Best Smart Speakers
With the popularity that smart homes have, more and more people have taken an interest in acquiring smart devices. Smart speakers are some of the most useful gadgets that you could buy. Besides, you don’t necessarily have to live in a smart home for you to own one. One out of every six Americans now own one of these magnificent speakers; that is more than a hundred percent increase from 2017. Get expert advice when shopping for best smart speakers, read our guide.
The increase in numbers is not very surprising, considering the benefits the speakers offer. Depending on the integration, they can respond to voice commands, read you a book, and access your favorite streaming platforms and much more. Grab yourself one of these speakers today, and join the rest of the world as they make the most out of such technological advances.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 10 hrs of research
The purchase comes with a 90-day limited warranty
It is compatible with iOS, Android and Fire OS
Buyers get an optional 1 to 3 year extended warranty
It has a reasonable price
- Echo Dot
- Echo Plus
- Sonos One
- Sonos Beam
- RIVA Concert
- Polk Audio Command
- Marshall Stanmore II
- Harman Kardon Allure
- Ultimate Ears BLAST
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. Echo Dot
The purchase comes with a 90-day limited warranty
It is compatible with iOS, Android and Fire OS
Buyers get an optional 1 to 3 year extended warranty
It has a reasonable price
People who don’t have Alexa won’t fully benefit from this purchase
Echo dot speakers are some of the most popular alternatives in the market. The third generation Echo dot launch was towards the end of 2018, and it has done well for itself. If you have owned the previous models, then you will agree that it looks and even sounds better than its counterparts. With over 25000 positive customer feedback, you can rest assured that it is worth purchasing.Read more
You will immediately notice that the speaker produces a louder and richer sound. It comes with a speaker that’s half an inch larger and more powerful than its predecessors. The speaker delivers clear, crisp sound that’s never distorted even when playing at full volume. Once you use it to listen to music, you will immediately realize the difference in the quality of its previous models.
It has a 3.5mm audio cable, which you can use to connect to other speakers. Alternatively, you can still link them using Bluetooth. With Advanced Audio Distribution Profile support and an Audio and Video Remote Control Profile, you will experience an entirely new world of convenience. It also comes with Alexa, having better skills and smarter than ever before. Alexa will now play games and track your fitness, among its other 50,000 capabilities.
Ease of use
If you’re running short on time, you can ask Alexa for some assistance. It can read and update you on current news, answer questions that you need quick answers to, and even control other compatible smart devices in your home. The voice control feature is one of the most valuable things about owning this Echo Dot. When busy, you can make it lock the doors for you, adjust the thermostat, or even turn the lights on for you.
Listening to music has never been this enjoyable. All you have to do is give a command, and your favorite songs will be playing in no time. Users can stream music from; Sirius XM, Amazon Music, Spotify, and Apple Music, among others. If you also love listening to audio books, you can do so whenever you want, using Audible.
The Echo Dot is an exceptional gadget, which you can purchase unaccompanied or with a few accessories. If you want a smart lighting system for your home, you can get one that has an intelligent lighting kit worth twenty dollars. The other purchase you can make is that of an Echo Dot and Smart plug combination.
It has a smart USB charging port
Comes with free technical support
Has a 3-year warranty
Some users have issues with its Bluetooth connectivity
The guide would not be complete without this GGMM speaker. It is a double award-winning alternative, which has surpassed both new and older brands in the market. The company won both the Reddot Design Award and the IF Product Design award in 2017, thanks to this speaker. That should give you some assurance about what it’s capable of and its quality.Read more
Its quality will undoubtedly surprise you. The speaker can handle all kinds of music and offers better sound than some of the top brands in the market. It affords excellent bass, so you don’t have to worry about any sloppy thumping. Regardless of where you are, the music will still sound hi-def. You will love hearing the detail in the songs and the level of clarity it offers.
Users can connect it with Wi-Fi, Aux, Wi-Fi routers and Bluetooth. What makes this GGMM option beloved is the fact that it is compatible with several Smart Home devices. You can use it with TP-link, ecobee, Smart Things, Wemo, and Philips Hue. Additionally, the speaker is also enabled for Amazon Alexa.
Ease of use
You will still be able to use the Wi-Fi connectivity, even when you are 160ft away. The best thing about its connectivity is the fact that you can switch up the audio devices that you have linked to it. You can do so with up to 16 gadgets, without disconnecting any of them. With Alexa’s voice service, you won’t have to lift a finger to order pizza, among other things. Multi-tasking will be the order of the day for you.
