We Tested the Newest Crop of Smart Speakers

First-generation smart speakers were all about the convenience of using your voice to control your house, but the newest offerings go far beyond that.

The new breed packs in room-filling power and depth that does justice to your playlist. To find the best smart speakers among them, we held a sound off. We tested the newest models from Amazon, Harman Kardon, Apple, and Sonos, testing them across sound quality and ease of use—noting any nitpicks and quirks. 

Apple HomePod
Courtesy Image

Best for Open Floor Plans: Apple HomePod


This small speaker delivers big, clear sound without much distortion. A ring of seven tweeters broadcast out in a full circle, so you can put HomePod in the middle of a room.

Ease of Use

Setup is easy but, being Apple, it doesn’t always play well with others: If not using Apple Music, you can AirPlay apps like Pandora or Spotify—you just can’t control them with Siri.

Field Notes

The clean design comes with one notable sacrifice: no mic mute button. While your “Hey Siri”s are encrypted, we’d like to see a way to disable them without voice commands or the Home app.

[$299; apple.com]

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