Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024


A good smart speaker does more than pump out impressive tunes; it often serves as the centerpiece for a connected smart home. Here are the seven smart speakers for every budget, ecosystem, and audiophile.


UPDATE: 11/23/2023

We’ve reviewed our recommendations and these are still the best smart speakers you can buy.

What to Look for in a Smart Speaker in 2023

Smart speakers are an integral part of any smart home. They let you listen to music, podcasts, and audiobooks and give you a way to easily communicate with your entire stable of connected devices. Because of this, you’ll need to do more than search for a product with good sound quality—ensuring it works with your ecosystem is just as important.

Once you’ve determined which ecosystem you want to build around and what your current devices support, you should consider the sound quality. You’ll typically find that products under the $100 mark cut corners for bass, while products over $175 should be high enough quality for most listeners. However, if you’re a true audiophile, you might need to bump your price tag to well over $200 before your ears will be truly happy.

The final piece of the smart speaker puzzle is functionality. Are you hoping to expand your setup with other speakers? Will you be bringing it with you on your travels? Do you require native voice control? The more extras you require, the higher your price tag will rise.

Although searching for the perfect smart speaker can be overwhelming, it’s hard to go wrong in today’s market. High-quality products from Sonos, Amazon, Google, and Apple litter store shelves, and there’s not a bad pick among the bunch.

However, these seven are the most worthy of your time and money out of the dozens of smart speakers available.

How Did We Research

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How-To Geek’s product recommendations come from the same team of experts that have helped people fix their gadgets over one billion times. We only recommend the best products based on our research and expertise. We never accept payment to endorse or review a product. Read More »

Best Smart Speaker Overall: Sonos Era 100

White Sonos Era 100 sitting on a shelf
Justin Duino / How-To Geek

Pros

Cons

✓ Plenty of control with Sonos Control and Amazon Alexa

✗ No Google Assistant integration

✓ Adds Bluetooth and line-in audio support

✓ TruePlay custom fits the sound to your space

✓ Great look fits in anywhere

The Sonos Era 100 is the next-generation update to the venerable Sonos One. It has a host of new features and connectivity options, and it has the same minimalist style and appeal that made the Sonos One such a popular speaker. On top of that, it sounds even better than the speaker it is replacing in the Sonos lineup.

Sonos speakers have always mainly operated via Wi-Fi, and that’s still the case here, but there are more connectivity options than ever before. Along with the larger Era 300, the Era 100 is one of the first Sonos home speakers to support Bluetooth. You also get line-in audio for turntables or other audio devices, though you will need an adapter sold separately.

One of the biggest strengths of Sonos speakers is the TruePlay feature, which measures the acoustics of the room to produce the best sound. This was previously only available for iPhone and iPad users, but the Era 100 features a built-in Quick Tune feature that uses the speaker’s internal microphones, meaning it’s available to everyone.

At launch, the Era series supports Sonos Voice Control as well as Amazon Alexa, but not Google Assistant as the Sonos One did. The Sonos Era 100 is available in black or white.

sonos-era-100-product-pic-1

Sonos Era 100

Best Smart Speaker Overall

As long as you don’t need Google Assistant, the Sonos Era 100 is a fantastic smart speaker. It has all the functionality of an Echo Dot or similar speaker, but with a much nicer sound profile.

The Amazon Alexa Dot 5th Gen displaying the time
Hannah Stryker / How-To GeekHannah Stryker / Review GeekHannah Stryker / LifeSavvy

Pros

Cons

✓ Best sounding Echo Dot model yet

✗ Doesn’t sound as good as larger speakers

✓ New temperature and accelerometer sensors

✓ Plenty of compatibility with smart home devices

It may be affordable, but the Amazon Echo Dot With Clock (5th-gen) is still more full-featured than smart speakers you’ll find for double the price or more. While this model doesn’t look like it has changed much from the previous iteration, numerous changes under the hood make it the most useful Echo Dot to date.

