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Smart speakers have become ubiquitous in daily life, enabling voice assistant control of our smart devices and dispensing facts without picking up our phones. While all the smart speakers on the market have differing levels of sound quality, I’ll let you in on a big secret. They all perform great voice assistant duties.

That means whether it has Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri, Sonos’ own assistant, or even Samsung Bixby–they all will do the job you want them to. That means no matter which smart speaker you buy, from the cheapest to the most expensive, they all work equally well. Sure, you might have a preference depending on the other devices your smart home consists of, but that’s the only consideration. That simplifies your buying choice, as you can choose the one that fits your existing devices, budget, and decor. Here are my favorite smart speakers for 2023.

The best smart speakers you can get in 2023

New Project-32
Amazon Echo (4th Gen)
Editor's Choice

Defining the category

The fourth generation of the Amazon Echo got a rounded design to match the smaller Echo Dots while keeping the rich, detailed sound for which the line is known. You can link two together to make a stereo pair or add the Echo Sub for a little more low-end.

  • Small footprint
  • Alexa's ecosystem is unparalleled
  • Stylish design
  • Wider than the older design
  • No clock

The Amazon Echo (4th Gen) is the latest version of the smart speaker that kicked off the category all those years ago. It’s powered by Amazon Alexa, arguably the most useful voice assistant, with tons of third-party integrations called skills to bolster her already wide repertoire. This time around, the company ditched the cylinder design to make the Echo a larger version of the ball-shaped Echo Dot. That’s a good thing, as the sphere blends in with your decor better and makes the smaller Dots feel like child devices.

The Echo has two tweeters and a 3-inch subwoofer, so it can really pump out some quality Dolby-enhanced sound. That includes lossless HD streaming from Amazon Music. You can also stream from almost any service you can name, from Spotify to Apple Music. It also continuously monitors your room and automatically EQs the sound output to suit, with additional manual tweaks possible by asking Alexa. If you have more Amazon speakers, you can pair them in stereo pairs or use them for whole-house audio playback.

Alexa can recognize individual speakers and reply with individualized responses and has physical controls to play, pause, or mute the microphone. It also has an inbuilt Zigbee smart home hub to control smart lights and other devices from one central device.

Google Nest Audio on transparent background.
Google Nest Audio
Best for Google Assistant

For the Google Home

The Google Nest Audio is the best way to use Google Assistant to control your Google-fied smart home. It has a powerful sound, Google smarts, and the ability to do multi-room playback throughout your home.

  • Powerful sound
  • Stylish fabric-covered design
  • Understated notification LEDs
  • No wired input
  • Some issues with Bluetooth connectivity

The Nest Audio is the best smart speaker that Google has released, and one of the best of any with Google Assistant enabled. It’s roughly the same price as the Amazon Echo, so the choice is between if you have more Alexa devices or Google Assistant devices, a decision made easier if you use an Android smartphone. It uses the same knitted fabric design language as Google’s other smart speakers, making it more muted against the rest of your house. Mercifully, the LED status lights are small and underneath the fabric at the front, giving them an understated look.

The sound quality is balanced, with one 2.95-inch woofer and a 0.74-inch tweeter inside. If you have two, they can also be linked in a stereo pair, making the sound even more room-filling. Chromecast is integrated to cast music from your mobile devices easily, or you can ask Google Assistant once you’ve linked your other accounts. The only real drawback is that there is no AUX input of any kind, so all music has to be streamed.

sandman doppler smart clock
Source: Sandman Clocks
Sandman Doppler
Best smart speaker for nightstands

Charge your devices while you sleep

The Sandman Doppler is an Alexa-equipped smart speaker for the bedroom with a large clock face and six USB ports for charging up all your other devices. It can set up multiple alarms if your schedule varies and has stereo speakers and a bass port.

  • Great sound quality
  • Tons of charging ports
  • Solid Bluetooth
  • Expensive
  • Tricky to set up

There aren’t many options for smart speakers to replace your alarm clock in the bedroom, but the Sandman Doppler has one feature that puts it ahead of the rest. Or should I say, six features, as this smart speaker comes with six USB ports to recharge your other devices. It comes in two versions, one with six USB-A ports and one with three USB-C and three USB-A ports. It also has a large, easy-to-read digital clock with auto-dimming for nighttime. That clock face can’t be adjusted but can be set to show the weather.

