The complete guide to buying a smart speaker in 2022



Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri are fast becoming our trusted digital assistants. They live inside our devices and respond to our spoken commands to play music, set timers, control smart home gadgets and help kids spell tricky words, among other things. Smart speakers are a great way to get them working in your home. Our list of the best smart speakers will help you pick the best one.


You will need to choose a camp if you are considering smart speakers with voice assistants. Don't mix the top options, but instead pick one and use it across your home. This guide will help you understand the diverse alternatives and help to choose the best smart speaker for your home.


How to talk to your smart speaker?



A wake word can summon each smart speaker. You can then ask it for anything you need - after they begin listening. Now, the question is how to ask.


Although all three voice assistants can be very easy to use, they can get confused if you don’t use the correct syntax. Alexa needs to be communicated in certain ways to get the desired results. It's easy to get used to speaking to Alexa, and it doesn't take long to learn how to phrase your requests in the best way. However, it can be a problem if you use unfamiliar terms or frame them strangely.


Siri and Google Assistant are much more adept at reading natural language and are generally easier to communicate with. Amazon is still developing Alexa, and recently added its A1Z neural processor (for machine learning) to it's Echo speakers. But for now, Google and Apple assistants are the easiest to talk to.


Smart Home Management



Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa can all control smart home devices. With the Alexa or Google apps and the Siri Shortcuts feature, you can set up multiple rooms to control and create multi-step routines like "I'm going out of the house". With few gaps between them, all three smart assistants can support most brands of smart home devices.


The Amazon Echo and Echo Studio include a Zigbee smart home for controlling compatible devices. This expands the range of compatible devices that work with them (and other Echos) in your home. The majority of newer smart home devices work with Alexa or Google Assistant and are Wi-Fi-based.


You will need Siri to control your smart house. Make sure that the smart home devices are HomeKit compatible and have an Apple TV, iPad, or HomePod to act as a hub. The Home app will allow you to create groups, rooms, and multi-step procedures and control your devices remotely from iOS. Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant can all be used for controlling a TV or other home entertainment center as well.


The Home app by Apple is beautifully designed, but it requires you to be 100% committed to Apple to make it work.


Third-Party Skills



Amazon's voice assistant system has been supercharged with tens to thousands of third-party skills. Amazon even has a directory full of them. These skills can do everything, from checking your credit card balance to giving you information about local transit, playing games, and even singing songs.


You must find the skills that you are looking for and follow the syntax they require. This is a powerful system - and you will quickly get the hang of it.


Although Google Assistant is limited in its skills compared to other smart speakers, they are steadily increasing in number. Google Assistant is more open to free-form conversations than it is to requiring specific word-by-word syntax. This makes it easier to use these skills. Google's "actions" (that's what it's skills are called) can be viewed in its web-based directory.


Telephone calls



You can make phone calls using any of the voice assistants. Alexa and Google both offer free phone calls. The Google Assistant smart speaker can call US and Canadian numbers through Google Duo. Alexa can call any number in the US, Canada, and Mexico. However, they usually can't call toll-free numbers.


What Do Smart Speakers Sound Like?



Smart speakers can play music from any phone. However, if you rely on voice commands only, you will be depending upon cloud services. Both Alexa and Google Assistant can connect to Spotify Premium accounts as well as Pandora, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio free of charge.


Alexa speakers can also play Amazon music. Google Assistant speakers can play YouTube and Google Play music and tunes that you have uploaded to your Google account library. Siri on the HomePod mini and HomePod will play Apple Music and songs from your Apple Music Account. Ask your smart speaker to play music from any of these services.


Many smart speakers in 2022 support Bluetooth connections so that you can stream audio from your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Many smart speakers also have 3.5mm ports. However, some of these are output-only and can be used to connect small smart speakers to larger speakers.


Although the sound quality of both the Amazon Echo Dot and Google Nest Mini has improved, they can't fill a large room as much and may not be the top choice for primary music speakers.


The Echo, HomePod mini, and Nest Audio sound significantly better than most smart speakers priced between $100 and $200. The $200 Echo Studio is the best value, as it sounds as good as speakers twice its price. Having said that, let's jump into a list of the best smart speakers.


The Top Smart Speakers for You


We consider Google Assistant the best voice assistant for smart speakers at the moment. Amazon may have more third-party skills than Google Assistant, but Google Assistant is already built into every Android phone and has better natural-language query understanding. That makes a huge difference.


You should consider any voice assistant's size, power, and price. You're probably shopping for a smart speaker to play music through. Some smart speakers even come with time readouts and others have actual screens. You might find some of these in the list.


Sonos One (Gen 2)

The smartest speaker

PROS
  • Excellent compatibility with voice assistants and services

  • Great sound

  • Bluetooth 5.0

CONS
  • A little expensive


Why do we like it? It can be used with any Sonos device and offers more streaming services than any other smart speaker.

Who is it for? More or less everyone.


