The Best Smart Speakers for Every Corner of Your Home

the best smart speakers for every
Courtesy of Amazon
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Smart speakers continue to infiltrate every part of the home, which should come as no surprise why they continue to be refreshed almost yearly. In addition to a wave of new product offerings from the likes of Amazon, Google, Sonos and Apple, the software powering all of these devices also continue to receive improvements and refinements to make the experience of using the best smart speakers feel less like a novelty and more like something actually helpful.

But as we’ve seen this product category expand, we now know which smart speakers are better suited for specific situations and which are less-than-optimal for others.

In general, this is a good thing 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 a bit tricky.

James Martin
12 months
All I have to say at this time is WOW!

James Martin
12 months
All I have to say at this time is WOW!

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 a relatively cheap speaker they’ll primarily use as a means to interact with their voice assistant.

To try and make that process a little easier, we’ve compiled a list of the best smart speakers for each part of your home.

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 also work just as well with Siri and Apple’s Homekit platform.

But some products, such as Amazon’s Ring cameras, which integrate better with Alexa, and some services, such as Google Maps, mesh better with Google Assistant.

Because you can set up your different smart home products (such as plugs, lightbulbs and 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.

Here are the best smart speakers for every corner of your home with that in mind.

  

Sonos One

BEST OVERALL

OK, so maybe you are the type who doesn’t care about home theater audio or has decided to forego a TV in the living room altogether. Whatever the reason, you want something that makes your music sound impressive, but you don’t necessarily need a whole soundbar with virtual surround sound. In that case, we think the Sonos One is the best smart speaker for your living room.

Like the Sonos Arc, this speaker is equipped with both Google Assistant and Alexa, but the real killer feature is the audio from this little speaker. Sure it may cost twice as much as the Echo or Nest Audio, but it is every bit as smart and capable of producing audio that is louder and more detailed than either of those speakers. And suppose you ever decide that you want to expand or reconfigure your audio setup in your home. In that case, the Sonos ecosystem of products is best equipped to do this: You can turn a Sonos Arc soundbar and two Sonos One speakers into a surround sound system. Thanks to Sonos’ own software installed on speakers, it’s the best for managing a multi-room audio setup.

sonos one smart speakerCourtesy of Sonos

Sonos One

$257.66
  

Amazon Echo (3rd Gen)

BEST FOR ALEXA

Between cooking, eating, and the never-ending task of doing the dishes, the kitchen is another place where you spend much of your time. And whether you’re using your speaker to listen to music, take in a podcast, talk to a friend or follow along with a recipe, you’re going to want something that sounds good and is easy to interact with

When it comes to Alexa-compatible speakers, we think the best one for the kitchen is the fourth-generation Echo. It gets loud enough and sounds good enough to provide a pleasurable experience, but you also don’t have to break the bank to buy one. With an integrated Zigbee hub, it’s equipped to control most smart home devices you own (or plan to own). If you do your grocery shopping through Amazon or Whole Foods, you can simply do your shopping by rummaging through your fridge and pantry, then telling the Echo what to add to your cart.

Amazon Echo smart speakerCourtesy of Amazon

Amazon Echo

$99.99

  

Google Nest Audio

BEST FOR GOOGLE ASSISTANT

Depending on your work habits, having a smart speaker around could be indispensable. For some, having an album or podcast playing in the background is a huge help when concentrating on the task at hand. For others, it’s nice to be able to ask your speaker what’s next on the agenda quickly, set a timer or reminder to help with time management or get a traffic update before you have to head out for a work-related meeting. We think the Nest Audio is the best smart speaker for your home office for all of these things.

Packing a 3-inch woofer and 0.75-inch tweeter inside a stylish frame, the Nest Audio delivers quality sound without you having to spend on a more expensive speaker that may be overkill for the nine-to-five segment of your day. And when it comes to services such as navigation and daily schedules, we think Google Assistant has the edge here, thanks to the fact that it’s deeply integrated with Google Maps and Calendar. But the other added bonus here is that Nest speakers come with a mechanical mute switch so that if you have a Zoom meeting or a conference call where sensitive subject matter is being discussed, you can rest assured that your speaker isn’t listening in as an unnamed participant.

Google Nest AudioCourtesy of Target

Google Nest Audio

$99.99
  

Apple HomePod mini

BEST FOR SIRI

Apple had some growing pains when the company finally dove into the world of smart speakers with the original HomePod in 2018. After sluggish sales, it seemed as though consumers weren’t too keen on introducing Siri into their homes. However, Apple redeemed itself with its second stab at a smart speaker in the more affordable Apple HomePod mini.

Sure, it’s vastly different in terms of design, audio performance and price over the original Siri-powered HomePod, but the HomePod mini showed us that it’s far more approachable. For starters, it offers the same features with its Siri voice command to control smart home gadgets in the home, respond to question you might have and plays nicely with the rest of the devices in Apple’s ecosystem.

Its spherical size may look small, but the mesh fabric exterior does nicely to make it discrete wherever placed. You’ll also be astounded by the audio out of this compact-sized smart speaker because it’s accompanied by computational audio that optimizes sound based on the acoustics of where you decide to put it. It’s best showcased when you’re watching something with plenty of sound effects blasting off while someone’s talking. Instead of being drowned out by the overpowering explosions in the scene, the Apple HomePod mini optimizes the audio so that voices are still discernible amidst the sound effects.

