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Best smart speakers 2022: the best voice assistant speakers

Best Smart Speaker Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best smart speakers you can buy in 2022.

Virtual voice assistants from big-hitters Amazon, Apple and Google have never been so full of smarts. Whether you want to know the news headlines, how many calories you'll have to deduct from your recommended daily intake if you want a Mars bar (228), failsafe scone recipes or whether the cat misses you while you're at work, Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant can be found baked into certain speakers, waiting patiently for your next query.

Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant products aren't just humble fonts of knowledge, either. These speakers can play your chosen music over Bluetooth or wi-fi and, depending on the brand, also offer access to a number of different music streaming services, including Apple Music, Tidal, Deezer and Spotify.

How to choose the best smart speaker for you

The first thing to consider is compatibility. Most 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 Apple mobile device to set it up.

It's also worth thinking about which ecosystem you use most. If you frequently use Google's services – 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. (While these do both work with other services, they're tightly integrated with those made by their creators, making them much slicker to use.)

Finally: sound quality. This can vary quite a lot between models and manufacturers and spending more doesn't always guarantee a better listening experience. Some of the smaller smart speakers are limited purely because of their dimensions. Be realistic about your budget and what to expect. Luckily, every product here comes with our unabridged, comprehensively star-rated review attached – and if it didn't get at least a highly-commended four-star review under test conditions, you won't find it on this list. 

From cheap budget options to premium sonic experiences, read on for our pick of the best smart speakers. 

Best smart speakers 2022: Apple HomePod Mini

You will need an Apple device, but the HomePod Mini sounds great and comes with loads of smart skills. (Image credit: Apple)

1. Apple HomePod Mini

Apple’s new Siri-powered smart speaker is small but mighty

Specifications

Dimensions: HxWxD (cm): 8.4 x 9.8 x 9.8
Power: 20W
Features: Bluetooth 5.0, Siri, Apple Music, AirPlay 2, music over wi-fi
Connections: None

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

The HomePod Mini really is bijou. At just 8.4cm tall and 9.8cm wide, it’s quite a bit smaller than the similarly spherical Amazon Echo. In fact, it’s even dwarfed by the new Echo Dot. Get its swirling orb of coloured light up and running (when Siri is listening or processing) though, and you realise you've got a classy performer on your hands. 

After a short period of learning, Siri will 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 may have never listened to before but is a good fit for what you often do listen to. It’s a really powerful way to discover new music, and Alexa is nowhere near as good at it.

It goes loud, too. From the moment we start playing music, it’s clear that the HomePod Mini comfortably outperforms its size and price, quite frankly embarrassing its direct competition with the sophistication and maturity of its sound.

Read the full review: Apple HomePod Mini 

Best smart speakers 2022: Amazon Echo Dot (4th Generation)

Amazon's 4th Generation Echo Dot sounds expansive, has a robust Alexa integration, and sports a slick design. (Image credit: Amazon)

2. Amazon Echo Dot (4th Generation)

The newest Echo Dot is the most compelling and affordable case for choosing Alexa

Specifications

Dimensions: HxWxD (cm): 10 x 10 x 8.9
Power: 15W
Features: Alexa inbuilt, Bluetooth, music over wi-fi
Connections: 3.5 mm stereo

Reasons to buy

+
Expansive sound
+
Packed with features
+
Premium design

Reasons to avoid

-
No JBL Connect support
-
Fussy over placement

The question of which voice assistant to introduce to your home is largely a personal one. But by updating its most popular and affordable Echo device with this degree of skill, Amazon has laid down the most compelling case yet for choosing Alexa. Regardless of the Marmite aesthetic (yes, it looks like a little Magic 8-Ball) Alexa's responses are slightly quicker, the answers are much (much) clearer, and the sonic performance is better than ever. 

Amazon’s entry-level smart device has come a long way in terms of sound quality since the arrival of the first and second Dots – so much so, you could say Amazon has come a 'full circle’ in the smart speaker arena.

