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Best smart speakers in 2024

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JBL AUTHENTICS 300 angled white background

Sure, you can use a smartphone to take control of your smart home, but a smart speaker is a much easier way to go about things. Not to mention, they often function as a smart home hub, especially if there are multiple people in your household. Adjusting the lights, locking the door, and setting the thermostat is much easier when you don’t have to reach for your phone to talk to Alexa or Google Assistant. All you need to do is use your voice.



For a truly seamless experience, getting a few speakers to place around your home or space will give you that hands-free interaction no matter where you are. Since there are so many options out there, from expensive models with outstanding and room-filling sound to inexpensive options that you can place anywhere, you have your pick of smart speakers to integrate into your smart home.


While the new Matter standard is starting to make universal compatibility the future, we’re not quite there yet. Most smart speakers are integrated into just one or two smart home ecosystems. So, you’ll have to consider that when choosing between Google Home, Apple HomeKit, and Amazon Alexa-enabled devices. If you don’t yet have a smart home, you have a lot more flexibility with the options on this list; otherwise, you’ll want to look at compatibility before considering anything else. That said, there’s something that will work for everyone’s needs, so read on for our picks for the best smart speaker.

Top speakers for smart home voice control

JBL Authentics 300

Best overall

Good looks, great sound

$350 $450 Save $100

The JBL Authentics 300 wireless smart speaker merges sublime sound with retro flair. This speaker packs a wallop, delivering a powerful yet balanced sound. With Alexa and Google Assistant, plus multiple wireless and wired connectivity options, it offers versatility without sacrificing quality.

Pros

  • Room filling sound
  • Vintage aesthetics are a nice touch
  • Works seamlessly with Google and Alexa
Cons

  • Portable but still heavy and awkward

Simply put, we love JBL’s Authentics 300 wireless smart speaker. Actually, this beauty even earned our Editor’s Choice Award. Admittedly, it’s definitely more expensive for a best overall pick, but you truly get what you pay for.


While aesthetics are not the most important aspect of a smart speaker, the 300’s vintage is a thing of beauty. Of course, it’s not hard to find cheaply made retro Bluetooth speakers on Amazon. However, most of these speakers will sacrifice sound quality for appearance — and they’re not smart speakers either. The 300 looks and feels substantial with its beautiful black leatherette and gold trim that’ll make your granddad all nostalgic. It’s a beast, too, weighing close to 11 pounds. You can certainly use the 300 for a picnic or outdoor dinner party, but we don’t recommend taking this speaker on your next mountain hike or camping trip.


JBL Authentics 300 on a picnic table


Most of the 300’s bulk is under the hood, where you’ll find 25mm tweeters, two (that’s right) 5.25 woofers, and a sizable 6.5-inch down-firing passive radiator. All this to say, the 300 is loud. Really loud. And we don’t mean the type of loud that produces an indiscernible garble of muddy lows and overly bright highs. The 300 delivers a balanced sound. You’ll enjoy a deep bass and clear mids. All this power comes at a cost, however. Don’t expect to get more than 8 hours of battery life from this behemoth.


One of the 300’s biggest draws is that it’s a smart speaker. Alexa and Google Assistant are accessible through the speaker’s sensitive microphone, so feel free to turn on the porch light or surf through your Prime Music playlist. Connectivity options are also abundant, with the 300 supporting wired (USB-C, Aux, Ethernet) and wireless (Bluetooth 5.3, Wi-Fi) connections — additionally, the 300 supports Airplay, Spotify Connect, and even the audiophile-worthy Tidal Connect.


The JBL Authentics 300 is bulky and pricey. But the 300 justifies the cost with its solid performance, extensive features, and distinctive design. Given the 300’s ability to produce a powerful 100W of sound, it’s an attractive option for enthusiasts willing to invest in quality and style.


Read our full JBL Authentics 300 portable speaker review.

