Best smart speakers 2024: the best voice assistant speakers tested by our experts

With AI assistants and smart tech continuing to explode in popularity and proficiency, smart speakers are becoming increasingly popular. Part music player and part robot-assistant, smart speakers can be integrated into your favourite ecosystem to control your home, your music or even the lights in your kitchen. Or, of course, they can just be used to play great music. 

We’ve tested the main players in the market right now - Amazon’s Alexa, Siri from Apple and Google Assistant - and while many of these handy helpers are tied to a specific platform or set of devices, many third-party products use these assistants despite being manufactured by separate companies. The Sonos Era 100, for instance, integrates Alexa despite being a Sonos-made product.

This isn't a simple area, with multiple parameters and considerations at play. Not only do you need to consider your favourite ecosystem and/or AI assistant, but there's also the small matter of sound quality, feature lists and build quality thrown into the mix. With this list of the best smart speakers – all of which our expert team of reviewers have tested in our dedicated listening rooms and also lived with at home – we hope to make navigating this tricky maze a whole lot simpler.

You can find out more about our testing process or else keep scrolling to see our pick of the smart speakers we think are the best around.  

Harry McKerrell headshot
Harry McKerrell

I'm a staff writer who has listened to and reviewed dozens of products during my time at What Hi-Fi?. I've had hands-on experience with every model on the list below, putting them through their paces to ensure you know exactly which speaker to go for. Smart speakers can be tricky beasts, as not only do they have to sound great, look good and provide up-to-date feature sets, but they also have to slot into your chosen ecosystem to be at their most effective. That's why we've made sure that, aside from the usual considerations, we've made it clear which of the models below will be compatible with your overall setup (Apple, Amazon, Google etc.) so that you're getting the most out of any potential purchase.

The quick list

We've given you a handy breakdown of all the smart speakers this list has to offer in short summary of their strengths and weaknesses below. If you need more info, just click the photo of the speaker you want to find out more about and you'll be taken to a more in-depth breakdown of its tech specs, features and performance.

The best smart speakers 2024

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

Best smart speaker overall

If you want a great Sonos speaker without spending Era 300 money, the 100 is the next best thing.

Specifications

Voice assistant(s): Sonos voice control, Amazon Alexa
Bluetooth : Yes (5.0)
Connections : Wi-fi, AirPlay 2, USB-C line-in (separate adapter required)
Features: Stereo pairing, TruePlay tuning, Spotify Connect, adjustable EQ, multi-room
Power : N/A
Dimensions (hwd): 18.25 x 12 x 13.05cm
Weight : 2.02kg

Reasons to buy

+
Large, open sound 
+
Great detail
+
Vast catalogue of streaming features 
+
Excellent, simple-to-use app

Reasons to avoid

-
Adapter for wired connection costs extra 
-
Rival Apple HomePod 2 is more natural with voices

In terms of overall performance at a competitive price, there are few better smart speakers than the Sonos Era 100. Released as a cheaper, slimmer alternative to the superb Era 300, the Era 100 keeps up with its bigger, more expensive sibling by delivering a host of streaming playback features within a robust, deeply musical speaker. Most of the same smart capabilities are on display here, too, and while Google Assistant has been officially dropped, Sonos's voice control and Amazon Alexa are here to take over such duties. 

If you’re not keen on splashing a lot of cash to foot the £449 / $449 / AU$749 asking price for the Era 300, the Era 100 is a great option as a smart home speaker that will suit most needs almost all of the time. Just like its larger counterpart, the 100 delivers a spacious, open sound, a lovely sense of rhythmic drive and all the detail and precision you could hope for considering the money paid. The accompanying Sonos app is a joy to use, the number of streaming features is vast, and everything is as well-made and reliable as you’d expect.

No, we’re not exactly happy to be spending extra money for a wired connection, but if you’re still happy to spend a decent amount without making as much of a dent in your funds as the 300, the Era 100 works superbly as a dedicated music player and a clever smart speaker. Job done. 

