Best Alexa speakers 2020: Amazon-powered smart speakers for all budgets

Fill your home with the best Amazon Alexa speakers, from the living room to the kitchen to the garden

Best Alexa speakers
(Image credit: Bose)

Welcome to T3's guide to the best Alexa speakers – we've found you the finest Alexa-powered speakers on the market, from Amazon's own Echo range to those speakers from other brands that do more with Alexa. That includes the best Alexa soundbars, the best portable Alexa speakers and more that push the envelope of what Amazon's smart home platform can do – these are absolutely some of the best smart speakers on the planet.

If you're new to Alexa, you might ask yourself why you'd want such a thing. Well, reader, it's because Alexa speakers are brilliant. They're speakers, only with a little magic robot built in which can answer inane questions, fill up your shopping list, switch the lights on and off, and run a vast range of third-party skills. There are countless things you can do with Alexa that just make life easier.

If you want to know more about Alexa, we've got our guide to Alexa vs Google Assistant so you can assess the two biggest smart assistants. We've also got our guide to the best Alexa Skills that you can add to your Alexa device to power it, we've got our guide to Alexa easter eggs and tips to help you have more fun with it, and if things go wrong we've got our Alexa troubleshooting guide.

The presence of Alexa is really only part of the puzzle anyway, because each of these Alexa speakers is a wireless speaker capable of some high-quality audio playback. We've moved on from the slightly ropey sound quality of the original Echo Dot, that's for sure. When well established names like Sonos and Bose come into the equation, you can be sure that things are getting more accomplished. Amazon's highest-end speaker even supports Dolby Atmos, in a weird way.

How to choose an Alexa speaker

Money, room size, capabilities. Those are your three key factors. The first is easily covered, as there are Alexa speakers available for any budget, from the frequently-discounted Echo Dot (which is regularly under £30/$30) to the Echo Studio, to higher-end multi-room speakers which don't skimp even slightly on the hardware. 

There are, equally, speakers for any room, with the clock-toting Echo Dot (marginally more expensive than its non-clock sibling) perfect for your bedside table, medium-sized speakers that fit a kitchen or living room, and big-boy blasters ready for anything.

Then there's the capabilities. Amazon's own-brand kit doesn't veer too far from the plug-in single speaker form factor, bar a little extra functionality at the higher end, but for more interesting use cases you really do need to look to third parties, and we've picked some interesting examples which do a lot more.

Well-worn caveat time, though, when it comes to third-party Alexa devices: when you buy a non-Amazon Alexa speaker, you don't get true full-blown Alexa, like you get from Echo devices. You get a subset, an Alexa which, while smart enough, doesn't quite have the same features as Amazon's first-party devices. 

There's no 'drop-ins', no announcements, no calling, and a small list of other things missing too. Amazon has even changed Alexa's error message, which used to say these things were 'not yet supported': on everything we've tried, the 'yet' part has been stricken.

Does that mean it's time to lose hope? Does it mean you'll never be able to use a third-party Alexa speaker as an intercom? Er, yes. It probably does. But maybe you're not worried about those features anyway – if you want to ask Alexa the weather or to turn on the lights or to play music, you're still good.

Best Alexa speakers: the Echo family

If you're going Alexa, selecting an Amazon device may be the best choice for you. There's a long list of Alexa-supporting devices available from Amazon, including curiosities like the Echo Auto, things more meant for Alexa functions than speaker functions (the Echo Flex and Echo Input, to name two), and Amazon's smart screen Echo Show line, which will happily play back audio at a decent quality. Those aren't for this list: here come the best Echo speakers you can buy.

