A leisurely read

The Best Smart Speaker for 2023

With a dependable smart speaker, you can control various smart appliances around your house.

Smart Speaker

The world of smart home technology is exciting and rapidly expanding. And for many people, a smart speaker is their entry point into the space. These speakers serve as the control panel for all of your connected devices. They enable you to manage several devices with a single command, saving you the trouble of navigating through various phone apps to complete a basic task. By responding to voice commands to set timers, play music, look up the news and weather, and operate smart home devices like lights and locks, Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri have established themselves as our trusty digital assistants.

But with so many alternatives that vary in price, size, and audio quality, as well as each, having a unique voice assistant, purchasing a new smart speaker might be a little overwhelming. Fortunately for you, we examined all the top models and assembled this guide to smart speakers to help you make a decision.

How We Picked

  • Audio quality

    Consideration should be given to the overall sound quality at maximum volume to check for skipping. It is important to analyze the efficiency of the built-in voice assistant while controlling playback based on your request.

  • Size + shape

    The volume of each speaker may normally be estimated from its size and drivers. For the best sound quality, you'll probably want a bigger speaker in a bigger room, and vice versa.

  • Battery

    The decency of a smart speaker’s battery is determined by how much power it delivers on a single charge. A decent speaker should last you about eight hours of use on a single charge.

  • Price

    With smart speakers, you should expect to get more features with the more expensive options. However, our cost-effective pick still strikes a balance between quality and price.

Our Top Picks

Best Pick

Amazon Echo (4th Gen)

Amazon Echo (4th Gen)

This smart device offers a rich, detailed sound that automatically adapts to any room and a built-in hub to voice-control compatible lights, locks, and sensors.

The smart speaker that really made an impact on the market was the Amazon Echo. The Echo's current design is a sphere rather than a cylindrical one. It gets surprisingly loud for its size and includes an integrated temperature sensor and Zigbee smart home hub for compatible devices.

Buy Now for $99.99

This speaker takes all the credit in terms of smart home integration and audio quality.

Runner Up

Apple HomePod Mini

Apple HomePod Mini

With this Apple device, Siri, your personal assistant, assists you with daily activities and manages your smart home to keep everything private and secure.

The new Siri-enabled smart speaker from Apple is small yet powerful. With voice recognition and 360-degree sound, it can provide a customized experience for each member of your household. You can put one in each room without anyone noticing, as they are so compact.

Buy Now

With excellent audio quality and personalization options, this portable speaker checks all the boxes.

Most Cost-Effective

Google Nest Mini (2nd Gen)

Google Nest Mini (2nd Gen)

Along with having excellent audio quality, this intelligent smart home device has a discrete and unassuming style that complements any home decor.

The Nest Mini, Google's smallest smart speaker, mimics its predecessor quite a bit. It has more advanced features than the Home Mini, offering much better audio quality and a little bit more volume. The bass is significantly punchier, and the entire sound can easily fill the room.

Buy Now

Want a less expensive but very functional gadget that offers decent sound? You’re in luck.

Almost Made The Cut

Sonos One (Gen 2)

Sonos One (Gen 2)

This powerful smart speaker with built-in voice control delivers crisp sound and has a compact design that fits just about any space.

For those seeking uncompromised quality in a portable form factor, the Sonos One (Gen 2) is a popular solution in the premium audio market. The sound output is crisp with well-defined mids and highs, and this small gadget has enough volume to be the life of your house parties.

Buy Now for $219.00

Can you appreciate uncompromised sound quality without minding the lack of bass? This is your go-to gadget.

Everything We Recommend

Best Pick

Amazon Echo (4th Gen)

Amazon Echo (4th Gen)

This smart device offers a rich, detailed sound that automatically adapts to any room and a built-in hub to voice-control compatible lights, locks, and sensors.

$99.99

Buy Now

Runner Up

Apple HomePod Mini

Apple HomePod Mini

With this Apple device, Siri, your personal assistant, assists you with daily activities and manages your smart home to keep everything private and secure.

Buy Now

Most Cost-Effective

Google Nest Mini (2nd Gen)

Google Nest Mini (2nd Gen)

Along with having excellent audio quality, this intelligent smart home device has a discrete and unassuming style that complements any home decor.

Buy Now

Almost Made The Cut

Sonos One (Gen 2)

Sonos One (Gen 2)

This powerful smart speaker with built-in voice control delivers crisp sound and has a compact design that fits just about any space.

$219.00

Buy Now

Who This Is For

The products advertised in this guide are for smart homeowners who want a compatible speaker to help with performing basic tasks around their space without much effort.

