Admit it: you’re falling in love with Alexa. From playing music and setting timers to checking the weather and switching-off your smart lights using just your voice, there’s something irresistible about the Amazon Echo’s proprietary voice recognition software.
However, Alexa is changing. For years confined to answering dumb questions and to weedy-sounding speakers made only by Amazon, Alexa is now flourishing. Alongside a massively expanding Alexa Skills set comes a new drive for sound quality.
From the audio-focused Echo Studio to the latest versions of the Echo and Echo Dot, Amazon is increasingly fixated on giving users a better-sounding experience, something that third-party brands – from Bose to Sonos to Yamaha – have been obsessed with for a few years.
That’s not to say there isn’t an incredible range of Alexa-enabled speakers. Before buying ask yourself what you really want. An alarm clock? A desktop gadget? An intercom-style video call device? Or a full-blown home cinema system? All of these products and more now come under Alexa’s control as the smart speaker matures.
So without further ado, here are the best Alexa speakers – Echo and otherwise – for your smart home that you can buy today:
[Update: New details have emerged about a new wall-mounted Alexa tablet that serves as a smart home command center being developed by Amazon’s Lab126 hardware division, the same one that made the Amazon Kindle, Echo and Echo Dot.
The mystery device is reportedly still very much in development at this point, but the general idea is that it’d work as a central hub to control your smart devices like the Amazon Echo Show. The device could potentially show upcoming calendar events and could also have a built-in camera for video calling.]
- Looking for more voice assistant options? Check out the best smart speakers of 2021
Is this the best smart speaker? After years pushing its own multi-room home audio system, Sonos went and produced the spectacular Sonos One, complete with touch-sensitive controls, two Class-D digital amplifiers, one mid-woofer and one tweeter, its soundstage is punchy, energetic and bassy.
It’s easy to set-up, with a nifty Trueplay Tuning process (which requires you to take your phone around the room while it plays test sounds), while a new update has just added Hi-Res Audio to the mix. It’s so good as a standalone speaker that you can even buy it without Alexa.
Read more: Sonos One review
[Update: There could be a smaller, cheaper version of the Sonos Move on the horizon, and it might be a big rival for the Apple HomePod mini. The original Sonos Move is the company's portable smart speaker, combining a choice of Alexa or Google Assistant smarts with the convenience of a Bluetooth speaker.]
Amazon’s first high-end smart speaker for home cinemas is its best-sounding Echo so far. One of the most powerful speakers you’ll find for the money at 330W, buy two Amazon Echo Studio speakers and you can set them up in the Alexa app to create an immersive home cinema system.
Read more: Amazon Echo Studio review
The new Amazon Echo is a serious step up from its predecessors, even if it still doesn't have the best sound of any smart speaker. Add to that the built-in Zigbee smart home hub and a new AZ1 neural edge processor that will reduce the time it takes for Alexa to respond to commands, and you’ve got the recipe for the best Echo design yet.
Of course, while the hardware is all new, it’s still the same ol’ Alexa under the hood. Alexa will still be able to answer your basic questions or make calls within your country of residence, as well as control any number of smart devices you have around your home.
Read more: Amazon Echo (2020) review
The Amazon Echo Dot has always been the best option for those who aren’t sure about smart home tech and want to take the first step. It provides a place for Alexa to live inside your home and packs in enough sound performance to fill a room. All that for under $50 / £50 / AU$80 and it’s easy to see why it’s long been one of the most popular smart speakers on the market.
In some of those ways, the Amazon Echo Dot (2020) lives up to the legacy set down by all of the previous Echo Dot devices – it’s small, decently loud and, thanks to Alexa, it’s pretty smart, too.
Read more: Amazon Echo Dot (2020) review
There’s not much to get excited about on this, the newest version of the Echo Dot. That is, unless the question you ask most frequently of Alexa is “what’s the time?”
Like its predecessor, the Echo Dot with Clock can double as a bedside alarm, albeit one that comes with all the smarts of Alexa on board alongside the ability to control your smart home devices (via a separate Zigbee-supporting speaker).
It has undergone a rather radical design overhaul over the previous Echo Dot with Clock, sporting a space age-esque spherical design that's available in both gray and white color schemes. All the features of the previous Echo Dot with Clock remain, including a 3.5mm AUX-in port, and the blue Alexa light ring – although this is now located at the bottom of the smart speaker rather than the top.
Read more: Amazon Echo Dot with Clock (2020) review
If you’re searching for the best-sounding smart speaker, stop searching. With Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa built-in, the sleek anodized aluminum Home Speaker 500 has the smarts alongside room-filling sound.
An eight microphone array, designed for near and far-field listening, lets you talk to Alexa even when music is playing loud. However, setting the speaker up on a Wi-Fi network using the Bose Music app is harder than it should be.
Read more: Bose Home Speaker 500 review
Pitted against the Echo Show 5 for the title of ‘best compact smart display’, the mango-sized Echo Spot is the more affordable and better looking of the two.
With a round 5.5-inch screen that’s about the size of a smartphone, it’s cute and quirky, and is designed for use anywhere in a home. Ideal to use for intercom-style video chat around the house and beyond, it crops widescreen video and zooms-in to fit faces to its circular screen, and its tiny speaker is surprisingly good.
Read more: Amazon Echo Spot review
Why shouldn’t Alexa get involved with home entertainment?
Despite bringing Alexa to the living room, the headline act on this 2.1-channel soundbar is audio quality. It’s got a 100W driver and 200W of power for the entire system spread across two front-firing speakers, and a separate wireless subwoofer. Cue a big soundstage that also features crisp, clear vocals, well-integrated bass and – thanks to DTS Virtual:X processing – an immersive sonic experience.
Read more: Yamaha YAS-209 review