Whether you are a tech enthusiast or relatively new to the world of smart technology, smart speakers are definitely worth considering when it comes to making your home more connected.
Let us talk you through the smart speaker market, including a list of the very best speakers, and the types of features you might want to consider before making a purchase.
What’s the purpose of a smart speaker?
As smart as it is, the primary aim of any smart speaker is to play audio, so that you can listen to all your favourite music, audiobooks, and a variety of streaming services.
Most, you don’t need to control with your hands – simply choose a voice assistant to do the work for you.
Depending on the feature set of the brand you choose you can also set timers, ask questions and keep up to date with the latest news.
How Boundary can integrate with a smart speaker
Boundary connects seamlessly with 100s of other devices, and smart speakers are just one of many smart home integrations capable of making your home smarter, more efficient and helpful.
Boundary works with Alexa and Google Home, and is listed in the Alexa Skills catalogue. Here are just a small handful of examples showing how you can integrate your smart speaker with your Boundary alarm.
- Use voice control to set your alarm – Using voice control as a verbal PIN to arm your alarm as you leave the house.
- Have a dog barking if your alarm is triggered – Play a dog barking or a loud siren through your smart speakers as an additional deterrent.
- Provide a welcome message – Programme your Alexa or Google Home to welcome you when you walk through the front door.
There are endless IFTTT (If This, Then That) integrations with Boundary’s smart home security system. Check out the existing Boundary applets at ifttt.com, available on all monthly plans except Lite.
Next, we look to review seven of the most popular speakers to help you decide which is the best smart speaker for you and your home.
Amazon Echo Dot 4th Gen
The latest Amazon Echo is certainly making waves as one of the best smart speakers on the market. There have been many improvements made on its predecessors, from looking much more pleasing design-wise, to having a built-in hub, better-sounding audio and a processor that means Alexa can now answer faster than ever.
We must admit that there aren’t many downsides to the Amazon Echo Dot. But, being picky, the top volume level could be louder, and you will need to use Bluetooth if you want to connect the Amazon Echo Dot to your phone.
- Great aesthetics
- Improved sound quality
- Comes with hub integration
- The maximum volume could be louder.
Sonos’ first venture into the market of smart speakers certainly does not disappoint, and for many, they are hands-down the best smart speakers out there.
Not only does it have an amazing design packed with cool features and unparalleled sound quality, but it will also work with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. Also, using AirPlay 2, the Sonos speakers connect with Apple’s Siri to pair with an Apple Homepod if you have one.
The Sonos One isn’t the most affordable smart speaker out there, but we feel it very much warrants the price thanks to its incredible features. There’s also the Sonos portable smart speaker category to discover if you want to take your sounds outside or from room to room.
- Stunning sounds
- Choice of voice assistant
- Can hear commands, even from a distance
- Quite a pricey option.
Apple HomePod Mini
While its relative, the larger HomePod, was discontinued in 2021, the Apple HomePod Mini could be just the ticket for you if you have an Apple Music subscription. This little speaker certainly packs a punch when it comes to sound quality and design.
It is also much cheaper than many people expect. In fact, it is the most affordable Apple device around.
The major downside of the HomePod Mini is that if you don’t have an Apple Music subscription, you are extremely limited. You can’t ask Siri to play Spotify, for example.
If you want to use another music streaming service, you can do it through AirPlay, but you’ll have to use your phone for this. Compared to Google Assistant speakers and Amazon Alexa-enabled speakers, the HomePod Mini has a much smaller number of compatible devices.
As it stands, however, the HomePod is an excellent speaker for playing music as its audio performance is extremely impressive for such a small device.
- Excellent sound
- Futuristic design
- Siri built-in
- Requires Apple Music subscription.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 (2nd Gen)
Bang & Olufsen are well known sound apprecionados. The Danish tech giant has a range of impressive, forward-thinking designs, and the Beosound A1 is the same.
Although it is only a Bluetooth speaker, it does have an Alexa smart assistant built-in. It doesn’t look too dissimilar to the Amazon Echo, except that it is bigger, and comes in a range of colours, including spaceship grey, moody green and a lot more in between.
In terms of audio the sound is clean, crisp and authoritative with a weighty bass.