Smart vs. Bluetooth speakers – worth the splurge?

Despite having similar appearances, Bluetooth speakers and smart speakers are very different in terms of portability, convenience, and functionality. Bluetooth speakers are wireless, portable, and powered by batteries. Smart speakers, on the other hand, are connected to your home internet and listen for voice instructions to play music or operate your house.

A Bluetooth speaker is just a wireless speaker. Any audio originating from your phone, tablet, computer, or TV is played by it (including calls and ringtones). A Bluetooth speaker can be used without the need to download any special apps, but you must first connect your device to the speaker in order to use it. Smart speakers that are internet-connected listen for voice commands and automatically fetch the content you wish to hear. Without using your phone or computer, you can quickly access podcasts, radio stations, music, playlists, and more.

A smart speaker may be a better choice than a standard Bluetooth speaker if you’re searching for a simple, fantastic speaker for your house. Smart speakers broadcast high-quality audio directly from the internet, preventing interruptions to your music whenever you receive a call or text. Additionally, smart speakers make excellent personal assistants. They can change the channel on your TV or operate other smart home appliances like locks, dimmable smart lights, or plugs.

What’s the point of a smart speaker

There are many uses for smart speakers. They can be used to play your favorite music from streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music. While portable smart speakers can be used both indoors and outdoors, negating the need to purchase separate indoor and outdoor speakers, some smart speakers can also connect with one another to create a complete sound system. Using voice control instead of an app or getting up to change music or playlists is another benefit of using a smart speaker over a normal speaker.

Most smart speakers may serve as a hub for all of your smart devices in addition to being speakers, enabling voice control of compatible smart home lighting, locks, and other devices. Many smart speakers can also set timers, which come in handy while you’re cooking in the kitchen or have a full or dirty hand. They can read off your daily schedule, the weather, and recipes, make or take calls, and more.

Why You Should Trust Us

National Today has devoted numerous hours to testing various smart home appliances, such as smart smoke detectors, sprinkler controllers, smart garage door openers, smart home sensors, and smart thermostats.

How We Picked

Audio quality

Both the overall and maximum volume sound quality are evaluated. On each speaker, four different songs are played before being rated. To prevent brand or aesthetic bias among testers, speakers are hidden under a small sheet. We also keep track of the frequency picked up at a distance of three feet.

Shape + size

The intensity that each speaker can produce is often best predicted by its size. You’ll probably want a bigger speaker in a bigger room, but a smaller speaker can fit nicely in a smaller room.

Design/style

You might want to consider the appearance of a smart speaker, especially if you’re into aesthetics. For instance, our runner-up pick is so compact and sleek in its design that you can put one in each room without anyone noticing. To confirm that the manufacturer’s claimed measurements are accurate, we measure each speaker’s overall dimensions as well as its footprint.

Battery

Because smart speakers are constantly listening for voice commands, they need to have either a power outlet connection or battery power to function properly. Although speakers that run on batteries are super versatile (you won’t worry about where to plug in a cord), they are designed for indoor or outdoor use.

Price/durability

With any smart home product, the quality—in this case, audio quality—is determined by the price. Thankfully, manufacturers have taken care to offer a wide range of products to suit every customer’s budget while retaining good quality. You also want to consider speakers that run on batteries (as opposed to a power outlet connection) as they are designed for outdoor use.

Compatibility with other devices

If you have other smart devices in your house, you may want to verify their voice assistant compatibility. Some smart gadgets don’t support all voice assistants or streaming services, which can complicate setup if you’re using two voice assistants.

Warranty

You should consider if your smart speaker has a warranty from the manufacturer or seller so that you have the option to have defects repaired or the speaker replaced.

Our Picks For You

Our Top Pick - Amazon Echo (4th Gen)

Best Pick

Amazon Echo (4th Gen)

Amazon Echo (4th Gen)

This smart device offers a rich, detailed sound that automatically adapts to any room and a built-in hub to voice-control compatible lights, locks, and sensors.

The smart speaker that really made an impact on the market was the Amazon Echo. The Echo's current design is a sphere rather than a cylindrical one. It gets surprisingly loud for its size and includes an integrated temperature sensor and Zigbee smart home hub for compatible devices.

Buy Now for $99.99

Who It’s For

In terms of Alexa smart speakers, the Amazon Echo is indeed perfect! It is a wonderful smart speaker to use as an anchor in the living room as it doesn't take up much space and is reasonably priced. If you still have older Zigbee smart home devices, the Zigbee hub may come in handy.

