Product Reviews

The Best Alexa Smart Speakers of 2021: To Control your Home

Alexa can play music, provide information, deliver news and sports scores, tell you the weather, control your smart home and even allow Prime members to order products from Amazon.

Alexa sits in the cloud, expanding the information offered all the time and refining the responses to give you more accurate information. No matter what Alexa device you ask, all can return these sorts of answers, be that on your best Alexa soundbar or in your car

It is changing. For years confined to answering dumb queries and to weedy-sounding speakers completed only by Amazon, Alexa is now flourishing. Alongside a massively increasing Alexa Skills set comes a novel drive for sound quality.

There could be a smaller, cheaper version of the Sonos Move on the horizon, and it might be a big rival for the Apple HomePod mini. The original Sonos Move is the company’s portable smart speaker, combining a choice of Alexa or Google Assistant smarts with a Bluetooth speaker’s convenience.

The Best Alexa Smart Speakers of 2021

1. Sonos One

A spectacular Alexa smart speaker with a warm, precise soundstage.

View at Amazon

  • 636 Amazon customer reviews


Reasons to Buy

  • Fabulous sound quality
  • Hi-Res Audio

Reasons to Avoid

  • Expensive
  • Setup takes a while

After years pushing its own multi-room home audio system, Sonos went and produced the spectacular Sonos One.

It 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.

2. Amazon Echo Studio

Reasons to Buy

  • Dolby Atmos immersive sound
  • Easy setup

Reasons to Avoid

  • Large size won’t suit all
  • 3D audio is so-so

Amazon’s first high-end smart speaker for home-based cinemas is its best-sounding Echo so far. One of the most influential 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.

It’s awe-inspiring to get the best from it consider becoming a subscriber to Amazon Music HD. Our only complaint is that its up-mixing of stereo tracks to Dolby Atmos is inconsistent.

3. Amazon Echo (2020)

A complete overhaul of Amazon’s flagship smart speaker.

Reasons to Buy

  • Futuristic look
  • Improved, adaptive sound
  • Alexa responds faster

Reasons to Avoid

  • Max volume level isn’t loud enough.

Even if it still doesn’t have any smart speaker’s best sound, the new Amazon Echo is a serious step up from its predecessors. Add to that the built-in Zigbee smart home hub and a new AZ1 neural edge processor that will reduce the time it takes for Alexa to respond to commands, and you’ve got the recipe for the best Echo design yet.

Of course, while the hardware is all-new, it’s still the same ol’ Alexa under the hood. Alexa will always be able to answer your basic questions or make calls within your country of residence, as well as control any number of smart devices you have around your home.

4. Amazon Echo Dot (2020)

It smart home gateway with improved audio quality.

Reasons to Buy

  • Space-age aesthetic
  • Easy setup and integration

Reasons to Avoid

  • Directional, shallow sound
  • No Zigbee hub inside

The Amazon Echo Dot has always been the best option for those who aren’t sure about smart home tech and want to take the first step. It provides a place for Alexa to live inside your home and packs enough sound performance to fill a room.

All that for under $50 / £50 / AU$80 and it’s easy to see why it’s long been one of the most popular smart speakers on the market.

In some of those ways, the Amazon Echo Dot (2020) lives up to the legacy set down by all of the previous Echo Dot devices – it’s small, decently loud and, thanks to Alexa, it’s pretty smart, too.

5. Amazon Echo Dot with Clock (2020)

We love the new-look Echo Dot with Clock.

Reasons to Buy

  • Great design
  • Clear timepiece

Reasons to Avoid

  • Weak bass frequencies
  • No 360-degree audio

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?”

Like its predecessor, the Echo Dot with Clock can double as a bedside alarm, albeit one that comes with all the smarts of Alexa onboard alongside the ability to control your smart home devices (via a separate Zigbee-supporting speaker).

It has undergone a rather radical design overhaul over the last Echo Dot with Clock, sporting a space-age-Esque spherical design in both grey and white colour schemes.

All the previous Echo Dot features with Clock remain, including a 3.5mm AUX-in port, and the blue Alexa light ring – although this now locates at the bottom of the smart speaker rather than the top.

6. Bose Home Speaker 500

With microphones this good, Alexa will never mishear you again.

Reasons to Buy

  • Sensitive microphones
  • Excellent sound quality

Reasons to Avoid

  • Pricey
  • Hit and miss Wi-Fi setup

If you point for the best-sounding smart speaker, stop digging. With Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa built-in, the sleek anodized aluminium 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 more challenging than it should be.

7. Amazon Echo Spot

The best-looking Echo speaker so far is all about video chat.

Reasons to Buy

  • Clear video
  • Quirky design

Reasons to Avoid

  • Video a crop to fit the screen;
  • Expensive.

Potholed against the Echo Show 5 for the title of ‘best dense smart display’, the mango-sized Echo Spot is the additional reasonable and better looking of the two.

With around a 5.5-inch screen about a smartphone’s size, it’s cute and quirky, and design for use wherever in a home.

Ideal to use for an intercom-style video chat about the house and beyond, it crops widescreen video and zooms-in to fit expressions to its circular screen, and its tiny speaker is surprisingly good.

8. Yamaha YAS-209

A smart soundbar with an immersive sonic experience.

View at Amazon


Reasons to Buy

  • Big soundstage
  • DTS: VirtualX

Reasons to Avoid

  • Expensive
  • Not ‘true’ surround sound

Despite bringing Alexa to the living room, the headline act on this 2.1-channel soundbar is audio quality.

It gets 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.

Also Read: Personal Area Network – Definition, Uses, Benefits, and More

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