It also has hands free calling. You just have to make sure you connect the E5 speaker via Bluetooth to set this up. You can receive calls whenever you want, which comes in handy when there’s some level of urgency. They designed it such that users don’t need to take out their phones. The speaker has an inbuilt microphone that will work as long as you speak towards it. To make it conveniently portable, the speaker also comes with a removable PU strap.
You can recharge it as soon as it runs out of battery. However, before that happens, you will get up to 15hours of playback. Its in-built battery capacity will definitely come in handy when you are outdoors or traveling. Users can easily customize their experience, thanks to its adjustment knobs. Since the bass and treble knobs are built-in, setting the speaker to your liking will be effortless.
If you like to listen to online stations, this speaker will be an excellent match. It comes with a favorite function that allows you to save up to six stations. It’s also very versatile, as it works well with all Apple products, Windows operating system, and Android.
You will be able to play music simultaneously in different rooms. It is possible to do so if you have two or more E5 or E-series speakers. You can connect at a maximum of ten speakers at a time when using this function. To top it off, you can also get a surround sound experience. All you need to do is stream the L and R channels, and you are good to go. They can also be controlled wirelessly, using the GGMM E Series app.
3. Echo Plus
It has extensive connectivity.
It has its own smart home hub.
It has a multi-room music function.
You cannot stereo pair it with Bluetooth or Aux.
Even the second generation Echo Plus is slightly smaller than the Echo Dot model; it still has a ton of benefits that warrant its position in this ranking. It’s not the size that matters, but what the item can actually do for you. Each new version of the Echo smart speakers has more advanced features than its predecessor. So, if you still haven’t upgraded from the first generation, you are going to love this alternative.Read more
You will love the dynamic bass response it offers. All the speakers it uses are premium and powered by Dolby play. Users get to enjoy 360-degree audio, and the vocals are delightfully crisp. The fascinating thing about it is that you can adjust the equalizer using your voice. If you want stereo sound, all you have to do is connect a second Echo Plus speaker and you are set.
The speaker has several connectivity options. Its Bluetooth will make it possible to stream audio from your Echo to a Bluetooth speaker or from your mobile to the Echo. It has Advanced Audio Distribution Profile support, which makes that possible. You will be able to voice control all the mobile devices that are connected. It has an Audio and Video Remote Control Profile that is responsible for that feature. However, users who have Mac OS X devices will not have the luxury of using the hands-free function. You will also not benefit from it if your Bluetooth speaker requires pin codes.
The Echo Plus also has Wi-Fi, which supports 5 and 2.4GHz networks. You should note that it doesn’t work with peer-to-peer Wi-Fi networks. The other bonus that comes with purchasing the speaker is that it also has a ZigBee smart home hub. The hub is built-in and can support; in-wall switches, sensors, plugs, locks, and ZigBee light bulbs.
Ease of use
It has a straightforward setup process. First, you need to plug in the Echo Plus. Second, install the Alexa app and connect it to the internet. After doing so, you can ask Alexa to help you with anything you want; be it music, news, and weather, to mention a few. Setting it up with compatible devices is also simple. You’ll just ask Alexa to discover your appliances, and it will help you connect your compatible smart home devices.
You can get Alexa to play music from different sources. It has a multi-room music function, which makes it possible to hear the same music in different rooms. However, you need to have compatible Echo devices for this to work. The fascinating feature has to be how users can make announcements across separate Echo devices in different rooms in the house. You don’t need to go to anyone in person when you can just tell them what you need from your location.
Echo Plus can hear you even when there is music playing, and you’re coming from a different direction. It has noise cancellation, beam-forming technology, and seven microphones, which make it highly efficient.
4. Sonos One
It has a voice control feature
The speaker has Alexa
Buyers can get a variety
Some users claim the speaker has some bugs.
Sonos is a big player in the industry, with a significant following among smart-home owners. You can get this speaker in white or black. If you cannot afford to get a brand new one, you can still buy a good quality used speaker for less. You can finally be a part of the smart experience, without having to spend beyond your means.Read more
If you have never owned a Sonos speaker before, its performance will astound you. Most users cannot get enough of its room-filling sound. It's every bit as fulfilling as you hope it will be.
Buyers who have a Sonos Home Sound System will benefit the most from this purchase. You can connect the system with your speaker to enjoy music in different areas of your house. Streaming music using Wi-Fi will also be a bonus.