Its design is excellent, very user friendly and you can connect to Alexa with ease, as long as your smartphone is close to your hand and connected to the internet. This is why we believe it is one of the best smart home devices around and not just a great smart speaker.
- Incredible stereo sound and quality bass
- Works with Alexa
- Sleek design
- In order to use Amazon Alexa, you will need to have a smartphone close to hand at all times.
Google Nest Audio
Since Google discontinued the Google Home Max speaker, the best smart speaker you can buy from Google has to be the Google Nest. The voice assistant quickly responds in a clear and loud (but not too loud) manner.
It also looks really great with its smart display, and while it gives minimalist vibes, it would happily blend into just about any home decor setting.
It can also be used in conjunction with a range of the largest platforms now available, including Samsung SmartThings, Nest Audio and Philips. But – and it’s a big but – there is no built-in hub which, when considering how intelligent the device is, is a pretty big downside.
Use the Google Home app to tell Google which speaker is left and which is right; after that, you are ready to go.
- Easy on the eye
- Google Assistant picks up voice commands very well, including from a distance
- Quick voice assistant responses
- Sound could do with some improvement; bass is known to be tinny in places when you play music.
Bose Smart Speaker 500
Not all sound systems were created equal. And, if you are searching for the best smart speaker in terms of quality sound, your search is over.
Boasting a great design, impressive technology and both an Alexa and Google voice assistant when you need them, there’s very little not to like when it comes to the Bose Smart Speaker 500. The speaker is made from aluminium, giving it a modern feel. But, it’s the quality of the sound that really makes this smart device pop.
Even when your music is playing loud, thanks to an eight microphone array, you will both be able to hear and communicate with Alexa or Google Assistant. There are also options to add your favourite playlists, radio stations, albums and much more. And, you can adjust the sound to exactly how you would like it, thanks to the Bose Music App.
We won’t beat around the bush here; the Bose Smart Speaker 500 is the best sounding smart speaker currently available on the market today, in our humble opinion. For us, it blows other smart speakers out of the park.
- Best available audio quality
- Google Assistant and Alexa-enabled
- Preset buttons allow you to find your favourite albums and playlists quickly
- Quite expensive
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Smart Speaker
Not all smart speakers are created equal, and knowing this can go a long way towards helping you decide which speaker is best for you and your home.
It’s now possible – not to mention easy – to link your services to a smart speaker, such as Spotify, for example. But, if you have other smart gadgets in the home, that’s when the excitement can build.
Say you have a smart television; you can connect the speaker to the TV and control it using a voice command.
Your home eco-system is a way to gel all your devices together, so it is important to consider compatibility and the features the devices have to offer.
Eco-system compatibility comes down to which one you prefer; Google Assistant or Alexa. Alexa is considered the best bet when it comes to artificial intelligence, but Google isn’t exactly lagging either.
A unique selling point with Google is its utilisation of cloud-based storage, which helps to create a more personalised experience for the user.
Many speakers can be used without being plugged in, yet the battery life from brand to brand can vary greatly. Some can sustain usage for up to 10 hours, while others can go to 15, even 16 hours with a single charge. Where and how you will use your smart speaker might trump sound quality for example, if battery life is important to you.
Ease of use
Some smart speakers are controlled via a voice assistant, others use an app to direct commands to the speaker. Again, it comes down to personal preference, but if you’re a bit of a cook those voice commands are going to come in handy if your hands are covered in flour or marinade!
What’s the point in having speakers that have poor quality sound? The good news is, there aren’t many subpar speakers out there, thanks to rapid advancements in technology, but that doesn’t mean to say that all smart speakers sound the same – they don’t. So if music is your ‘thing’ go and listen to the speaker output in your local department store before you buy.
Will you require speakers that can be used with more than one voice assistant, such as Alexa and Google Assistant? Some speakers are able to switch from one platform to another making life feel seamless and hassle-free. Check in advance if you have a mix of technology at home.
How much you are willing to spend is likely to be one of your most significant considerations. Look for feature to cost ratio. Thankfully, there are a lot of affordable smart speakers on the market. For extra crisp audio quality you may have to go to the top end of your budget.