Best of all, the HomePod Mini is a fraction of the cost of the original.

oct 18 apple eventImage Courtesy of Apple

Apple HomePod Mini

$99.99
  

Amazon Echo Studio

BEST FOR AUDIOPHILES

Smart speakers can do so much, but if you’re purely interested in one that boasts impressive audio performance, then you need to look at the Amazon Echo Studio. No other smart speaker delivers the audio fidelity that the Echo Studio boasts. Five directional speakers providing the sound can produce crisp sounds supported by rich bass.

Another quality that stands out is spatial audio, which allows this intelligent speaker to optimize its performance based on its surroundings. Whether it’s in a corner, an open space, or somewhere within a cabinet, the Amazon Echo Studio tunes its performance — so that it adapts to the acoustics of the room.

Audiophiles will also love the fact that it’s a wonderful companion to your home theater setup with its built-in Dolby Atmos technology, which delivers depth and clarity to all of your favorite audio content. In fact, you can set up the Amazon Echo Studio with any of Amazon’s streaming devices, such as the Fire Stick 4K, to achieve 2.1 surround sound to immerse you in action.

Echo Studio - High-fidelity smart speaker with 3D audio and AlexaCourtesy of Amazon

Amazon Echo Studio

$199.99
  

Bose Portable Home Speaker

BEST PORTABLE

For the most part, a true smart speaker is almost exclusively designed to be used indoors and constantly connected to a power outlet since having WiFi audio, and an always-on voice assistant isn’t the most efficient feature for a battery-powered speaker. But there are a few, which, while not truly portable, are portable enough that you can easily carry them outdoors and enjoy all the same features that you would from some of our other top picks on this list. Of the smart speakers which are best for the backyard, we like the Bose Portable Home Speaker the best.

Along with giving you a choice to enjoy all the functionality of Alexa or Google Assistant without having to connect your phone, this speaker is water-resistant, can provide up to 12 hours of playback on a single charge and even comes with a handle to make it easier to lug around. Furthermore, since it’s a Bose speaker, you can rest assured that this thing will produce the same top-shelf audio quality you’ve come to know and love from other Bose products.

bose portable home speakerCourtesy of Amazon

Bose Portable Smart Speaker

$399.00
  

Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Gen)

BEST FOR BEDROOMS

The bedroom is the place where you typically start the day and end your night, and for that, you’ll want a speaker that helps you manage your life. Whether it’s helping you wake up on time and manage your schedule in the morning or making sure your doors are locked and lights are off before you go to bed, the Echo Dot with Clock is the best speaker for the job.

This little orb has all the same Alexa abilities as the other Echo speakers, but as the name implies, the Echo Dot with Clock also has an LED display that glows through its cloth exterior so that you can always check the time with a quick glance. It also still packs decent audio for its size. While you might not use this as the speaker for your next get-together, it more than serves its purpose for those moments when you’re in need of some background music.

amazon echo dot - best christmas gift ideas of 2020Courtesy of Amazon

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock

$59.99
  

Sonos Arc Soundbar

BEST SOUNDAR

Assuming you don’t already have some home theater setup already and you generally watch a lot of TV, you’re going to want something that sounds good since this is where most people hang out and entertain themselves. And when it comes to a smart speaker that can immerse you in the world of a blockbuster film while also having the intelligence to manage your other smart home devices, the Sonos Arc soundbar is the ideal pairing for your fancy 65-Inch TV.

The Sonos Arc works with both Alexa and Google Assistant, which means you can have hands-free access to both assistants. You can use your voice to launch music services and streaming TV apps and take advantage of Dolby Atmos 3D audio and generate plenty of bass without a subwoofer. And, generally, this is just one of the best soundbars you can buy right now, even without the voice assistant functionality.

sonos arc soundbarCourtesy of Sonos

Sonos Arc

$799.99
  

Google Nest Mini

BEST FOR SMALL SPACES

These are the areas of your home where you don’t necessarily need a full-fledged speaker but still want to be able to interact with your voice assistant to adjust the lights or set a reminder. This is why the Google Nest Mini is the best compact-sized smart speaker for these areas of your home.

The smallest and cheapest of Google’s speakers, the Nest Mini is surprisingly great for music while being as capable as ever at summoning Google Assistant to do your bidding around the house. It has a form factor that can mount to a wall with a screw and sits directly on it, making it perfect for areas like the entryway where you pass through often but don’t necessarily spend a lot of time. There are even mounting cradles that let you skip the cords and plug it directly into a power outlet, making this even more convenient.

Google Nest MiniCourtesy of Google

Google Nest Mini

$24.99
  

Sonos Roam

BEST FOR BATHROOMS

Sure, a smart speaker in the bathroom may seem like overkill, but who doesn’t like having music while taking a shower or getting ready? Furthermore, who wants to mess with trying to skip songs or adjust the volume with hands covered in water, hair product or shaving cream? For reasons such as these, we think the Sonos Roam is the best smart speaker for the bathroom.

In addition to letting you control your music with only your voice, we like the Sonos Roam because it’s battery-powered, which means that you can move it around with ease as you’re getting ready for the day (or evening). It’s also IP67 water-resistant, which means you can take it in the shower with you. And with the option to mute the microphone, you can always rest assured that you’ll have all the privacy you want. But what also makes this speaker even more remarkable is that it also works as a Bluetooth speaker and an AirPlay 2 speaker, which essentially guarantees you can take it anywhere and listen to whatever you want, when you want.

Sonos RoamCourtesy of Sonos

Sonos Roam

$169.00
  

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