Read our full Sonos Era 100 review

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Sonos Era 100 scores in depth
AttributesNotesRating
Sound Excellent, only bettered by the Era 100's bigger brother.★★★★★
Features Bluetooth and wi-fi streaming, and a host of other features.★★★★★
BuildDependable, well-made, durable build as you'd expect from Sonos.★★★★★

Best smart speaker for spatial audio

What Hi-Fi? Award winner. The Era 300's immense soundstage and weighty presentation make it a very smart choice.

Specifications

Virtual assistant(s): Sonos voice control, Alexa
Bluetooth : Yes (5.0)
Connections : Wi-fi, AirPlay 2, USB-C line-in (separate adapters required)
Features : Spatial audio with Dolby Atmos, stereo pairing, TruePlay tuning, Spotify Connect, adjustable EQ, multi-room
Power : N/A
Dimensions (hwd): 16 x 26 x 18.5cm
Weight : 4.47kg

Reasons to buy

+
Immense scale of sound 
+
Detailed sound with deep, punchy bass
+
Great with spatial audio tracks 
+
Wide streaming support

Reasons to avoid

-
No Tidal Dolby Atmos support (yet)
-
Adapter for wired connection costs extra

If you crave home spatial audio as a matter of priority, then smart speakers don't come much more impressive than the Sonos Era 300. With the Era 300, Sonos has delivered a smart speaker capable of voice integration alongside revolutionary sound and an embarrassment of cutting-edge features to rival the best that Apple or other rivals have to offer.

Smart features are courtesy of Amazon Alexa and Sonos's own voice control, with Google Assistant dropped due to a change in Google’s technical requirements for third-party devices. That's not the greatest loss considering it's never been the most popular AI helper, anyway. 

With its unique, “cinched hourglass” shape, there’s no question that the Era 300 is a bit more of an acquired taste than most of the brand’s rather more conservative designs, but what isn't up for debate is how superbly the five-star Era 300 manages to perform. In short, it is absolutely excellent. 

Music-wise, the Era 300 is a versatile and confident performer, consistently filling our testing rooms with cohesive, spacious sound across a swathe of genres. Big choral numbers feel broad and immersive thanks to spatial audio, but the Era 300 excels across hip-hop, classic rock, movie soundtracks and more. Yes, it’s expensive and yes, it smacks of a rip-off having to pay 20 quid extra for a wired connector, but the Era 300 has earned the right to be so impertinent. 

A truly five-star performer, and one of the best smart speakers you could hope to find right now. By far the best smart speaker for spatial audio on the market, and easily one of the best models available if you have the money. 

Read our full Sonos Era 300 review

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Sonos Era 300 scores in depth
AttributesNotesRating
Sound Expansive, open and crisp - truly world class.★★★★★
Features Dedicated spatial audio plus extensive streaming features.★★★★★
Build Oddly shaped but superb build quality and easy to use.★★★★★
Top Tip
Becky Roberts
Top Tip
Becky Roberts

You're probably looking at the Sonos Era 100 and the Era 300 and wondering which is right for you. That decision will hinge on a few key factors, with price being a major player; the £449 / $449 / AU$749 of the Era 300 is a substantial sum and a large increase on the £249 / $249 / AU$399 you'll have to pay for the Era 100. That said, the larger Award-winner does boast peerless spatial audio performance, something the Era 100 doesn't have, as well as a broader sound and greater general sonic capabilities. Still, if you just want all those lovely streaming features and a speaker that will slot into your Sonos setup, the Era 100 makes sense as a more budget-friendly option. 

Best budget smart speaker

What Hi-Fi? Awards winner. Apple’s cheaper Siri-powered smart speaker is small but mighty.

