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8 Smart Speakers to Control Your Daily Life With Your Voice


You can purchase many smart speakers online and use them to control your daily lives with just your voice. But which is the smart speaker to buy? We zeroed in on the best voice-based smart speakers based on your virtual assistant of choice: Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant.

Also helpful: upgrade your television with one of these Amazon Fire TV options.

1. Best for Home Automation: Amazon Echo (4th Gen)

Price: $99.99

Summary:

  • Sound: Mono, Surround sound (Dolby)
  • Voice Assistant: Alexa
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3.5 mm, Zigbee, Matter, Sidewalk, Thread
  • Compatible Devices: Android, iOS, Windows
  • Colors: Charcoal, Twilight Blue, Glacier White
  • Stereo Pairing: Yes

Amazon’s 4th generation Echo resembles an orb and is well-known for its familiar blue lights in listening mode. The device delivers combined playback and enriched Dolby surround sound, thanks to three speakers: a 3-inch neodymium woofer and a pair of 0.8-inch tweeters. The microphone on top of Echo 4th gen is highly responsive to the wake word, “Alexa,” in any situation.

Whether you need to turn on a smart bulb or control a purifier with a smart plug, The Amazon Echo 4th Gen is one of the best mid-range speakers to help you build a fully functional voice-operated smart home. While all Alexa speakers support home automation through Alexa skills, the fourth-gen Echo offers the broadest coverage of external smart devices at the most reasonable price. It also has temperature and motion sensors built into the machine.

If you don’t speak American English, the Echo 4th generation speaker may also be the best choice for you, as it easily recognizes English accents from anywhere in the world. The speaker can help you set alarms, timers, and reminders. With a feature called “blueprints,” you can create your own customized responses.

2. Best Alexa Speaker: Amazon Echo Studio

Price: $199.99

Summary:

  • Sound: Mono, Spatial sound (Dolby Atmos)
  • Voice Assistant: Alexa
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3.5 mm, Zigbee, Matter
  • Compatible devices: Android, iOS, Windows
  • Colors: Charcoal, Glacier White
  • Stereo pairing: Yes

If you have a higher budget for a full-featured smart speaker, go for the Amazon Echo Studio. The overall sound quality improvement makes it the best Alexa speaker on the market. It includes five individual speakers, including three 2.0-inch mid-range speakers, a 30 mm tweeter, and a 5.3-inch woofer. It supports Dolby Atmos, spatial audio, and a deeper bass for an immersive sound experience.

Amazon Echo Studio speaker representative image

Unlike the 4th generation Echo’s single microphone, the Echo Studio has a powerful seven-mic circular array. While the budget Echo speakers belong in the bedroom, study, or kitchen, the extra six mics of Echo Studio are designed for improved listening and voice recognition in a larger floor area such as the living room. Remember that just like any other smart speaker, even Echo Studio cannot hear through solid walls or closed doors.

At 8.1 inches tall and 7.7 pounds, this speaker does occupy more space in your home. But you get more room-filling sounds with Dolby Atmos-based spatial audio, which works best as a home theatre and with other Echo speakers in stereo pairing mode. Like the fourth generation Echo, Echo Studio supports every Alexa skill, enabling fast and quick smart home integration.

Tip: if your Amazon smart speaker is displaying colored lights, it’s trying to talk to you. Learn what all the Amazon speaker lights mean so that you can talk to Alexa.

3. Best Portable Smart Speaker: Apple HomePod Mini

Price: $99

Summary:

  • Sound: Mono
  • Voice Assistant: Siri
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • Compatible devices: iOS, Windows 11 (requires iPhone for setup)
  • Colors: Yellow, Blue, Space Gray, Orange, White
  • Stereo pairing: Yes

At just 3.3 inches tall and a little under 4 inches wide, you wouldn’t expect a lot from any speaker. That’s where the Apple HomePod Mini can surprise you with its high-fidelity sounds generated by a single, full-range driver and a set of dual force-canceling passive radiators. That translates to rich bass and a 360-degree surround sound field. With four sensitive far-field microphones, the Mini can instantly respond to your commands from a distance.