Protect Your Smart Home With Boundary Today
Boundary is a leading supplier of wireless home security systems including a police response alarm. Why not discover how to protect your smart home – for much less than you might think?
Sep 13, 2022: Restructured article to better reflect market conditions and user needs. Added the Denon Home 350 as the 'Best Smart Speaker', the Amazon Echo Studio as the best 'Best Lower Mid-Range Smart Speaker', and the Amazon Echo Dot 4 as the 'Best Cheap Smart Speaker'.Which one is best smart speaker? ›
There are dozens of smart speakers to choose from, but the Amazon Echo 4th gen, our pick for best smart speaker overall, is likely to best meet the needs of most households.What is the best and loudest smart speaker? ›
The SOUNDBOKS (Gen. 3) is the loudest Bluetooth speaker we've tested. With a measured max volume of 110 decibels, this powerful party speaker has no trouble getting loud.Who is better Alexa or Google? ›
Both Google Home and Amazon Alexa are excellent smart home platforms, and whichever one you pick, it'll be available in a wide range of different affordable or premium speakers. We recommend going with Alexa if you want the most home integrations.Which speaker is best for sound? ›
- Soundboks Gen 3.
- Ultimate Ears HyperBoom.
- JBL Partybox 310.
- Sony GTK – XB90.
- JBL Boombox 2.
- Anker Soundcore Rave Mini.
- Sonos Move.
Both types of speakers play music off multiple devices
With smart speakers, music is cast from a device to the speaker. If speakers are grouped together, music will be cast to all the speakers at the same time. Bluetooth speakers transfer data through Bluetooth connections between a speaker and a mobile device.
- Definitive Technology BP9080X (Our Pick)
- Salk Silk Monitors (Best Bookshelf Speakers)
- KEF Q950 Floorstanding Speaker (Best Floorstanding Speakers)
- JBL M2 Master Reference Monitor.
- Klipsch R-28PF Surround Sound Floor Standing Speaker.
- Gershman Acoustics Grand Avant-Garde.
The JBL PartyBox 310 is the best Bluetooth speaker for bass that we've tested. It's a solid party speaker with an extended low-bass right out of the box, so you feel plenty of thump and rumble in the mix.Which speaker has the loudest sound? ›
- Amazon Echo Studio.
- JBL Boombox 2.
- Sony SRS-XB33.
- Sonos Move.
- Anker Soundcore Rave.
Alexa is Amazon's cloud-based voice service available on hundreds of millions of devices from Amazon and third-party device manufacturers. With Alexa, you can build natural voice experiences that offer customers a more intuitive way to interact with the technology they use every day.Is there a monthly fee for Alexa? ›
A: There is no monthly fee to use your Alexa/Echo device. However, if you want to listen to specific songs by a specific artists, you will be prompted to start a music unlimited subscription. Helpful?Which is the No 1 sound system? ›
#1) Sony SA-D40 4.1 Channel Multimedia Speaker System
Moreover, you can also get easy compatibility with all mobile devices, including both Android and iOS. It has 4 speakers. Features: It comes with a powerful bass with a large woofer.
Verdict: Bose definitely has the most choice, but there's also something to be said of the more streamlined offering from Sonos. The top-end soundbars from both brands are the same price, and while Sonos is more focused on home cinema with multiple speaker sets, Bose has a more substantial Bluetooth speaker range.Which company has best sound quality? ›
- JBL. JBL is a globally recognized audio equipment manufacturer with an excellent reputation for producing high-quality speakers and headphones. ...
- Bose. ...
- Sony. ...
- Yamaha. ...
- Pioneer. ...
- Sennheiser. ...
- Klipsch. ...
- Polk Audio.
Both WAV files and AIFF files represent the highest quality possible in the audio world – they are the files of choice for any mixing or mastering engineer looking to retain the highest quality possible.Which speakers are more important? ›
Each speaker in a 5.1 home theater or other configuration serves a purpose, but there's one that takes the crown as the most important: the center channel speaker.Is Bose or JBL better? ›
JBL speakers come with subwoofers, and the bass effect is better than Bose speakers. On top of that, the JBL speakers are also larger than Bose speakers, and their radiators have higher vibration levels to emit better and deeper bass tones.What is the highest audio quality for BlueTooth? ›
The higher the maximum data rate the codec can manage, the less data it has to discard, and the better the sound can be. All Bluetooth devices include the SBC codec, which has a maximum data rate of 345 kilobits per second, or kbps—about a quarter of the data rate CDs deliver.How much watt BlueTooth speaker is best? ›
Any speaker with a wattage of 150-500 is best suited for a great music listening experience and is easy on the pocket. All sounds have a frequency, this is the measure of how high or low the sound is.
