The best speakers with Alexa: Sound quality, portability and more

Our pick of the Echo and third-party speakers with Alexa inside

The best Alexa-enabled speakers
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If you're looking for the best Alexa smart speaker, you have plenty to choose from. Third party Alexa speakers have often filled in the gaps not catered by Amazon's speakers, but there's now more official Amazon Echos than ever before, at great prices boasting excellent music quality and smart home tech.

The standard Amazon Echo is the one people will recognise but there are now three sizes of the Echo Show with its screen.

But the most popular Amazon Echo smart speaker is the Echo Dot, thanks to its insanely low price.

A lot of third parties focussed on sound quality, which was a major flaw in the Echo line-up. But last year Amazon fixed that with the Echo Studio, which offers Sonos-esque sound quality at a very reasonable price. Pair two together and it's seriously good – and you'll still save money over single high-end speakers.

It's also important to be aware that the Alexa you get differs ever so slightly from Amazon speakers. For example, an Alexa skill like Apple Music is currently only available for Amazon Alexa speakers, not third-party ones.

Best Amazon Echo speakers

In this section are the official, Amazon-branded devices where Alexa is onboard.

Amazon Echo third gen

Amazon Echo (3rd gen)

Buy now: Amazon | $99.99

The standard Amazon Echo is smaller, cheaper, and for our money, better looking. It works with Amazon Prime Music, Spotify, and most other services (even Apple Music) for steaming music via voice, TuneIn Radio, on-demand information such as news, weather and traffic, as well as smart home control. It's a superb all-rounder, and while it only boasts average sound quality and there's no Zigbee smart home protocol built-in, it's still a great addition to most parts of the home.

Read our full Amazon Echo third gen review.

Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon Echo Dot

Buy now: Amazon | $49.99

The Dot is a scaled-down version of the Echo, redesigned with a fabric case that looks a great deal classier – plus a new, beefier speaker, which means you might actually use it as a radio.

There's also a new version of the Echo Dot with a clock that shines though the mesh.

The Echo Dot is a lot smaller and cheaper than a standard Amazon Echo speaker – like a little smart puck. It's less than $50 (the non-clock version goes for even less) and, while you get all of Alexa's features, the audio quality from this diminutive little Echo isn't really up to playing music.

You can use the 3.5mm jack to hook it up to an existing speaker system, but the Echo Dot is really about getting Alexa into more places in your home.

Check out our full Echo Dot review.

Echo Show

Amazon Echo Show

Buy now: Amazon | $229.99

The original Echo Show was never a looker, so thankfully it's had a design update. It now boasts a 10-inch touchscreen, up from 7 inches, which is pin sharp and responsive.

The new model doesn’t just have a new shell, either, it now acts as a Zigbee hub, just like the Echo Plus. This means compatible devices can be hooked up directly, without the needs for hubs and third-party apps.

There’s also Dolby stereo sound, Skype for video calls, support for live TV through Prime Video, and even the ability to play back TV recordings when paired with the new Fire TV Recast. If you want something a little bigger, there's a new 8-inch model coming very soon.

Read our full Amazon Echo Show review.

Echo Show 5

Amazon Echo Show 5

Buy now: Amazon | $89.99

The Echo Show 5 brings the benefits of a smart display Alexa speaker in a more discreet package. Just the size of an average smartphone, the Show 5 boasts a 5.5-inch screen, which now has on-screen controls for smart home devices.

Audio is much deeper and louder than the Amazon Echo, Plus, or Spot – although someway short of room-filling sound. Unlike the bigger Show there's no Zigbee hub built in, so you can't connect smart home devices directly.

Read more in our Amazon Echo Show 5 review.

Echo Show 8

Amazon Echo Show 8

Buy now: Amazon | $119.99

The Show 8 slots right in the middle between the flagship Echo Show, priced at $229, and the little sibling Echo Show 5, available for $90, with each member sharing the same design aesthetic.

The Echo Show has a built-in Zigbee hub to control smart home devices, too, which the Show 5 doesn't have. There's no word on the Show 8's smart capabilities yet, though we'll report back once we have more details.

As you might expect from the pricing details of the rest of the family, the Echo Show 8 will cost $119.99 and goes up for pre-order today, 25 September.

