The Best Smart Speakers of 2020

Table of Contents

If you’re hoping to optimize your life with smart home products, you’ll want to start with a smart speaker. If you think of your home as human body, then a smart speaker is akin to the central nervous system, essential for controlling the rest of the body (or in this case, the other connected devices in your home). Through Wi-Fi, smart speakers can hear your voice commands and perform an astounding array of functions, whether that’s playing a song, messaging a friend, or ordering paper towels from Amazon. All of the devices listed here are operated primarily through voice control, ensuring that whatever you need is but a few syllables away. Alexa, let’s read this best smart speakers review. 

Editor’s Pick
Amazon Echo Plus (3rd Gen)
Amazon Echo Plus (3rd Gen)
Amazon Echo Plus (3rd Gen)

Stacked with voice control, 360 degree audio output, and a full range of app functionality, the new Echo Plus is the ideal smart speaker.

Doesn't expire

Top Contender
Sonos One (Gen 2)
Sonos One (Gen 2)
Sonos One (Gen 2)

With powerful audio output, compact design, and built-in voice control, the Sonos One is the perfect smart speaker for your kitchen, office, or just about anywhere.

Doesn't expire

Best Value
Echo Dot (3rd Gen)
Echo Dot (3rd Gen)
Echo Dot (3rd Gen)

Boasting louder and more rich audio output than its previous incarnation, the Echo Dot excels as a fully-featured smart speaker that can fit in the palm of your hand.

Doesn't expire

Best For The Bathroom
Ultimate Ears BLAST
Ultimate Ears BLAST
Ultimate Ears BLAST

The Ultimate Ears Blast is the only portable unit on this list, and with its fully water-proof design, there are few places it can’t perform.

Doesn't expire

Best For Sound
Marshall Stanmore II
Marshall Stanmore II
Marshall Stanmore II

Designed in the image of a vintage amplifier, Marshall’s Stanmore II delivers superb audio quality with a full range of smart features.

Doesn't expire

Best For Music
Google Nest Mini
Google Nest Mini
Google Nest Mini

With Google Play Music, Youtube Music, Spotify, Pandora, and iHeartRadio, there's tons of ways to listen to beautiful music on the Google Nest Mini. 

Doesn't expire

Editor’s Pick

Amazon Echo Plus (3rd Gen)

If the name Alexa sounds familiar to you, then you’re likely well aware of Amazon’s widely renowned smart speaker, the Echo. With its simple setup and full compatibility with other smart home products, this device continues to set the gold standard for smart speakers.

Pros: We love the Dolby technology built into this speaker, ensuring a crisp and resonant output for music, Alexa communication, and just about any other sound you could imagine. Speaking of other sounds, the Echo Plus also features an intercom mode, allowing you to send messages throughout your home to other Alexa enabled devices. This device also features customizable security controls, allowing you to turn off the microphones for privacy. 

Cons: While it’s difficult to find a flaw with the Echo Plus, its lack of a battery means you’ll have to keep it plugged in to use it. 

Related: The Best Amazon Alexa Skills

Shop Amazon
Amazon Echo Plus (3rd Gen)
Amazon Echo Plus (3rd Gen)
Amazon Echo Plus (3rd Gen)

Stacked with voice control, 360 degree audio output, and a full range of app functionality, the new Echo Plus is the ideal smart speaker.

Top Contender

Sonos One (Gen 2)

Much like the Echo, the Sonos One is compatible with Alexa voice control; however, where this device really shines is in its ability to work with Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri, which is great for all of us who are already using one of those platforms. The Sonos One is also compatible with other Sonos devices, allowing you to streamline and sync up your entire home.

Pros: This unit sounds amazing; there’s really no other way to put it. Stacked with two Class-D digital amplifiers, a tweeter, and a mid-woofer, the Sonos One delivers amazingly crisp and detailed audio. What’s more, if you pair it with another Sonos One, you can utilize a stereo separation mode, perfect for that surround sound effect. 

Cons: With no bluetooth capability, you’ll need to download the Sonos app in order to stream audio through this device. 

Shop Amazon
Sonos One (Gen 2)
Sonos One (Gen 2)
Sonos One (Gen 2)

With powerful audio output, compact design, and built-in voice control, the Sonos One is the perfect smart speaker for your kitchen, office, or just about anywhere.

Best Value

Echo Dot (3rd Gen)

The Echo Dot does just about anything the Echo Plus can, all at a fraction of its big brother’s price and size. With simply your voice and the Alexa app, you can play music, check the weather, and control other smart devices throughout your home. 

Pros: We can’t get over how discreet this device is. At about four inches wide and less than two inches tall, it can fit easily on a nightstand, shelf, or coffee table. Additionally, we appreciate the built-in audio output jack, allowing you to hook up your Dot to a more powerful sound system, should the need arise. 

Cons: Some users have reported blowing out their Dot’s speakers at higher volumes.

Shop Amazon
Echo Dot (3rd Gen)
Echo Dot (3rd Gen)
Echo Dot (3rd Gen)

Boasting louder and more rich audio output than its previous incarnation, the Echo Dot excels as a fully-featured smart speaker that can fit in the palm of your hand.

Best For The Bathroom

Ultimate Ears BLAST

Whether you’re chilling at the beach, rocking out in the shower, or relaxing beside a fire, the Ultimate Ears Blast can keep the tunes flowing. In addition to being dust, water, and drop proof, this device also comes with built-in Alexa voice control.  

