If you’re shopping around for a Google Assistant speaker, you’ve come to the right place. While nearly every wireless speaker grants access to your phone’s Google Assistant, these speakers actually integrate the software into it, meaning it directly contacts Google without needing an external device. Read on if you’re revving up to make your audio setup a little smarter.
Editor’s note: this list was updated on January 19, 2021, to address an FAQ about speaker groups.
Related: What makes a great smart speaker?
The best Google Assistant speaker is the Google Home Max
While the Google Home Max is not the most compact, it has excellent sound quality and is quite good at nearly everything. If you can afford putting down $300 for a Google Assistant speaker, its hard to go wrong with this one.
Google Home MaxFull Review
The design is simple with “acoustically transparent” fabric covering the driver, and operating the speaker is easy. Volume and playback controls use the touch-capacitive flat panel on top, and the back of the speaker houses a microphone mute toggle, since you never know who’s listening.
Users can now connect up to six accounts to a single Google Home Max. What’s more, this Google Assistant speaker can recognize a specific person’s voice and contextualize a command. For instance, if you say, “How long will my drive to work take?” Google Assistant will look up your work address instead of your roommate’s.
Users can string together up to three commands simultaneously for Google Assistant to execute.
The audio quality is great, and the speaker features Smart Sound which adjusts playback according to your room acoustics. Users can easily connect to popular streaming services, a full list of which is here. If you happen to have an unsupported app, connect via Bluetooth and stream that way. Furthermore, Android TV and Chromecast users can operate everything via their voices with the Google Home Max.
This Google Assistant speaker excels at handling multiple commands simultaneously, and it registers voices effectively but sometimes if your audio is playing too loud it may struggle to hear the wake up phrase.
Related: 10 Best Google Home apps
What you should know
Getting started with Google Assistant
A Google Assistant speaker is one with Google Assistant integrated into it. Rather than communicating to your phone to have information relayed back to you, the speaker is its own source and connects to your Wi-Fi. Any given Google Assistant speaker supports a laundry list of services. Broadly speaking, these range from audio, smart home, photo and video, tasks, and gaming services. You can set routines with Google Assistant and make a slew of commands like checking your alarms, getting a daily briefing, looking up random facts, and turning on your smart bulbs.
While it’s helpful to be able to set reminders, events, send texts, and more, virtual assistant operations can be overwhelming. On top of that, the firmware is constantly being updated on smart speakers of all sorts, be it Google, Alexa, or Siri-enabled. Whether you’re getting a Google Assistant speaker for yourself or as a gift for someone else, Android Authority has you covered with a comprehensive guide.
Bluetooth codecs and streaming quality
Since smart speakers require internet access in order to connect to their respective virtual assistants, high-quality Bluetooth codec support isn’t usually a priority. By streaming audio over Wi-Fi, as opposed to Bluetooth, you’re experiencing better audio quality due to greater bandwidth availability. Additionally, since the speakers are software-based, many of the features are identical like controlling smart home devices, streaming hi-res 24bit/96kHz audio via Chromecast, and connecting to other Chromecast devices for multiroom playback.
Related: Best Bluetooth speakers of 2019
Have a beach day with the JBL Link Portable
Much like JBL’s other portable speakers, the Link Portable is IPX7 waterproof and is covered by a cloth wrap. The Link series separates itself from the Charge and Xtreme lineups by directly integrating Google Assistant. Therefore, the speaker allows for high-quality Wi-Fi audio streaming and multiroom support through Google Home. However, you can’t connect non-Link JBL speakers to the Link Portable via Connect or Connect+ apps for multiroom playback. The speaker plays audio in a 360 degree sound field.
JBL Link Portable
This 1.5-pound speaker can be taken anywhere, so long as your bag has room. It’s outfitted with a 4800mAh battery, which provides up to 8 hours of playback. While this is plenty to get through a full beach day, it takes a slow 3.5 hours to charge via its charging dock. The speaker comes in gray, blue, or black and is lined with four circular LEDs that activate when Google is called on. You can access Assistant via your voice or by pressing the dedicated button on the top panel centered between playback controls. The same panel holds two opposing far-field microphones for effective voice recognition.
If you want a portable speaker that works just as well in the home as it does on your next adventure, the Link Portable is a smart buy.
The Sonos One (Gen 2) is a great speaker with Google Assistant support
Sonos originally released the first-generation Sonos One with Alexa voice support only. However, after much anticipation, the company included Google Assistant integration, too, and includes it by default with the Sonos One Gen 2, despite the ongoing lawsuit between Google and Sonos. This modern, rounded rectangle is available in black or white and looks good in any home environment.
Sonos One (Gen 2)
Although the Sonos One (Gen 2) has an integrated Bluetooth (BLE) receiver, it’s only used for setup, not music streaming. Wi-Fi is your only streaming option and the Sonos One must be plugged into an outlet in order to work. While this limits where you may listen to music from, it means you’ll always enjoy high-quality. Sonos products support lossless audio file streaming, including OGG, FLAC, and WAV files; the company has a full list available on its site. It’s a great option for Amazon Music HD subscribers.
You can control everything via your voice and are also afforded a touch-capacitive panel atop the speaker. This lets you adjust the volume, skip tracks, mute the microphone, and more. Sonos includes a four-microphone array, and while this is two less than what’s in the first-generation model, Sonos claims the extra microphones didn’t improve vocal pickup performance.
The Sonos One (Gen 2) supports FLAC and WAV files, making it a great speaker for Amazon Music HD and Tidal listeners.