Sonos Era 300, angled view

Sonos Era 300

Premium pick

Pricey but worth it

While costly, the Sonos Era 300 has been one of the best-sounding standalone wireless speakers worth investing in over the last few years. It’s visually interesting but not dorky-looking; it also delivers an impressive punch and atmosphere thanks to high-end spatial audio and Dolby Atmos streaming support.

Pros

  • Nearly unbeatable sound
  • Spatial audio simulates surround sound
  • USB-C and optional audio in or Ethernet jack
Cons

  • You need a pair for true surround sound
  • It’s relatively big

Some of today’s great speakers have been around a while, but new faces, like the Sonos Era 300, are raising the bar. Granted, it’s a bit of a tough sell for everybody, thanks to a $450 price tag. But you can safely consider it more of a high-end speaker with smart technology than simply a portal for issuing voice commands to your smart home devices. The audio geniuses at Sonos carefully developed its hardware and physical shape to not only make the most of a bookshelf-size speaker but also make some music sound better than ever.


A Sonos Era 300 sitting next to a plant and a router


Case in point, if you use Apple Music, Tidal, or Amazon Music, its Dolby Atmos support gives you access to spatial audio playback, which simulates surround sound using a little bit of tech wizardry. And, should you have the cheddar to pick up a pair, you can use them together for immersive, real surround sound, which is extremely rare among smart speakers. If sound quality is important to you, it doesn’t get better than the Sonos Era 300.


Read our full Sonos Era 300 review.

The Amazon Echo Dot (5th Gen) smart speaker against a white background

Amazon Echo Dot (5th Gen)

Best value

Simple, effective, and affordable

$35 $50 Save $15

Typically one of the smallest Alexa-enabled speakers on the market, the latest Amazon Echo Dot continues the trend by adding temperature and tap sensors and even an Eero Wi-Fi extender. Music playback is nothing to write home about, but it’s great for talking to Alexa.

Pros

  • Small stature and price
  • Great microphone performance
  • Better sound than the 4th gen
Cons

  • Not great for playing music
  • No longer has an audio output jack

If you just need something that can get you quick access to Alexa and all your smart home routines, it’s hard to do better than the Amazon Echo Dot. It’s not exactly groundbreaking and does a poor job at playing most music, but it does a great job at what it’s meant for. It hears commands consistently, responds quickly, and costs less than any other current speaker with Alexa built-in.


Amazon Echo Dot showing the temperature and a lighted base


It doesn’t look much different from the previous generation, but there are some exciting upgrades. The temperature sensor helps keep fan routines running, a new tap sensor lets you control audio playback with a touch if you’re standing nearby, and Eero mesh Wi-Fi users will appreciate its integrated Eero extender. For just $50, it’s hard to top. You can also spend a few extra bucks and get the clock version. And for about $10 more, you can opt for the Echo Dot Kids. Hardware-wise, it’s the same speaker, but it filters explicit content and includes easy-to-use parental controls.


Read our full Amazon Echo Dot (5th Gen) review.

sonos era 100 smart speaker, angled front view

Sonos Era 100

Best for playing music

Great audio and smart features at a cost

Unlike some smart speakers, the Sonos Era 100 was designed to play music every bit as effectively as it helps you control your smart home. And, despite offering impressive sound quality, it’s not nearly as expensive as other high-end options from big-name audio manufacturers.

Pros

  • Relatively small footprint
  • Clean and spacious audio
  • Good bass output

Like its more costly sibling, the Sonos Era 100 is very much a music-first speaker that also features Alexa built-in. But at $200 less than the Era 300, it’s a lot more palatable to most people. Despite its size, it boasts a stereo configuration, in addition to a room correction feature that listens to the surrounding space (once, during setup through your Android or iOS device’s mic) and adjusts the audio accordingly. While it could be a tiny bit louder, it still makes more noise than most other smart speakers.