Ease of use
Will a built-in Alexa, you will have a ton of things at your disposal. Alexa can inform you about the traffic situation before you leave your house. You will get the latest news at your disposal and enjoy your favorite tracks whenever you please.
Installing the speaker will not frustrate you. It is so user-friendly that even older people can do it themselves. It comes in a portable size, and the fact that it is versatile makes it useful for a variety of applications.
One of the main reasons why this purchase is worthwhile is the fact that the speaker is durable. It is going to serve you well and make you grateful that you made the purchase.
5. Sonos Beam
The company offers excellent tech support
It is easy to operate
Users and create home theater sound systems
It does not have Codec support
The next alternative we are going to look at is the Sonos TV soundbar. It is an excellent fit for people looking for wireless home theaters. Buyers have the option of getting it in white or black. You can purchase it alone, or you can go for the option with the short cable or that with the long one. Additionally, the company offers a beam purchase that comes with a mount.Read more
The company likes to describe the beam as one that offers an immersive listening experience. The speaker has full sound stages. They are broader and more spacious than you would think. You will find its bass performance adequate and the dialogue very clear. Most user’s find it surprising that such a compact speaker can offer such sound.
As long as you have an 802.11 b/g/n router, you will be able to connect the speakers to your home Wi-Fi network. It only supports that particular network configuration. If the Wi-Fi becomes unstable, you can wire it directly to your router. It has a 10 to 100 Mbps Ethernet port, for this purpose.
Ease of use
You will be able to manage your movies and shows just by asking Alexa. Adding a video streaming device that is compatible with Alexa will work to your advantage. A good suggestion is getting Fire TV, to operate everything at the highest convenience. You may even end up forgetting how to use the remote control.
Setting it up is quick and straightforward. You first need to make sure the beam is connected to power. Connect it to your TV as well and then download the Sonos App. Once you install the app, just follow the given instructions and you are set.
You can easily make a home sound system, by wirelessly connecting Sonos speakers. If you have a sub and some rear speakers, you will also be able to create a home theater system. It is compatible with Apple devices: so you can use Siri and Airplay whenever you want.
Sonos offers free tech support for 60 days from the delivery date. In case you are stuck, the technicians can help you when setting up, configuring, connecting, and troubleshooting as well.
6. RIVA Concert
The app has a push to talk function
It is for indoor and outdoor use
The speaker has no distortion
Some users claim that it has bugs
Who wouldn’t want to listen to music when soaking in the tub after a long day? Unlike most speakers, the Riva concert will not limit you, since it is splash resistant. Therefore, you can take it with you when heading to the pool or the beach on a hot day. Some people even use it when in the kitchen as they do the dishes and clean up. You can rest assured that you are getting your money’s worth with this purchase.Read more
You will find it fascinating, thanks to its patented Trillium technology. The tech mixes up the stereo signal from the left and right. It then creates a stereophonic image by output via three channels. It does so in such an incredible manner while retaining its audio quality regardless of the volume.
With the variety of options available, you will always be entertained. Users can connect the speaker via USB or Aux input, Spotify Connect, Wi-Fi, DLNA, Bluetooth, and Airplay.
Ease of use
Users can personalize the speaker sound, based on their preferences. Users who want privacy can effortlessly mute Alexa’s microphone. Make sure you download the Riva Voice app and the Alexa app if you're going to control it remotely.
Users can simultaneously use the speakers and charge their devices. If you want an additional power source, you can purchase a battery. It has a 15-hour capacity that will come in handy outdoors. To connect it, you will need to attach it to the bottom of the speaker.
Once you get used to the multi-room music feature, you’ll find it difficult to do without it. Fortunately, the speaker is well equipped and has everything that you would need.
7. Polk Audio Command
Has a feature-rich remote control
Comes with a wireless subwoofer
Has a patented voice adjustability feature
The app could have more features
The Polk Audio speaker is for TVs and home theatre systems. It looks like any other soundbar, and it comes with a sub-woofer for enriched bass. You can control it with Alexa, a remote control, or manual buttons at the center of the bar.Read more
You will get 260 watts with the bar and subwoofer cumulatively. It also has built-in Dolby and DTS surround sound. Even though it is not that loud, it is adequate for most homes. Besides, the audio is detailed and defined. Users can also adjust the bass independently.
With the remote, you can quickly mute or reduce the volume on the soundbar so that Alexa can hear you better. Alternatively, you can solely use the remote for basic options like turning it off or changing the inputs. Users can connect it to the TV as well, using two HDMI ports. It also has a USB port to play music from a flash drive.