On of January 7, 2020, Sonos filed a case against Google for alleged patent infringement. Sonos claims Google copied its speaker technology and has requested a sales ban on Google devices, including phones, speakers, and laptops. One of the most egregious alleged thefts is of Sonos’ multiroom speaker technology, one of the features which facilitated Sonos’ immense popularity among consumers.
How to setup Google Assistant on the Sonos One
Amazon’s Alexa is the default voice assistant, but this may be easily switched within the Sonos app.
- Open the Sonos app, and select Services > Add a Service.
- Tap “Google Assistant,” and select which speakers you also want to command with Google Assistant.
- Add your desired music services to Sonos.
- Open the Google Assistant app and enable access to desired music services.
- This will automatically open Google to walk you through the final steps of linking your Sonos account to Assistant.
Audiophiles should get the Klipsch’s The Three smart speaker
Klipsch’s The Three Google Assistant speaker houses two ¼-inch drivers and a 5.25-inch woofer with dual-opposed 5.25-inch passive radiators for an enveloping sound. It provides plenty of connectivity options for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3.5mm aux, phono pre-amp, and USB Type-B, making it the most versatile option on the list as far as listening modes are concerned.
Klipsch The Three
Connecting via Bluetooth allows for lag-free, high-quality audio streaming as this is the only option that supports Qualcomm’s aptX codec. If you own other Google Assistant speakers, you can connect The Three to them via Google Home. What’s more, you can cast directly from your device to the speaker because it too has Chromecast built-in.
Its elegant design has a real wood veneer with metal switches and knobs that look and feel sturdy. Although it’s the most expensive option listed, its cost may be justified by its functionality, versatility, and design.
If you’re on a budget, the Google Nest Audio is a smart buy
This mini smart speaker features a more attractive design than its Amazon counterpart. Its three far-field microphone array effectively registers voices and executes commands with ease. The audio quality is pretty good for its size, and it has a neutral-leaning frequency response except for its attenuated bass. It also has Media EQ and Ambient IQ which change the sound signature and volume of the speaker depending on the type of media being played and the sound level of the room the speaker is placed in. If you don’t like these features, you can disable them, especially if you want to avoid having to keep the microphone on.
Google Nest AudioFull Review
The Google Nest Audio is great for users who want something to help organize their day, read tasks, and control various smart home devices. You can also connect the Nest Audio to other Google Home devices on your network. If you have a speaker in the kitchen and your kid has one in her room, you can use Google Assistant to relay to your child’s speaker that dinner is ready.
- Google Home Max: If you want big sound to fill a few rooms, the Google Home Max is the smart speaker to place on your mantle. This large, minimalistic speaker benefits from all the same Google Assistant features as the other picks while providing a loud house party sound.
- Google Home Hub: While this technically isn’t just a speaker, this smart display’s speakers are an improvement over the Home Mini and comparable to the Home.
- Google Nest Hub: Get this if you want your device to be predominantly a display with some speaker functionality. The 7″ touch screen lets you view reminders, stream video, and watch connected smart security footage.
- Google Nest Hub Max: This is the baddest of the Google Nest lineup with its 10″ touch screen and 6.5MP camera for taking pictures while video chatting. It has a 30W subwoofer to pump out high-quality audio and the same functionality and support found in the standard Nest Hub.
- Google Nest Mini: This is pretty much a Google Home Mini with better sound quality. It’s $10 more than the Home Mini, which may be phased out soon, but until then it remains the best bang-for-your-buck out there.
- JBL Link 300: The JBL Link 300 is a stationary Google Assistant speaker with a larger body and sound. It’s not waterproof like the Link 20, but that shouldn’t be an issue since it’s a homebody.
- JBL Link Bar: This is technically a soundbar, precluding it from being a top pick for this list, it’s a powerful amalgam of products wrapped into one. Users benefit from Android TV, Chromecast, and Google Assistant integration with this soundbar.
- Sonos Beam: Any home theater enthusiast will get along swimmingly with the Sonos Beam. This compact, beautiful soundbar is cost-prohibitive but works seamlessly with other Sonos speakers. If you’re already invested in the company’s ecosystem, this is the Google Assistant speaker to get.
- Sonos One Gen 2: The updated Sonos speaker includes a faster processor and greater memory than the original, directly benefiting iPhone users with integrated AirPlay 2 support.
Related: Best Sonos alternatives
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Frequently Asked Questions
No, while you can set up a Google Assistant speaker to control certain Sonos speakers, you cannot create groups with both Google Assistant and Sonos speakers to have them play the same content simultaneously. In addition, Sonos speaker groups will not show up on your Google Assistant app.
Unfortunately, this promotion ended early due to stock depletion, but Spotify Canada and Google had teamed up and were giving away Google Nest Minis to all Canadian Spotify Premium users. No catch. Spotify often has promotions like this one, so if you don't want to miss out next time, keep tabs on Spotify news.
The Sonos Move is a great speaker that can be used outside with an IP56 rating and inbuilt Google Assistant. There aren't many dedicated outdoor speakers that have Google Assistant, but there is a DIY solution. Amazon Echo, Google Home, and other smart speakers usually have a 3.5mm output jack, which you can use to connect to the receiver of your outdoor speaker system, allowing you to control playback with your voice.
In a Digital Assistant IQ test conducted by Loup Ventures, it was found that Google Assistant answered 93% of queries correctly whereas Siri only answered 83% correctly, and Alexa only 80%. That being said, choosing a smart assistant depends on more factors than just overall query accuracy, including compatibility with your other devices as well as the primary functions you plan to use it for. If you have a Google Pixel phone, for example, it would definitely make the most sense to get a Google Assistant speaker. Additionally, the study found that Siri was the best out of all three smart assistants at performing commands, such as sending messages, but Google Assistant outperformed the other two in all other categories.