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72 posts

Master Geek

#236292 27-May-2018 13:42
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My wife wants to be able to stream Spotify to a nice speaker for home listening. Was going to buy a bluetooth speaker, but then realised some smart speakers are about the same price so might as well get one of them and have the convenience of a voice controlled personal assistant as well.




Been doing a bit of research but finding the decision quite complex because:


1. It's difficult to know what is actually available in NZ (hardware and services).


2. Many reviews are not up to date and the landscape is changing so quickly.




Considering things like: Apple Homepod, Amazone Echo, Sonos One. Or Google options?




From what I've seen most smart speakers (like Echo) have really poor quality sound. Seeing as our primary use will be for music, that makes me hesitant to go with something like Echo, despite its good price and Alexa is excellent.


We are an Apple household for most other deices, however we do not use Apple music. Apple Homepod's limitation of only supporting voice controls for Apple music is off-putting when all the other will work natively with Spotify. Also Siri seems to be a distant 3rd place behind Alexa and Google on the personal assistant side. Apple of course is also astronomically expensive compared to the others, but appears to offer superior sound quality. If it was not for the limitation of being tied into Apple music, I might consider shelling out for the audio quality, but I'm seeing too many downsides to justify that price.


Sonos One appears to be a good middle ground? Attempting to be platform agnostic although I understand it's Alexa based for not but may be adding more Google and Apple support in the future? Sonos One seems to have better sound quality, although not as good as Homepod.




Would really appreciate advice on what smart speaker to buy in the current mid-2018 landscape. Whether it's one of the above or something I have not yet considered. Thanks!





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1298 posts

Uber Geek

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  #2023383 27-May-2018 14:00
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I haven't personally used it yet but if the UE Boom quality is to go by, I would say the UE Blast / Mega Blast will be up there in terms of music quality having Alexa built in & having the addition of being portable if that's your thing.


From experience: 


I wouldn't recommend the Google Home if music quality is your main ask is music quality. I usually end up using my google home to play through my TV for better audio.


The Apple Homepod is amazing for sound quality however as a smart speaker it is extremely limited.


Haven't Used a full sized Alexa but have heard they're on par with the Google Home.

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Uber Geek

  #2023403 27-May-2018 15:33
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I'm yet to find any voice controlled speakers that work with how I want to play music.


As most of my music lives on my server and phone / tablets, they struggle to access that music.


'Smart' speakers with apps are still the way to go if this is the case, that way the likes of the Sonos, Denon, BluOS, Yamaha speakers are the choice for app. controlled units.


I believe smart speaker voice integration is still very much in its infancy (especially in NZ) and you tend to get treated like a BETA tester.




Overall, buy on sound quality, then 'add smarts' where applicable...

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Uber Geek


  #2023410 27-May-2018 15:58
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Do you really need to be able to talk to your speakers? It sounds like you are going to have to compromise sound quality for a feature that doesn't add a lot of value. 


I have a Bose Soundtouch 10 in the kitchen that I use for talk radio and podcasts, and would buy a Soundtouch 20 if I were going to use it for music. The Soundtouch software is pretty flaky, but as a bluetooth speaker it's great.

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Uber Geek

  #2023420 27-May-2018 16:11
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I have a Sonos One in the kitchen and also a Sonos Connect out in the workshop which runs to an amp and my outdoor speakers for the garden. I cannot praise the system highly enough. Not Bluetooth which I didn't want but seamlessly part of my home network and I run everything through an app on my phone. I don't need voice control.


Good range of support to third party content but for me the ability to connect to my NAS with all my music is great.


Sound quality is excellent on the One



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  #2023514 27-May-2018 18:26
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Do you really need to be able to talk to your speakers? It sounds like you are going to have to compromise sound quality for a feature that doesn't add a lot of value. 


I have a Bose Soundtouch 10 in the kitchen that I use for talk radio and podcasts, and would buy a Soundtouch 20 if I were going to use it for music. The Soundtouch software is pretty flaky, but as a bluetooth speaker it's great.



I agree, the more I read about these things the more their shortcomings become clearer.


My fathers day gift was a Bose Revolve, which is my first wireless speaker and sounds great. I've known people to use the Naim Mu-So which built-in spotify, and the upgrade process is still.... nominal. Better to just a widget like a phone which gets an app update every 2 weeks, and a bluetooth or wired connection




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  #2023591 27-May-2018 21:04
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Ive got sonos5x2 and a sonos play one.


Love the sound quality, stream fro spotify and off my nas.




No smarts but can control using phone/ipad/pc and speakers are all about sound quality for me.

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Ultimate Geek

  #2023971 28-May-2018 14:39
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Very happy with the sound quality from my Bose Revolve Plus

  #2024004 28-May-2018 15:41
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+1 for Sonos. We have a Play 1 in the study and a Playbase in the lounge and love them both. Good quality sound, they look great, and they run on WiFi rather than Bluetooth, which I don't really like. I'll be adding more Sonos products as $$ allows.

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Uber Geek

  #2024293 28-May-2018 21:22
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I'm on the Panasonic Allplay speakers, which I got at an attractive price a wee while ago. Two ALL1C units connected to old stereos (bedroom and living room), an All7 in the dining room, an All3 in the guest room, and an All5 (portable with 9 hour battery) that I take out on the Deck. They stream music from a NAS to which I have ripped all my CDs etc, using WiFi, and also work with Spotify and Tunein Radio etc. Also support for direct connections (using 3.5mm plugs), and bluetooth connections, both of which they will re-stream to other speakers.


The hardware and sound quality are good. However, they aren't smart speakers and are controlled off an App on my tablet/phone. Unfortunately the Panasonic App, while it works OK, is a bit on the mediocre side.


If you aren't fixated on being able to talk to your speakers, they are a good bit of kit. And on sale they can be had quite a bit cheaper than Sonos.

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  #2024308 28-May-2018 21:48
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I picked up a Sonos One with Alexa at a Best Buy in Hawaii and I love it. Sound quality is outstanding, I did use an Apple HomePod there too but couldn’t determine a a massive increase in quality on that device over the Sonos, and the fact that the Sonos supports so many music services is a real plus. They will apparently be implementing airplay 2 and google assistant support soon.

Make sure you realise that Sonos the Play:1 and the One - Play:1 does not have voice service but very similar form factor.


72 posts

Master Geek

  #2024418 29-May-2018 09:00
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I've opted for now to forget the smart speaker which still feels a bit gimmicky and not as useful as it will be in the new few years.




Instead of found a UE Boom2 for a great price of $150, which sounds like a perfect balance of sound quality, durability, and portability.




Will hold off on getting a speaker I can talk to ;-)

165 posts

Master Geek

  #2029841 5-Jun-2018 14:24
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Get an Alexa Dot for about $60 and plug it into some decent speakers. This is a win win. 

  #2059611 20-Jul-2018 19:30
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We've tried various single unit speakers from Braven bluetooth ones through Sonos (Play:1 and Play:5) to Naim Mu-So Qb. 


Sound quality goes up in that order, as does the cost. 


Fed "full fat" hi-res from Tidal or Roon (on the server) the Mu-So is pretty spectacular. It's hard to credit how good it sounds for the size, and even Mrs B thinks it rather impressive and visually smart. The Sonos is fairly water resistant and is excellent in the shower room for singalongs :-)


Playing mp3s narrows the field down quite a lot. And players you can talk to are players that are listening to you...





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