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Best Smart Speakers
2020

The future belongs to the Internet of Things (IoT) and AI— no one seems to disagree with this foretelling. People are already riding the technological crescendo by embracing the “Smart” lifestyle.

After smartphones and smart cars, a smart home is the next big milestone in the IoT Journey.

Amazon Alexa Smart Speaker
Amazon Alexa Smart Speaker

Unlike smartphones and cars, a smart home is not a single gadget or equipment. It is a combination of appliances, light fixtures, powered gates, taps, thermostats, and other devices featuring intuitive and wireless control.

Instead of buying a complete smart home, you can actually transform your existing house into one by gradually adding smart devices and appliances to it. 

A smart speaker is one of the essential devices to get if you are on to the task of turning your sweet home into a smart home. Its voice assistance and intuitive device control features let you feel the smart and futuristic vibes in the lounge or any room in the houses. You can play your favorite music, get weather forecasts, and the latest news and control your other smart devices through a smart speaker. 

However, it is one heck of a task to find a good smart speaker when you are flooded with too many options!

If you are confused, spoiled for choices, and can’t settle on the best smart speakers for your home, keep reading. We have researched, shortlisted, and reviewed seven of the best smart speakers available in the market right now. 

Are you in a hurry and don’t want to sift through the entire article? Here’s a glimpse of the seven best smart speakers for smart homes. 

  1. Echo Studio - High-fidelity smart speaker
  2. Sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker
  3. Bose Portable Smart Speaker
  4. Yamaha Audio YAS-209BL Sound Bar
  5. Marshall Acton II Wireless Wi-Fi Multi-Room Smart Speaker
  6. Orbi Voice Smart Speaker
  7. Roku Smart Soundbar with built-in 4K Streaming Media Player

1. Echo Studio - High-fidelity smart speaker

Echo Studio - High-fidelity smart speaker

We are starting our list with Amazon’s Echo Studio that displays the smartness and intuition of a speaker in the best possible way. The all-new Echo has just been released but the Echo Studio is still the best Amazon smart speaker available without a doubt.

Echo Studio is a hi-fi speaker with a built-in Alexa voice assistant. The best thing about Echo Studio is Amazon hasn’t made it compatible just with its own products. Besides Amazon Music, you can play songs and podcasts from Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, and various other streaming apps. 

To make it a true hi-fi, Amazon has incorporated five speakers in Echo Studio along with Dolby Atmos. This set of features enables this smart speaker to create immersive sound with powerful bass and more clarity and depth. The expansive sound also makes Echo Studio a great option to be used with home theaters.

Another thing that makes Echo Studio stands out among other smart speaker is its adaptation feature. No matter where you place it, the speaker automatically senses the space’s acoustics and fine-tunes itself for optimal sound. 

Pros 

  • Produces spatial sound for a better listening experience
  • Compatible with Zigbee smart home devices as well 
  • A great bang for the buck

Cons

  • The power cord has to be bought separately

See Echo Studio on Amazon

2. Sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker

Sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker

The second product on our list is another smart speaker that ticks all the boxes for homeowners. It is a compact smart speaker with built-in Amazon Alexa and boasts brilliant sound. A single Sonos One is enough to fill your lounge with top-quality sound. Besides your voice, you can also control the speaker through the Sonos app and Apple AirPlay2. 

On the other hand, Alex lets you make the most of the ‘smartness’ of the device. From checking news to finding the best nearby pizza joint, Sonos One with Alex will be at your service. We also love this smart speaker for its ergonomic design. Whether it is a kitchen counter, work desk, or bookshelf, you can put it anywhere.

The manufacturer has also enabled users to use Sonos One in pairs to create stereo separation. You can set them up with play bars and beams for more detailed sound in your home theater. 

Pros

  • Lightweight 
  • Humidity-resistant— can be used in bathroom
  • Great value for money

Cons

  • Not portable and rechargeable

See Sonos One on Amazon

3. Bose Portable Smart Speaker

Bose Portable Smart Speaker

This Bose portable smart speaker lets you peek into the future with its innovative design and impressive set of features. At first, the Bose portable smart speaker looks like a giant mic placed upside down. This speaker boasts featherweight construction, weighing only two pounds. It also features a handle on the top and works up to 12 hours on a single charge.

All these portability attributes allow you to have on-the-go use of smart technology. Bose portable can be great fun on outdoor trips. The manufacturer has also kept its construction in line with its use in rough and tough conditions. 

The speaker looks elegant but sports a rugged casing with IPX4 water-resistant rating. That’s why Bose portable smart speaker can endure falls, bumps, smacks, and water splashing without going kaput. The device comes in two stunning finishes: Luxe Silver and Triple Black that can fit in any contemporary and minimalistic interior.

Pros 

  • Offers 360 degrees of deep and lifelike sound with a strong base
  • Rugged construction yet easy on the eyes
  • Compatible with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Suitable for both indoor and outdoor use

Cons

  • Can’t be used as a phone speaker

See Bose Portable Smart Speaker on Amazon

4. Yamaha Audio YAS-209BL Sound Bar

Yamaha Audio YAS-209BL Sound Bar

Yamaha Audio Store has introduced a great multipurpose soundbar that you can use as a smart speaker as well as a stereo of your home theater system. The soundbar feature voice control and have built-in Alexa. Then, you also get a subwoofer with it for a deep bass effect. The subwoofer is wireless, so you can conveniently place it anywhere.

The bar has the perfect minimalistic shape in black color. You can’t tell if it is a smart speaker and stereo system from a distance. The other great bit about this versatile speaker and stereo system is its DTS virtual integration. The use of this audio processing technique enables the speaker to generate 3D surround sound. 

