Google Home Mini vs. Amazon Echo Dot: Which has better sound quality?

Two speakers, both alike in dignity. And price. And, for the most part, size. Google Home Mini and Amazon Echo Dot.

For a good many folks, these will be the gateway drugs to a more connected life. The answer to "What's all the fuss about?" when it comes to these commercials. Asking everyday questions. Getting everyday answers. Setting reminders and timers and — well, how about that — making what the old folks refer to as "phone calls," though there need not be a phone in sight. And, yes, these little speakers can control all the things.

See Google Home Mini (opens in new tab)   See Echo Dot at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Amazon Echo Dot vs. Google Home Mini — inside and out

Let us first consider the form.

Google Home Mini is a doughnut of a device. Or a squished pillow, if you will, clad in Google's favorite new texture — fabric. It measures 3.86 inches in diameter, and 1.65 inches high. Inside you'll find "360 sound" (though, again, some of us old folks would say sound transits more dimensions than that) from a 40mm driver.

Inside an Echo Dot and Google Home Mini

Birdi CTO Justin Alvey cracked open a Google Home Mini and Amazon Echo Dot in this excellent Medium post.

Amazon Echo Dot is, by conventional wisdom, a hockey puck. It's a little smaller, at 3.3 inches in diameter, and 1.3 inches tall. It's less shapely, with its vertical sides and decidedly plastic finish. Amazon lists the speaker as 15.24mm.

That discrepancy — 40mm for Google's speaker compared to 15.24 for Amazon's — almost sounds like a typo. But when you take a look inside the dough and the puck — as Justin Alvey of Birdi did in a great Medium post, you can clearly see the difference. Google's looks like a traditional speaker, just tiny. And Amazon's looks like ... a piece of plastic that apparently can emit sound.

Not that it matters, though — you'll never see either one unless you bite into the doughnut or crack open the puck.

No, back to our original question. How do they sound? The answer for both is "not great."

That's not surprising at all, of course. These are tiny speakers. They're not going to sound great. They were never going to sound great. You'll get better audio out of a lot of phones than you will the pillow or the puck, especially if you're thinking about listening to music. No, if you want to go that route, connect to a real speaker via Bluetooth, or the Echo Dot's 3.5mm audio jack.

But, OK. Back to our original question. Which one sounds better?

Which one wins? Google Home Mini

The specs don't lie. Google Home Mini has a larger, more traditional speaker. And it simply sounds better than the Amazon Echo Dot. That's true for speech, which has a more rich tone overall, according to my ear holes. (Your auditory perception may vary depending on how many years you spent in front of a Marshall half-stack.)

And it's also true for music. Echo Dot has a more consistent sound on that front — that is, it's universally not great. There's more range in Google Home Mini, though, and it shows — erm, sounds. I can easily tell which one I'd want to listen to tunes through (if forced), and Google wins, hands down.

See Google Home Mini (opens in new tab)   See Echo Dot at Amazon (opens in new tab)