Specifications

Voice assistant(s): Siri
Bluetooth : Yes (5.0)
Connections : Wi-fi, AirPlay 2
Features : Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos, stereo pairing, multi-room
Power : 20W
Dimensions (hwd): 8.4 x 9.8 x 9.8cm
Weight : 0.345kg

Reasons to buy

+
Sophisticated, engaging sound
+
Substantial smart skills
+
Impressive music discovery

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited third-party service support
-
Lacks a full control app

If the HomePod 2 is too big and expensive for your needs but you love the idea of an Apple-made smart speaker that will fit perfectly into your iOS-oriented ecosystem, the HomePod Mini is your best bet. At just 8.4cm tall and 9.8cm wide, it’s quite a bit smaller than the similarly spherical Amazon Echo, but it certainly doesn't lack for power. Get its swirling orb of coloured light up and running to signify that Siri is listening or processing and you're in for a real sonic surprise.

Siri, of course, is your voice assistant, and after a short period of learning it'll respond to the phrase “Hey Siri, play something I'll like” not by streaming your most played track of the last few weeks, but by playing something that you probably haven't heard before but which has been curated to fit in with your current tastes and habits. As a powerful way to discover new music, it's fantastic, and Alexa simply isn't as good at it.

The HomePod Mini goes loud, too. From the moment we start playing music, it’s clear that the Mini is happy to outperform its size and price, embarrassing its direct competition with the sophistication, organisation and maturity of its bold, assertive sound.

Apple products have occasionally laboured under the reputation of being a little overpriced, but the HomePod Mini, hovering around the £100 / $100 mark, actually seems like superb, Award-winning value. A no-brainer for Apple lovers everywhere. 

Read our full Apple HomePod Mini review 

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Apple HomePod scores in-depth
AttributesNotesRating
Sound Superbly sophisticated and punchy considering the size.★★★★★
Features Siri and music curation are especially superb.★★★★★
BuildWell-made, funky colours and lovely to use.★★★★★

Best smart speaker for Alexa

The 5th Generation of Amazon’s affordable smart speaker is small, cheap and perfect for Alexa lovers.

Specifications

Voice assistant(s): Alexa
Bluetooth : Yes
Connections : Wi-fi
Features : On-surface touch controls, snooze alarm
Power : N/A (mains-powered)
Dimensions (hwd): 10 x 10 x 8.9cm

Reasons to buy

+
Impressively expansive sound
+
Great Alexa integration 
+
Pleasing, understated aesthetic 

Reasons to avoid

-
Sound distortion at the higher ranges
-
Very Amazon-focused

Love Alexa? We'd heartily recommend the inexpensive and very cheerful fifth generation of the Echo Dot as the direct, if cheaper, rival to the HomePod Mini above. 

Amazon's smart speaker range has become big business in the last decade or so, with Alexa now almost synonymous with the whole concept of integrated, domestic AI. The Echo Dot (5th Generation) takes things to new levels, a powerful and clued-up smart speaker that practically gives itself away thanks to its meagre asking price and five-star quality.

Not that the Dot feels cheap - in fact, quite the opposite. Whereas once Alexa was a one-note performer capable of answering basic questions about the weather and or what the capital of Germany is, she's as filled to the brim with knowledge as Stephen Fry after a week in the British Library. The Dot's cybernetic assistant is more helpful than ever before, stuffed with so many tricks and quirks that you'll often find yourself falling into the trap of speaking to Alexa as though it, or rather she, were a real person. You can even use her to play Skyrim, albeit in a strange, truncated form. 

Audio has come a long way, too. We weren't mad about the sound of Amazon's early Echo models, but the trajectory has been very much one of continual improvement courtesy of Jeff Bezos' tireless team of audio tinkerers. Amazon's so-called “best-sounding Echo Dot yet” lives up to its billing thanks to a single 44mm front-firing speaker (4mm larger than the previous gen’s 40mm), offering sound that feels, for the size, weighty, listenable and surprisingly versatile.

Read our full Amazon Echo Dot (5th Generation) review

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Amazon Echo Dot (5th Gen) scores in-depth
AttributesNotesRating
Sound Surprisingly rounded, large-scale sound from such a dinky unit.★★★★★
Features Loads of features, and Alexa has never been smarter.★★★★★
BuildWell-made, compact, easy-to-use unit.★★★★★

Best portable smart speaker

The most stylish and refined little smart speaker we’ve heard - it's worth paying extra.