Read the full review: Amazon Echo Dot (4th Generation)

Best smart speakers 2022: Amazon Echo (4th generation)

If you want a no-compromises Alexa smart speaker, check out the Amazon Echo (4th Generation). (Image credit: Amazon)

3. Amazon Echo (4th generation)

All in all, the Echo Dot with Clock is the best-sounding and most useful such smart speaker Amazon has designed so far

Specifications

Virtual assistant: Alexa
3.5mm audio out: Yes
Wi-fi: Yes
Dimensions (hwd): 14 x 14 x 13cm
Weight: 970g

Reasons to buy

+
Expansive bass in a small design
+
Lots of smart features
+
Classy build and finish

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly underwhelming treble
-
Not fully omnidirectional

Amazon's inaugural smart speaker is back with a whole new look, a built-in Zigbee smart hub, and more potential under its new 100 per cent recycled hood. You don’t need an especially keen eye to realise that Amazon has started from scratch for this fourth-generation Echo.

The cylinder design has gone, in favour of a Magic 8-Ball-esque sphere, and perhaps fittingly you can ask it any question you want – as long as it’s plugged in to power and linked to your wi-fi. There's an impressive selection of third-party support, (once you’ve linked your streaming service accounts, it'll play music from Apple Music, Spotify or Deezer over wi-fi, and even if you don’t link any music-provider subscriptions, the Echo will play from Amazon Music by default – and you’ve always got TuneIn radio) and the pulsating ring of light is relocated to the lopped-off base. 

Alexa feels present and useful but not imposing, the Alexa app support makes placement and multi-room configurations a breeze, and the sound quality, while a step down from superb, easily passes the sound-per-pound value test for a smart home hub of this modest price.

Read the full review: Amazon Echo (4th generation)

Best smart speakers 2022: Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 (2nd Gen)

The classy, refined Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 (2nd Gen) sounds great and comes with solid Alexa integration. (Image credit: Bang & Olufsen)

4. Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 (2nd Gen)

The weightiest and most refined little speaker we’ve heard in a while

Specifications

Dimensions: HxWxD (cm): 4.6 x 13.3 x 13.3cm
Power: 2x30W
Features: Alexa inbuilt, water/dustproof IP67, Bluetooth 5.1, stereo-pairing mode
Connections: USB-C

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

-
Nothing at this level

Bang & Olufsen isn’t noted for following the herd. In the Danish tech specialist’s catalogue you'll find a wheel-shaped wireless speaker, a TV that opens up like a butterfly, and an 8200-watt monolithic speaker comprising 18 drivers. B&O's output could reasonably be described as "premium" and "innovative" – and the Beosound A1 (2nd Gen) wireless speaker is no exception.

It boasts similar dimensions to a large floury bap, but that's where any comparisons with baked goods end. The new A1 supports Qualcomm’s latest aptX Adaptive Bluetooth 5.1 codec, and of course, Alexa is built-in (in a manner of speaking – it's a Bluetooth-only speaker).

It works a treat, too, delivering a pleasingly comfortable yet authoritative performance that you'd be happy listening to all day. Throw in its classy, well made design, easy to use operation and the bonus of Alexa (as long as your smartphone is nearby and connected to wi-fi), and you're looking at a Bluetooth speaker sequel that has very much been worth the wait. 

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

Best smart speakers 2022: Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Generation)

The Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Generation) comes packed with full Alexa support and a screen that follows you around the room. (Image credit: Amazon)

5. Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Generation)

Want an Amazon Alexa device that follows you around the room?

Specifications

Virtual assistant: Alexa
Wi-fi: Yes
Bluetooth: Yes
Outputs: 3.5mm
Dimensions (hwd): 25 x 23 x 17cm
Weight: 2.56kg
Screen : 10.1-in (1280 x 800p)
Camera: 13MP

Reasons to buy

+
Large, responsive touchscreen
+
Added security camera functionality
+
Ease of use

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be beaten for sound quality
-
No YouTube ‘skill’ support

It's the most expensive smart device Amazon has produced by a whole £20 ($20, AU$50) but when you consider that its 10.1in Full HD screen can now tilt and twist to follow you around the room, and that both the speaker and camera performance have been significantly improved from the previous-generation model, that price hike begins to look entirely reasonable.

Physically, it's imposing. It will require a space the size of a large pizza to operate fully (it comes with a footprint so you can check). The camera has been boosted from 5MP to 13MP and it’s here one of the biggest gains is to be had, because you can now ‘drop in’ visually on the Show 10 by selecting ‘communicate’ and tapping on the Show 10 icon – and nobody need answer at the other end. But you can go even further. Tap ‘All devices’ on the Alexa app and the Show 10, then ‘camera’ and you’ll get a live feed of your home. Swipe left or right on your smartphone and it manually moves the Show 10 to pan around your room in real-time.