Amazon Echo Studio

Amazon Echo Studio

Buy now: Amazon | $199

The Studio is an impressive attempt to woo audiophiles, with a price tag that makes the Studio a serious threat to Sonos, the HomePod and other rivals.

While the sound quality isn't quite audiophile level, it's big and expansive – and sounds especially great when combined with Amazon Music's new UHD music subscription tier.

Amazon isn't only matching its high-end music rivals, but punching above some of them. Throw in that Zigbee radio and Alexa, and you've got the most impressive Echo speaker yet.

Check our full Echo Studio review.

Amazon Echo Plus

Amazon Echo Plus

Buy now: Amazon | $149.99

The Amazon Echo Plus is closer to the standard Echo smart speaker, but with bigger sound and added smarts. The Zigbee hub is still present, so you can add compatible smart home devices (like Philips Hue) without any added bridges, hubs or apps. It's still lacking support for Z-Wave devices, which have to be added the old fashioned way, by setting them up and adding them manually through a hub.

But now you get Dolby speakers, a temperature sensor, security sensors, and a fancy new fabric cover, plus some offline voice controls. If you're purposefully buying this device to get started on a smart home, it's a recommended option.

Check out the full Echo Plus review.

Third-party Alexa speakers

You don't need an Echo speaker to get Alexa; there is also an ever-growing list of third-party Alexa speakers.

Sonos One

Sonos One

Buy now: Amazon | $199.99

Sonos and Alexa teamed up for the launch of the Sonos One, which adds voice-activated Alexa control into the mix (and the option of Google Assistant if you'd prefer). It's pretty much a fully-fledged Alexa speaker – with just a handful of features such as shopping and Drop In missing. Otherwise, it sounds great, looks good, and is platform agnostic – and that's a potent mix.

Check our full Sonos One review.

Sonos Beam

Sonos Beam

Buy now: Amazon | $399.99

Sonos and Alexa's team-ups don't just end at the Sonos One. There's also the Sonos Beam, a sound bar that packs in Alexa to boot. You'll be able to do all the things you can already do with Alexa, and thanks to HDMI-ARC support you'll also be able to control your TV.

Plus, it just sounds good, giving all your favorite movies and TV shows a decent boost in sound quality. If you want a smart sound bar that has excellent sound (thanks to its packaged-in subwoofer) for a more affordable price, check out the Polk Command Bar.

Check out our Sonos Beam review.

Bose Home Speaker 500

Bose Home Speaker 500

Buy now: Amazon | $399.99

Bose has finally made an entrance in smart speakers - and it's landed with a resounding thud. The Home Speaker 500 puts Alexa (and now Google Assistant) on supersonic steroids, fusing Amazon's assistant with Bose's typically brilliant sound quality. It sounds far better than Amazon's own offerings - but that jump in quality comes at a price.

Bose's speaker is expensive - more expensive than the HomePod and the Sonos One - but in return you're getting outstanding sound, classy design, and - get this - a proprietary app we actually enjoy using. Apple AirPlay 2 is also onboard to help you ping across tunes from your iOS device without having to connect over Bluetooth.

Check out our full Bose Home Speaker 500 review.

Marshall Stanmore II

Marshall Stanmore II Voice

Buy now: Amazon | $399

A classic look combined with new-school smarts, the Marshall Stanmore II Voice is an ideal choice for those who want a smart speaker that doesn't actually look like one.

The downside to this look is that it doesn’t make it the most naturally usable smart speaker, which is doubly true when you also take into account its size, but the sound rivals the best in the space. If musical talent is your priority and you’ve got the cash to spend, you won’t find many better options than this Marshall speaker.

Read our complete Marshall Stanmore II Voice review.

Libratone Zipp II

Libratone Zipp 2

Buy now: Amazon | $299

Thanks to its portability, the Libratone Zipp 2 offers something that no other speaker on this list can. With Alexa, AirPlay 2, and ample sound quality, it's hard to find many faults with this option - unless, of course, you have a fear of zips.

The price is a bit of a drawback, since the sound isn't as strong as other third-party speakers, and it's not quite as portable as the Zipp Mini 2, but this is still one of the top speakers you can buy with Alexa housed inside.

Read our full Libratone Zipp 2 review.

TAGGED    amazon    speakers    buyers guides

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