Realistically, it’s such a good choice that we strongly considered giving it the Premium Pick since it’s cheaper than the Era 300, but it sounds similarly great. Even though it doesn’t quite match up to that one, it’s still a great high-end choice for many folks.

amazon echo gen4 on white background

Amazon Echo (4th Gen)

The classic

Great for Alexa; OK for music

$80 $100 Save $20

The latest evolution of Amazon’s original game-changing smart speaker, the Echo Dot (4th Gen), improved significantly on the 3rd-gen model and is one of the most versatile Alexa speakers out there. Its drivers make it pretty good for your favorite tunes, and much like the last one, it also looks neat.

Pros

  • Sounds great for its size
  • Rapidly processes Alexa commands
  • Has a 3.5mm audio out jack
Cons

  • Questionable bass response
  • Uses a proprietary power cable

The big advantage the 4th-generation Amazon Echo has over its smaller relative is the size and speaker driver construction. It’s significantly louder and clearer than the Echo Dot and actually reproduces your favorite music respectably. It also has a 3.5mm audio output jack, so you can route it through a larger, wired speaker setup if you want. For the 4th generation, Amazon also improved the hardware, which majorly reduced the amount of time you have to wait around for a response from Alexa (the 3rd gen wasn’t exactly slow, but every little bit helps).


An Amazon Echo Dot 4th gen sitting on a table with the bottom ring lit up


If you want something that looks great, sounds good, and works perfectly but don’t want to spend a ton, the Death Star-evoking Echo is worth a look. But if your favorite genres include a lot of drums or low-end, consider looking for something more entertainment-focused.


Read our full Amazon Echo (4th Gen) review.

google nest audio, forward facing on a white background

Google Nest Audio

Best voice response

Straightforward, user-friendly, and effective

$68 $80 Save $12

It’s compact and reasonably priced, but the Nest Audio sounds better than both might indicate, and it performs smart features better than any other Google-enabled speaker. We highly recommend getting a pair for stereo or multi-room playback.

Pros

  • Quite reasonably priced
  • Sounds surprisingly good
  • Picks up your voice, even at loud volumes

Its streamlined design doesn’t scream “speaker,” but rest assured that it punches well above its weight class regarding sound quality and performance. Larger, completely re-engineered drivers (compared to its predecessor, Google Home) and precise digital and acoustic tuning throughout the speaker actually make it sound a lot bigger than it is. And if you pick up two, you can easily pair them for an impressive stereo experience or multiroom playback.


A Google Nest Audio Speaker on a table with books and a plant in the background


Sound quality is only half the battle with smart speakers. In terms of design and performance, this one’s even easier to recommend. In our hands-on Nest Audio review, the mics picked up basically everything we said, with no need to shout or repeat ourselves, even when playing music at a high volume. It responds almost instantly to commands (depending somewhat on your internet connection), and the Bluetooth connectivity is as good as any Android device we’ve used. If you look hard, there’s a disappointing lack of a line-in audio plug, but that’s really the only noticeable issue. If you’re a Google Assistant user, this is the one for you.


Read our full Google Nest Audio review.

sonos roam, angled view

Sonos Roam

Most portable

Packs a punch

The Roam is an affordable entry into Sonos’ ecosystem with its superior portability and sound. Its superb sound quality is enhanced by TruePlay technology for environment-tailored audio, and it supports Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. The speaker’s impressive battery lasts up to 10 hours and offers two ways to recharge — USB-C or with a Qi wireless charger.

Pros

  • Excellent sound for the size
  • One of the few ultra-portable smart speakers
  • Durable enough to endure sand, water, and drops
Cons

  • Pretty expensive compared to other portable speakers

We reviewed the Sonos Roam some time ago, but it’s still one of the best portable speakers available. This 6.5-inch tall, triangular speaker features a durable matte plastic exterior, a rubberized top and bottom for stability, and a metal grill that conceals a mid-woofer and tweeter. The Roam also boasts an IP67 water and dust resistance rating. Suffice it to say, you could leave Roam out in the rain or drop it more than once, and this little guy won’t skip a beat.


When it comes to performance, we found that the Roam surpassed our expectations, rivaling similarly sized speakers like the Bluetooth-only JBL 6 Flip. Yeah, the Roam costs more, but it also has more to offer. It supports Alexa, Google Assistant, and Sonos Connect for high-quality streaming directly from various music platforms. And guess what, Apple fans? The Roam works with AirPlay 2. Even with all these power-draining features, the Roam can jam for about 10 hours until it’s time to charge.


