The Best Smart Speakers

Smart home speakers give homes the best smart technology and sound in one device. Today’s smart speakers serve as a voice assistant, phone and music player all-in-one. The best speakers offer balanced bass and cost-effective control in one smart home device.
Updated Apr 21, 2021
Written By
Dashia Starr | Home Security Writer
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Factors to Consider When Buying a Smart Speaker

  • Sound Quality

    Sound quality is key. It determines how well voice assistants hear and respond to your commands, and how well music plays throughout your home. For the best smart speaker sound quality, look for one that has multiple tweeters and woofers to handle the range of high to low frequency. Tweeters support high frequency, while woofers support the base. But, it all comes down to the sound you prefer. If you’re into the music’s bass, you’ll want to look into speakers with multiple woofers like the Google Home Max with two 4.5-inch woofers. Or for a sweet spot, consider the Sonos One with one mid-woofer and one tweeter to catch high to low frequencies evenly for a balanced sound.

  • Connectivity

    Smart speakers are designed to be connected for a smart home sound system. When buying a smart speaker, check for compatibility to other smart speakers and devices. Over time, you’ll be able to connect other speakers throughout rooms in the house and power them all using voice assistants. The Amazon Echo is the best-valued smart speaker because it gives the ability to add more Echo smart speakers and smart technology.

  • Usability

    It’s important to know what you’ll be using your smart speaker for most. Will you host parties where the sound is the star of the evening? Or will you use the smart speaker to conveniently take phone calls while cooking? Depending on your daily use, some features will matter more than others. For example, if you’re using your smart speaker for voice commands and to play tunes every once in a while, the Amazon Echo may be a more affordable option that’s easily expandable to create a home sound system later.

The Best Smart Home Speaker Features to Look For

mart speakers aim to provide convenience and control while having fun with smart technology. There are a few smart speaker features to consider for maximum ease and efficiency.

  • Two-way audio – This feature gives the ability to communicate with family members in different rooms using the smart speaker’s built-in microphone. Some smart speakers can serve as a home intercom or walkie talkie to communicate with others in the house through the speaker.
  • Multi-tasker – Popular smart speakers have voice assistants that can handle ‘Routines.’ Your smart speaker’s built-in voice assistant can multitask on your command. You’ll be able to tell Amazon Alexa to play a song while turning on the lights when you tell it ‘Good morning.’ These custom shortcuts make the most of your smart speaker beyond crystal clear sound.
  • Phone and video calls – Smart speakers with microphones and voice control often allow Wi-Fi calls. Simply use voice commands to dial a phone number or call someone in your address book to chat with clear sound and hands-free. Speakers that include a video display, such as the JBL Link View, maximize your smart speaker’s functionality when serving as a mobile device.
  • Alarm clock – No more relying on the smartphone or old-fashion alarm clock. Smart speakers can wake you up to your favorite song instead of a generic chime. Using IFTTT (If This, Then That) commands, you’ll even be able to select what music is playing from your smart speaker when you arrive home.

The 10 Best Smart Speakers

  • Best All Around Smart Speaker

    Apple HomePod

    Our rating

    Our take

    The Apple HomePod smart speaker allows Siri voice commands through the speaker. You’ll even have the power to tell Siri which music you love to better generate song suggestions hands-free. The smart home speaker includes AirPlay to listen to books, podcasts or songs through the speaker with ease.

    Stand-out features include

    • Pair multiple Apple HomePods for a home sound system that communicates using Apple’s streaming protocol AirPlay
    • Control the music, volume, and more using Siri voice commands
    • Make crystal clear phone calls using the smart speaker
  • Best Voice-Activated Smart Speaker

    Amazon Echo (2nd Generation)

    Our rating

    Our take

    The Amazon Echo includes voice recognition to play music and make phone calls on your command. Amazon Alexa gives the power to play songs on your favorite streaming services throughout your home or select rooms. This smart home speaker connects to other Echos and Echo Dots.

    Stand-out features include

    • Uses Amazon Alexa to voice control your music and over 50,000 voice commands to check the weather, play music or make calls
    • Includes seven microphones and a 2.5-inch woofer for 360-degree sound throughout the room
    • Connects to other smart home technology to control your home using the smart speaker’s voice commands
  • Best Sounding Smart Speaker

    Google Home Max

    Our rating

    Our take

    The Google Home Max has the ability to control your other smart home devices, respond to voice commands and streaming services. This smart home speaker also connects to Chromecast Audio to pair other speakers for balanced sound throughout your home.

    Stand-out features include

    • Includes a 4.5-inch woofer for crystal clear sound with well-balanced bass
    • Uses Smart Sound to automatically adjust the sound to match the room for a clear, equal sound
    • Ability to play music the way you want with multiple connection options – Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or an auxiliary cable
  • Sonos One

    Our rating

    Our take

    Sonos’ Hi-Fi speaker uses Alexa for convenient voice commands and impeccable sound throughout the home. The small, but mighty speaker gives you complete control of your home through the Sonos app or Alexa using your mobile device.

    Stand-out features include

    • Pairs with the Amazon Echo to manage music, news, and other commands hands-free
    • Plays over 30 streaming services including Amazon Music, Apple Music and Spotify
    • Connect multiple Sonos speakers surround sound and an interconnected sound system throughout the home
  • Amazon Echo Dot

    Our rating

    Our take

    Amazon’s Echo Dot serves as a smart home hub for countless home automation devices ranging from thermostats to security systems conveniently. Use this smart hub to connect devices and make voice commands to control your home.

    Stand-out features include

    • Connect other Bluetooth speakers for true home surround sound
    • Use voice commands to control music from streaming services
    • Conveniently ask Amazon’s smart assistant for help with over 50,000 skills
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The Benefits of Smart Speakers

  • Convenience

    Smart speakers allow you to enjoy the convenience and leisure of high-quality sound with a voice assistant to conveniently play music or call friends through the speaker hands-free. They also allow you to easily control your home and music within range using a mobile app.

  • One Speaker, Multiple Streaming Services

    With smart speakers, there’s no need to open multiple streaming apps to play your favorite music or podcast. Popular streaming services are compatible with smart speakers to conveniently play your podcast regardless or favorite tune through one speaker.

  • The Kickstart to a Smart Home

    Smart home speakers are the perfect way to jumpstart your smart home without a big investment. With a speaker and voice assistant, you’ll be able to enjoy the luxuries of smart technology at an affordable price before making the decision to buy more smart home products.

Smart Speaker FAQs

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    Home Security Writer

    Dashia Starr

    Dashia researches and writes on all things home automation and security. She focuses on the latest news, products, and providers to share only the best with you.

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