Specifications

Voice assistant(s): Alexa
Bluetooth : Yes (5.1)
Connections : Wi-fi, USB-C (for charging)
Features : Stereo-pairing mode, IP67 rating
Power : 60W
Dimensions (hwd): 4.6 x 13.3 x 13.3cm
Weight : 558g

Reasons to buy

+
Expansive sound, weighty bass
+
Competent Alexa integration
+
Stunning build and finish

Reasons to avoid

-
Not a budget option for Alexa voice control

Yes, the hugely impressive Beosound A1 qualifies as a smart speaker, even if you might think it's just a Bluetooth model at first glance. Thanks to its built-in Alexa compatibility and support from Qualcomm’s aptX Adaptive codec, the A1 is a proper smart speaker, something that's made even more remarkable considering how rugged, well-made and superb-sounding this bap-sized wonder is. Most smart speakers are welded to the mains as part of their nature, but the A1 has Alexa capabilities while also being a well-made and sophisticated piece of portable tech. That's a winning combination in our book.

In fact, the Besound A1 is something of a Jack-of-all-trades, master of many. Sonically, the well-made, hugely attractive unit offers a pleasingly comfortable yet authoritative performance that you'd be happy listening to all day, complimenting your musical catalogue with an expansive, meaty and assertive presentation. At the higher ends there's very little strain, while an expansive, weighty bass lays the groundwork with ease. Oh, and there's even a convenient strap for ease of transport for what is still a primarily portable unit. 

It's expensive, sure, but if you have money to spend, the smart Beosound A1 is a rather remarkable all-rounder, and one you'd be happy showing off to your friends. 

Read our full Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 (2nd Gen) review 

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Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 (2nd gen) scores in-depth
AttributesNotesRating
SoundExpansive, weighty and deeply impressive.★★★★★
FeaturesAlexa combined with portability? Perfect.★★★★★
BuildChic and stylish build and finish.★★★★★

Best Apple smart speaker

The best smart speaker for Apple fans, the HomePod 2 boasts some considerable sonic chops.

Specifications

Voice assistant(s): Siri
Bluetooth : Yes (5.0)
Connections : Wi-fi, AirPlay 2
Features: Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos, stereo pairing, multi-room
Power : N/A
Dimensions (hwd): 17 x 14 x 14cm
Weight: 2.3kg

Reasons to buy

+
Natural, solid and energetic sound
+
Spacious and three-dimensional, particularly with Atmos
+
Brilliantly well-made

Reasons to avoid

-
Still only suitable for dedicated Apple users
-
No Siri control for Spotify, Tidal etc.
-
Some rivals have a more direct sound

If you love Apple tech and want a great-sounding smart speaker with room-filling audio, the HomePod 2 is almost certainly the best option we’ve tested, and a fine alternative to the Sonos Era 100 above. Apple's five-star model is the larger option in the Californian brand's current line-up, sitting above the smaller HomePod Mini in terms of weight and size. It's also one of the finest Apple products around today, and that's saying something. 

The HomePod 2's main draw is its ability to scan and optimise its audio settings for the room and position it's in on the fly, something which worked superbly during our own tests. Picking it from a place in free space and moving it close to a wall, our testers could hear it changing its settings in real time, mainly by reducing unwanted or unnecessary bass that tends to muddy the sound when it isn't wanted. 

We were particularly impressed with how well the HomePod 2 dealt with an Apple Lossless version of SBTRKT’s Trials Of The Past, a taxing track that can often suffer from unwanted sibilance and harshness. No such problems with the HomePod.

Once set up, the in-built mics and smart features all worked perfectly. Siri universally heard and enacted our voice commands, even while music was playing and we were talking to the speaker from across the room. We were also hugely impressed by the built-in temperature and humidity sensors which can be used to create custom automations in your smart home.