If you want to make sure the family silver hasn’t been pinched, see if a parcel has arrived or just spy on the cat, you now have a security camera that zooms in and out, depending on how close a moving object is to the screen. It’s a neat feature and the Show 10 is likable and helpful overall. It won’t be your new sound system – for this money, we would expect a little more from it sonically – but it is a very good smart device indeed.

Read the full review: Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Generation) 

Best smart speakers 2022: Google Nest Hub (2nd Generation)

Get yourself a screen, Google smarts, and a speaker all in one with the Google Nest Hub (2nd Generation). (Image credit: Google)

6. Google Nest Hub (2nd Generation)

Google offers smarts, sound and a screen at a budget price

Specifications

Virtual assistant: Google Assistant (Chromecast built-in)
Wi-fi: Yes
Bluetooth: Yes, 5.0
Outputs: 3.5mm
Dimensions (hwd): 12 x 18 x 7cm
Weight: 558g
Screen : 7-in (1024 x 600p)
Camera: No

Reasons to buy

+
Great streaming service support
+
Good-value screen
+
Sleep Sensing tech

Reasons to avoid

-
Making calls requires app
-
Basic sound

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 10 (above) – 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)

Best smart speakers 2022: Amazon Echo Studio

If you want an audiophile version of an Echo smart speaker, the Amazon Echo Studio is as close as you can get. (Image credit: Amazon)

7. Amazon Echo Studio

An Echo smart speaker truly fit for audiophiles is a bold claim – and the Echo Studio almost delivers

Specifications

Virtual assistant: Alexa
Wi-fi: Yes
Bluetooth: Yes
Outputs: 3.5mm, mini optical digital
Dimensions (hwd): 21 x 18 x 18cm
Weight: 3.5kg

Reasons to buy

+
Decent spread of sound
+
Clear, precise midrange
+
Hi-res audio support

Reasons to avoid

-
Overcooked bass hampers timing
-
Hit and miss 3D audio

Considerably larger than any previous Echo, the Studio manages to dwarf both the Sonos One and Apple HomePod. As well as boasting 330W of power and upgraded internals fit for CD-quality and hi-res audio (which are both now available from Amazon's latest incarnation of its streaming service, Amazon Music HD) the Echo Studio also promises to deliver 3D audio via tracks encoded in Sony's 360 Reality Audio and Dolby Atmos. 

Producing immersive, directional audio is always going to be difficult, but doing it from a single speaker source is even more challenging. Nevertheless, it’s an open, airy presentation that suits the 3D environment well. The speaker sits you in the jaws of a tall soundstage, where there's a good amount of detail to percussion and high frequencies. While we're not entirely convinced by the way it handles bass – and we wouldn't exactly call it audiophile quality – for the money, the Echo Studio has a lot going for it.

Read the full review: Amazon Echo Studio

Best smart speakers 2022: Amazon Echo Show 5

If you want a full-fat Alexa device with both solid audio and video without spending a ton, the Amazon Echo Show 5 is here to help. (Image credit: Amazon)

8. Amazon Echo Show 5

Alexa gains video to bring a satisfying boost to its abilities.

Specifications

Virtual assistant: Alexa
Wi-fi: Yes
Bluetooth: Yes
Outputs: 3.5mm, micro USB
Dimensions (hwd): 8.6 x 14.8 x 7.3cm
Weight: 410g

Reasons to buy

+
Alexa voice-control
+
Decent sound and video
+
Nicely put together

Reasons to avoid

-
Audio isn't the best

If you want to get fully ensconced with the world of the digital assistant – and by that we mean with both audio and video – this is as a good a starting point as we’ve come across. 

You see, where most Alexa-enabled kit on the market is audio based, concentrated on the Bluetooth speaker market in particular, the Echo Show 5 embraces both sound and video in its abilities to communicate. So, as well as playing music or reading out information, you can access video content on the Echo Show 5's 5.5in LCD touchscreen. 

There’s also an HD camera, allowing the user to make Skype calls (for example), or view images from cameras in other rooms of the house – and elsewhere. 