Just how useful? You can learn more in our review of the Echo Dot with Clock:

The Dot allows for a world of convenience via Alexa, especially if you add other smart devices. For example, like the 4th-generation Dot, the 5th-gen’s built-in motion sensors can be programmed to turn on compatible smart lights when you enter a room. For Eero Wi-Fi router owners, the new Dot can also be utilized as a mesh Wi-Fi extender, improving Wi-Fi trouble spots in larger houses.

Another great new feature is a built-in temperature sensor. With this, you can monitor temperature changes or ask Alexa what the temperature in a given room is. If you tie it together with a smart thermostat, it’s even handier. The 5th-Gen Echo Dot also features a new built-in accelerometer, enabling tap and gesture-based controls.

The Echo Dot range will never aim for ultra high-fidelity sound, but this model has seen an audio upgrade. A larger driver inside makes for slightly more bass, which is always wanted in a speaker this size. If you listen to a lot of music on your Echo Dot, this is the best model to pick up.

Like the previous generation, the Amazon Echo Dot With Clock (5th-gen) is available in Cloud Blue and Glacier White.

amazon echo dot

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock (5th Gen)

Best Budget Smart Speaker

$35 $60 Save $25

While the looks may not have changed, the Amazon Echo Dot with Clock (5th Gen) has new temperature sensors and an accelerometer, as well as a larger driver inside for better sound quality.

Bose Home Speaker 500 on table
Bose

Pros

Cons

✓ Premium sound quality

✗ Expensive

✓ Works with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi

✗ Awkward design

✓ Alexa support

Don’t let its early 2000s design fool you—the Bose Home Speaker 500 is an audio powerhouse. Two custom drivers are at the heart of the action, offering more than enough soundwaves to fill even the biggest of rooms. And if you need to adjust the volume or change tracks, its premium microphone and voice recognition technology make it easy to get yourself noticed in the middle of a party.

Bose cut no corners in kitting out the Home Speaker 500 with premium speakers. That’s not the only reason we love the device, however, as tap controls, voice controls, and a surprisingly large LCD display give you the functionality you’d expect from a $300+ smart speaker. There’s also a useful smartphone app to browse all your music and personalize your listening experience.

Despite its price and power, the Bose Home Speaker 500 isn’t for everybody. Not only is its price hard to ignore, but its overall design leaves much to be desired when compared to sleek new products from Amazon and Sonos.

But if you love to throw parties or rock out with your favorite music, those tiny drawbacks are easy to overlook.

bose home speaker 500

Bose Home Speaker 500

Best Smart Speaker for Music

Premium sound quality and wide-ranging compatibility make it easy to look beyond the awkward design of the Bose Home Speaker 500.

Best Portable Smart Speaker: JBL Charge 4

JBL Charge 4 on cooler
JBL

Pros

Cons

✓ 20 hours of battery life

✗ Lacks native voice assistant support

✓ Can charge your smartphone

✓ Rugged and durable design

Portable smart speakers need to do more than sound good. They also need to be built with durable materials, carry a tiny footprint, and boast a reasonable battery life. All these added requirements tend to increase costs, but the JBL Charge 4 manages to tick all the right boxes without becoming an exclusive product.

Built with a rugged, waterproof design, the Charge 4 feels at home no matter where you take it. You’ll get around 20 hours of playback time before you’ll need to trek back home or find the nearest outlet for a recharge. Although it’s affordable and built for the road, it still produces some impressive sounds using dual passive radiators.

You’ll miss out on native voice commands with the JBL Charge 4, but the action is easy enough to control after wirelessly connecting to your smartphone through Bluetooth.

You can even link up to 100 JBL devices together for enhanced performance—so if your friends invest in a JBL speaker, you can build up quite the sound system for your travels.

JBL Charge 4

JBL Charge 4

Best Portable Smart Speaker

$89 $150 Save $61

Rugged, durable, and boasting 20 hours of playback time, the JBL Charge 4 was built to travel. The biggest drawback, however, is its lack of built-in voice controls.

