Even if you don’t hear spatially mixed audio, the speaker still sounds fantastic. It has big, confident bass and detail, and can adjust itself to your room using iOS or the built-in microphones on the speaker. It’s a bit harder to place than the Era 100 above, and almost twice the price, but it’s worth considering if you have a larger space or a modern home with a more open floor plan.
There are so many smart speakers out there. Here are a few of our favorite additions:
- Amazon Echo Studio ($200) It’s an Alexa speaker with great sound. Don’t buy it just for the music quality, though, as the Echo Studio rivals the Google Home Max with punchy bass and a room-filling soundstage. Its unusual shape makes it to the top of our list.
- Bose Home Speaker 500 ($379) It has Alexa, and a little more. It’s certainly not cheap, but this Bose speaker looks great (not as clear as the Sonos one, but overall good) and sounds great. It has hands-free Alexa, Bluetooth, a 3.5mm auxiliary port to connect directly to your phone or MP3 player, and six handy preset buttons you can assign to open a specific playlist or album from Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music and TuneIn. . The display on the front shows the album art and a few other quirks, but it’s not as effective as on real modern displays.
- Bang & Olufsen BeoSound Level ($1,649) It’s a beautiful speaker built to last.. The company has developed a high-quality model that can be repaired and improved over time. It is made from natural textiles and wood for a truly sustainable “grave to grave” experience. It’s a fancy flat speaker that comes with Google Assistant — or you can buy one without the smart assistant for the same amount of money.
It’s great looking, but Apple’s HomePod Mini ($99) (6/10, WIRED Review) has the same issues as the original, larger HomePod speaker (5/10, WIRED Review), including a higher price than most of the competition, and a muddy midrange. . It’s nowhere near the level of third-party smart home support you’ll find at Amazon or Google. You can get a full-size Nest or Echo speaker for the same money, and you should.
Why We Choose Google Assistant Speakers (For Now)
There are many reasons to love Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, and it works well. If you want to use your voice assistant to buy or use Amazon services like Prime Music or Prime Video, an Alexa-powered speaker is perfect for you.
Google Assistant has fewer capabilities and is compatible with fewer smart home devices than Alexa, but it can do enough to qualify as truly useful, and Google is adding new skills quickly. Speakers with Google Assistant work best when you pair them together, and they’re compatible with a variety of Google apps and services. Google is better at answering random questions and telling you where to go out to eat because it can access and send information to your phone through the Google app.
Spotify, Pandora, and YouTube Music are the main ways to play music with the Google Assistant, and they cover most of your bases. With Chromecast attached, the service can stream Netflix shows and movies to your TV.
Now is a good time to buy models made by Apple and Google. Both have released new speakers not long ago, and many of the improvements are related to the features each digital assistant provides rather than the speaker’s hardware, so they should remain useful for years to come.
It’s important to note that none of these smart devices last forever. Just like every product that has a computer in it, eventually every modern device will become obsolete. Post things made by major brands and support larger ecosystems, and you’ll generally get more life out of your purchases.