Why It’s Great

This adaptive speaker impressed us with its ability to modify its volume in response to outside stimuli. Additionally, it serves as a hub for other voice-activated smart devices, such as locks and lights, that are compatible. It received praise for having a cutting-edge onboard hub that makes it simple to pair up any Zigbee-enabled device, ensuring that you won't run into any problems finding compatible gadgets.

Potential Flaw/s

The high frequencies don't gain as much precision as they could, and there isn't 360-degree sound.

Other Features

The fourth-generation Echo is a near-sphere that is available in black, blue, or white, and it is 5.2 inches tall and 5.7 inches wide. Its fabric and aluminum are entirely made of recyclable materials. A 3-inch woofer and two 0.8-inch front-firing tweeters, which the Echo uses to enable Dolby audio, are hidden beneath the fabric. The drivers are the same size as those in the third-generation Echo and Echo Plus, but there are two tweeters instead of one. It can provide a lot of power because its woofer and tweeters are huge. The volume up, down, and mic mute controls are located on the top panel. The power adapter port and a 3.5mm audio output are located on the back.

This speaker features a built-in hub for smart homes. It is a Zigbee hub that also supports Amazon Sidewalk and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), extending the range of low-bandwidth devices. Of course, the Amazon Alexa speech assistant is also available through the fourth-generation Echo. When you say a command for Alexa, the light ring at the base of the speaker will light up in blue, producing a less glaring but still noticeable glow. This tiny speaker won't produce bass that shakes the walls, but low frequencies sound well-rounded and full. If you're seeking to upgrade from an Echo Dot or simply want a new smart speaker to give room-filling sound in a small container, this is the one to get.

Runner Up - Apple HomePod Mini

Runner Up

Apple HomePod Mini

Apple HomePod Mini

With this Apple device, Siri, your personal assistant, assists you with daily activities and manages your smart home to keep everything private and secure.

The new Siri-enabled smart speaker from Apple is small yet powerful. With voice recognition and 360-degree sound, it can provide a customized experience for each member of your household. You can put one in each room without anyone noticing, as they are so compact.

Buy Now

Who It’s For

If you want to stay in the Apple ecosystem, this is your best bet. It works flawlessly with Apple’s virtual assistant — Siri.

Why It’s Great

The overall performance, sound quality, and aesthetic appeal of this HomePod mini receive good reviews. With speech recognition and 360-degree sound, which you can hear from any angle, it can provide a customized experience for each member of your household.

Potential Flaw/s

It's wireless and has no auxiliary input. It also needs Apple Music to optimize its full functions.

Other Features

Smaller and less expensive than its flagship smart speaker, the Apple HomePod (which Apple has now confirmed will be discontinued), is the Apple HomePod mini. You'll need an iPhone or iPad to utilize the HomePod mini, and you can just hold your device close to it to instantly establish a connection during setup. With a tiny spherical form that occupies a lot less room than the original HomePod, this speaker also has a very unobtrusive appearance. The latticed cloth housing blends well with the surroundings, and the top emits a pleasant glow. The 3.3 by 3.9-inch (HW), 0.8-pound HomePod mini is orb-shaped and has a flat panel on top and bottom that prevents it from being a perfect sphere. It is available in space gray or white. An elegant, acoustically transparent cloth covers the outside panels, and a touch-sensitive control panel is mounted on top.

A single down-firing, full-range driver and two passive radiators are used internally by the speaker to improve bass response. After that, an "acoustic waveguide" that seeks to take advantage of surface reflections to create 360-degree audio dispersion spreads the sound from the down-firing driver outward. Vocals aren't overpowered by the bass, and when you pair two minis, the stereo effect is quite immersive. The HomePod mini is 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 compatible. Of course, you may stream directly from Apple devices using the speaker, as it supports Apple AirPlay 2.

Most Cost-Effective - Google Nest Mini (2nd Gen)

Most Cost-Effective

Google Nest Mini (2nd Gen)

Google Nest Mini (2nd Gen)

Along with having excellent audio quality, this intelligent smart home device has a discrete and unassuming style that complements any home decor.

The Nest Mini, Google's smallest smart speaker, mimics its predecessor quite a bit. It has more advanced features than the Home Mini, offering much better audio quality and a little bit more volume. The bass is significantly punchier, and the entire sound can easily fill the room.

Buy Now

Who It’s For

If you want a smart speaker that does the job and doesn't cost too much money, then this is for you. It's also great if you use Google Assistant.

Why It’s Great

The Nest Mini is equipped with the same cutting-edge intelligence as the Nest Audio, enabling it to respond to virtually any command to operate your smart home's appliances. With a few of these Minis scattered throughout your home, you may expand your current connected device setup or enter Google's smart home ecosystem at the lowest cost possible. Another benefit is that the speaker can be hung anywhere thanks to the built-in notch, which eliminates the need for additional wall mounts.