29 Comments
  • The Google Home Mini is much better for sound than the Echo Dot. I've owned the Echo Dot and found it to be a good speaker, but comparing it to the Home Mini for sound; it blows the Echo Dot out of the water. I have read comments that users found it to be a 'tinny' sound, but I can honestly say that it's not the case for me, obviously each to their own and all that, but the home Mini is well worth the £49.
  • Go Reds!
  • The dot sucks as stand alone, ordered a mini today for bedside, I'll move the dot to my office. I'm looking forward to google music as well, even if I elect to use external speakers. The dot reminds me of transistor radio.
  • I use my dots to play music. It does for my family. Not as good as the Bose soundbar but decent enough.
  • I have a Home Mini next to my bed, and it definitely sounds a lot better than you'd expect it to, given its size. It's still nowhere near good enough to satisfyingly listen to music, though. What is is perfectly sufficient for, though, is listening to podcasts.
  • I've been trying to transition from Echo to Home and am closer to going all Home. I will miss Audible for sure and how it is slightly easier to issue voice commands to Echo for music. But having an Android Phones and Android Wear Watches, both with Google Assistant, it just makes sense to go Google Home, even if it is still a little behind the Echo.
  • In what ways is it behind the echo?
  • Coming from the Echo, I've had some disappointment with Google Home. * On the Echo, I tell it to "Shuffle My Music" and it does just that. It Shuffles my entire, personal Music Library. Google Home never does this. It just plays random stations or music. Asking Echo to "Shuffle My Playlist (Name)" it does it just find. Google Home will be about 50/50, often pulling a public playlist and not the one I made. * I like the granular control of the alarms on the Alexa app over the Google Home App" You can change the time and days once an alarm is made on Echo. On Google Home, you can only cancel an alarm. * Room to Room Calling and "Drop In". Works perfectly on the Echo. I do not see that option for Google Home. I believe it has entire house Intercom, which is good (Hey Google, broadcast INSERT MESSAGE HERE) but would love "drop in options." I really do want to go all Google Home if I can and if I can let go of these things.
  • The drop in feature is one reason I still have Amaon echos in a couple places in the house. No landlines or cordless phones in those rooms, but drop in allows me to talk to my kids when I'm in another room or on the road through the Alexa app. Hope Google will expand to have incoming voice abilities beyond the broadcast message you mention.
  • Agreed. I'm totally not bashing the Google Home because the MAX is what I want. But had to give up some functionality that Echo has and does well. I wish the new Echo's had better speakers. I heard the "Plus" isn't much better.
  • I have a Home in my kitchen and I was gonna get a mini for the living room and one for the bedroom... I'm actually considering getting another home for the bedroom instead of a mini so the tunes sound better.
  • Amazon never claims it has great sound quality. In fact they actively encourage you to use a better sounding speaker, or even stereo, if you plan to use it for music.
  • ^This.
  • If you're using either for sound quality, you're doing it wrong.
  • Amazon wins in the fact that they give you a myriad of options for getting better sound. You get a 3.5mm jack and bluetooth audio out.
  • The 3.5mm jack is definitely a big selling point for the Dot. I really wish the Mini had a combination 3.5mm/optical jack like the Chromecast Audio does.
  • Can't you send the sound from home mini to a Chromecast? Or at least direct it to play on the Chromecast. That would seem the way to go. Get some decent speakers and put them where it makes sense. That positioning isn't always ideal for where an AI speaker/listener should be. As has been noted, if you are using these for music, you are doing it wrong ;)
  • Yeah, but having an aux out on the Home Mini itself would eliminate the need for an extra Chromecast. I have a Chromecast Audio attached to a 5.1 system in my living room, and I can cast audio to that from the Home Mini, but if the Home Mini had an 3.5mm jack, then I could just hook it directly to the speaker system and cut out the middle man. ...plus, I could get the Google Assistant voice from five speakers at once, for full "creepy dystopian future house" effect.
  • Yes the mini has better sound. But far more important the Mini is a lot smarter and does not require commands like Alexa. You just speak naturally.
  • And yet, Google makes it extremely difficult to play the music in your own library. I had to put everything into playlists, then had to rename the playlists. Saying "shuffle my Zeppelin playlist" just gave me a Led Zeppelin station. Not cool, Google. Also, Alexa gives me a better weather report and says my reminders out loud. For now, I've got both on the same counter because neither is completely ideal alone.
  • I think it's getting better... If you just say "Play some Led Zeppelin" it will do it for you. They originally tried to get you to subscribe to their streaming services. I absolutely refuse, but I'm getting on ok.
  • This!!! This!!! This!!! This!!! Google Home is horrible at voice commands for music. I can't get it to play my collection whatsoever. I've put in enhancement requests for this and still this feature hasn't been added. And agreed, neither are ideal alone...the Echo is close but I want Google Play Music and my Google Reminders.
  • I just don't like how Google will NOT play a specific song, but plays something else that's similar. The other stupid thing is when I DON'T want to listen to my own library, and pick a radio station, then Google plays what's in my library.
  • You might as well do an article titled What Halloween Candy tastes better- Pixy Sticks or Circus Peanuts.. Nobody really buys either of these for sound quality. Do they?!
  • have AC completely lost their grip on reality recently, Dot or Mini for sound quality ? Really? there are plenty of reasons you might want a Dot or a Mini, but buying either for sound quality isn't really up there. Guys if there's nothing to write a story about then maybe its best to bother.
  • Exactly. Slow day at the office apparently.
  • I guess it's more a case of "What sucks less", lol.
  • The main issue with Home if its lack of connecting to Bluetooth speakers directly. I have a TV in my kitchen with a soundbase that has 3.5mm jack and Bluetooth. With the Echo I can connect it directly to the sound base to play music. With a Google Home Mini you have to use a chromeast in the TV which means to just listen to music you have to have the TV on switched to Chromecast and audio out via the 3.5mm jack. and the sound is not as good (probable the TV passing the audio through) Come on google -= allow direct Bluetooth connection
  • I personally would not care, but I did read the article just because I trust Phil's opinion. I have one of the phones that you can hear through most of the house, but if I'm in the mood and I can't light up the big system, then I'll settle for a Pacuwi J6 speaker/powerbank combo. Very loud for it's size, and the only drawback is the poorly translated voice prompts.