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 beefed-up 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.
Here are the best Alexa speakers – Echo and otherwise – for your smart home right now:
- Looking for more voice assistant options? Check out the best smart speakers of 2020
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
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 newest version of Amazon’s super-small smart speaker, this third generation of the Echo Dot allows you to control your smart home, stream music from the likes of Spotify and Amazon Music, and make hands-free phone calls.
We love its compact size, its neat rounded design and fabric finish, and its improved sound quality over previous versions of the Echo Dot. However, there’s no auxiliary 3.5mm jack for attaching it to an additional speaker, no built-in LED clock, and the sound quality – while a step-on from previous versions – is no match for the bigger, pricier products in the Echo range.
Read more: Amazon Echo Dot (3rd generation) review
Is it worth updating your old Echo to this new one? Probably not, but it's still an excellent smart speaker that offers better sound quality than the second-generation Echo.
Very similar to the Echo Plus in terms of looks, this new Echo – uniquely available in Twilight Blue as well as the default Charcoal, Heather and Sandstone – uses the Echo Plus’s identical neodymium drivers and 3-inch woofer. Exciting it isn’t, but the latest Echo is one of the most versatile options from Amazon’s Echo lineup.
Read more: Amazon Echo (3rd generation) 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?”
If that’s you – or you're specifically after a smart device for a kitchen or a bedside table – the Amazon Echo Dot with Clock is your ideal Echo. That’s because the only real difference between a regular Echo Dot and this version is a segmented LED clock display that runs around the Dot’s front’s sleek fabric grille. As a bonus, you can tap the top of the device to snooze alarms.
Read more: Amazon Echo Dot with Clock 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