Best Google Assistant Speaker Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best Google speakers you can buy in 2021.
Google may have arrived late to the smart speaker shindig, but the company is doing its level best to make up for lost ground. Adoption of Google voice control and Chromecast is becoming much more common, and opting for the Google Assistant when picking a smart speaker might be especially sensible if you're using other Google devices such as Pixel phones or Nest products.
Thanks to Google's class-leading Search and the latest Google Home app, there's no denying that the best Google Assistant speakers deliver excellent results when trying to test general knowledge. The tricky bit is making sure you get a Google speaker that delivers good sound quality for your music as well as delivering on the voice assistant promise.
Whether you want Bluetooth or wi-fi, an aux input or compatibility with a certain streaming service or a screen for visual answers as well as verbal ones from Google, we can help you find the best Google Assistant speaker for your needs.
How we choose the best Google Assistant speakers
The What Hi-Fi? team tests hundreds of products every year – and that includes the newest smart speakers. How do we come to our review verdicts and why should you trust them?
We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London and Bath, where our team of expert reviewers do all our independent testing. This gives us complete control over the testing process, ensuring consistency and impartiality.
All products are tested in comparison with rivals in the same price category, and all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than an individual reviewer, again helping to ensure neutrality and avoid any personal preference.
Finally, we choose the culmination of our efforts – the best products from all of our in-depth reviews – to feature in our Best Buys, which is where you are now. If you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended below, or on any other Best Buy page, you can be assured you're getting a What Hi-Fi? approved product.
Arguably the best all-round smart speaker you can currently buy, the Sonos One sounds superb for the money and has all the functionality you're likely to need. There's Spotify and Tidal integration, the ability to chat with Google Assistant (and Alexa), and the option to build a multi-room system around it using other Sonos speakers or AirPlay 2. This is now the best Google speaker on the market.
Read the full review: Sonos One
This portable wireless speaker is powered by Google Home and delivers great sound and performance on budget. It's perhaps a touch heavy for taking everywhere you go, but otherwise it ticks all of our boxes for a Google Assistant speaker.
As well as Google's smart features, you will also find Bluetooth 4.2 and AirPlay 2, plus a battery life of up to 8 hours. There's a neat charging cradle supplied and a standard USB-C port.
In terms of the sound quality, the JBL Link Portable presents a detailed, musical, spacious and cohesive listen. You can control Spotify with your voice and of course get random questions answered at the drop of a hat. Undoubtedly one of the best Google Assistant speakers we've tested at this price.
Read the full review: JBL Link Portable
Another Sonos speaker, but this one is a little different. The Sonos Move is the first Sonos speaker to be portable and the first to offer Bluetooth streaming. It still offers everything you'd expect from Sonos, with full multi-room streaming functionality and access to Google Assistant, but if you were expecting a battery-powered, Bluetooth version of the Sonos One, think again.
Physically, the Move towers over the One. Compared to the majority of portable Bluetooth speakers, and indeed anything Sonos currently offers, it is relatively tall (24cm) and heavy (3kg). So while it certainly has a battery, we're not sure how many people will be taking it on holiday or to the park.
Sonically it's weighty and full-bodied, and the Move can carry a tune as well as the next Sonos speaker, but it's big and expensive, which brings it up against some more capable speakers. Still, for the portable Sonos experience, look no further.
Read the full review: Sonos Move
We didn't know what to expect when IKEA and Sonos released a bookshelf that could sing... but the results are actually quite impressive. The Symfonisk bookshelf speaker is the cheapest Sonos multi-room component on the market, half the price of a Sonos One and two-thirds that of the other IKEA speaker in the new range (the Sonos IKEA Symfonisk lamp speaker).
It’s also fully integrated into the existing eco-system, and will link to any other Sonos kit you have. And you’re not going to get a better-sounding multi-room speaker with Sonos’s sonic signature for this price – not to mention one that you can use as a floating bookshelf. A Sonos + IKEA bookshelf speaker? It’s a thumbs up as far as we’re concerned.
Read the full review: Sonos IKEA Symfonisk bookshelf speaker
To put the Google Nest Hub’s 7in (1024 x 600) touchscreen into context, the display real estate is only marginally bigger than the 6.7in one sported by the largest iPhone 12 Pro Max when measured on the diagonal – and here, there's no camera for selfies, video calls or security duties.
But there are plenty of music streaming and TV services available, including All 4, Deezer, Netflix and Disney Plus – and remember, Amazon's smart products don't currently have 'skill' support for Disney Plus. The headline-grabber, however, is Sleep Sensing, which is free to trial on the Hub this year but will come at a cost from 2022. As the Nest Hub includes Google’s Soli sensor for motion detection plus light and temperature sensors, not only can you stop and resume tracks by simply showing your Hub the palm of your hand, the chip housed within the speaker can tell you how long you slept for and how restful your sleep was. It's something different – and trying to align your 'sleep circles' with a good eight hours is quite addictive.
Amazon's Echo Show – a similar smart-speaker-with-screen concept – is almost three times the price and is bigger, beefier, and comes with a snapper. But thanks to Disney Plus, Sleep Sensing tech and a good (if not great) sound, the Google Nest Hub is a worthy proposition, depending on your priorities.
Read the full review: Google Nest Hub (2nd Generation)
The Google Home Mini is, basically, Google's spin on an Amazon Echo Dot. It's a dinky device that comes with Google Assistant and can be used purely as a wireless speaker or as a smart hub, through which you can control other Google Home or Chromecast-enabled speakers around your house.
It's cheap as chips, but you get what you pay for. The Mini is low on frills and features – the lack of Bluetooth or an aux input is a shame and the sound quality is average for music. But if you simply want hands-free access to Google Assistant voice commands and some occasional background listening, perhaps for the kitchen or a kids room, then the Home Mini is a fine choice.
Read the full review: Google Home Mini
It looks like your average smart speaker, but the Citation 100 produces bass by the bucket-load and can play extremely loud without strain. It is great for parties, though perhaps not so much for purists.
This Harman Kardon speaker has a pretty standard, minimalist design, and it keeps connections to a minimum, too, with no aux input. Control comes via the Google Home app and Google Assistant, and commands work well enough, though it seems slightly more prone to wi-fi drop-outs than rivals.
Sonically, while the Harman Kardon Citation 100 isn't exactly balanced, it is otherwise a tasteful-sounding smart speaker with enough scale to fill most rooms. If you don't mind that bassy over-exuberance, there's a lot to like.
Read the full review: Harman Kardon Citation 100
If you have a bit to spend and you want something bold, fun and wireless, the Harman Kardon Citation Towers are certainly worth an audition. They might not match up to the kind of traditional hi-fi system you could build for two grand, but then that was never the attention.
Subtlety is their main issue – these stereo towers like to play loud, with a lot of energy – but if you're hoping to get a party started then they will most happily be of service. Google Assistant being built-in only sweetens the deal.
Read the full review: Harman Kardon Citation Tower
See our pick of the best Amazon Alexa speakers