The Sony SRS-XB23 is a better speaker than the JBL Flip 5. The Sony is better-built, can play stereo content, and has longer-lasting continuous battery life. It also has a companion app with a graphic EQ so that you can tweak its sound to your liking.
Yes, it's true that the higher the power (watts), the louder and cleaner the speakers will play. Small differences in power, however, don't make much of an audible change. In order to perceptively hear a difference (a 3dB increase), the power would have to double.How many watts is a good speaker? ›
The best wattage for the home speaker is between 15 and 30 watts. Most homeowners find 20 watts sufficient enough. A speaker for larger gatherings can be 50 watts or 100 watts.What are the disadvantages of smart speakers? ›
- Although some models offer decent sound quality, smart speakers will remain inferior to an audio system designed solely for listening to music.
- Smart speakers that offer better audio quality are more expensive.
- Some people may not own many devices that are compatible with smart speakers.
If you want to communicate between rooms in your home or accept calls on a smart speaker, you should place a speaker in each room from which you might communicate. If you plan on making only outgoing calls, a single smart speaker should suffice.Is Sonos the best smart speaker? ›
With two Class-D digital amplifiers, a tweeter and one mid-woofer driver, the Sonos One is the best sounding smart speaker money can currently buy – it gets seriously loud without losing composure, and can be paired with a second Sonos One to form a stereo pair.Who is the best American speaker? ›
- Franklin Roosevelt:
- Barack Obama:
- Oprah Winfrey:
- Tony Robbins:
- Brian Tracy:
- Nick Vujicic:
- Brene Brown:
Steve Woodmore can rapidly articulate at a rate of 637 words per minute, four times faster than the average human. Woodmore first realised his skills at rapid speech when he was seven years old.
There are three worth using—Amazon's Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple's Siri—and each has its pros and cons.Does Bose make the best speakers? ›
Bose speakers are the best in terms of sound quality. They have a very good bass and treble, which is why they are preferred by many people. The clarity of their music is also amazing as compared to other brands available in the market today.
Can You Use Smart Speakers for Phone Calls? All of the voice assistants let you make phone calls from your smart speaker. Alexa and Google make free phone calls directly. Google Assistant can call numbers in the US and Canada, but only to phone numbers in your Google Contacts(Opens in a new window).How many watts is the loudest speaker? ›
Was 3000 by Wyle Laboratories. This incredible speaker can produce sound up a level of 165 dB. As obvious as it may sound, this speaker, according to the company who made it, was made primarily to make noise. At an output of 30,000 Watts and 165dB, this speaker can be physically dangerous.Do bigger speakers sound louder? ›
Most people tend to think that bigger speakers are better because they're louder. Big speakers can easily reach high volumes that simply aren't possible with a small speaker. If you need your speakers to be loud, then size will certainly matter, but louder audio doesn't mean better audio.What is the loudest sound of all time? ›
The loudest sound in recorded history came from the volcanic eruption on the Indonesian island Krakatoa at 10.02 a.m. on August 27, 1883. The explosion caused two thirds of the island to collapse and formed tsunami waves as high as 46 m (151 ft) rocking ships as far away as South Africa.What is better Alexa or Echo? ›
The short answer to this is: Alexa is just the AI service and not the product. On the other hand, Amazon echo is the physical device that is used to interact with Alexa. Amazon's Alexa is used in Amazon echo products.Which Alexa devices to buy? ›
- Amazon Echo (fourth-gen) Best Alexa device overall (and best smart speaker) $75 at Amazon.
- Wyze Cam v3 (2020) Best smart camera. $35 at Walmart.
- Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd gen) Best smart display. $80 at Amazon.
- August Wi-Fi Smart Lock. Best lock. ...
