We spend plenty of time talking about how smart today’s smart speakers are — but if you love high-quality audio and uncompressed music, you’re probably interested in the speaker part. What smart speakers will actually give you a worthwhile sound experience as well as extra features that work well with your smart home?
We’ve rounded up the top smart speakers you should look at if you’re serious about your music — starting with Amazon’s own Echo Studio, a speaker dedicated to high-performance sound setups.
- Class-leading bass
- Slick and simple setup
- Dolby Atmos and 360 Reality Audio support
- Large, sprawling soundstage
- All the Alexa smarts
- Mid-range occasionally muffled
- Brittle touch to lighter instruments
- 3D music still in limited supply
The Studio is designed for audio optimization, and the result is one of the best smart speakers for music around, a perfect fit whether you want a single speaker or a smart speaker you can connect to an existing system. Inside, five separate speakers work to provide a full range of sound, while sensors can detect the room and adjust tuning to compensate. Keep in mind that the built-in Alexa voice assistant doesn’t just control smart devices or allow you to call friends; it can also play music directly from popular services known for high-quality audio streaming, including Apple Music, SiriusXM, and Tidal.
Amazon’s Echo Studio works even better when it’s paired with something like Amazon’s own spatial audio or 3D Sound files, but even without them it still supports the Dolby Atmos format, which serious audiophiles are likely already focusing on.
Sonos One (Gen 2)
- Superb sound quality
- Dead-simple setup
- Super easy to use
- Excellent Alexa integration
- Priced well
- No threaded insert for mounting
- No Bluetooth streaming
The Sonos One is an excellent alternative to the Echo Studio. It’s a similar speaker in many ways, especially considering that Alexa is built in for voice commands and smart home control. However, the One gets a few additional upgrades, including a pair of Class-D amplifiers to go with the tweeter and mid-woofer, as well as options to manually adjust bass and treble so you can get exactly the sound that you want.
If you prefer to stream music, the Sonos One does come with its own Ethernet port for a hardwired internet connection. This helps make sure no audio quality is lost. Or, if you’re more interested in unconventional placement, the One is humidity resistant, so you can put it in the bathroom or take it out to the porch without worrying. You can even pair two of the speakers together for a room-wide stereo effect.
Bose Home Speaker 500
- Expansive stereo sound
- Sleek, attractive design
- Choice of Alexa or Google Assistant
- Easy-to-use controls
- Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and line-in options
- AirPlay 2
- Some music services not supported
- Slightly awkward multiroom control
- No Chromecast option for Android
Bose’s speaker is so smart that it offers compatibility with both Alexa and Google Assistant, plus an onboard LCD screen that can show you exactly what’s playing and even display a bit of album art. Bose is no slouch at speaker design, and the dual drivers included here can easily fill a room with accurate sound. You can also pick from several preset modes available on the Bose app or the touch controls to better customize your experience.
Like Sonos products, Bose speakers can often pair with each other, so if you already use Bose you may be able to connect the Smart Speaker 500 to your existing setup. In fact, you can bundle it with an additional speaker or choose a cradle to make it portable.
Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin (2021)
- Incredible 240W sound with multiple tweeters, drivers, and a subwoofer
- Built-in Alexa
- Software updates supported
- Very expensive
- The design isn’t for everyone
Yes, the Zeppelin looks odd, but it’s specifically designed for excellent sound. Inside the oval frame, you’ll find two one-inch double dome tweeters, two 3.5-inch midrange drivers, and one six-inch subwoofer, totaling 240W of music-ready power. That adds up to one of the best audio experiences you can get with a single home speaker, and thanks to the built-in Alexa function, you can easily give it voice commands or look up your favorite artists and albums.
The Zeppelin also supports software upgrades that can add new features. Recently, the model was upgraded to allow pairing with other Bowers & Wilkins formation speakers, which is great for a multi-room setup.
Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin (2021)
Google Nest Audio
- Superb audio performance
- Charming design for any decor
- Adapts audio quality to any room
- Attractive $100 cost
- Dense weight
- Too complacent with feature upgrades
If you prefer Google Assistant for your voice commands, don’t sleep on the Nest Audio — a compact smart speaker with surprisingly large sound. It features a 75mm woofer and 19mm tweeter plus easy-to-use touch controls if you don’t feel like giving voice commands. The Google Home app is, of course, very Android friendly, making this speaker an excellent pick for Android phone users who have most of their playlists on the Android platform. It also offers a range of exterior colors, including options outside the typical light and dark, but colors like sage, sand, and sky to match your décor.
Sonos Beam (Gen 2)
- Easy setup
- Immersive, room-filling sound
- Sleek design
- AirPlay 2
- No HDMI inputs
- Requires compatible TV for Dolby Atmos
Sometimes a traditional counter-based smart speaker isn’t quite enough. The Sonos Beam is a powerful sound bar that needs a little bit of extra space but produces excellent audio that can easily reach across the room. While its preferred spot is under a TV, you don’t have to rely on the TV to get your tunes. The Beam can work with Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, and other technologies as well. Plus, it supports Dolby Atmos formats for a highly optimized song experience. Both Alexa and Google Assistant support are included here, so you have your choice of voice assistants.