Best smart speakers in 2024


Now, let’s talk sound. The Roam weighs less than a pound yet somehow produces robust bass and a clear, detailed mid-range. High frequencies are crisp and bright without veering into harshness, even at higher volumes. The Roam manages this fuzz-free sound due to its thoughtful design. Sonos separates the mid-woofer and tweeter on the Roam, ensuring that low and high frequencies are delivered with precision and clarity. For under $200, you’ll own a portable and powerful speaker.


Read our full Sonos Roam review.

Amazon Echo Pop Smart Speaker against a white background

Amazon Echo Pop

Unique and affordable

Ideal for smart entertainment centers

$25 $40 Save $15

The Echo Pop is an Alexa-powered smart speaker that offers decent sound and listens for commands well, making it an affordable and stylish way to deploy Alexa around your home. Sadly, though, it cuts some useful features found in the Echo Dot without trimming enough from the price.

Pros

  • Competent audio for its size
  • Colorful and attractive design
  • Low retail price
Cons

  • Lacks smart sensors available on other Echo models
  • Awkwardly priced against the Echo Dot

Amazon has breathed some new life into its speaker lineup with the Echo Pop, an Alexa-enabled speaker that provides most — but not all — the capabilities of the slightly more expensive Echo Dot in a unique new design. While it’s not for everyone, it has a certain appeal if you feel the classic orb-like Echoes are getting a bit stale or simply don’t fit in anywhere in your home. The classic Charcoal and Glacier White colorways are joined by new Lavender Bloom and Midnight Teal options that may complement more decor.


Beyond the design, the specs of the Echo Pop are similar to the Echo Dot, with the same type of single front-firing speaker that can easily pump out enough volume to fill the smaller rooms where most folks are likely to place it. The volume can get quite loud for small spaces, but as one would expect from a speaker at this price, it distorts a bit at those higher volumes. However, the most serious omissions in the Echo Pop compared to its pricier counterpart are the temperature and motion sensors that can be used to power Alexa home automation routines. However, while a $10 price difference may not seem like much for a single speaker, it adds up quickly if you want to deck out your entire home with Alexa voice assistants in every room. If the lack of sensors isn’t a deal-breaker, the Echo Pop is the most affordable way to do this, especially once it begins seeing the same regular discounts as the Echo Dot.

google nest mini 2nd gen blue white background

Google Nest Mini (2nd gen)

Best space-saver

Offering ultra-compact Google Assistant access

They don’t get any smaller or more affordable than the most recent Nest Mini, which sports upgraded processing hardware and an additional microphone that significantly improves answer speed and accuracy compared to its predecessor, the Google Home.

Pros

  • Takes up very little space
  • Enhanced microphone performance
  • Automatic volume adjustment

A direct answer to the Echo Dot, the second-generation Google Nest Mini is a tiny little guy meant for receiving voice commands, answering questions, and playing some music casually. It’s clear from the size that you won’t get high-fidelity playback or booming bass (quite the opposite), but it’s loud enough to use voice commands and listen to the responses from across the room. Speaking of loudness, you’ll rarely have to adjust the volume, as the Nest Mini does that for itself, detecting how noisy the room is and adjusting itself automatically.


Given the Mini’s size and cost, it’s no surprise that it is the best choice for people who want quick access to Google-based voice assistance without grabbing their smartphone or tablet.

The Bose Smart Soundbar 600 white background with remote

Bose Smart Soundbar 600

Top smart soundbar

Compact, cinematic sound

$399 $499 Save $100

The Bose Smart Soundbar 600 may be slim, but it’s plenty loud and ready to turn your living room into a mini-theater. While it won’t produce true surround sound, the 600 packs 5 Dolby Atmos enhanced speakers. Plus, the built-in Alexa and Google Assistant make control seamless. You can even link to other Bose speakers via SimpleSync for multiroom audio.