Inside are stereo speakers and a bass port, and I can tell you it puts out audio quality that's better than most clock radios you might have heard. It’s impressive, and you can use Amazon Alexa to stream from your favorite music services or use the accompanying app. That app also helps you schedule alarms with a robust scheduling tool to set different wake-up times for different days. It’s a little complex to start with but stick with it, and you’ll wonder why other smart alarms can’t do the same.

sonos era 100 in white
Source: Sonos
Sonos Era 100
Best smart speaker for multi-room audio

Fill your home with sound

The Sonos Era 100 is a pint-sized smart speaker with Sonos' own voice assistant or the ever-helpful tones of Amazon's Alexa. It outputs stereo sound with two dedicated tweeters and one midwoofer for low-range.

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Works with other Sonos speakers
  • Stereo playback
  • Expensive
  • No Google Assistant
  • No spatial audio support

The Sonos Era 100 is the entry-level smart speaker in the company’s lineup. It replaces the Sonos One in the range, and some changes elevate it to new heights. The design is more cylindrical, giving it a sleeker feel. The power cable plugs in underneath, so the only port breaking the sides is a USB-C port that is used for an AUX dongle to get 3.5mm analog input. There is also a physical mute for the microphone, in case you don’t want your voice assistants listening all the time. It has Trueplay to adjust the sound to the room it’s placed in and can be paired with a second or with a Sonos One for stereo pairing.

For me, it’s not the ease of multiroom audio that is the best thing about Sonos. It’s the companion app that pulls in content from all of your streaming services to access from a unified hub. That makes it easier to listen to whatever the mood takes without opening up multiple apps and cast content. The only bad mark I can find against the Sonos Era 100 is that it doesn’t feature Google Assistant. The previous device had Amazon Alexa, Sonos’ own voice assistant, and Google Assistant, all living in harmony.

Apple HomePod 2
Apple HomePod 2
Best for Apple users

Spatial audio is astounding

The Apple HomePod 2 is powered by Apple’s S7 chip and sends out sound from a beamforming array of five tweeters, with one high-excursion woofer for room-filling sound. Thanks to room sensing technology, it adapts the sound in real-time and has Spatial Audio support.

  • Room-sensing calibration in real-time
  • Spatial Audio support
  • Smart hub for Matter devices
  • Siri isn't the best of the voice assistants
  • Heavy focus on Apple services

The Apple HomePod 2 is probably the best smart speaker for Apple users because of how tied into the overall ecosystem it is. It’s not because of how over-engineered it is, because that’s also true, with the S7 chip that debuted with the Apple Watch Series 7 powering it. That extra processing power is needed for spatial audio, and to power the beamforming going on with the five tweeters and custom-engineered high-excursion woofer. The HomePod 2 continually senses the room it's in, listening for sound reflections to tweak its output. That means it should sound as impactful in whatever room you place it, from cavernous rec rooms to intimate lounges.

The HomePod 2 can sync up with an Apple TV 4K or Apple Music for Spatial Audio, which makes it feel like you’re inside the recording. It’s better to hear than read about, so test it out at the local Apple Store, and you won’t want to go back to music recorded normally. The smart speaker also has Ultra Wideband technology inside, so you can start listening on your iPhone and easily hand off to the larger speaker. That also means it works with Find My, helping to track down AirPods, AirTags, and the like with a quick Siri command. It also has sound recognition for common issues like smoke alarms and breaking glass, and it can serve as a Matter hub for your smart home devices. It also has humidity and temperature sensors to monitor your home environment.

amazon echo pop smart speaker
Source: Amazon
Amazon Echo Pop
Best budget smart speaker

Alexa, for less

The Amazon Echo Pop is the most affordable way to bring the Alexa ecosystem into your home, with jaunty color options, local command processing thanks to an AZ2 processor, and the ability to act as a Matter controller. It can also bridge Amazon Sidewalk and serve as a Wi-Fi extender for an Eero mesh network.

