Sonos One on bathroom countertop
Sonos
Update, 08/19/2022: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and are confident these are still the best speakers you can buy.

What to Look for in a Smart Speaker in 2022

Smart speakers are an integral part of any smart home. Not only do they let you listen to music, podcasts, and audiobooks, but they also give you a way to easily communicate with your entire stable of connected devices. Because of this, you’ll need to do more than just search for a product with good sound quality—ensuring it works with your ecosystem is just as important.

Once you’ve determined which ecosystem you’re looking to build around and what your current devices support, only then should you start considering the sound quality. You’ll typically find that products under the $100 mark cut corners when it comes to bass, while products over $175 should be high enough quality for most listeners. If you’re a true audiophile, however, you might need to bump your price tag to well over $200 before your ears will be truly happy.

The final piece of the smart speaker puzzle is functionality. Are you hoping to expand your setup with other speakers? Will you be bringing it with you on your travels? Do you require native voice controls? The more of these extras you require, the higher your price tag will rise.

Although it can be overwhelming searching for the perfect smart speaker, it’s hard to go wrong in today’s market. High-quality products from Sonos, Amazon, Google, and Apple litter store shelves, and there’s really not a bad pick among the bunch.

Out of the dozens of smart speakers available, however, we found these seven to be most worthy of your time and money.

Best Smart Speaker Overall: Sonos One

Sonos on bedroom nightstand
Sonos

Pros

  • Incredible sound
  • Ultra-sleek design
  • Google Assistant and AirPlay support

Cons

  • Expensive

The Sonos One is a near-perfect blend of style, performance, and pricing. It’s a bit more expensive than the competition—typically retailing for $220—but there’s no doubt you’re getting what you pay for. Not only does it pump out some of the best sounds in its class, but a variety of quality-of-life features make it easy to use and provide it with versatility for all sorts of applications.

The main draw of Sonos One is its room-filling sound, which is provided by two Class-D amplifiers, one tweeter, and a mid-woofer, giving it the ability to hit every note thrown its way.

If you’re not still a fan of how things sound, Sonos makes it easy to adjust the smart speaker’s performance with a free smartphone app. You can also use software Trueplay to zero in on the acoustics of your room and optimize the Sonos One’s sound.

Its incredible sound isn’t the only reason Sonos One is the best smart speaker on the market. You’ll also get built-in support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, easy-to-access control buttons for managing your music, a sleek design that’s at home in any entertainment center, and the ability to upgrade your setup with other speakers for a truly immersive home listening experience.

Best Smart Speaker Overall

Sonos One

A sleek design, crisp audio, and support for most smart home ecosystems make the Sonos One well worth its expensive price tag.

Best Budget Smart Speaker: Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen)

Amazon Echo Dot next to water and yoga mat
Amazon

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Minimalist design
  • Native Alexa support

Cons

  • Lackluster sound quality

Clocking in at less than half the price of most other smart speakers, Amazon has somehow managed to pack a ton of functionality into this tiny orb. Of course, with such a low-price tag comes a few compromises. The majority of that falls on the Echo Dot‘s speakers, which leave a bit to be desired when cranking up the bass.

Aside from mediocre sound quality, however, there’s little to complain about. Built-in Alexa means you can easily play music, check today’s weather, set an alarm, or even call a friend through voice control. You can even connect it to the rest of your Amazon-controlled smart home to access appliances and set up routines.

The Echo Dot might be small, but it’s still a stylish addition to any home. It’s only available in two colorways (Glacier White and Twilight Blue), but the mesh design and front-facing LED clock make it a chic centerpiece for most kitchens, bedrooms, or even your main living space.

As long as you don’t mind a few drawbacks with its speakers, the Echo Dot is a great way to enhance your smart home without breaking the bank.

Best Budget Smart Speaker

Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen)

Amazon cut a few corners with the Dot's sound quality, but overall it's a well-rounded device at an affordable price.

Best Smart Speaker for Music: Bose Home Speaker 500

Bose Home Speaker on a bookshelf
Bose

Pros

  • Premium sound quality
  • Works with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
  • Alexa support

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Awkward design

Don’t let its early 2000s design fool you—the Bose Home Speaker 500 is an audio powerhouse. Two custom drivers are at the heart of the action, offering more than enough soundwaves to fill even the biggest of rooms. And if you need to adjust the volume or change tracks, its premium microphone and voice recognition technology make it easy to get yourself noticed in the middle of a party.

Bose cut no corners in kitting out the Home Speaker 500 with premium speakers. That’s not the only reason we love the device, however, as tap controls, voice controls, and a surprisingly large LCD display give you the functionality you’d expect from a $300+ smart speaker. There’s also a useful smartphone app to browse all your music and personalize your listening experience.

Despite its price and power, the Bose Home Speaker 500 isn’t for everybody. Not only is its price hard to ignore, but its overall design leaves much to be desired when compared to sleek new products from Amazon and Sonos.

But if you love to throw parties or rock out with your favorite music, those tiny drawbacks are easy to overlook.

Best Smart Speaker for Music

Bose Home Speaker 500

Premium sound quality and wide-ranging compatibility make it easy to look beyond the awkward design of the Bose Home Speaker 500.

Best Portable Smart Speaker: JBL Charge 4

JBL Charge 4 being used outside
JBL

Pros

  • 20 hours of battery life
  • Can charge your smartphone
  • Rugged and durable design

Cons

  • Lacks native voice assistant support

Portable smart speakers need to do more than sound good. They also need to be built with durable materials, carry a tiny footprint, and boast a reasonable battery life. All these added requirements tend to increase costs, but the JBL Charge 4 manages to tick all the right boxes without becoming an exclusive product.