Potential Flaw/s

This speaker may not have good sound quality in large spaces, despite producing passable audio in small ones.

Other Features

The Google Home Mini and the Nest Mini are identical in every way. It is a puck-shaped speaker with curved sides that measures 1.65 by 3.85 inches (HWD), with a top half made of fabric and a bottom made of rubber. It comes in black, blue, light gray, and red colors. When Google Assistant is listening, a set of four LEDs in the center of the top panel glows through the fabric. On either side of the array, two additional LEDs that control the speaker's volume are hidden under the edge of the fabric and turned on when touched. On the base of the Nest Mini, there is a microphone mute switch and a single socket for the supplied power adapter.

It can operate any Google Cast-compatible speaker and supports Bluetooth. You can ask Google Assistant to speak to you in a male or female voice. The Nest Mini is a surprisingly warm and clean tiny speaker if you don't go into it with inflated expectations for the bass. The first few acoustic guitar notes have a noticeable degree of low-end resonance and higher-frequency clarity for string texture. The hi-hats and vocals are both clearly audible against the crowded mix, and the electric bass doesn't stand out much but adds a sense of punchiness.

Almost Made The Cut - Sonos One (Gen 2)

Almost Made The Cut

Sonos One (Gen 2)

Sonos One (Gen 2)

This powerful smart speaker with built-in voice control delivers crisp sound and has a compact design that fits just about any space.

For those seeking uncompromised quality in a portable form factor, the Sonos One (Gen 2) is a popular solution in the premium audio market. The sound output is crisp with well-defined mids and highs, and this small gadget has enough volume to be the life of your house parties.

Buy Now for $219.00

Who It’s For

If you want a smart speaker that is instantly compatible with all three major ecosystems, the Sonos One is one of the more affordable options.

Why It’s Great

For a speaker of its size, it delivers a well-balanced sound with strong bass. It connects to the majority of the 100 streaming music services available worldwide. It's also among the top smart speakers to purchase if you want to create a home theater system.

Potential Flaw/s

It lacks full Alexa control and has no high-res audio. The microphone input could also be better.

Other Features

The Sonos One has the same fantastic sound quality as Sonos' other devices. Since its release, it has gained Google Assistant, enhancing its credibility and elevating it to the top tier of Google Home speakers. The Sonos One is a dependable speaker that produces quality sound whether it is used alone as a smart speaker or in conjunction with other speakers for surround sound. Additionally, it gains from the vast Sonos music collection, which includes Sonos Radio and all the best streaming providers.

The Sonos logo is softly shown on the top inch of the front of the speaker, which is covered in a metal grille. Touch controls for playing and pausing tunes, changing the volume, and muting and unmuting the microphone are located on top. When you say "Alexa," a small LED by the microphone button turns on; and you get an audible cue to indicate that Alexa has heard you. It measures 6.4 by 4.7 by 4.7 inches and weighs 4.1 pounds. A connection for the speaker's power cord and an Ethernet port are both located on the speaker's back. Other than that, the Sonos one lacks inputs, making it impossible to use them to output audio from your TV without first connecting them to a Sonos Connect. The Sonos One is among the top Alexa-compatible, Apple HomeKit-compatible, and Google Home-compatible devices.

Care and Maintenance

How to keep clean

  • Before you start, make sure your device is unplugged.
  • Use a lint roller to get rid of any dust and to collect any small pieces of debris that may have become stuck on top of the fabric.
  • Wipe the speaker fabric completely and gently with a microfiber dusting cloth. This technique will assist in removing the topmost layers of dust from a speaker that occasionally only needs a little maintenance.
  • Before plugging it back in, give the device an hour or two to completely dry off.

If case of stubborn stains, we advise using a magic eraser, such as the Mr. Clean variety, in conjunction with some of the tips mentioned above.

Where and how to display

Get at least one smart speaker for each major living area so that you can always reach them with your voice when you need to control a smart home without having to take out your phone. Determine which rooms you intend to use smart speakers in the most before making a purchase. If there are multiple such rooms on a floor, you should also think about whether sound might be muffled by the walls, necessitating the installation of speakers in each one.

Where and how to store when not in use

If it is not in use (because no one is around), the speaker ought to be turned off. This is arguably one of the most underutilized ways to ensure your security and eliminate a potential threat to your home’s safety. Also, consider using a password manager for all of the unique device passwords you have created. Strong passwords can act as a deterrent against unauthorized access to your smart speaker.