Ease of use
It is so simple to link the whole system: the subwoofer and bar are connected independently to the power socket. After downloading the Polk Connect app, you will get easy to follow instructions. It won’t take you more than 20 minutes to get everything right.
With Alexa built right into the sound bar, it has an edge in the market. On the other hand, you don’t need Alexa or the internet, to access some of its primary functions. The back of the systems has keyholes, which you can use to hang the bar and subwoofer on the wall. Mounting them to a wall adds to the aesthetics and enhances the sound.
For the price, this is definitely a steal. Many bars out there offer even fewer features and still cost more. Not only in terms of smart features, but also by lacking a subwoofer. More features and updates are anticipated all the same, over the air.
8. Marshall Stanmore II
Analogue controls available
Not attuned with Apple music
Marshall has been in business since 1962. Therefore, they know the tech world is ever-changing, and they continuously adapt to it. The design looks vintage; still, you’ll be surprised to see how effortlessly it connects to Wi-Fi. The front of the speakers also has enticing LED lights for Alexa notifications. With their massive following, their quality has never been an issue.Read more
Marshall has stayed in the game for long thanks to their continuous production of some of the best speakers. Therefore, you can be confident that you will get top-notch quality, with modern features. The sound is crisp and clear with amplifiers of 15 watts for the tweeters and 50 watts for the subwoofer.
This device can also connect to other Alexa enabled devices. Aside from having Wi-Fi connectivity, you can use a 3.5 mm input, Bluetooth connection, or RCA, to make the most of its features. Users can also connect to Alexa and request tracks from different compatible platforms and devices.
Ease of use
If you cannot connect to Alexa, you have the option of using the Marshall Voice app. The app offers many solutions including an equalizer function, to get the perfect frequencies. If that isn’t your thing, you can also use its good-old analog controls to fine-tune your music.
On top of having the far-field voice recognition, the speaker also has a noise cancellation function. As a result, Alexa will hear you well, even when the music is at maximum. This device recognizes what is playing, and distinguishes your voice from the music. You can also mute Alexa at the touch of a button.
Great sounds, from a compact device; that’s what Marshall is all about. The brand has always been a force to be reckoned with. Their somewhat old school design is also nice and has a nostalgic effect.
9. Harman Kardon Allure
Made from a responsive manufacturer
It has cool lighting features
It has a unique design
Its bass shakes unstable platforms vigorously
The Allure speaker is surprisingly large, standing at almost 8-inches tall with a 6-inch diameter. The size brings about a fresh design, which makes Harman Kardon stand out. The size is also ideal for accommodating its large speakers. It has lights on top that change colors from white, red, and blue to give you notifications. However, the lights don’t transition according to the music beat.Read more
The speakers are all around, so put it dead center in the room, to get a crisp, clear sound all over the place. The volume is relatively loud at full blast, and bass is astoundingly high, considering its small size. The bass speaker also has a strategic position at the bottom for the efficiency.
In this device, microphones are cleverly placed on all four angles, so that Alexa has the best chance of hearing you from wherever you’re speaking from. Users can go as far as ordering from Starbucks, thanks to Alexa. In case, internet connectivity is a problem, you could always use its Bluetooth. Doing so will enable you to connect to other devices like your phone, to continue playing.
Ease of use
The speaker takes a different approach when relaying information to you. For example, it has a touch-sensitive rubber area on top that allows you to change the volume. The light will show you how loud it is; however, a red light will be an indication that the speaker is on mute. At first, a new person using it would find it hard to operate. Nevertheless, after some time, it will seem almost intuitive and practical.
With the far-field voice recognition feature, you will appreciate how accurate it is at registering commands. The design is also unique since it has a semi-transparent glass on top to enhance the lights.
By becoming one of the Harman Kardon customers, you can be sure that they will be keen on any suggestions you might have. They do not try to emulate what others have come up with; instead, they go out of their way to make unorthodox features seem like must-haves in this ever-changing market.
10. Ultimate Ears BLAST
Regular updates over the air
The speaker is waterproof
It is Drop-proof
Cannot be paired with other speakers
To close off our list, we have the Ultimate Ears BLAST. The best part about it is that it has a battery capacity of up to 12 hours. Therefore, you can take it with you anywhere, and your days will be far more entertaining. We mean anywhere in every sense of the word since it is also waterproof up to 1 meter. It can sustain under-water usage for a maximum of 30 minutes.Read more
Blasting some tunes on this is sheer joy because it has speakers facing all around to produce a 360-degree sound. Therefore, audio is not restricted to one direction only, like in many others. It has a maximum volume of up to 90 dB, which is loud, and not forgetting clear enough for big rooms. The sound is bold and immersive even inside water.