  • Cute design
  • Affordable price
  • AZ2 processor for local command processing
  • No temperature sensor

If bringing a voice assistant into your home in the most efficient manner is your primary concern, the Amazon Echo Pop should be the first smart speaker you check out. The entry-level Echo is a tiny, tilted smart speaker for one primary use – connecting you to Alexa and all the skills and integrations within. The speaker has one 1.95-inch driver that is forward-facing due to the standing-on-its-edge design, which is more than enough to hear any of Alexa’s responses.

Interestingly, Amazon has put the AZ2 processor into this tiny smart speaker, so it should be able to process more voice commands on-device instead of sending them to a server. That means speedier responses or quicker response times for smart home control. The Pop does drop a few things from the slightly more expensive Echo Dot, like the temperature sensor, but sacrifices had to be made for the low price. That doesn’t make it less capable for smart home control. The Echo Pop is a Matter hub, so it can control any Matter-compatible smart home devices, which will be most of them, eventually. It is a Sidewalk bridge for other Amazon devices, and it’s also a Wi-Fi extender for Eero mesh networks. That’s a ton of smart home functionality for a tiny price.

sonos era 300 in white
Source: Sonos
Sonos Era 300
Best premium audio smart speaker

Dolby Atmos and spatial audio

The Sonos Era 300 is the new flagship of the company’s range, and brings room-filling spatial audio and Dolby Atmos from a single smart speaker. It can self-tune to your room, and streams audio from any streaming service you can think of.

  • Dolby Atmos and room-filling spatial audio
  • Four tweeters and two woofers
  • Impressive low-end performance
  • Wallet-destroyingly expensive
  • Needs dongle for AUX input

The new flagship from the company, the Sonos Era 300, packs tons of audio quality into a diminutive package. I was absolutely blown away by the sound quality these speakers can put out, which doesn’t deteriorate in any listening position thanks to Sonos’ Trueplay technology that optimizes the EQ according to the room characteristics. Make no mistake, this is premium sound with a premium price tag to match, but if you value musicality over every other consideration, this is the smart speaker to beat.

The on-its-side hourglass design comes in black or white and houses six drivers inside for spatial audio and Dolby Atmos. That’s one front-facing tweeter, two side-facing tweeters, one up-facing tweeter, and two side-firing high-performance woofers. The end result is room-filling audio that you can feel in your chest. It can be paired as a stereo pair or linked to a Sonos Arc or Beam soundbar to use the Era 300s as rear surrounds for an insane home theater experience.

It has Alexa as one of the voice assistant options, or there’s the company’s own Sonos Voice Control which is limited in scope but very useful in controlling the smart speaker. The top of the speaker has capacitive buttons to adjust volume, play/pause playback, and mute the microphone temporarily, or there’s a physical mic mute switch on the back. It also has Apple AirPlay 2, Sonos Radio, and support of over 100 streaming audio services.

nest hub max smart display
Source: Google
Google Nest Hub Max
Best smart speaker with display

Take control of your home

The Nest Hub Max is currently the best way to control a Google Assistant-equipped smart home, with a smart speaker combined with a touchscreen display and webcam. It can be a Matter hub, be used for video calls, and play music while you cook.

  • 10-inch display
  • Video calling capabilities
  • Control your smart home
  • Expensive
  • Older chipset

The Google Nest Hub Max is the best smart speaker with a display on the market. At least until later this year when the Pixel Tablet arrives. Even then, the Nest Hub Max will be significantly cheaper unless you want the detachable tablet experience. The Nest Hub Max has a slanted, tablet-like design stuck onto a smart speaker with woven fabric. The 10-inch screen is in landscape orientation, with a webcam in the middle of the top edge. It can serve as a Nest Cam security camera or be used for video calls, making this more versatile than the other smart speakers on this list.

The Nest Hub Max can play music or respond to Google Assistant queries. It can also serve as a central control for your smart home devices, showing them on the screen. You can use it to show YouTube videos, which is perfect for following recipes in the kitchen, or having third-party streaming services on for entertainment. The screen can also be used to display Google Calendar and sync all the family’s schedules in one place.

A render showing the 5th gen Echo Dot speaker for kids with an owl design on the fabric cover.
Amazon Echo Dot Kids (5th Gen)
Best smart speaker for kids

The cutest Echo Dots ever

The Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition takes Amazon's Echo Dot and wraps it in whimsical designs like a panda, dragon, or owl -- perfect for stimulating young imaginations. It also comes with an Amazon Kids+ subscription packed with audiobooks and other content.