From top to bottom, the HomePod 2 is the smart speaker to beat for dedicated Apple acolytes. 

Read our full Apple HomePod 2 review

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Apple HomePod 2 scores in-depth
AttributesNotesRating
Sound Expansive, detailed and super for the size.★★★★★
Features Superb music curation plus Siri-power.★★★★★
BuildPremium quality fit and finish.★★★★★

Best smart speaker for Google Assistant

It's older now, but the excellent Sonos smart speaker boasts both Alexa and Google voice control.

Specifications

Voice assistant(s): Alexa, Google Assistant
Bluetooth: No
Connections : Wi-fi, AirPlay 2, ethernet
Features : Stereo pairing, Spotify Connect, multi-room
Power: N/A
Dimensions (hwd): 16.1 x 11.7 x 12cm
Weight: 1.85kg

Reasons to buy

+
Dependably well-made 
+
Solid, sophisticated sound
+
Feature-packed and easy to use

Reasons to avoid

-
No hi-res audio
-
Succeeded by the Sonos Era 100
-
Slightly showing its age

Yes, the Sonos One is still here, at least for now. The second-generation One has been somewhat superseded in recent times but the likes of the Era models above and the portable Move units, but let's not forget just how impressive Sonos' five-star performer remains. Plus, with its advancing years come dropping prices, and that's good for everyone. 

The integration of Amazon's Alexa smart assistant for voice controls alongside Google Assistant took the smart speaker to the next level, while its room-filling sound helps the One stand apart from the glut of models that are smart first and actual speakers second. Throw in Apple's AirPlay 2 tech and the fact that the One fits seamlessly into a multi-room set-up, and you've still got a gem of a speaker on your hands.

Yes, the Sonos Era 100 has stolen much of the One's thunder, but that doesn't diminish the qualities of one of Sonos' most popular wireless speakers, especially when you factor in the One's compatibility with Alexa and Google, something that more recent Sonos speakers don't have anymore. 

The arrival of the Era range is also good news for Sonos bargain hunters, as it has meant a significant price drop for slightly older models like this One. A five-star Sonos speaker at a discount is a sharp investment, after all. 

Read our full Sonos One review

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Sonos One scores in-depth
AttributesNotesRating
Sound Solid, sophisticated Sonos sound.★★★★★
Features Succeeded by the Era models but still well-equipped.★★★★
BuildDependably well made and nice to use.★★★★★

Also consider

Sonos Move 2: While it didn't quite hit the heights of a full five-star haul, there's so much to recommend the Move 2. As we've said many times before, part of the major appeal of a Sonos speaker is its compatibility with the peerless Sonos ecosystem, and while we felt the second-gen Move couldn't quite justify its hefty price tag, there's lots to like about that big, confident sound and excellent array of streaming features. 

Audio Pro Addon C5A: What does the "A" in the Audio Pro Addon C5A stand for? Alexa, of course! Yes, the C5A is essentially the Alexa-enabled version of the excellent Addon C5 and that, as it turns out, is a winning combination. Merging the C5's detailed, engaging and snappy sound with frictionless Alexa integration, the C5A is like discovering how well salt goes with caramel. Delicious.

Sonos IKEA Symfonisk bookshelf speaker: You're not dreaming, this really does exist, and you know what, it's actually pretty good. Boasting voice control for Google Assistant and Alexa, not to mention a 3.5mm audio output and integration into that super Sonos system, the Symfonisk is far more than a silly gimmick. 

How to choose the best smart speaker for you

The first thing to consider is compatibility. Many smart speakers are platform agnostic, so they'll work with both Android and iOS devices, but the Apple HomePod Mini isn't much use without an iPhone or Apple OS device to set it up.