Best Amazon Echo speaker

Amazon Echo Plus (2nd Generation)

(Image credit: Amazon)

1. Amazon Echo Plus (2nd Generation)

Every cool Alexa feature crammed into a single device

Reasons to buy
+Smart hub functionality+Strong 360-degree sound+Great microphone array
Reasons to avoid
-Long in the tooth

The Echo Plus is an entire package. It's a premium 360-degree speaker, with a soundstage that's nothing short of surprising for its price. Not that it's unsurpassable, and it's certainly beaten by higher-tier Alexa speakers, but this sounds better than it has any right to. It's a well designed piece of kit, with a choice of cloth coverings which make it able to blend in with most decor. It's sensitive, packing a seven-mic far-field array for hearing you, and includes a Bluetooth input and wired output. 

But why choose the Echo Plus as our best Echo speaker over its cheaper sibling, the third generation Amazon Echo? Two words: smart hub. This isn't just a quality speaker, it's a solid base for the rest of your smart home, with a Zigbee hub which can (if you're running compatible hardware, such as Philips Hue bulbs) entirely replace individual control hubs for those products. It even has its own temperature sensor, so Alexa can be precise in its readings.

One note, however, is that the Echo Plus as it stands is just about the oldest device in the Echo line. It works fine as it is, but we'd be surprised if Amazon didn't have an updated model up its sleeve for release sometime soon. Maybe we'll even get hi-res audio capabilities…

Best value Echo speaker

Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Generation)

(Image credit: Amazon)

2. Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Generation)

Expand your Alexa setup, or just try it out

Reasons to buy
+Tiny form factor+Cheap as chips+Plenty responsive
Reasons to avoid
-Standard sound

The Amazon Echo Dot is not, by any stretch, the best speaker around. Don't get us wrong, it does do a surprisingly good job of filling a kitchen or bedroom with passable sound. The third iteration packs in a larger speaker driver than before, and goes nice and loud, but it's no audiophile device. Instead, it's an almost throwaway-priced way of getting Alexa (and, with it, in-home communication) in the next room over. It's small, it's easy, it's perfectly capable of hearing what you have to say despite cutting the microphone array down from seven to four, and it's just as responsive as the rest of the line.

The Echo Dot comes in a number of different disguises. There's the standard version, with its customisable cloth; there's a kids version, which tacks a little on the price in exchange for brightly-coloured cladding and a specially kiddified version of Alexa; and there's the version with a clock which, well, tucks a clock behind the cloth, making it perfect for your bedside table.

Whether you're expanding your existing Alexa lineup or just want to dip a toe into the water to see if it's something you'd like, the Echo Dot is a superb choice. Just keep an eye out for a sale, because it seems to be half price more often than not.

It's discounted very regularly, so don't pay full price – always look out for sales.

Best high end Echo speaker

Amazon Echo Studio

(Image credit: Amazon)

3. Amazon Echo Studio

Amazon's big boy is a hefty speaker indeed

Reasons to buy
+Hi-res audio capabilities+Atmos compatibility+Loud, lively sound
Reasons to avoid
-Too expensive for simple Alexa use

Amazon clearly got itself very excited when designing the beefy Amazon Studio. It crammed in five individual speakers, pointing them this way and that; it doled out 330W of power to them, and self-calibration capabilities. The result is a bass-heavy smart speaker that audiophiles will, if not love, at least not hate. 

The Studio's sound is massive, leaning heavily on its bass end, with upgraded drivers and smarts which make it capable of pumping out hi-res audio. There's 330W of power in there, including an up-firing speaker which gives it support for the (currently very limited) library of Dolby Atmos Music on Amazon's Music HD service as well as Sony's 360 Reality Audio.

The Echo Studio is by far Amazon's most versatile smart speaker, offering up the option of Atmos movie playback when stereo paired to a Fire Stick 4K and, technically, looking like a good option for rear surround too. For all that it can do, the Studio is impressively priced, too. 

It's too much if all you want is Alexa, and others can pull off movie sound and audio fidelity better. But you won't find full-blown Alexa on a speaker more bombastic than this one, and it has a Zigbee hub built in too, like the Echo Plus.