Pros

  • Space-saving design
  • Room-filling sound for small to moderate-sized rooms
  • Voice control is convenient and easy to use
Cons

  • Will have to purchase a subwoofer if you want more bass

Bose is no stranger to home theaters, but it took them until 2011 to introduce their first soundbar, the Cinemate 1 SR. They’ve made some great strides since then, and Bose’s Smart Soundbar 600 is a testament to this. At their core, soundbars are compact powerhouses, capable of room-filling sound, depending on the size of the room, of course. The 600 is certainly a space saver, though it’s far from tiny. It measures 27.5 inches with five speakers with upward-firing drivers, which help throw sounds in all directions. It’s not true surround, but if you place the 600 in an enclosed room, it’s a worthy substitute for the real thing. The Dolby Atmos processing doesn’t hurt either.


The 600 produces enough low-end that you won’t be missing your subwoofer. However, we’d recommend getting one if you plan on using this soundbar in a larger room. The 600 also features a Dialogue Mode, so voices come out crisp and clear. And while audiophiles may squirm at the thought of using a soundbar for music, the 600 will please all but the most discerning ears. Sure, you won’t get a ton of bass, but it’s more than fine for casual listening.


Above all, the 600 is a smart speaker that plays nice with Apple Airplay 2, Spotify Connect, and, yes, even Chromecast. And there’s this feature called Voice4Video that may explain why 600’s remote is a cheap little plastic thing; it’s like Bose is encouraging you not to use it. But that’s fine because, with one command to the built-in Alexa or Google Assistant, you can control everything, including your apps, cable box, and much more.


This isn’t a smart feature per se, but we like the convenience of Bose’s SimpleSync tech. Via Wi-Fi, you can group all your favorite Bose gear, so you can enjoy music in any room. Naturally, you’ll also have Bluetooth as well if you’d prefer some private listening with your Bose headphones.


The Bose’s Smart Soundbar 600 won’t replace a full-fledged home theater system, nor does it try to. It’s a great pick for anyone looking to avoid clunky receivers and speaker wires but still would like a cinematic experience.

Getting the right smart speaker for you

It’s easy to get bogged down by all the choices out there, so keeping things simple is a priority. For starters, consider a speaker that supports your preferred ecosystem, whether it’s Google, Amazon, or Apple. Then decide whether you want music to sound great or just need simplified, smartphone-free voice control. There are plenty of picks that fulfill the latter, like the Google Nest Mini, the Echo Dot, and the Echo Pop. But the best value pick, the Echo Dot, just might be best. When it’s on sale, and it seems that’s often the case, the Echo is not much more than the Nest Mini. Considering most of us are well acquainted with the Alexa ecosystem, it’s a cost-effective option.


The JBL Authentics 300 won the best overall pick for a lot of reasons. It’s big, beautiful, and works perfectly with Alexa and Google Assistant. Its sound quality is hard to beat for this price range, and the extra connections the 300 comes with, like Ethernet, USB-C, and Aux are appreciated. It’s true that the JBL isn’t cheap, but it’s a fair price for what you get.


And for $100 more, you can opt for the Sonos Era 300. As our review notes, it does more than act as a smart home hub. It supports Dolby Atmos, so whether you use Apple Music, Amazon Music, or Tidal, your tunes will sound epic. You can even pair the two Eras together for an even more immersive experience, but that’ll also double the price. So, if you plan on using your smart speaker for movies and TV shows, Bose’s Smart Soundbar 600 would be a worthy choice. But no matter what you choose, all of these speakers are solid choices. You really can’t go wrong.

JBL AUTHENTICS 300 angled white background

JBL Authentics 300

Best overall

Good looks, great sound

$350 $450 Save $100

The JBL Authentics 300 wireless smart speaker merges sublime sound with retro flair. This speaker packs a wallop, delivering a powerful yet balanced sound. With Alexa and Google Assistant, plus multiple wireless and wired connectivity options, it offers versatility without sacrificing quality.

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