- Amazon Smart Thermostat. Best smart thermostat.
Amazon's Echo Studio is for anyone who wants the biggest, boldest sound they can get from an Alexa device. It's got 350 watts of power and a downward-firing subwoofer that pumps out more low end than most other speakers this size, and it even listens and adjusts the sound to fit your space.
The e-commerce giant announced its intention to close down Alexa.com in December 2021, and the service finally went dark on May 1, 2022.Why is Alexa retiring? ›
Amazon is retiring Alexa as it feels that the cost of keeping the site active is not worth the expense now. Alexa was founded in the year 1996 and was bought by Amazon in the year 1999.Which home assistant is best? ›
- Amazon Alexa – Best for Device Compatibility. The most number of smart devices and goods are compatible with Amazon Alexa, a cloud-based speech assistant. ...
- Google Assistant – Best at Responding. ...
- Apple Siri – Most Popular Mobile Voice Assistant.
With Alexa's voice commands, seniors can simply call out and have Alexa control the lights or adjust smart appliance settings. Seniors with smart technology can control the thermostat, turn on the TV, adjust the oven temperature, monitor security systems, and more.Does Alexa need Wi-Fi? ›
Alexa devices need a WiFi connection to function properly. When you ask Alexa a question or use a voice command, an audio recording is sent to Amazon's cloud over your WiFi network. Then it is processed and sent back to your device over WiFi so Alexa can answer your question or fulfill your request.Is Alexa always listening? ›
Anytime you speak to Alexa, it records your voice and entire conversation. Amazon then stores those voice recordings forever, unless you opt to delete these in a more timely manner.Is HomePod the best sounding smart speaker? ›
Apple's HomePod is the best-sounding wireless smart speaker available, and you can control it by voice using Apple's virtual assistant, Siri. But the HomePod is worth considering only if you're an iPhone owner and a subscriber to Apple Music (or are willing to be)—don't buy it if you want to keep streaming Spotify.Which Bluetooth speaker is best for home? ›
- Sonos Roam. The best Bluetooth speaker for most people. ...
- Tribit Stormbox Micro 2. The best cheap Bluetooth speaker. ...
- JBL Flip 6. A fun, no frills Bluetooth speaker for a good price. ...
- B&O Beosound A1 (2nd gen) ...
- Tribit Stormbox Blast. ...
- Cleer Audio Scene. ...
- JBL Charge 5. ...
- UE Hyperboom.
What is a good alternative to Sonos? Sonos is the best known of all the multi-room systems, but there are plenty of alternatives. Big names like Apple, Amazon, Google and Bose offer speakers that can work together wirelessly as a multi-room system, as do less mainstream brands like Audio Pro and Bluesound.Does Sonos or Bose have better sound? ›
The Sonos Beam wins out by a margin due to its excellent ecosystem and by offering a choice of voice assistants. But if you want a TV speaker that can make your TV sound better, then opt for the Bose.Which sounds better Sonos or HomePod? ›
The Apple HomePod (1st generation) is a better speaker than the Sonos One Gen 2. The Apple has a better-balanced sound profile and has fewer compression artifacts at max volume. Its built-in Siri voice assistant can better register your commands, even if you're speaking in a noisy environment.
The Apple HomePod mini is the best Apple speaker we've tested. It's the smaller and more lightweight version of the discontinued first-generation Apple HomePod, with a similar marshmallow-like design.What sounds better than the HomePod? ›
- Sonos One 2nd Gen – Editor's Choice. ...
- Amazon Echo Studio – Best for Alexa. ...
- Google Nest Audio – Best for Google Assistant. ...
- Sonos Move – Battery Powered Smart Speaker. ...
- Libratone Zipp 2 – Best Portable Speaker with AirPlay 2. ...
- Bose Home Speaker 500 – Best Stereo Sound.
- KEF Q750. The best tower speakers you can get for the price. ...
- Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary Editions. Best passive bookshelf speakers. ...
- SVS Prime Tower Surround System. Best surround sound speakers. ...
- KEF LS50 Wireless II. ...
- JBL Flip 6. ...
- Q Acoustics M20 HD Powered Wireless Music System. ...
- Sonos One. ...
- Logitech Z906.