Although it can be beaten for sound quality, this is an £80 box of tricks that opens up the world of the digital assistant to a whole new audience for both audio and video; and if that’s what you’re after, this is about as good as you’ll get – especially for this kind of money.

Read the full review: Amazon Echo Show 5

Best smart speakers 2022: Sonos One

The excellent Sonos One has both Alexa and Google voice control and brings a solid, sophisticated sound.

9. Sonos One

A typically excellent Sonos smart speaker with Alexa and Google voice control.

Specifications

Virtual assistant: Alexa, Google Assistant
Wi-fi: Yes
Bluetooth: No
Outputs: N/A
Dimensions (hwd): 16.1 x 11.7 x 12cm
Weight: 1.85kg

Reasons to buy

+
Stylish and unobtrusive
+
Solid, sophisticated sound
+
Alexa well integrated

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks full Alexa control
-
No hi-res audio

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 Alexa and Google Assistant, 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

Best smart speakers 2022: Audio Pro Addon C5A

The Audio Pro Addon C5A sounds detailed and dynamic with excellent timing and has Alexa smarts.

10. Audio Pro Addon C5A

A class-leading wireless speaker with Alexa is a winning combination.

Specifications

Virtual assistant: Alexa
Wi-fi: Yes
Bluetooth 4.0: Yes
Inputs: Ethernet, 3.5mm stereo, RCA
Amplifier: 40W digital Class D
Audio formats: MP3, WMA, AAC, FLAC, Apple Lossless
Dimensions: 13 x 25 x 15cm

Reasons to buy

+
Detailed, dynamic sound
+
Brilliant sense of timing
+
Alexa voice control

Reasons to avoid

-
Nothing at this price

The Audio Pro Addon C5A is almost identical to the Addon C5, which was our wireless speaker Product of the Year in 2017. So adding Alexa voice control to an Award-winning speaker is, frankly, the icing on the cake.

Available for the price of an Addon C5 plus the cost of an Amazon Echo product bolt-on, it brings the whole package into one tidy, easy-to-set-up box. And with that same Award-winning sound, this is the ideal combination for those who want an excellent Alexa wireless speaker that can be expanded into a full-blown multiroom system.

Read the full review: Audio Pro Addon C5A

Best smart speakers 2022: Harman Kardon Citation 100

The Harman Kardon Citation 100 comes with Google Assistant integration, powerful bass, and impressive volume.

11. Harman Kardon Citation 100

This bass-heavy smart speaker likes to party

Specifications

Virtual assistant: Google Assistant
Wi-fi: Yes
Bluetooth 4.0: Yes
Inputs: No
Amplifier: 50W
Audio formats: MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, FLAC
Dimensions: 27.5 x 17.2 x 16.3cm (hwd)

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful, deep bass
+
Eye-catching design
+
Impressive scale

Reasons to avoid

-
Bass is unbalanced
-
No aux input

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

How we test smart speakers 

We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London, Reading and Bath, where our team of experienced, in-house reviewers test the majority of hi-fi and AV kit that passes through our door.

What is important in our reviewing process is that each product is compared to the best in its price and 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 What Hi-Fi? 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 make sure we're hearing every product at its very best, so we'll try plenty of different types of music and give each one extensive listening time – including time to run in. It's not just about sound quality, of course. 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 as thorough as possible. There's no input from PR companies or our sales team when it comes to the verdicts or star ratings in our reviews. 

MORE:

See our pick of the Best wireless speakers 2022

Check out the Best portable speakers: Brilliant budget Bluetooth speakers

Ruben Circelli
Staff Writer

Ruben is a Staff Writer at What Hi-Fi? and longtime consumer technology and gaming journalist. Since 2014, Ruben has written news, reviews, features, guides, and everything in-between at a huge variety of outlets that include Lifewire, PCGamesN, GamesRadar+, TheGamer, Twinfinite, and many more. Ruben's a dedicated gamer, tech nerd, and the kind of person who misses physical media. In his spare time, you can find Ruben cooking something delicious or, more likely, lying in bed consuming content.

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  • fletchni
    Interesting, but you started to lose my trust because no one has even proof-read this page. It has three or four blaring errors where you have the wrong summary description for a product, and the high-level pros and cons are from a different product. Not impressive at all.
    Reply