Your Privacy
Why We Chose It: It fights easily on a nightstand and can expand your home’s Wi-Fi reach.
This variant of the popular Amazon Echo Dot (5th Gen) shares the same compact design, but this latest version features an improved LED display that shows more and animates. Because of its new scrolling animation, you’ll be able to easily tell the time, including the artist’s name and track.
Even better is the fact that it can expand your home’s Wi-Fi network because it supports the new Eero built-in feature. If you’re already using a compatible Eero mesh Wi-Fi routers, the Echo Dot (5th Gen) with Clock can provide an additional 1,000 square feet of coverage because it now doubles as a Wi-Fi extender. Meaning dead zones and weak spots around your home will be a thing of the past.
- See the time very easily
- Expands home Wi-Fi coverage
- Decent price
- Audio may be insufficient for larger spaces
Belkin SoundForm Elite
Best For: Working from home and doing double duty as a charger.
Read More: About the Belkin SoundFrom Elite
Why We Chose It: It’s one of the few models that boasts wireless charging for your mobile phones.
Belkin’s SoundForm Elite may appear odd initially, but don’t let its angled top cut-out distract you from its purpose. If you’re into heavy bass tones, then you’ll love the sound performance out of this beefy smart speaker.
The Belkin SoundForm Elite is so different because it features a wireless charger, perfect to top off your phone while working from your home office. We can’t tell you how it helps to lessen the clutter on our desks. There have been plenty of times when we would sit down to do work and leave our phone in its cradle.
Beyond that, we’ve used this Google Assistant-powered smart speaker to set alarms, check up on the weather, and set reminders.
- Charges phone wirelessly
- Deep bass
- Bulky size
Sonos One (Gen 2)
Best For: Users who want a choice in what voice assistant they want to use.
Read More: Music to Your Ears – Here are the Best Sonos Products
Why We Chose It: You can easily build a network of wireless speakers throughout your home with Sonos’ line of speakers.
We’re also giving the Sonos One an honorable mention because there’s a range of other speakers users can buy to bring music to all corners of the home. This specific model, it’s notable for offering both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant — so you’ll have the choice of which smart assistant to use.
Over on the audio front, the Sonos One also proves to be a champ in this department with its crystal-clear audio. Did you also know it’s humidity resistant? That makes it perfect for kitchens and bathrooms so that the moisture in the air won’t adversely affect its day-to-day use.
And finally, Sonos speaker owners can quickly pair this smart speaker with their existing setup to simultaneously play music everywhere in their home.
- Great multi-speaker support
- Sophisticated design
- Powerful audio performance
- Supports Google Assistant and Alexa
- Some distortion at high volumes
How We Chose the Best Smart Speakers
Smart speakers come in all shapes, sizes, and voice assistants to provide consumers with variety in what to choose. While they can all play music and access voice assistants, some do a better job of it than others. There’s also the aesthetic quality we must consider because design plays a critical role in making them blend with the surrounding decor.
It’s also worth pointing out that we spent a minimum of two weeks using each smart speaker. We also made sure to associate them with our respective accounts. That way, we can also see how they work as smart home hubs to communicate with other smart devices in our homes. It takes more than just sounding good to be considered the best smart speaker.
- Design: Speakers don’t need to look like speakers. It’s even better when they utilize materials that make them adaptable to the surrounding decor. While they all vary in size, we think the best-looking speakers are the ones that have stylish qualities that don’t make them look like the typical speaker.
- Sound quality: Superb audio makes for great music listening, so we’re looking for crisp mids and highs accompanied by a bit of bass for robust audio performance. However, excellent sound quality can vary from person to person. Some users may prefer the bass-heavy tones that some speakers produce, but other times it can cause audio in the mid and high range to drown out.
- Voice recognition: Can they accurately respond to voice commands? Including noisy environments? We put each speaker at one end of the room and speak a command 10 feet away, both when it’s quiet and when music from another audio source is playing.
- Smart home controls: What’s the support like with controlling other smart home devices? We look at the amount of supported smart home devices each smart speaker supports. Google Assistant and Alexa speakers support more smart home devices than HomeKit.
- Extra features: All smart speakers play music and access voice assistants, but are there other unique features that can set them apart? We give extra points for extra features that bring other functionality into the mix. For example, battery-powered smart speakers automatically have an advantage since they can be used anywhere.
Which Voice Assistant Is Best for You?
As you make your way through this list, you may notice that some speakers only work with Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa, and you may be wondering if you have to choose one side or the other if you are entertaining the idea of having a whole network of smart home devices. The short answer to that is mostly no… but also possibly yes.
Over the past year or two, most connected devices that work with these smart speakers have become platform agnostic, which is to say that they’ll work equally as well with Google Assistant and Alexa. In most cases, they’ll work just as well with Siri and Apple’s Homekit platform.
But some products, such as Amazon’s Ring cameras, integrate better with Alexa, and some services, such as Google Maps, mesh better with Google Assistant. If you’re purchasing Amazon smart speakers, you’ll want to ensure you are comfortable using Amazon Alexa over Siri. If you haven’t settled on a single, smart home ecosystem or a voice assistant of choice, we recommend going with one of the best smart speakers from Sonos or Bose. (Marshall also has a sleek and stylish smart speaker worth considering.)
Because you can set up your different smart home products (such as smart plugs, smart lightbulbs, and smart door locks) to work with multiple platforms at the same time, you can mix and match speakers from different platforms to get the most out of all your products and still have a smart home that functions seamlessly. Sure, you’ll have to go through the process of configuring those products in multiple apps, but once you get through that, it’s a painless experience.
It’s also worth mentioning that while we think the speakers we’ve picked below will give people the most bang for their buck in each use case, these are mere suggestions to help you think about how to use these different products. If you want to set up a soundbar in your kitchen, go for it. Or, if you want to use an Echo Dot as a TV speaker, live your life. We are not the boss of you.
About The Author: John Velasco
John Velasco is the Tech Editor at best home security cameras, flagship smartphones, and Amazon’s first smart TV. Previously, John worked as the smart home editor at Digital Trends. He’s also worked for Android Authority covering Android-related news as the editor-at-large, and at PhoneArena as the senior editor. John has been covering mobile and smart home tech for over a decade, and he is also passionate about virtual reality, drones and electric bikes. Currently, he resides in New Jersey with his fiancé and cats., and he has tested hundreds of smart home products during his decade-long career reviewing gadgets. Since joining SPY.com, he’s reviewed the
*Adrian Covert contributed additional writing to this review.