February 3, 2023

The best smart speakers: Why Sonos One, Amazon Echo, and Google Home Max are our favorites

From the high-end to the low-end, here are your best options for great (and smart) sound.

All products featured here are independently selected by our editors and writers.If you buy something through links on our site, Mashable may earn an affiliate commission.

If you’re searching for a new speaker, the market is flooded with options. Whether you’re looking to spend your time listening to music outside, in search of the perfect indoor music solution, or both, there are hundreds of speakers for you to choose from.

But what about smart speakers? You know, the kind that come with built-in voice assistants and can be found in almost any home at this point? If you have a bunch of “smart” devices lying around your home — perhaps a robot vacuum, or even a smart toaster (yes, that’s a real thing) — a smart speaker is pretty much essential in keeping all of them connected. In short, a smart speaker is what makes your home truly smart. 

But like regular speakers, smart speakers are also totally saturating the market. You could spend all day scouring product descriptions and review sections to find the best fit for your home — but we would never make you do that. Instead, we compiled a small list of what we feel are the best smart speakers below.

Check them out, and take your pick. 

Can fill two rooms with audio • Great reviews on bass • Control all your music with the Sonos app • Compatible with Alexa
The Sonos is a popular smart home option for a reason: it makes listening to your music at home really easy.

Sonos One

You control everything using the Sonos app, which consolidates all of your music libraries and playlists.

Despite its compact size, the Sonos One can fill two rooms with deep, rich audio. It comes with two Class-D amplifiers for continuous sound without interruption or dropouts. The 3.5-inch mid-woofer was designed to deliver deep bass that Amazon reviewers responded well to. 
You control everything using the Sonos app, which consolidates all of your music libraries and playlists. You can play the same song throughout your home or customize the speakers to play a different track in each room. This Amazon best-seller can also be connected to any Alexa-enabled device so you can control the speakers with the sound of your voice. 
44 percent of customers gave the Sonos One 5 out of 5 stars on Amazon. We suspect you will too.

New shape emits fuller, more balanced audio • All the benefits of other Echo Dot models • Affordable as it is, plus it goes on sale all the time
Bulkier than earlier Echo Dots
Amazon’s newest Echo Dot is the best-sounding one yet, packed with the convenient features you’ve come to love and a brand new look.

Echo Dot 4th Gen

New look, better sound, and all the Echo Dot features you’ve come to know and love at an affordable price.

We now have another Echo Dot, and this one is Amazon’s biggest jump yet.
First thing’s first, the shape — featuring a globular design compared to the old Dots’ circular setup, the 4th Gen Echo Dot emits an overall fuller sound quality than ever before. Aside from that, you’ll get all the fantastic benefits of other Echo Dot smart speakers: The Alexa smart assistant, compatibility with first- and third-party apps, full smart home control, and more. 
And did we mention it’s super affordable? (Also, it goes on sale quite often.)

Excellent sound quality • Google Assistant • Great for music lovers
Takes up a lot of space
The Google Home Max is truly the best of both worlds when it comes to smart speakers — excellent sound quality as well as an effective, convenient smart assistant.

Google Home Max

If you care about audio quality just as much as you do smart features, the Google Home Max has the best of both worlds.

The Google Home Max is a smart speaker for audiophiles. If you care about audio quality as much as you care about convenience, you might want to think about making the investment (plus, Google Assistant is one of the better smart interfaces).
The extra-large smart speaker packs dual 4.5-inch woofers for deep, balanced bass, has custom tweeters for clear high frequencies, and a rigid design to keep sound composed (including the acoustically transparent fabric). The Google Home Max also makes use of smart sound, which automatically adjusts equalizer settings based on the room’s acoustics. Other than that, you’ll get all the perks of any Google smart speaker, like the helpful Google Assistant. And if it’s too big for you, you can also prop it upright to save some space. 

Sound quality is great • Automatic room calibration • Minimalistic design • Easy to set up
Only compatible with Apple Music • Siri isn’t the best smart assistant
If you want most of the perks of the Google Home Max in an Apple product, the HomePod is the way to go.

Apple HomePod

Apple’s HomePod scores high marks when it comes to sound quality, and features many of the same benefits of the Google Home Max, save for a few.

The Apple HomePod scored high marks in our review, and while that was two years ago, the speaker has withstood the test of time. 
To put it simply: If you like the idea of the Google Home Max but prefer Siri when it comes to smart assistants, the HomePod is the way to go. It has great sound quality just like the Google Home Max, a beautiful and minimalistic design, automatic room calibration, and a super simple setup process. 
If you’re married to only buying Apple products for your tech, the HomePod is definitely your best bet.

Lightweight and portable • Has an “extra bass” feature • Can be connected with another speaker for stereo sound
Water-resistant, but not waterproof or shockproof
This lightweight speaker’s price varies wildly based on your preferred color, but could be a good portable option if you love bass.
If you’re looking for a tiny speaker to throw in your bag and take with you, this one by Sony is a perfect fit. This speaker is designed with extra bass in mind. A passive radiator works with the internal speaker to enhance low-end bass response, giving it a boost. So deep bass that’s usually nonexistent with smaller speakers isn’t lost with the Sony XB10. 
There is a single driver that faces up for 360-degree sound, or you can turn the speaker toward you for more direct listening. It is neither shockproof nor fully waterproof like some of its portable competitors, but you can connect the device with an extra speaker for stereo sound, and it has up to 16 hours of battery life. The price ranges from $58 to $129, depending on color.

Good reviews on audio
No charge out port • Can’t be paired with another speaker
If you’re looking for a portable mid-sized Bluetooth speaker without all the bells and whistles, this could be it.
Bose SoundLink offers solid sound for its size, and its durability makes it perfect for trips to the park or the beach. Reviewers say that the audio is crisp and clean, even at maximum volume. 
It doesn’t come with a charge out port, and you can’t pair two of them together for a wider sound range like many of its competitors. But if you’re looking for a personal, budget-friendly, mid sized Bluetooth speaker without all the bells and whistles, reviewers rated this one 4.3 out of 5 stars.

Great reviews on sound and loudness • Great bass • Super popular • Affordable
A little odd-looking
With so many 5-star reviews, Oontz has to be doing something right. Also, check out that great price!

Oontz Angle 3

Thanks to 10 watts of peak output power, you can fill an average size room with high-quality sound.

With over 18,000 5-star reviews, the weatherproof Oontz Angle 3 plays loud, distortion-free sound at its maximum volume. And thanks to 10 watts of peak output power, you can fill an average size room with high-quality sound. 
The two precision drivers deliver clean and clear highs and mids and reviewers say the bass is spectacular. The Oontz provides up to 12 hours of battery life and is easily connected to most smart devices.