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Smart, voice-controllable speakers have come a long way since the early days of asking Alexa about the weather. Now, with more portable designs and better audio quality, a group of the best new smart Bluetooth speakers make it easy to play tunes at home and on the go without needing to pick up your phone.
How Do Voice-Controlled Speakers Work?
Smart speakers let you stream music and audio from your wireless devices like many Bluetooth speakers, but they incorporate tech and mics that make it possible to access virtual assistants, from Amazon Alexa to Google Assistant. With a smart Bluetooth speaker, you can still stream music wirelessly, and do things like control other smart home gadgets, adjust volume, or manage a playlist using your voice.
Depending on the speaker, you can set up your preferred virtual assistant through your phone’s settings or specific apps for the speakers themselves.
Here’s what you need to know about shopping for the best smart Bluetooth speakers, along with our top picks, from Sonos to Bose.
How to Pick the Best Smart Bluetooth Speaker
When you’re considering which smart speaker to choose, you’ll want to think about the gear’s portability, sound quality, and a few extra features that separate each one from the competition.
Sound Quality: A must-have quality for the speakers on this list: great sound quality. While smart speakers give you hands-free convenience, how your music sounds in between chats with Alexa or Siri is just as important. Do you want heavy bass? Clear-and-full audio? The speakers in this guide check all the boxes.
Bluetooth speakers may not have quite the sound output as some HiFi bookshelf sets, but music lovers have a lot of impressive-sounding speakers to choose from now. Some of the best smart speakers can even support lossless audio and Dolby Audio, though not all of them can support Bluetooth.
Battery Life: Finding battery-powered speakers that can last multiple hours — even days — in between charges is easier than ever. This guide includes both fully portable units that offer 10+ hours of battery life, plus Bluetooth speakers you can keep plugged into an outlet.
Smart Connectivity: Different smart speakers may pair with one or a variety of virtual assistants, so decide which one is right for you and your setup: Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri. And depending on the speaker model, you may be able to sync it to other connected devices around your place, making for a more streamlined smart home setup.
Extra Features: On top of their connected tech, the speakers on this list also include extra features that help them stand out, from waterproofing to sturdy handles for extra portability.
The Best Smart Bluetooth Speakers
If you’re looking for smart, worthwhile Bluetooth speakers to listen to music, you can’t go wrong with any of the below recommendations.
1. Sonos Roam Smart Speaker
A Rolling Stone Audio Award-winner, Sonos’ smart Roam speaker boasts larger-than-life sound in a travel-friendly size. A 10-hour battery life makes it easy to stream music all day long, whether you’re using it on its own or together with other Sonos speakers around your house.
The Roam works great inside, but it can handle the outdoors, too: It has a waterproof design, and it’s also dust- and drop-resistant. And because Sonos made it voice-enabled, it works with Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri via Apple AirPlay 2.
2. Bose Portable Smart Speaker
No matter if you’re out on your patio or in your living room, this two-pound Bose smart speaker projects detailed audio and big bass in every direction.
A built-in carrying strap and its water-resistant design make this Bose pick something you can take almost anywhere you want to play your music. You can stream tunes for 12 hours per charge over Bluetooth and even cue up a song with your voice. It’s compatible with assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant, and you can also pair it with other Bose products.
3. Marshall Stanmore II Voice Wireless Smart Speaker
Once you set up Alexa in Marshall’s smartphone app, the Stanmore II Voice is ready to rock using — you guessed it — your voice. Like other speakers Marshall has produced over the years, this model comes with the amp-like analog control knobs, so you can still make adjustments from the speaker if you don’t want to bug Alexa. On top of its convenience, the Stanmore II Voice packs powerful sound in one of the coolest-looking speakers that can fit on your bookshelf.
4. Ultimate Ears Blast Portable Speaker
We’ve used Ultimate Ears speakers for years, and even after extended testing outdoors, our UE products still hold up. This Ultimate Ears portable speaker sheds off water — whether at the pool or in your shower — and delivers 360-degree sound for up to 12 hours per charge. And thanks to its built-in mic, you can ask Alexa to skip to the next song on your “Beach Day” playlist, too (or maybe just for the time).