HomePod Mini is conventionally used to serve as a stereo pair with a desktop Mac Mini or Apple TV Home Theatre without needing a separate sound bar. While it’s true that the Siri assistant only works with Apple devices, the Mini can also connect to non-Apple devices, such as a Windows 11 computer, using its recently launched PhoneLink app. If you have a connected iPhone, you can carry the Mini anywhere. This qualifies it as our best portable speaker in the market.

But that’s not all. The tiny HomePod Mini can also function as a smart hub with Apple Home and Apple AirPlay 2. Siri on this device works reliably even amidst background noise and helps you control the entire range of Apple Home accessories. With built-in temperature and other sensors, this smart speaker is worth its mid-budget price.

4. Best Smart Speaker for Video: Nest Hub 2nd Generation

Price: $99.99

Summary:

  • Sound: Mono
  • Voice Assistant: Google Assistant
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Thread
  • Compatible devices: iOS, Android
  • Colors: Charcoal, Mist, Chalk
  • Stereo pairing: No

If you’re looking for a Google Assistant smart speaker with a display, the second-generation Nest Hub is an outstanding choice. Along with its 7-inch LCD screen, the Nest Hub 2nd gen device carries a full-range speaker for licensed entertainment options, including YouTube and Netflix.

YouTube being played on Nest Hub 2nd Generation device.

The Nest Hub 2nd gen display is well-designed to tune into recommended music from Spotify, Apple Music, and more. You can make video calls on the display with Google Meet, Duo, WebEx, and other tools. It also enables quick integration with Google Maps and Google Calendar for scheduling.

With three far-field microphones and ultrasound sensing technology, the second-generation Nest Hub does its job perfectly as a voice-compatible smart home hub. The extra mics help recognize the wake sentence, “Hey Google,” even amid surrounding noise. Thanks to Google’s Thread protocol, the Nest Hub 2nd generation is guaranteed to integrate with more devices in the future.

Good to know: you can use your Google Nest to find your phone. It just requires a bit of setup.

5. Best Smart Speaker for Playing Music: Apple HomePod (2nd Gen)

Price: $299

Summary:

  • Sound: Stereo, Spatial Audio (Dolby Atmos)
  • Voice Assistant: Siri
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • Compatible devices: iOS, Windows 11 (requires iPhone for setup)
  • Colors: Midnight, White
  • Stereo pairing: Yes

The second-generation Apple HomePod is a cut above the rest when looking for the ultimate music experience. It uses five to seven tweeters in an array and a high-excursion woofer to deliver 360-degree surround sound. It’s probably the only speaker on our list with a room-sensing capability. This means it uses system sensors and intelligent acoustics, with the mics listening for sound reflections for perfect audio balance and harmony. With most other speakers, you must voice instruct them to increase or reduce the volume.

Apple HomePod (Black) is the best smart speaker for listening to music and good surround sound.

The HomePod 2nd gen also supports a full-featured smart home hub supporting all third-party devices in the Apple Home accessories section. With four far-field microphones, HomePod can listen to your voice commands even amid background noise and phone calls. These mics uniquely recognize the sounds of smoke and carbon monoxide (CO2) for home safety.

More advanced audio features include a treble boost, natural bass, ambient noise cancellation, and a room-filling experience. It uses Apple Music right off the initial purchase, but you can also connect to external music sources such as Spotify using AirPlay. The price tag is a big concern, but the Apple HomePod 2nd gen is sturdily constructed and more aesthetically pleasing than many cheap speakers.

6. Best for Security Cams and Video Doorbells: Echo Show 2nd Gen

Price: $129.99

Summary:

  • Sound: Mono
  • Voice Assistant: Alexa
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, microUSB port
  • Compatible devices: Android, iOS, FireOS, Windows
  • Colors: Charcoal, Glacier White
  • Stereo pairing: Yes

The second-generation Echo Show is a great choice if you’re looking for an Alexa-based display device that helps with surveillance tasks. With a powerful camera, it serves as a natural security camera for monitoring intruders from the inside of your home. You can also use this device as a baby monitor or a video doorbell system, helping monitor incidents at your home from another location.