Sonos One Gen 2 is super user-friendly. It has a new design with touch controls and Bluetooth 5.0 to allow for multiple connection options. The core features of the original Sonos One are still available, such as the ability to select between Alexa and Google Assistant and to link up with other Sonos speakers via Wi-Fi to add even more sound to the room.


The far-field microphone array of the speaker can easily hear voice commands across a room even while music is playing. Sonos claims that the hardware can be used to mute the microphones.


This ensures that the speaker is not listening when the mic indicator light goes out. AirPlay 2 allows you to stream audio directly from your Apple device to the speaker, or any other Sonos speaker within your home.


We love the fact that this model has a Sonos speaker. We are still impressed by the Sonos wireless whole-home audio system. Control it from any smartphone, tablet, or computer via an app. It supports almost all major music streaming services.


These features, such as Apple Music playlist compatibility or the ability to group several speakers, are not only great but also extremely easy to use.


Sonos has partnered with Ikea to create a growing collection of cool third-party devices that can control your Sonos One or any other Sonos speaker. The Sonos One (Gen2) is a wonderful speaker that can be used to enhance your home's smartness.



Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) with Clock

The best budget smart speaker

PROS

  • Charming new design

  • The great audio quality for its size

  • Alexa Guard protection

  • Affordable cost

CONS

  • LED clock should be a default feature


Why you should buy it: It's affordable, regulates your home, shows the time, and can direct sound via more powerful speakers, if you need it to.

Who it's for: Those who need an Alexa voice-control hub.


Why we picked the Amazon Echo (4th Gen) with Clock:

Amazon hit the homerun with its Amazon Echo Dot With Clock (4th Gen). This version is a stark change from the last iteration, especially thanks to the spherical shape, one that undoubtedly is a beauty!


Except for the latest design, you can tell the time instantly with this particular version. There's also more versions designed specifically for kids.


Don't let it's small size fool you because it's performance packs a punch, despite it's diminutive size. While it's meant for smaller spaces, such as offices and bedroom nightstands, the amount of bass and power put out by the 4th Gen Echo Dot is impressive. You wouldn't expect a high level of quality out of something so small!


The most appealing part about the Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) with Clock is its price. At around $60, it's easy on just about any budget - meaning you can buy multiple units without forking over a huge sum of money! And who doesn't like that?


Amazon Echo (4th Gen)

Amazon Alexa's best smart speaker


PROS

  • The charming new spherical design

  • Amazing LED light ring

  • Amazon Sidewalk Bridge

  • Amazing audio

CONS

  • Bass strains at the highest volume


Why this is a good choice: The Amazon Echo, powered by Alexa, is the best-selling speaker due to its outstanding audio quality and home control.

Who is it for? Casual music listeners with Alexa-enabled devices at home.

Why the Amazon Echo (4th Generation)

Like the Echo Dot (4th Generation) with Clock, Amazon's Echo is now in its fourth generation. It offers rich audio performance and the intelligence of Alexa. It's a significant upgrade to the Echo Dot in music performance, with a 3-inch woofer, and two front-firing, 0.8-inch tweeters. All this in a new, spherical design.


It's an excellent centerpiece for the living room, especially if you plan to entertain guests. It also has Bluetooth, Bluetooth auxiliary jacks, and stereo pairing. The 4th Gen Amazon Echo is capable of controlling smart homes with ease.


It can turn off lights, make reservations, and even order pizza. It can monitor your home from afar by sending notifications to you if it hears smoke alarms - among numerous more awesome Alexa skills.


With the Amazon Echo (4th Generation), you get a rich, smart speaker in terms of performance and features. And you know what? It costs only about $100!


Google Nest Audio

The best smart speaker to use with Google Assistant

PROS

  • Superb audio performance

  • Charming design for every decor

  • Audio quality adapts to any room

  • Attractive $100 price

CONS

  • Dense weight

  • Not enough focus on feature upgrades


Buy it here: Google Nest Audio



Why this is a good choice: It's larger, has a better sound, and costs less than the predecessor.

Who is it for? Anyone who loves great-sounding audio and relies on the Google Assistant.


Why did we choose Google Nest Audio?

The Nest Audio, Google Home's new successor, finally launched after long wait. It's finally here, and it's appealing to a wider audience because it offers that perfect combination of intelligence and raw power.


The speaker is much larger than the Google Home due to its 19mm tweeter, 75mm mid-woofer, and significantly bigger sound system. It's a Google Assistant-powered smart speaker that is loud and powerful. This speaker is far more capable of playing music than its predecessor, simply because it's 76% louder with a 50% increase in bass.


It can be paired with another Google Nest Audio to create stereo sound. You can also group speakers in different rooms to enjoy your music in a variety of settings. With its $100 price tag, the Nest Audio doesn't cost a lot for premium audio. It is affordable, has all the intelligence of Google Assistant, and delivers amazing sound.



