Update, September 15, 2020: This article was updated to include more information about the benefits of owning an Alexa speaker.
When it comes to smart speakers there are three main competitors: Amazon, Google, and Apple. Today, we’re here to talk about the best third-party Alexa speaker for you. Whether you want Alexa as a cooking companion, trivia partner, or glorified timer, we’ve got a lineup of the best Alexa speakers beyond the Amazon hardware ecosystem.
Best Alexa speakers:
1. Sonos One Gen 2
The Sonos One Gen 2 is the best Amazon Alexa speaker you can buy and it features Google Assistant support, too, despite the ongoing lawsuit. This minimalist, stationary speaker is available in black or white. It can connect via Wi-Fi for high-quality streaming. The touch-sensitive top panel allows you to adjust the volume, control playback, and mute the microphone. You can select your favorite streaming services through the Sonos app. Doing so, however, isn’t necessary as you can just as easily select the Sonos One from Spotify’s app.
There are a few minor upgrades from the Sonos One Gen 1 to the Sonos One Gen 2, namely a faster processor and greater memory. This means that data retrieval and voice command response time are improved and could yield new features in future updates. What’s more, users now benefit from native AirPlay 2 support, whereas before a the Sonos One had to be connected to a proprietary device that officially supported AirPlay 2 streaming. Additionally, there are fewer microphones in the new Sonos One; the company stated that the six-microphone array didn’t provide better results than the current four-microphone system.
2. UE Megablast
The UE Megablast is by far and away the best Alexa speaker for adventurous folk. It features UE’s signature cylindrical design and is IP67-certified, meaning you can take it on the road and in the water without worrying about damaging it. The 16-hour battery life is substantial for a portable speaker. Unlike the Sonos One, the UE Megablast supports Bluetooth connectivity and remains connected within a 45-meter wireless range. If your friend has a Megablast or Blast speaker, you can pair them up for stereo listening. To go crazy, collect eight Megablast speakers and connect them for bone-rattling sound.
3. Sonos Beam
Home theater nerds should look into the Sonos Beam. Just like the Sonos One, the Beam supports both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. You can connect the Sonos Beam to any other Sonos speaker for multiroom playback. iPhone users benefit from AirPlay support and Trueplay room calibration, which analyzes the room and adjusts playback accordingly. While you can’t experience Dolby Atmos, the Sonos Beam supports PCM stereo, Dolby Digital, and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound audio. Although this is one of the most expensive standalone options, it’s a great all-in-one home audio pick.
4. Bose Home Speaker 300
The Bose Home Speaker 300 is one of the smartest looking speakers here. The low-key design is sure to look great in any living space. Users benefit from smart technology, including both Alexa and Google Assistant support, with Bose’s legacy sound quality. Just like the Sonos One Gen 2, Bose’s Alexa smart speaker emits 360° audio.
iPhone users will rejoice in learning the speaker natively supports AirPlay 2 streaming, and us Android users can choose between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless streaming. If you really want to kick it old school, you can even use the 3.5mm input, assuming your smartphone retains the headphone jack. Unfortunately, multiroom functionality is limited to other Bose Home speakers via Bose SympleSync, and unlike the Amazon Echo Plus, it can’t be used as a single hub to control all your smart devices.
5. Marshall Stanmore II Voice
For great sound quality and a classic design, you’ll need to get the Marshall Stanmore II Voice. It boasts the company’s iconic vinyl design with metal knobs and switches for volume and EQ adjustments. The bass-reflex system combats auditory masking, resulting in clearer audio reproduction. In order to use the Stanmore II, it must be plugged into an outlet. This shouldn’t be too much of a bummer as it would be a cumbersome speaker to frequently transport. You can connect to the speaker via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3.5mm input, or RCA input. For the best wireless quality, Wi-Fi trumps Bluetooth every time.
These are our picks for the best Amazon Alexa speakers available right now. We’ll be sure to update this list as more third-party Alexa speakers hit the market.
Why should you buy an Alexa speaker?
Alexa integration affords a wide array of skills, which is hugely beneficial to readers with smart devices around their homes. Instead of sifting through the frivolous ones, we have a list of the 10 best Alexa skills and apps to get you started. When you use an Alexa speaker, there are still issues
If you buy into a brand’s system, like Sonos, you can sync up all of your speakers to play as a group in the Amazon Alexa app. This is convenient if you’re hosting a party and want the same music to flow through the entire house. Some smart speakers act as smart device hubs, and can be used to control all other smart devices in your home. Despite all of the conveniences afforded by Alexa speakers, issues still arise — namely software bugs and confusing setup processes. On the flip side, many common Alexa speaker issues can be easily resolved.
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