Smart speaker buying guide

A must-have for any home, smart speakers combine a virtual assistant with premium audio abilities and voice control to create a piece of tech that everyone can enjoy.

Whether you want to check the weather, play games, listen to music or set timers, these can be used for both your entertainment and as a tool to make your life a bit easier. Just use the “wake up” phrase, such as “Hey Alexa”, and get started - it really is that easy! Still feeling left in the dark? Use our buying guide below to narrow down your search and find out everything you need to know to confidently make your next purchase.

Setting up a wireless smart speaker system allows you to play your favourite songs, podcasts and radio stations throughout your home, just by using your voice. Connecting via your WiFi network or Bluetooth, smart speakers can receive audio from your smartphone, tablet, computer or home theatre system and control everything using a free-to-download app.

Using smart sound speakers through the home allows you to play the same song in every room or a different song, station, podcast or playlist in each space. You can connect to digital music libraries, radios, compatible CD players, and even turntables, so you’ll always have plenty of content. If this seems daunting, why don’t you start with one and grow your system? You can even create a virtual surround sound experience by adding a smart soundbar, subwoofer and rear speakers for a home cinema to be proud of.

Talking about ‘wireless speakers’ can be a little misleading as it doesn’t mean that a speaker has absolutely no wires at all. Generally speaking, home wireless speakers need a wire to connect to the mains. Even fully portable speakers need to connect to the mains to recharge their built-in batteries. Many wireless speakers also contain a ‘line in’ or ‘aux in’ socket to connect your speaker to an audio source via a cable. If you want to connect non-wireless devices like an old record player or a CD player to your wireless speaker, then this is really useful.

Often known as ‘pairing’, you can effortlessly connect your smartphone/devices to your speakers via Bluetooth or WiFi. Both methods have perks but Bluetooth is perfect for short distances (around 10 metres) as you don’t need an internet connection or Wi-Fi signal. The sound quality is usually excellent via Bluetooth as the technology continues to improve, but the WiFi connection can often be a little better.

These days, speakers can be controlled in a myriad of ways depending on how far away you are from the speaker and your own personal preferences.

  • Voice control allows you to ‘tell’ the speaker/s what to play by using the built-in AI smart assistant.

  • Touch controls let you adjust the volume as well as play and pause your music.

  • App controlled speakers allow you to control everything from volume to content via a free app on your smartphone/devices.

Smart assistants use AI (Artificial Intelligence) to understand your voice commands.

  • Amazon Alexa allows you to ‘tell’ the speaker/s what to play by use of smart assistant AI technology.

  • Google Assistant lets you control the volume and can also be used to play and pause your music.

  • Chromecast enables you to control everything from volume to content via a free app on your smartphone/devices.

Did you know that many of our products are also available for rental? Enjoy the latest tech with low, monthly payments and regular opportunities to upgrade, find out more about Hughes Rental here.