  • Cute, whimsical designs
  • One year of Amazon Kids+ included
  • Two-year, no-questions warranty
  • Privacy implications of it being in your kid's room

The Echo Dot Kids (5th Gen) is a whimsical way to get Alexa into your child’s routine. It’s the same Echo Dot that is sold for adults, but it comes with either an owl or a dragon printed onto the knitted fabric cover. That means it’s got better-than-average sound quality, responsive microphones, and Alexa with all the voice assistant has to offer. It also comes with kid-specific features, making this the best option for those little ears.

For a start, it comes with one year of Amazon Kids+. This subscription is packed with age-appropriate content for kids between the ages of three and twelve. That includes Audible books, interactive games, and educational exercises that Alexa administers. It comes with heavily-customizable parental controls to keep the little ones safe while they’re on an internet-connected device. Those controls also allow for voice communications between trusted friends, or family members so that your littles can practice independence in a safe environment.

Alexa will answer all of their questions on how, why, where, and when, without exasperation. The Amazon Kids+ subscription doesn’t end on the Echo Dot, it also opens a door to games, books, music and more on compatible devices like the Kindle, Fire tablet, Android or iOS devices.

Sonos Roam on transparent background.
Sonos Roam
Best portable smart speaker

Sonos sound, wherever, whenever

The Sonos Roam is a portable, battery-powered smart speaker with ten hours of playback which is good because the sound from the tweeter and mid-woofer needs to be heard. It supports Trueplay to adjust the audio to match the acoustics of its surroundings and has IP67 weatherproofing.

  • IP67 weatherproofing
  • 10 hours battery life
  • Trueplay to constantly adjust the sound for best quality
  • Expensive

While most of these smart speakers are tethered to a wall socket, the Sonos Roam is truly portable. The Bluetooth speaker can be played anywhere and can keep going with a ten-hour playback time. It comes with Google Assistant, but there is one catch. The Google Assistant needs a Wi-Fi connection to work, whether that’s a home network or your smartphone’s hotspot. It also has AirPlay for Apple users, just in case you thought the focus on Google would leave you out.

Inside the tubular construction is a pair of digital amplifiers, a tweeter, and a mid-woofer that add up to a sound quality beyond the average Bluetooth speaker. I mean, it’s a Sonos, and their reputation precedes them. There’s an optional wireless charging base to keep playback going if you are near a power socket. It also has a neat hand-off feature with other Sonos devices, so you can send the audio to your home speakers when you get tired of being outside.

The speaker might not look rugged, but looks are deceptive as it has an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance while also being shock-resistant. Small drops and bumps shouldn’t phase it, and the rigors of the backyard or beach should be no match for its sturdiness.

The best smart speaker for most people is the Amazon Echo

I recommend the Amazon Echo (4th Gen) as the best smart speaker for most people to use. It has great sound quality, looks stylish on the countertop or shelf, and has Alexa, the voice assistant with the most functionality. It also replaces a Zigbee hub for your other smart home devices, meaning you have to find a socket for one less thing. The only exception to this is if you are heavily into the Google ecosystem, in which case the Google Nest Audio is the smart speaker to pick up. Both of these options also have smaller versions, the Echo Dot and Nest Mini, to get your choice of voice assistant in every room of your home.

If you care about sound quality above all else, the Sonos Era 300 is the smart speaker you should splurge on. The six internal speakers recreate sublime spatial audio and Dolby Atmos content, with enough low end to make you feel the thump in your chest. I have a stereo pair of these speakers as my main music-listening setup, and, unlike most other speakers, they give you the same sound experience no matter where you are standing in the room.

New Project-32
Amazon Echo (4th Gen)
Editor's Choice

Leading the pack

The fourth generation of the Amazon Echo got a rounded design to match the smaller Echo Dots while keeping the rich, detailed sound for which the line is known. You can link two together to make a stereo pair or add the Echo Sub for a little more low-end.

If all you want to do is bring voice assistants into your home, the Echo Pop is the cheapest way to do so. It comes in quirky accent colors and can be a hub for Matter devices, Amazon Sidewalk, and extend Wi-Fi if you have an Eero mesh network. That's a lot of smarts for such a small speaker.