It's also worth thinking about which ecosystem you use most. While most voice assistants do work with other services, they're tightly integrated with those made by their creators, making them much slicker to use. If you frequently use Google's services, for instance – Calendar, Maps, Gmail – maybe a product with Google Home baked in would be best for you. Love shopping at Amazon and have a Prime account? An Amazon Echo might be right up your alley. Or maybe you want more flexibility and a wider choice of streaming features (hi, Sonos).

Finally: sound quality. We're What Hi-Fi?, so the audio quality of a smart speaker still very much matters over the AI tech. This can vary quite a lot between models and manufacturers, and while spending more doesn't always guarantee a better listening experience, you do get the benefit of your investment here. Some of the smaller smart speakers are limited purely because of their dimensions, so be realistic about your budget and what to expect. Find the right balance between great sound for your tunes and a helpful AI assistant, though, and you're on to a winner - like the top choices above.

How we test smart speakers

We're proud of our state-of-the-art testing facilities in London and Reading where our team of expert reviewers perform their rigorous testing process.

What's important during our reviewing process is that each product is compared to the best in its class – whether that's one standout smart speaker or a few we favour the highest among the scores we listen to each year for reviews and Awards judging. What Hi-Fi? is all about comparative testing, so we keep our Award-winners nearby to enable unbiased comparisons between new products and ones we know to have performed highly in the category.

We are always impartial and do our utmost to ensure we're hearing every product at its best, so we'll try plenty of different music genres and give each one extensive listening time – including time to run in. It's not just about sound quality, either. If a product has noteworthy features (including specific smart skills) we'll ensure part of our testing involves trialling the claims made by its makers. 

All review verdicts are agreed upon by the entire team, rather than an individual reviewer, to eliminate any personal preference and to make sure we're being completely thorough. There's no input from PR companies or our sales team when it comes to awarding star ratings or our overall verdicts. 

You can read more about how we test and review products on What Hi-Fi? here.

FAQ

What does a smart speaker do and do I need one?

Our definition of a smart speaker hinges on whether it has voice control. If not, we'd generally categorise it as a wireless speaker if it just has wi-fi capabilities for streaming music but no voice assistant tech built in. 

Do you need one? "Need" may be a strong word, but if you like using voice commands to control things like music playback without having to physically touch your device or use your phone, plus you want to get a speaker that will integrate easily into your existing smart ecosystem, it's a, pun-incoming, smart choice. Do consider, though, that mixing and matching speakers and ecosystems rarely works, so pick a lane – Amazon and Alexa, Apple and Siri – and then you'll be able to slot models more easily into a unified system. A Google Assistant speaker, for example, won't play well with Amazon, say, as the brands are rivals and want you to pledge your loyalty only to them.

What, or rather who, is the best voice assistant?

This depends on what you'll be using voice commands for and which ecosystem you're already using, plus which third-party apps and smart features each assistant works with. Alexa and Siri have come on massively, and we tend to find that the best-sounding wireless speakers have Alexa and Siri built-in - see the Addon C5A, HomePod 2 or Beosound A1 for examples. 

Google Assistant isn't dead and buried, though, and it does still have the world's most powerful search engine backing it. For answering questions, Google will behave exactly like Google Search (way more powerful than Siri's search engine, by the way). Google's products haven't sonically impressed us as much as their rivals, however, and the company's assistant isn't as prolific or commonplace at the moment.

If we had to pick, we'd currently go for Alexa – it works with more third=party services and is more fun and useful than its rivals, whereas Siri is still largely locked into the Apple way of doing things and sports a less extensive list of overall talents. Even in terms of speed and "alertness", Alexa has always felt more attentive and responsive to our questions.

Recent updates

  • March 2024: Added FAQ section to help with buying decisions and frequently asked questions and an "also consider" section to offer alternative buying options for readers.
  • November 2023: What Hi-Fi? Award winners labelled after the 2023 Awards Best Buys and Product of the Year announcements.

MORE:

See our pick of the best wireless speakers

Check out the best portable speakers: brilliant budget Bluetooth speakers

Apple HomePod vs HomePod 2: which is better?

Sonos Era 300 and Era 100: everything you need to know