Besides Amazon music, you can access Spotify for its vast library of music and podcasts on the Yamaha Audio Sound Bar. Even if you don’t have internet connectivity, you can enjoy its crisp sound by playing downloaded stuff from your phone via Bluetooth.

Pros

  • Easy to set up with both HDMI and optical cable
  • Comes with its own control app
  • Clear voice mode— no subtitle needed

Cons 

  • The subwoofer specs could’ve been better

See Amazon Audio Sound Bar on Amazon

5. Marshall Acton II Wireless Wi-Fi Multi-Room Smart Speaker

Marshall Acton II Wireless Wi-Fi Multi-Room Smart Speaker

If you are looking to strike a perfect balance between modern and retro aesthetics, consider the Acton II Smart Speaker by Marshall. This Wireless smart speaker boasts the classic look of the infamous Marshall amplifier used throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s. This time you also get smart voice control with it. 

The speaker features Amazon Alexa so you can play your music and control your other Alexa-enabled smart appliances with your voice command. The speaker features far-field voice recognition technology that ensure the microphone picks up your voice even if you are across the room or music is being played in the background. 

We like the classic touch of analog control on the speaker as well. So besides its app, you can adjust sound features (bass, treble, etc.) of Action II by turning the knobs like good old days. 

Pros

  • Features a top handle for convenient carry
  • Can be used to create a multi-room sound system
  • Great classic design

Cons

  • A bit heavy on the pocket 

See Marshall Acton II on Amazon

6. Orbi Voice Smart Speaker

Orbi Voice Smart Speaker

Orbi has hit it out of the park with its Alexa-powered smart speaker. The speaker is one of the most economical options on the block. On top of that, it also features a Wi-Fi extender that can ensure 2,000 sq-ft consistent coverage of your existing Wi-Fi router.

It is worth mentioning that the extender feature of the speaker has no bearing on its sound quality and smart features. Orbi has used the audio expertise of Harmon Kardon to offer users rich and room-filling sound for a wholesome listening experience.

Amazon Alexa also works seamlessly on the Orbi speaker and lets you control all the smart appliances of your house through voice command.

Pros

  • Great value for the price
  • Sturdy construction and clean design 
  • Impressive microphone— promptly picks up voice commands 

Cons 

  • Wi-Fi extender might not work great with non-Orbi routers

See Orbi Voice Smart Speaker on Amazon

7. Roku Smart Soundbar with built-in 4K Streaming Media Player

Roku Smart Soundbar

We are topping off our list with another soundbar that is also a smart speaker. This device by Roku creates premium sound and is compatible with almost all home entertainment systems. If you want to complement the picture quality of 4K resolution, this Roku Smart Soundbar could be a great option. 

The other great thing about this smart speaker is it is not an Alexa-only device. You can also configure it with Google Assistant to control your smart devices. 

The other impressive bit about Roku’s smart speaker is its automatic fine-tuning. It optimizes the sound for speech clarity and also takes care of the high pitches of loud commercials.  You can also use it on night mode to enjoy the sound without waking up anyone in the house.

Pros

  • Easily connect to other Roku speakers for stereo sound
  • Intuitive sounds settings
  • Works with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant

Cons

  • Can’t hook up to cable TV and DVD player 

See Roku Smart Soundbar on Amazon

Things to Consider While Buying Smart Speakers for Your Smart Home

Even though the above list offers you enough options to consider, consider these factors if you want to look at more smart speaker models. 

Shape and Style 

A smart speaker should look the part in your smart home. Smart homes usually boast minimalistic and industrial décor, and, therefore, most smart speakers come in shapes and styles suitable for those visual themes.

However, you can also find classical designs (e.g., Marshall Acton II) that can also serve as a focal point of the given space.

Control Type 

Amazon Alexa is undoubtedly the most popular control type in smart speakers for its seamless function and extensive computability. This is also the reason why most speakers on our list are also Alexa-powered.  But you are not bound to stick to Alexa devices. If you are team Google, you should get speakers with Google Assistant. Or better yet, get a device that is compatible with both Google and Alexa controls!

Portability

You can use a lot smart speakers as a portable Bluetooth speaker as well. However, there are very few wireless speakers that boast good smart features. So, be careful when investing in a portable smart speaker specifically if you want it for this reason. You’ll be super disappointed to purchase one that doesn’t give you the mobility you want.

Price

You will find a range of price points in the smart speaker marketplace. You can easily find a top-of-the-line smart speaker within $200. Paying more than $300 for a smart speaker is possible and audiphiles will lean in this direction.

Getting a smart speaker under $50 is a great way of testing the waters and making sure you like the experience in your house.

FAQs

Which Is Better Voice Assistant: Google or Alexa?

There is not much difference between the two. However, Alex is slightly ahead when it comes to smart controls and Google is quite ahead in intelligent answers and understanding what you ask.

Does Using Alexa Cost Me Anything?

No, Alexa is absolutely free to use through its free app.

What are Smart Speakers are Capable of?

They can play music, answer your questions, and control your smart devices through voice commands.

Is Aux Input given in Smart Speakers?

Some smart speakers have it some don’t. Google Mini don’t have one but the Amazon Echo does.

Our Final Thoughts

We hope that the above reviews, brief buying guide, and FAQs help you settle on the best smart speakers for your smart home. If you are open to suggestions, we would recommend you buy Amazon’s Echo Studio for its all-around features. It boasts a 5-speaker sound system with Dolby Atmos.

It is also self-adaptive and tunes itself in line with the acoustics of the given room or lounge. It is not heavy on the pocket either. If you are looking for portability and multiple control options, Bose Smart Speaker would be a good bet.

This post was last updated on 2020-10-22 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.


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