The best smart speakers do everything you want and by everything, we mean everything. Control your temperature. Modulate your lighting. Check the weather. Done. And done.
In the less than five years since it was introduced, the Amazon Echo has been joined in the smart speaker market by dozens of competitors, most notably the Google Home. Together the two behemoths control 94 percent of the market. (Sorry, Apple and Microsoft). Some 21 percent of Americans now own a smart speaker, and those numbers are growing fast. For those looking to add a voice to their home, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite well-reviewed smart speakers, from sound bars and portable models to high-end whole-home systems. They serve different purposes, but they all look good, sound great, and are powered by increasingly useful digital assistants.
Of course, you can use your voice to play tunes, check the weather, handle your smart home gadgets, and communicate with Alexa. But it's the Riva's sound quality that has us sold. The brand's patented Trillium Audio technology fills your home with high-fidelity sound.
Pros: With the Riva smart speaker, you get 50 watts of immersive stereo sound without any distortion at any volume. The speaker is splash-resistant and has a battery run time of 15 hours, if you use the battery pack (sold separately). You can use it outdoors or indoors.
Cons: It can be buggy and some customers weren’t all that impressed with the quality of the sound.
Sonos quickly became a beloved high-tech audio brand for two reasons: setting up the custom wireless configuration with a bunch of different speakers is easy, and the sound that comes out of every one of them is fantastic.
The Sonos One adds the convenience of Amazon Alexa, which means it provides you with hands-free access to all of the music services that connect to Alexa to your entire Sonos system. And if you’re a Google partisan with serious FOMO right now, don’t worry: Sonos is actively working to bring Google Assistant to the One, as well.
Connecting via a smartphone app to Google Assistant, the wifi-connected Assist becomes your vigilant assistant, responding quickly to a Hey, Google! With a simple shout across the room, you can blast music from services including Spotify, Pandora, and YouTube Music. And we mean blast: a tweeter, woofer, and amp come together for serious sound.
A slew of features is also easily accessed with this smart speaker, including Google queries, access to your Google account email and calendars, and voice control of your Chromecast (sold separately). And if you need it, the Assist also comes with Bluetooth.
You can connect two devices to this speaker, which has a built-in 3000mAh rechargeable li-ion battery that supports up to 12 hours of playtime.
This stunner of a speaker is waterproof, and delivers surprisingly powerful stereo sound. It’s powered by a 3000mAh rechargeable Li-ion battery that gives you 12 hours of continuous audio playtime. You can choose from six different colors, and it’s totally portable.
True 360-degree sound radiates from its conical design, which is both water- and drop-resistant (but not water- and drop-proof, so don't use it like a beach ball).
Bose has defined quality in the consumer sound market for decades, and the SoundLink Revolve+ continues this legacy. An important note: this speaker doesn’t come with a voice assistant built in. Instead, it links to your phone and has a button that can activate Siri in iOS devices and Google Assistant in Android devices. That’s a less elegant solution than the other speakers on this list, but the sound quality and sleek design still make this a speaker worth checking out.
Half sound bar, half smart speaker, the Beam combines the standard features of the latter with the media-enhancing hoo-ha of the former.
Either synced seamlessly with the rest of your Sonos system (like the aforementioned One) or perfectly content on its own, the wired speaker also connects to Amazon Alexa, allowing you to turn on the TV, change channels, increase the volume, and more. It also connects to Apple AirPlay. While it’s less powerful (and expensive) than the company’s other sound bars, to date it’s their only smart bar, which can outweigh the alternatives’ sound benefits.
In addition to its gold-and-black aesthetics, this Marshall speaker offers characteristically powerful sound.
The Acton II Voice is immediately recognizable by fans of the company’s legendary guitar amps and cabinets and by anyone who’s ever been to a rock concert. Three dedicated amps power dual tweeters and a subwoofer for big sound despite its small size (about 6 inches tall and deep and 10 inches wide). But under its classic good looks is an all-new, Alexa-connectable brain. Use it to pair the speaker with others in your home that also connect with the service, creating a bespoke whole-house system with a look that’s completely different from its competitors.
The Echo Plus has a built-in Zigbee hub to easily setup and control your compatible smart home devices, plus premium speakers powered by Dolby play 360 degree audio for perfect vocals and bass.
The original smart speaker is still one of the best, most versatile devices on the market. The Echo has multiple microphones and noise-canceling and beamforming technology, so it always hears you easily. Buying an Echo also gives you access to thousands of Alexa skills and the ability to control your Fire TV with just your voice, so you never have to worry about losing the remote again. The new iteration has improved sound quality, and lets you connect to and control smart lights, locks, plugs, and sensors. Speak up and ask for any song, artist, or music genre from Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, or SiriusXM.
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