The best speaker for me is the one that best balances three key factors: sound, smarts, and price.

Amazon Echo (3rd Gen)

Basic but good

$ 80 at Amazon

Pros

  • Improved sound architecture
  • Half the price of a Sonos One
  • Five colors including Product Red and Twilight Blue

Cons

  • No built-in display
  • Not a huge leap forward from past generations

Even though the Amazon Echo (3rd Gen) isn’t the most technologically-advanced gadget out there, it gets the job done when it comes to smart home and music controls. For the price, it’s hard to find a better speaker, much less a better smart speaker.

Sonos One

Speaker first

$ 169 at Amazon

Pros

  • Strong sound profile
  • Works with Alexa and the Google Assistant
  • More content partnerships and services than Amazon

Cons

  • No Bluetooth support
  • Expensive compared to the competition

Audiophiles love Sonos for its quality-sounding speakers and overall ecosystem experience, and the Sonos One fits well within these expectations. It supports more music services than Amazon (by a lot), and also works with Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant, and Apple’s AirPlay 2. It’s just more of a speaker than a smart speaker.

You can’t really go wrong with either one of these devices, and certain features from each may appeal to you more than others. Ultimately I have to pick a winner in this head-to-head, so I’ll start out by looking at how they compare in key categories before I explain the ones that matter most to me. Let’s see if you agree with my opinions.

Break it down now…

When it comes to smart speakers, these options from Sonos and Amazon are two of the most iconic and affordable on the market today, but as you’ll see below, they each excel in very different areas.

Amazon Echo (3rd Gen) Sonos One
Size 5.8″ x 3.9″ x 3.9″ 4.7″ x 4.7″
Weight 1.72 lbs 4.08 lbs
Audio One .8″ tweeter and one 3″ woofer Two Class-D digital amplifiers, one tweeter, one mid-woofer
Dolby Processing Yes No
Line-out with 3.5 mm cable Yes No
Supported Music Streaming Services Amazon Music, Audible, Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, Pandora, SiriusXM, iHeartRadio, TuneIn Amazon Music, Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music, Tidal, Pandora, Deezer, Audible, SiriusXM, TuneIn, Napster, iHeartRadio
Smart TV compatibility Pairs with newest Fire TV devices for audio output Pairs with Apple TV via AirPlay 2
Smart Home compatibility Alexa integration and Amazon Certified for Humans program Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple AirPlay 2 integration for smart home controls
Bluetooth connectivity A2DP support No
WiFi connectivity 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4 and 5 GHz 802.11 b/g, 2.4 GHz
Smart Assistant compatibility Alexa Alexa and Google Assistant

I may sound like an Echo chamber

I’ve owned and operated nearly every Amazon Echo device to date, and I’m quite familiar with the setup and user experience on display. The Echo (3rd Gen) setup was as simple as can be, and with just a few taps in the Alexa app, I was ready to go.

The Echo (3rd Gen) setup was as simple as can be, and with just a few taps in the Alexa app, I was ready to go.

Even though I’ve called the Echo (3rd Gen) an Echo Plus (2nd Gen) in new packaging, I think it’s a great product for a great price. It inherited the improved speakers from the Echo Plus and thus addressed the biggest complaint about previous Echo speakers — the sound. To my ears, the Amazon Echo (3rd Gen) sounds great for the price, and at half the price of the Sonos One, that’s tough to beat.

This Echo generation also has a softer, more aesthetically pleasing design than the previous version. I like how Amazon continues to add color and flair to the Echo lineup, with Midnight Blue and Product Red joining the more traditional Sandstone, Heather Gray, and Charcoal varieties.

While it’s technically possible to set up smart home routines with the Sonos One, it is so easy to do with the Echo (3rd Gen) and Alexa app, as is pairing multiple Echos, creating speaker groups, and connecting to your Fire TV device. I also appreciate that I can arm my security system with Alexa Guard through the Echo (3rd Gen), and send messages across the house or across the state with Alexa. That’s just something you can’t do with a Sonos One.

The way a smart speaker should sound

I primarily use Alexa as my preferred smart voice assistant, and thankfully both of these smart speakers work quite well for my needs in that regard (though I do agree that it’s nice to have the additional flexibility to change to Google Assistant on the Sonos One if I wanted to).

The Sonos One is definitely a speaker first, smart speaker second.

As I’ve said before, to my ears, the speakers on the Echo (3rd Gen) sound perfectly fine, but I can appreciate that others with more sophisticated audio tastes might want something with more, and that is where the Sonos One fits. When I put these two smart speakers side-by-side and played the same songs at the same volume level (separately of course), the Sonos One clearly sounded more full-bodied, well-rounded, and louder. Color me impressed.

As far as aesthetics go, the Sonos One has a more traditional speaker look. Whether you get it in white or black, it’s fairly boxy and made of a metal mesh that reminds me of every speaker I had from my boom box days. I gotta say, I don’t hate it. The speaker has a heft to it that belies its solid build, and I don’t have to worry about accidentally knocking it over if I bump the desk or shelf too hard.

The Sonos One works with Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant, and it also accepts audio via Apple’s AirPlay 2 protocol. It doesn’t, however, support Bluetooth, nor does it have a 3.5 mm audio jack for those cases where you might want to plug in a set of headphones or connect it to another device. All of the audio pairing is done through the Sonos app.

While you can control most of your smart home devices through Alexa or the Google Assistant, and the Sonos app is quite nice, this is definitely a speaker first, smart speaker second whereas the Echo is clearly the reverse. You’ll have to decide which to get based on what your priorities are, but if you value great audio for a good price, it’s hard to pass on this (Sonos) One.

The one to get

The TL;DR for me is this: the Sonos One is the better sounding speaker with better support for different music services and smart assistants, but the Amazon Echo (3rd Gen) is a better user experience and is half the price. Heck, I can get two Echo speakers and connect them for a stereo pair for the price of one Sonos One, and in all honesty, most of the services I care about are supported on the Echo (Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora).

I can’t begrudge you if you disagree, and if you use the Google Assistant or have other Sonos speakers, then the Sonos One is a better option. I just appreciate a good deal and think that there isn’t a better deal in the smart speaker space right now than the Amazon Echo (3rd Gen).

Amazon Echo (3rd Gen)

Value smart speaker

$ 80 at Amazon

It got better where it counts

Amazon improved the sound and design of the latest Amazon Echo and managed to price it competitively for the best overall experience.

Sonos One

Versatile smart speaker

An attractive smart speaker for whole-house coverage

$ 169 at Amazon $ 170 at Best Buy

The Sonos One is great for pairing and putting all around your home. It supports every major music service as well as Alexa and Google Assistant.

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