Amazon's Echo Show device being used to uncover security camera footage.

Although it includes a lovely display, the Echo Show has only one speaker and a high-quality microphone. But it’s sufficiently loud and clear for surveillance operations. It’s perfectly capable of ignoring the unwanted sounds in the background to focus on your voice commands.

As it’s compatible with your phone, you can also do regular Alexa activities, such as connecting to other smart home devices, setting alarms, playing music, and using the smart display device as a digital photo stand.

Also helpful: you can use security cameras without a subscription to monitor your home.

7. Best Outdoor Smart Speaker: Sonos Move

Price: $399

Summary:

  • Sound: Mono
  • Voice Assistant: Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • Compatible devices: iOS, Android
  • Colors: Black, White
  • Stereo pairing: Yes

For a long time, virtual assistants in a speaker were like different flavors of ice cream. You could choose your favorite, but you couldn’t have them all. With Sonos Move, it’s no longer the case, as it’s the first speaker with Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa rolled into one to provide a unified experience. It’s the only smart speaker in our list designed for the outdoors, with an IP56 water resistance rating, an 11-hour battery life, and a wireless charging base for travel.

The Sonos Move device contains two speakers, one tweeter, and one woofer. Like Apple’s HomePod speaker, its proprietary TruePlay tuning technology changes the sound quality depending on the surroundings and location. The microphone carries a far-field array with noise cancelation support. You can, thus, use this speaker even in a loud environment.

Costing nearly $400, the Sonos Move is the most expensive voice-enabled smart speaker on our list. Its sleek design, beautiful grille, and excellent sound quality set it apart from other smart speakers. Integrating smart home objects may not be as effective, as the product currently doesn’t support Zigbee, Matter, Thread, or any other higher-end protocols. As the primary purpose of this speaker is to serve well in an outdoor setting, we will let that pass.

8. Most Affordable Smart Speaker: Google Nest Mini 2nd Gen

Price: $49

Summary:

  • Sound: Mono
  • Voice Assistant: Google Assistant
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • Compatible devices: iOS, Android
  • Colors: Charcoal, Coral, Chalk
  • Stereo pairing: Yes

While many cheap smart speakers cost less than $50, most lack a proper smart home bridge. The second-generation Nest Mini is an exception to this rule, though. At only 1.65 inches in height and 3.85 inches in width, it’s tiny by any comparison. However, if you’re looking for an entry-level speaker that lets you control thousands of compatible smart devices, it packs a punch like no other.

Nest Mini 2nd generation speaker with its white lights on and in listening mode.

Despite its tiny size, the Nest Mini can ensure 360-degree sound from three far-field microphones and a 40-mm driver. Whether it is smart extensions, smart plugs, air purifiers, or water pumps, the sheer variety of Google Assistant-compatible devices that readily integrate with this tiny speaker is fantastic.

Once installed, the Nest Mini can hear you every time. However, it can occasionally be prolonged in its response. If you’re patient with this speaker, though, it auto-corrects any glitches in hours, if not minutes.

To answer the question “which smart speaker is right for me,” we have looked at many obvious choices. They all needed to work well with a voice match, as it’s so much easier to manage and control a smart home and everything in your life with voice rather than a touchscreen.

Based on our voice test criteria, we have found that the above are currently some of the best smart speakers on the market. Once you know your most essential needs, you can pick one of them at a glance. You may also want to check out how to choose your next smart display device.

Image Credit: Unsplash. All photos by Sayak Boral, unless otherwise noted.

Sayak Boral
Sayak Boral

Sayak Boral is a technology writer with over eleven years of experience working in different industries including semiconductors, IoT, enterprise IT, telecommunications OSS/BSS, and network security. He has been writing for MakeTechEasier on a wide range of technical topics including Windows, Android, Internet, Hardware Guides, Browsers, Software Tools, and Product Reviews.

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