Bose Portable Speaker For Home

The best portable smart speaker

PROS

  • Portable

  • Mics with high sensitivity

  • Amazing 360-degree sound

  • Alexa and Google Assistant

  • AirPlay 2

CONS

  • App features are limited

  • Missing some midrange

  • Not the best for Android


Why this is a good choice: This smart speaker is lightweight and portable yet has a remarkable sound quality.

Who is it for? Those who need a smart speaker to keep up with their busy lifestyles.


Why the Bose Portable Home speaker?

We already loved the Sonos One because it allows you to choose your preferred voice assistant. Bose Portable Home Speaker allows you to make that choice, along with a carry-handle, rechargeable battery, and Bluetooth connectivity, so it can go with you wherever you please.


Although the Bose may be more expensive than the Sonos One, it is still a great choice for those who need absolute flexibility. The Portable Home Speaker, which can be connected to your Wi-Fi network and used at home, is a fully-functional smart speaker that allows you to talk to Alexa or Google Assistant.


The Bose app allows you to select multiple speaker groups and control Spotify music. Although the app isn’t as great as Sonos, it will work well even if you don’t plan to create a whole-home system with Bose speakers.


Don't let this speaker fall into your pool. For everything short of that, it is protected by an IPX4 rating. You don't have to be afraid of an unexpected rainstorm.


Apple users will love AirPlay 2 speakers integration, allowing you to stream audio from any streaming service or soundtrack from a Netflix movie directly to your speaker via Wi-Fi. The Bluetooth connection allows you to keep your tunes going while on the go (or for Android users). You can enjoy your music for as long as you like with the 12-hour battery life.


Marshall Woburn II

This smart speaker is the best for room-filling sound

PROS

  • Classic, durable design

  • Amazingly beautiful and clear sound

  • Bluetooth and AptX support

CONS

  • No voice assistant support


Why this is a good choice: This classic design has a rich sound.

Who is it for? When purchasing a smart speaker, those who aren't willing to compromise on high-quality sound and classy appearances.


Why did we choose the Marshall Woburn II?

It is possible to argue that smart speakers often have two disadvantages. They are not the most appealing to look at. They don't add much to your space, whether it's a small, plastic puck or a fabric-wrapped cylindrical. Second, while some speakers do sound great, they don't have the power to fill large rooms with loud, clear sound.


Both of these issues are addressed head-on by Marshall Woburn II. The Marshall Woburn II is a bold statement with its retro-cool guitar amp-inspired design. The vintage feel is reflected in the physical control knobs at the top and the chunky rubber feet at the bottom. This adds instant appeal to any space and makes it easy to place.


The smart speaker is much more than just a pretty face. You'll find two tweeters measuring 1 inch and two subwoofers measuring 5.25 inches. They are powered by 110-watt class D amps. You won't hear any distortion, even at high volumes.


The speaker can be connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth 5.0 with AptX. This high-quality speaker has one drawback. It doesn't support voice assistants directly. However, you can still use phone-based voice aids to connect.


The Marshall Woburn II has a great mix of style, reverberating, and sound quality for wireless audio enthusiasts who take their wireless sound seriously.



Amazon Echo Studio

Best smart speaker for 3D sound



PROS

  • Basses of the highest quality

  • Simple and elegant setup

  • Dolby Atmos support and 360 Reality Audio support

  • Sound stage is large and sprawling

  • All Alexa smarts

CONS

  • Sometimes, mid-range can be muffled

  • Lighter instruments can have a brittle touch

  • Limited availability of 3D music


Why this is a good choice: It's the only smart speaker to have Dolby Atmos capabilities and delivers an immersive, 3D sound environment.

Who is it for? Alexa lovers who want a speaker at the forefront of digital music formats.


Why did we choose the Amazon Echo Studio?

Although it looks a lot like the Apple HomePod's cylindrical design, the Echo Studio is a completely new type of smart speaker. The Amazon Echo Studio is still an Amazon Echo device. You can natively use voice commands to Alexa for everything, from music to thermostat control.


Amazon has taken a serious approach to audio quality recently. This was discussed about Echo Dot 3rd generation, but it extends much further. The Echo Studio is a leader in smart speaker audio quality. Also, Amazon has become a major source of high-quality music with the launch of Amazon Music HD streaming.


Amazon Music HD is a streaming platform offering high-quality CD-quality audio as well as hi-res audio. It also features immersive 3D music tracks via Dolby Atmos Music and Sony 360 Reality Audio. The Echo Studio is currently the only speaker that can work with all of them.


Amazon Echo Studio projects these formats in a room in 3D exactly as they were intended. It also provides a powerful and clean bass response that we didn't expect for a speaker this expensive.


Although the Amazon Echo Studio may offer the best sound, it can muffle stereo sound and some midrange sounds. However, it is great value for money and a brilliant smart speaker to enhance your smart home!



Conclusion



The choice of voice assistant depends on the ecosystem you use the most. They each have their advantages and disadvantages and work with most streaming services. Although Alexa is compatible with more smart devices, this may not remain the case forever. If you aren't sure, you can choose a smart speaker like the Sonos One - where you can choose between assistants.


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