Update, 8/19/2022: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and are confident that these are still the best speakers you can buy.
What to look for in a smart speaker in 2022
Smart speakers are an integral part of every smart home. Not only does it let you listen to music, podcasts and audiobooks, but it also lets you easily communicate with your entire stable of connected devices. Because of this, you’ll need to do more than just look for a product with good sound quality – it’s just as important to make sure it works with your ecosystem.
Once you know what ecosystem you want to build and what your current devices support, only then should you start thinking about audio quality. Typically, you’ll find that products under $100 struggle when it comes to bass, while products over $175 should be good enough for most listeners. However, if you’re a true audiophile, you might have to bump your price tag up to over $200 before your ears are truly happy.
The final piece of the smart speaker puzzle is functionality. Hoping to add more speakers to your lineup? Will you be taking it with you on your travels? Need native voice control? The more of these extras you need, the higher your price will be.
Although the search 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 really isn’t a bad selection to choose from.
But of the dozens of smart speakers available, we’ve found these seven to be the most worth your time and money.
Best overall smart speaker: Sonos One
- ✓ Incredible sound
- ✓ Ultra elegant design
- ✓ Google Assistant and AirPlay support
The Sonos One is a near perfect blend of style, performance and price. It’s a bit more expensive than the competition — it usually retails for $220 — but there’s no doubt you get what you pay for. Not only does it deliver some of the best sound in its class, but a host of quality-of-life features make it easy to use and versatile for all kinds of applications.
The main appeal of the Sonos One is its room-filling sound, delivered by two Class-D amplifiers, one tweeter and one woofer, giving it the ability to hit every note thrown its way.
If you’re still not a fan of how things sound, Sonos makes it easy to adjust your smart speaker’s performance with a free smartphone app. You can also use the Trueplay software to reset your room’s acoustics and optimize the sound of the Sonos One.
Its incredible sound isn’t the only reason the Sonos One is the best smart speaker on the market. You also get built-in support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, easy-to-access control buttons for music management, a sleek design that’s right at home in any entertainment center, and the ability to upgrade your setup with additional speakers. a truly immersive home listening experience.
- ✓ Affordable
- ✓ Minimalist design
- ✓ Native Alexa support
- ✗ Poor sound quality
Priced at less than half the price of most other smart speakers, Amazon has somehow managed to pack a lot of features into this little ball. Of course, with such a low price comes a few trade-offs. Most of that goes to the Echo Dot speakers, which leave a little to be desired when it comes to boosting bass.
However, apart from the average sound quality, there is nothing to complain about. Built-in Alexa means you can easily play music, check today’s weather, set an alarm or even call a friend via voice control. You can even connect it to the rest of your Amazon-controlled smart home to access appliances and set routines.
The Echo Dot may be small, but it’s still a stylish addition to any home. It’s only available in two colors (Glacier White and Twilight Blue), but its mesh design and front LED clock make it an elegant focal point in most kitchens, bedrooms or even your main living space.
If you don’t mind a few quirks with your speakers, the Echo Dot is a great way to upgrade your smart home without breaking the bank.
The best affordable smart speaker
Amazon Echo Dot (4th generation)
Amazon cut a few corners with the Dot’s sound quality, but overall it’s a well-rounded device at an affordable price.
- ✓ Premium sound quality
- ✓ Works with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
- ✓ Alexa support
- ✗ Expensive
- ✗ Awkward design
Don’t let its early 21st century design fool you – the Bose Home Speaker 500 is an audio powerhouse. At the heart of the action are two custom drivers that offer more than enough sound waves to fill even the largest rooms. And if you need to adjust the volume or change the song, the premium microphone and voice recognition technology make it easy to be noticed in the middle of the party.
Bose does not limit itself in equipping the Home Speaker 500 with premium speakers. But that’s not the only reason we love this device, as touch controls, voice control, and a surprisingly large LCD display give you the features you’d expect from a $300+ smart speaker. There’s also a handy smartphone app to browse all your music and customize your listening.
Despite its price and performance, the Bose Home Speaker 500 isn’t for everyone. Not only is it hard to ignore its price, but its overall design leaves a lot to be desired compared to sleek new products from Amazon and Sonos.
But if you like to host parties or enjoy playing with your favorite music, these minor flaws are easy to overlook.