Person listening to Echo Studio on table
Amazon

Pros

Cons

✓ Dolby Atmos

✗ Expensive

✓ Sleek design

✗ Much larger than the Echo Dot

✓ Adaptable sound based on location

If you like everything about the Echo Dot but wish it had better speakers, you’ll want to take a look at the Amazon Echo Studio. All of the usual functionality is present—including built-in Alexa—but the Studio bumps up the sound quality to offer a truly premium listening experience.

Inside the Echo Studio, you’ll find five speakers that churn out deep bass, crisp treble, and soothing midrange sounds. To accommodate all these added components, Amazon needed to beef up the size of the smart speaker. It’s not necessarily a bad design, but it’s noticeably larger than the Echo Dot and will require a bit more space on your countertop.

Support for Dolby Atmos and the ability to play music mastered in spatial audio and Ultra HD puts the Echo Studio among the best-sounding smart speakers money can buy. If you’re looking for a device powered by Alexa, you can’t do much better than this.

echo studio

Amazon Echo Studio

Best Smart Speaker for Alexa

$155 $200 Save $45

A big, beefy Echo speaker with five total speakers, room adaption technology, and Dolby Atmos Music support.

Best Smart Speaker for Google Assistant: Google Nest Audio

Google Nest Audio on shelf
Google

Pros

Cons

✓ Affordable

✗ Limited range of bass

✓ Impressive audio

✓ Google Assistant support

With the ability to adapt to your environment, Google Nest Audio sounds at home regardless of where you place it. That fancy technology is backed by a woofer and tweeter for clear vocals, making the Nest Audio a perfect fit for streaming audiobooks, podcasts, or the local news.

Most listeners will find its bass production to be lacking, although that’s par for the course in smart speakers under $100. And considering the high quality of the woofer and tweeter, it’s great to see Google round out the Nest Audio with unexpected functionality.

For example, you can link two speakers together to produce stereo sound, a variety of vibrant color schemes are available, and the product is largely made from recycled plastics for sustainability. All that adds up to make the low-priced speaker feel like a premium home appliance.

The rest of Google Nest Audio’s functionality is what you’d expect with any Google smart home product. Controlling other smart devices, checking the weather or your daily schedule, broadcasting messages, and changing music are all easily done with Google Assistant.

Nest Audio is an affordable, well-rounded smart speaker, making it a perfect addition to any Google-powered smart home.

nest-audio-1

Google Nest Audio

Best Smart Speaker for Google Home

Google Nest Audio brings impressive audio and functionality to your home, although its bass leaves something to be desired.

Best Smart Speaker for Apple HomeKit: Apple HomePod Mini

Apple Homepod Mini lineup
Apple

Pros

Cons

✓ Affordable

✗ Limited by Apple HomeKit

✓ Colorful designs

✓ Surprising sound quality

Quirky, colorful, and surprisingly affordable for an Apple product, the HomePod Mini is the most versatile smart speaker you’ll find for HomeKit. Dual passive radiators, a full-range driver, and computational audio provide 360-degree sound for a room-filling performance. In other words, it sounds incredible despite the affordable price tag.

Apple knows how to craft, sleek, intuitive devices, and the HomePod mini is no exception. Its mesh design should flow with most interiors, and simple tap controls make it easy to change songs, turn up the volume, or optimize your settings. Like most smart speakers, there’s also an accompanying smartphone app to help tie in the rest of your smart devices.

The biggest downside to the HomePod mini is Apple HomeKit itself. Right now there’s a limited number of compatible devices, meaning you’ll have fewer options for your smart home compared to ecosystems created by Amazon and Google.

But if you’re already sold on Apple and don’t mind the lack of compatible products, HomePod Mini is the perfect hub for a connected home.

homepod mini

HomePod mini

Best Smart Speaker for Apple HomeKit

HomeKit limits the functionality of the HomePod Mini, but there’s no denying its impressive sound and gorgeous design.

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By John P.

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