Pros: We love the peace of mind that comes with this unit’s durability. Even the tidiest bathrooms are subject to intense humidity, and the BLAST can power through it. We also appreciate that this unit features bluetooth functionality, which comes in handy when your friend wants to take the aux cord, so to speak. 

Cons: Some users have reported spottiness with the Wi-Fi connectivity. 

 

Shop Amazon
Ultimate Ears BLAST
Ultimate Ears BLAST
Ultimate Ears BLAST

The Ultimate Ears Blast is the only portable unit on this list, and with its fully water-proof design, there are few places it can’t perform.

Best For Sound

Marshall Stanmore II

Though it may look just like one of Marshall’s famous guitar amps, the Stanmore II has more than meets the eye. Beneath the hood, you’ll find built-in Alexa functionality in addition to wi-fi functionality and extensive voice controls

Pros: Any audiophile out there will go crazy for the vintage-inspired design, a beautiful union of analog and digital. What’s more, the Stanmore II features physical knobs, allowing you to manually adjust the volume, bass, and treble, perfect for the old-fashioned among us. Additionally, the sound quality, boasting a 50 Watt class D amplifier, is in line with Marshall’s legendary history of audio performance.

Cons: At over a foot wide and half a foot tall, this unit is more than twice the size of other speakers featured in this article. 

Shop Amazon
Marshall Stanmore II
Marshall Stanmore II
Marshall Stanmore II

Designed in the image of a vintage amplifier, Marshall’s Stanmore II delivers superb audio quality with a full range of smart features.

Best For Music

Google Nest Mini Touch Controls

Google Nest Mini

Google’s most affordable smart speaker is the Google Nest Mini. But with 360 degree sound, we think it’s worth a lot more than it’s comparatively low price. 

Pros: I love that the Google Nest Mini comes in chalk, charcoal, coral or aqua— what an easy way to add color to the room! Google has skills for the most popular music services from companies like Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and more. And with three fair field microphones, you can rest assured that the sound quality is high. 

Cons: If you’re looking to shop on Amazon with your voice assistant, then the Google Nest Mini isn’t for you, as it only works with Google Express

Get Best Offer
Google Nest Mini
Google Nest Mini
Google Nest Mini

With Google Play Music, Youtube Music, Spotify, Pandora, and iHeartRadio, there's tons of ways to listen to beautiful music on the Google Nest Mini. 

Smart Speaker Methodology

Best Smart Speakers

With so many smart speakers on the market, you’re probably wondering how we chose the best of the best. Well, first we do a whole lot of research, staying on top of the newest and most innovative features, and we also test our products, ensuring they live up to the hype. Here are some of the things we paid close attention to:

  • Sound quality: With all the features jammed into a smart speaker, it can be easy to forget that audio output should take precedence. 
  • Smart features: From locking your doors, to scheduling a sweep with your smart vacuum, we looked for devices that were rich in features. 
  • Easy installation: A smart speaker should make your life easier, so we paid close attention to devices that can begin assisting you straight out of the box. 
  • Privacy controls: Not to be paranoid, but some of us might feel uneasy about microphones in the home. With this in mind, we looked for devices with customizable security features, ensuring your privacy. 
  • Durability: Music can bring out the wild side in people, so we looked for devices made of materials that can withstand a drop or a spill.

Smart Speaker Tips

What should you consider before plunging into the world of smart speakers?

  • Consider which home apps you might already using. While some smart speakers can work with many voice assistants, others will work only with Amazon, Google, or Apple.
  • Ask yourself how you plan to use your smart speaker. Some smart speakers are designed primarily for music while others can become a part of your home theater system.

Recap of The Best Smart Speakers of 2020

That does it for the best smart speakers of 2020! We hope you’ve enjoyed the ride and learned a thing or two. If any questions or thoughts remain, feel free to leave us a comment. We’re passionate about technology, and we love giving advice and recommendations.

FAQs

What is the best smart speaker of 2020?

The best smart speaker of 2020 is the Amazon Echo Plus. With its simple setup and full compatibility with other smart home products, this device continues to set the gold standard for smart speakers.

Pros: We love the Dolby technology built into this speaker, ensuring a crisp and resonant output for music, Alexa communication, and just about any other sound you could imagine. Speaking of other sounds, the Echo Plus also features an intercom mode, allowing you to send messages throughout your home to other Alexa enabled devices. This device also features customizable security controls, allowing you to turn off the microphones for privacy.

Cons: While it’s difficult to find a flaw with the Echo Plus, its lack of a battery means you’ll have to keep it plugged in to use it.

What can smart speakers do?

If you think of your home as human body, then a smart speaker is akin to the central nervous system, essential for controlling the rest of the body (or in this case, the other connected devices in your home). Through Wi-Fi, smart speakers can hear your voice commands and perform an astounding array of functions, whether that’s playing a song, messaging a friend, or ordering paper towels from Amazon. All of the devices listed here are operated primarily through voice control, ensuring that whatever you need is but a few syllables away.

What is the best Alexa speaker to buy?

We recommend either the Amazon Echo Plus or the Echo Dot.

Gabe Turner

Gabe Turner

Gabe Turner is an attorney and journalist with a passion for home tech and secure, efficient living. Since graduating from NYU Law, he has maintained a paradoxical existence of trying to live life adventurously while remaining staunchly risk-averse. He is torn by the dual desires of wanting to only be in Brooklyn writing about housing policy and smart home tech and aspiring to visit his friends scattered across the globe. Gabe believes that stable, safe communities are the cornerstone to a vibrant and healthy society, and it is this passion that brought him to contribute to Security Baron.