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Which Smart Speaker Has the Best Audio Quality?


Google Nest and Amazon Echo speakers.
Albert Garrido / Shutterstock.com

Despite their audio-focused nature, people rarely talk about the actual audio quality of Google Assistant, Amazon Echo, and Apple smart speakers. Which one should you get if you want the best-sounding audio experience?

There are a few smart speakers that focus on audio quality, but the majority are focused more on their virtual assistants and price point. That doesn’t mean they sound bad, necessarily, but some sound better than others. We’ll take a look at both types of smart speakers.

Note: “Smart speaker” is a pretty general term. For our purposes, we’ll be focusing on smart speakers (without displays) from Amazon, Google, and Apple.

RELATED: Which Music Streaming Service Has the Best Audio Quality?

Best Sounding High-End Smart Speaker

Amazon Echo Studio.
Amazon

Small, affordable smart speakers are very popular, but there are also smart speakers that focus more on the “speaker” part of the term. If money is no object, which smart speaker sounds the best?

Amazon Echo Studio

The Echo Studio is Amazon’s attempt at a smart speaker that actually sounds great, and it pretty much delivers. There are 5cm speakers on each side and the top, a 25mm tweeter, and 5.25-inch bass driver.

The results are a big, room-filling sound with plenty of detail. If you’re an Amazon Music Unlimited subscriber, the Echo Studio is an even better choice. You can take advantage of Amazon’s library of songs available in Dolby Atmos Music, which is supported by the Echo Studio.

Amazon Echo Studio

A big, beefy Echo speaker with five total speakers, room adaption technology, and Dolby Atmos Music support.

What about Apple and Google?

Apple used to have a high-end HomePod, but it was discontinued in 2021. Google’s high-end smart audio device is the display-equipped Nest Hub Max. The company’s best speaker-only option is the much more affordable Nest Audio. Both the HomePod Mini and Nest Audio are included below.

Best Sounding “Mini” Smart Speaker

Apple

The “mini” category of smart speakers is dominated by the Google and Amazon. The Apple HomePod Mini is also in this category by size, but it’s more expensive. However, you may get what you pay for.

Apple HomePod Mini

Audiophiles love the HomePod Mini for its excellent sound quality. It features a proprietary full-range driver design that sends sound down and out in 360-degrees. The driver is suspended to reduce distortion, and passive radiators help give depth to the sound.

Just like the full-size HomePod, the Mini model has the same optimizations for the environment. The results are great sound in a very tiny package. The only trade-off is you’re limited to Siri, which is not as feature-packed as Alexa or Google Assistant.

Amazon Echo

Understandably, not everyone is willing to use Siri for better audio quality. If you’re in the Amazon ecosystem, the Echo 4th Gen is your best bet for a mini speaker. It’s a little bigger than the Echo Dot, but that allows for improved audio.

Inside the orb are the same size drivers as the more expensive Echo Plus, a 76mm woofer, and two 20mm front-firing tweeters. The speaker supports Dolby Stereo and, similar to Apple, Amazon has an “adaptive sound” feature that attempts to optimize sound for the room.

Amazon Echo 4th Gen

The Echo 4th Gen features a 76mm woofer, two 20mm front-firing tweeters, and Dolby Stereo support in a small, affordable package.

Google Nest Audio

For Google lovers, the Nest Audio is the obvious choice for sound quality. Your only other non-display option is the Nest Mini. The Nest Audio costs around the same as the HomePod Mini and is often on sale.

The Nest Audio features a 19mm tweeter and a 75mm woofer. Google claims the Nest Audio is 75% louder and has 50% more bass than its predecessor. However, users report it’s not great at providing room-filling, immersive sound.


A handy smart speaker doesn’t have to sound bad. You’re probably using it to stream music and podcasts, so make sure you choose one that will make your ears happy. There are plenty of other good smart speakers to choose from if sound quality isn’t as important to you.





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