Built with a rugged, waterproof design, the Charge 4 feels at home no matter where you take it. You’ll get around 20 hours of playback time before you’ll need to trek back home or find the nearest outlet for a recharge. Although it’s rather affordable and built for the road, it still manages to produce some impressive sounds using dual passive radiators.

You’ll miss out on native voice commands with the JBL Charge 4, but the action is easy enough to control after wirelessly connecting to your smartphone through Bluetooth.

You can even link up to 100 JBL devices together for enhanced performance—so if your friends invest in a JBL speaker, you can build up quite the sound system for your travels.

Best Portable Smart Speaker

JBL Charge 4

Rugged, durable, and boasting 20 hours of playback time, the JBL Charge 4 was built to travel. The biggest drawback, however, is its lack of built-in voice controls.

Best Smart Speaker for Alexa: Amazon Echo Studio

Person using Echo Studio in room
Amazon

Pros

  • Dolby Atmos
  • Sleek design
  • Adaptable sound based on location

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Much larger than the Echo Dot

If you like everything about the Echo Dot but wish it had better speakers, you’ll want to take a look at the Amazon Echo Studio. All of the usual functionality is present—including built-in Alexa—but the Studio bumps up the sound quality to offer a truly premium listening experience.

Inside the Echo Studio, you’ll find five speakers that churn out deep bass, crisp treble, and soothing midrange sounds. To accommodate all these added components, Amazon needed to beef up the size of the smart speaker. It’s not necessarily a bad design, but it’s noticeably larger than the Echo Dot and will require a bit more space on your countertop.

Support for Dolby Atmos and the ability to play music mastered in spatial audio and Ultra HD puts the Echo Studio among the best-sounding smart speakers money can buy. If you’re looking for a device powered by Alexa, you can’t do much better than this.

Best Smart Speaker for Alexa

Amazon Echo Studio

The Amazon Echo Studio takes everything great about the Dot and enhances it with a robust set of speakers.

Best Smart Speaker for Google Assistant: Google Nest Audio

Blue Nest Audio on pink background
Google

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Impressive audio
  • Google Assistant support

Cons

  • Limited range of bass

With the ability to adapt to your environment, Google Nest Audio sounds at home regardless of where you place it. That fancy technology is backed by a woofer and tweeter for clear vocals, making the Nest Audio a perfect fit for streaming audiobooks, podcasts, or the local news.

Most listeners will find its bass production to be lacking, although that’s par for the course in smart speakers under $100. And considering the high quality of the woofer and tweeter, it’s great to see Google round out the Nest Audio with unexpected functionality.

For example, you can link two speakers together to produce stereo sound, a variety of vibrant color schemes are available, and the product is largely made from recycled plastics for sustainability. All that adds up to make the low-priced speaker feel like a premium home appliance.

The rest of Google Nest Audio’s functionality is what you’d expect with any Google smart home product. Controlling other smart devices, checking the weather or your daily schedule, broadcasting messages, and changing music are all easily done with Google Assistant.

Nest Audio is an affordable, well-rounded smart speaker, making it a perfect addition to any Google-powered smart home.

Best Smart Speaker for Google Home

Google Nest Audio

Google Nest Audio brings impressive audio and functionality to your home, although its bass leaves something to be desired.

Best Smart Speaker for Apple HomeKit: Apple HomePod Mini

Apple Homepod Mini lineup
Apple

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Colorful designs
  • Surprising sound quality

Cons

  • Limited by Apple HomeKit

Quirky, colorful, and surprisingly affordable for an Apple product, the HomePod Mini is the most versatile smart speaker you’ll find for HomeKit. Dual passive radiators, a full-range driver, and computational audio provide 360-degree sound for a room-filling performance. In other words, it sounds incredible despite the affordable price tag.

Apple knows how to craft, sleek, intuitive devices, and the HomePod mini is no exception. Its mesh design should flow with most interiors, and simple tap controls make it easy to change songs, turn up the volume, or optimize your settings. Like most smart speakers, there’s also an accompanying smartphone app to help tie in the rest of your smart devices.

The biggest downside to the HomePod mini is Apple HomeKit itself. Right now there’s a limited number of compatible devices, meaning you’ll have fewer options for your smart home compared to ecosystems created by Amazon and Google.

But if you’re already sold on Apple and don’t mind the lack of compatible products, HomePod Mini is the perfect hub for a connected home.

Best Smart Speaker for Apple HomeKit

HomePod mini

HomeKit limits the functionality of the HomePod Mini, but there’s no denying its impressive sound and gorgeous design.

The Best Smart Displays of 2022

Best Smart Display Overall
Google Nest Hub (2nd Gen)
Best Budget Smart Display
Amazon Echo Show (2nd Gen)
Best Smart Display for Video Calling
Facebook Portal+
Best Smart Display for Amazon Alexa
Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen)
Best Smart Display for Google Home
Google Nest Hub Max
Best Smart Display for Apple Homekit
Apple iPad
Profile Photo for Jon Bitner Jon Bitner
Jon Bitner is a freelance writer who focuses on topics related to video games, science, and technology. His work can be found across the web, although he's a regular contributor to Digital Trends, Slickdeals, TVGuide, CordCuttersNews, and TheGamer. Before starting his writing career, Jon worked in the biotechnology industry, where he produced monoclonal antibodies to treat cancer patients.
Read Full Bio »