The best smart speaker for music
Bose 500 home speaker
Superior sound quality and a wide range of compatibility make it easy to see past the clunky design of the Bose Home Speaker 500.
Best portable smart speaker: JBL Charge 4
- ✓ 20 hours of battery life
- ✓ It can charge your smartphone
- ✓ Durable and resistant design
- ✗ Native voice assistant support is missing
Portable smart speakers need to do more than just sound good. They must also be made of durable materials, have a small footprint and boast reasonable battery life. All of these added requirements tend to add to the cost, but the JBL Charge 4 manages to tick all the right boxes without being an exclusive product.
With a durable waterproof design, Charge 4 feels right at home no matter where you take it. You’ll get around 20 hours of playback before you need to return home or find the nearest outlet to recharge. Although it is relatively affordable and built for the road, it still manages to produce impressive sounds with the help of two passive radiators.
You miss out on native voice commands with the JBL Charge 4, but control is easy enough when connected wirelessly to your smartphone via Bluetooth.
You can even link up to 100 JBL devices together for better performance – so if your friends invest in a JBL speaker, you can put together quite the sound system for your travels.
The best portable smart speaker
Charging JBL 4
Rugged, durable and boasting 20 hours of playback, the JBL Charge 4 was built for the road. However, the biggest drawback is the lack of built-in voice control.
- ✓ Dolby Atmos
- ✓ Elegant design
- ✓ Customizable sound by location
- ✗ Expensive
- ✗ Much bigger than the Echo Dot
If you like everything about the Echo Dot but wish you had better speakers, you’ll want to check out the Amazon Echo Studio. All the usual features are present – including built-in Alexa – but the Studio ups the ante for a truly premium listening experience.
Inside the Echo Studio, you’ll find five speakers that churn out deep bass, crisp highs and soothing mid-bass sounds. To accommodate all these added components, Amazon needed to increase 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 desktop.
Dolby Atmos support and the ability to play music mastered in surround sound and Ultra HD make the Echo Studio one of the best-sounding smart speakers money can buy. If you’re looking for an Alexa-powered device, you can’t do much better than this.
The best smart speaker for Alexa
Amazon Echo Studio
The Amazon Echo Studio takes everything great about the Dot and enhances it with a robust set of speakers.
Best smart speaker for Google Assistant: Google Nest Audio
- ✓ Affordable
- ✓ Impressive sound
- ✓ Google Assistant support
- ✗ Limited bass range
With the ability to adapt to your environment, Google Nest Audio sounds at home no matter where you place it. This luxury technology is backed by a woofer and tweeter for clear vocals, making Nest Audio perfectly suited for streaming audiobooks, podcasts or local news.
Most listeners will find its bass production lacking, though that’s on par with smart speakers under $100. And given the high quality of the woofer and tweeter, it’s great to see how Google has added unexpected features to Nest Audio.
For example, you can link two speakers together to create stereo sound, there’s a range of vibrant color schemes and the product is largely made from recycled plastics for sustainability. All of this helps to make an inexpensive speaker feel like a premium home appliance.
The rest of Google Nest Audio’s features are what you’d expect from any Google smart home product. Controlling other smart devices, checking the weather or daily schedule, broadcasting news and changing music – all this is easily done with Google Assistant.
Nest Audio is an affordable, well-rounded smart speaker that makes it the perfect addition to any Google-enabled smart home.
The best smart speaker for Apple HomeKit: Apple HomePod Mini
- ✓ Affordable
- ✓ Colorful design
- ✓ Surprising sound quality
- ✗ Apple HomeKit limited
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, full-range driver and computed sound deliver 360-degree sound for room-filling performance. In other words, it sounds incredible despite the affordable price tag.
Apple knows how to make elegant and intuitive devices, and the HomePod mini is no exception. Its mesh design should match most interiors, and simple tap controls make it easy to change tracks, increase volume or optimize settings. Like most smart speakers, there’s also a companion smartphone app to help you connect the rest of your smart devices.
The biggest downside to the HomePod mini is Apple HomeKit itself. There are a limited number of compatible devices available right now, which means you’ll have fewer options for your smart home compared to the ecosystems created by Amazon and Google.
But if you already sell Apple and don’t mind the lack of compatible products, the HomePod Mini is the perfect hub for a connected home.