Best Smart Speaker iMore 2021
We know everything about good tunes, clear sound, and smart speakers: we've pretty much listened to them all! Looking to find a smart speaker that'll keep your tunes going all night long with crystal clear clarity? Then we have to recommend the Sonos One 2 for overall sound quality, compatibility, Alexa integration, and design.
- Best Overall: Sonos One Gen 2
- Best for Outdoors: Sonos Move
- Best for Apple: Apple HomePod
- Best for Alexa: Amazon Echo
- Best for Google Assistant: Google Nest Audio
Best Overall: Sonos One Gen 2
The Sonos One is the best all-around wireless speaker for most people. It has excellent sound quality for its price and pairs seamlessly with other speakers in the Sonos ecosystem to play music all around your home without expensive wireless installations.
And thanks to the introduction of AirPlay 2 support on Sonos One, these multi-room, multi-speaker capabilities are no longer restricted to other Sonos products. With AirPlay 2, your Sonos One can share music playback with other AirPlay 2 speakers from different manufacturers.
Voice control is becoming increasingly popular, and the Sonos One features support for Amazon's Alexa assistant, as well and Google Assistant. And thanks to recent updates for Alexa, you can now play Apple Music natively using Alexa on your Sonos One if you're a subscriber.
- Great sound
- AirPlay 2
- Sonos ecosystem
- Alexa and Google Assistant support
- Price might still be too high for some
- Not portable
Best for Outdoors: Sonos Move
The Sonos Move offers amazing sound both indoors and out with a rechargeable battery and IP56 weather resistance. This flexible speaker can handle humidity, light rain, snow, dust, salt spray, UV rays, and extreme variances of hot and cold temperatures.
Amazon Alexa is built-in for hands-free control, and it includes a handy charging base that you can set it on to top it off without messing with a cable. The best part, though, is that it can stream over WiFi, AirPlay 2, and Bluetooth — yes, Bluetooth! The Move is the first speaker from Sonos to support this standard wireless protocol.
- Amazing sound from a portable speaker
- Excellent build quality
- Water and dust resistance
- Microphones aren't the best
- Still a little bulky
Best for Apple: Apple HomePod
Apple's HomePod works with your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV, and your Mac for seamless multi-room audio. A six-microphone array allows you to summon Siri to play music and podcasts, even across the room. Stereo pairing can connect to another HomePod, enabling you to double the power of your tunes and blast 'em out loud and proud.
The HomePod also works with HomeKit accessories for quick and easy smart home controls. Plus, if you are really creative, you can use the HomePod in scenes and automation to have it automatically play music as soon as you walk through the door.
- Amazing sound quality
- Clean, compact design
- Simple setup
- Only works with Apple Music
- Smart home integration limited to HomeKit
Best for Alexa: Amazon Echo
The Amazon Echo connects to Alexa, allowing you to listen to the latest news, the hottest albums, ask important questions, and so much more, with beautiful great sound quality. The 3rd generation has vastly improved speakers and a more pleasing design that makes it a true showcase device.
You can play Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, and a host of other services natively on the device with Alexa without special voice commands. Once you set up the respective Alexa Skills, all you have to do is ask Alexa to play whatever artist, song, playlist, or genre you like, and it will instantly start playing directly from that service.
- Great value
- Improved speakers and design
- Can play Apple Music and Spotify natively
- Sound quality doesn't match Sonos or HomePod
- No longer includes smart home hub capability
- Doesn't support AirPlay 2
Best for Google Assistant: Google Nest Audio
Google's Nest Audio smart speaker delivers premium sound with a 75 mm woofer and 19 mm tweeter. Smart sound technology uses machine learning to automatically match the speaker to the room's acoustics to provide a personalized listening experience. Includes three far-field microphones. It's available in five great colors, Chalk, Charcoal, Sage, Sand, and Sky.
In addition to great sound, the Google Nest Audio includes Google Assistant, enabling it to play tunes from services like Spotify, YouTube, and Pandora. If that weren't enough, smart home voice commands could turn on the lights with ease.
- Premium sound
- Built-in Google Assistant
- Capacitive touch controls (3 touch areas)
- Doesn't support AirPlay 2
Smart speakers have come a long way since the original Amazon Echo, with expanded capabilities, and of course, better sound. Whether you are all-in with Apple, Alexa, or Google Assistant, there are now high-quality options for everyone.
The Sonos One 2 is the best for most with its great sound quality, design, and built-in Alexa. This flexible speaker can fill a room up on its own, plus it can pair with other Sonos speakers to create a completely wireless home theater experience.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Christine Romero-Chan is a Sonos speaker expert and knows everything you need to know about crystal clear tunes.
Jeramy Johnson is proud to help to Keep Austin Weird and loves hiking in the hill country of central Texas with a breakfast taco in his Fitbit-covered hand. When he's not outdoors, he's tinkering with his various Apple and Amazon devices. You can follow him on Twitter at @jeramyutgw
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