It connects readily to the internet via Wi-Fi. For instances where there’s no internet, connect it to your phone (it doesn’t have to be a smartphone), and play your music form it via Bluetooth. The Wi-Fi range is up to 330 ft., while its Bluetooth is up to 150 ft.
Ease of use
You’re probably looking at this review from a smartphone. If so, you’ll be glad to know that, by downloading the intuitive Ultimate Ears application, you can access a host of utilities to control it. You will be able to play music directly from your phone if you are using an Android 5.0 and above or iOS 10.2 going upwards.
It already has Alexa voice service, which allows you to give it all manner of commands. Users are looking forward to the update, which the manufacturer promised to make the device able to connect to other speakers for an enhanced volume.
Water resistance, unlimited connectivity, and portability are all you need in a smart speaker. You will like how it retains a minimalist appeal, even when you add a power-up charging dock to it. Additionally, the manufacturer ensures the device is always up to date, with regular updates. You also have the choice of getting one in; graphite, blizzard, blue, merlot, green, or black colors.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
A speaker’s worth is in its sound quality.
When buying a speaker, the sound is one of the main things you don’t want to compromise on. Speakers don’t offer the same level of quality, so it’s not right to assume that they are all the same. You don’t necessarily have to be an audiophile to know quality when you hear it. If possible, test out the speakers before you buy it so that you don’t end up with a disappointing experience.
The more the connectivity options, the better
In this day and age, you get to benefit the most from smart devices depending on the types of connectivity they offer. Since we frequently use the internet, a Wi-Fi connection is a must-have. Bluetooth connectivity is equally important. You want to be able to pair your devices and gadgets for more convenience. If you can get speakers that have, inbuilt smart features, for connecting with your smart home, then you are in for an exciting and fascinating experience. Some speakers have limited connectivity options, so make sure you learn what they have to offer before making the purchase.
Ease of Use
Easy operation is convenient.
Some smart devices are overly complicated to operate. For people who aren’t tech savvy, this can be really frustrating. This is especially true for people who don’t have much experience with smart homes. Older generations who are still adapting to using smartphones and other gadgets also fall under this category. For that reason, you need to be cautious if you are purchasing one for such individuals.
Always make sure that the setup process is simple, and the instructions that come with it are easy to follow. The quicker you can pair and utilize the speaker’s benefits the more you will enjoy yourself.
Have more information regarding your purchase.
One of the most essential fundamentals to consider when buying smart speakers is device and smart home compatibility. For instance, if you purchase a speaker that is only compatible with Android systems, while you own Apple devices: you won’t be able to integrate it successfully. Buying a speaker without confirming if it is compatible with your smart home system can also lead you to such predicaments.
If the speaker is Alexa-enabled and you are using a Philips or Google smart systems, you may not get the most out of it. Always make sure that all your systems and gadgets are compatible before making a purchase. Other features include; the speaker design, portability, voice recognition, and voice command, to mention a few.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Most gadgets are ruined when exposed to water. That is why you have to be careful with your speaker. If you want one that can withstand you can use in water-based locations, make sure it has some degree of water resistance. Otherwise, you will incur a loss once it is damaged.
Battery life is essential for people who want portable speakers. If you're going to use the speaker outdoors, you have to ensure that it has a reasonable battery life. It is crucial because you won’t have a convenient power source to charge it with, most of the times.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What makes Smart speakers unique?
These speakers have many benefits, aside from the fact that you can use them to listen to music. Most of them have in-built smart assistants that can do amazing things. All you need to do is ask them, and they will answer your questions, control other smart home devices you may have, keep you updated on current events and so much more.
q: Do you need to pay for Alexa?
No, there is no fee associated with using Alexa. If you are using Alexa at home, just get an Alexa enabled speaker. You will also need to install the free Alexa app, for convenience.
q: Are smart speakers expensive?
On average, you might have to spend a bit more to buy a smart speaker, compared to a regular speaker. Most people would argue that it is a worthwhile investment, because of all the benefits they offer. However, this does not mean that they are all expensive. If you are working on a budget, you can still get reasonably priced alternatives in this guide.
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