Which sounds better, Google Home or Amazon Echo?

For those of us without dedicated stereo systems in the house, smaller connected speakers are great. Some of them are portable enough to follow you around the house with its own battery, while others connect to the wall and focus on delivering the best possible audio you can get from a Bluetooth or Chromecast Audio connection (which isn't super great, but that's a story for another time).

Connected Home speakers, like Amazon Echo and Google Home, aim to improve that home audio experience while offering a ton of other tech inside. For the most part they do a good job replacing your average $100 Bluetooth speaker, but if your goal is to get the best possible sound for your space there's going to be some clear differences between these systems.

Here's everything you need to know about choosing between Amazon Echo and Google Home, assuming all you are looking for is a decent speaker to play music with.

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo vs Google Home

Where most speakers have been designed to be set up somewhere and pointed in the direction you want to hear sound, Amazon Echo has been built to push sound in every direction. The speaker grille on this cylinder wraps all the way around, because the speakers in this system are actually pointed down at the surface it is resting on. You can basically set this speaker anywhere and ensure you get the same audio quality everywhere, but because the speaker needs to be connected to power you're likely to position it near a wall.

Amazon claims Echo includes a 2.5-inch woofer for bass response and a 2-inch tweeter for higher notes, and combined they deliver great sound. What this means in the real world is Echo is fantastic at spoken word podcasts (and Alexa, obviously) as well as most instrumental music. You aren't going to get a deep bass feel from this speaker, even if you're up close, but for a speaker its size the woofer/tweeter layout means Echo can get very loud before audio sounds distorted. This is great for larger spaces, but less useful for your average bedroom or kitchen.

See at Amazon

Google Home

Google Home

It may look like Home and Echo are built similarly with a wraparound speaker grille, but in fact Google's speaker is designed to be tucked away against a wall or in a corner. If you lift Home out of its bottom shell you'll see what looks like three speakers, with a Micro-USB port in the back for diagnostics. Standing behind Google Home clearly sounds different as a result, but if you're sticking this on a shelf or on a corner end table that's not going to matter to you.

According to Google, Home includes a 2-inch driver with a pair of 2-inch passive radiators, which allows for clear highs and rich bass. What this means in the real world is a speaker that can deliver solid mids and a little more bass than you'd expect. Google Home isn't the most crisp speaker ever when it comes to spoken word podcasts, but music from these speakers has a healthy amount of body as long as you keep the volume under 75%. Trying to crank Google Home up to 11 will quickly introduce distortion, which makes this speaker less ideal for larger spaces but is better than average in most other spaces.

See at Best Buy

Which is better?

Amazon Echo vs Google Home

There's a few things to keep in mind when deciding "best" in this situation. Amazon Echo is able to get much louder than Google Home without distortion, and handles spoken word and most instrumental music better. As a single speaker it is perfectly capable, but the speaker placement makes everything sound farther away (insert echo joke here). Google Home will fill a room with music that sounds like it is coming from a more expensive speaker, but if you're trying to fill a large space with music or you're big into podcasts, this isn't the best experience.

Each problem with the design of these two speaker systems has a solution offered by the manufacturer. Amazon realizes not everyone's speaker tastes are identical, so the Echo Dot can connect to whatever speaker you want. Google Home is built on the Google Cast framework, which means you can connect multiple Google Home or Chromecast audio speakers together and create a whole-home stereo system you control with your phone.

Either solution would be a functional workaround for whatever your personal needs are, but if we're looking at the capabilities of a single speaker it's clear Google Home is the best speaker for music and Amazon Echo is the best speaker for just about everything else.