Best Alexa speakers: Third-party

Hopefully by now we've established that Amazon's own offerings are great choices. In third-party speakers, Alexa often comes as a bonus – a smart little extra cherry on cake which would be delicious without it. But there are some cases where you might look for Alexa specifically: those rooms where only one speaker makes sense, those times when you want to take Alexa somewhere other than its anchored spot, and so on. And that's where third party speakers shine: they're extra Alexa. And here are the best you can get.

Best Alexa soundbar

(Image credit: Sonos)

4. Sonos Arc

A superior soundbar with Alexa built-in

Reasons to buy
+11-speaker Atmos audio+Great sound for movies or music+Multi-room ready
Reasons to avoid
-Only one HDMI input

However you might feel about its single solitary HDMI input (see what we thought in our full Sonos Arc review) the Sonos Arc is an otherwise very flexible and feature-rich soundbar, which complements its built-in Alexa functionality with the option of Google Assistant if you lean on the other side of the smart speaker spectrum.

The Sonos Arc sounds predictably fantastic, with 11 individually-amplified speakers firing sound up and around; Atmos support is present and correct, but its poise translates to other sources too. When you're not adding an extra dimension to your movies, the Arc is a musical powerhouse, perfect for making the most of Alexa's audio streaming capabilities. All in all, it's one of the best soundbars on the market.

It's as multi-room friendly as you'd expect a Sonos speaker to be, and it can be expanded by installing (say) a pair of Sonos One SLs to act as wireless rear speakers or Sonos' descriptively-named Sub for a little more bass meat. That's an expensive upgrade path, and the Arc isn't cheap by itself, but you'll get some prime Alexa sound whether you expand it or not.

If you like the idea of an Alexa soundbar, but this is too steep (or large – it's for TVs of 55 inches and up only), Sonos still has you covered. The Sonos Beam is a brilliant smaller soundbar, and it's less than half the price of the Arc. Here's our full Sonos Beam review.

Best portable Alexa speaker

Bose Portable Home Speaker

(Image credit: Bose)

5. Bose Portable Home Speaker

Carry top-quality Alexa sounds wherever you go

Reasons to buy
+Long lasting battery+Pleasant sound+Bluetooth compatibility
Reasons to avoid
-Quite expensive

The bucket handle is a not-so-subtle clue that Bose wants you to drag this around wherever you go, and you'll probably want to do as instructed. It's a brilliant speaker, with a warm sound and Bose's typical EQ expertise making the most of its 360-degree design. Even if you're not taking it out and about, plunking the Portable Home Speaker in the middle of the room is easy enough when there are no wires to worry about. 

Batteries will, on a good day, last you a solid 12 hours. Like Sonos' competitor, you can set it up to use either Alexa or Google Assistant, depending on your preference, which makes streaming sounds very simple. Obviously you'll need to be in Wi-Fi range for the smart features to work, but it's equally valuable as a Bluetooth speaker too.

Best waterproof Alexa speaker

Ultimate Ears Megablast

(Image credit: Ultimate Ears)

6. Ultimate Ears Megablast

Boom! A hugely powerful Alexa speaker you can drop in the pool

Reasons to buy
+Exciting sound and design+Basically everything-proof+Perfect for a party
Reasons to avoid
-Perhaps a bit brash

If you want to go loud, you can't beat the UE Megablast. Its audio balance is, as you might expect from its name, on the aggressive end, with a party's worth of power packed into its tight cylindrical design. It's about as far from a reference speaker as you can get, but if you like things bouncy and punchy, this is the one.

It's dustproof, dropproof and also IP67 waterproof, meaning it can take full submersion for up to half an hour. The latter will either come in very handy or rarely come into play at all; we suppose you could take the Megablast into the shower with you, if you really need a dose of music to sing along to.

And yes, this portable speaker includes the full range of third-party Alexa support, which is to say not quite the top-to-bottom Alexa experience but enough of it to suit a device like this.