Amazon's new Echo Dot vs. the Google Home Mini: Which sounds better?

Go ahead and take a listen for yourself.

Ry Crist Senior Editor / Reviews - Labs
Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
Expertise Smart home technology and wireless connectivity Credentials
  • 10 years product testing experience with the CNET Home team
Ry Crist
3 min read

Amazon introduced a flurry of new Alexa gadgets at a whirlwind event in Seattle last month. Key among them, a brand new version of Amazon's Alexa-equipped bestseller, the $50, £50 and AU$79 Echo Dot.

Like the versions that came before it, the new, third-gen Echo Dot is a puckish, pint-sized smart speaker that's really made to be connected with other, bigger audio setups via Bluetooth or auxiliary cable. But the new Echo Dot is also noticeably bigger than before -- and Amazon says that's because it beefed up the sound quality on the speaker inside.

That move is likely meant to counter Google, which one-upped the Echo Dot as far as sound quality is concerned when it released the equally cheap Google Home Mini. With a new, better-sounding Echo Dot that still costs $50, Alexa's now in a better position to stay competitive with the insurgent Google Assistant.

So how's the new Dot sound? So glad you asked.

Dot versus Dot

First things first: Go ahead and watch that video above to hear for yourself how the new Dot sounds compared to the old one. Go on, I'll wait.

The difference is pretty clear -- the new, third-gen Echo Dot is simply a more powerful speaker than before. For my tastes, it easily offers enough oomph for casual listening in your kitchen or at your bedside -- and if you need more, you can still hook it up to a larger audio setup like you could before.

No real surprise, there -- improved sound quality is really the only thing that's new for the Dot this year aside from the updated, fabric-bodied design. But that brings us to the real question:

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Does the new Dot sound better than the Google Home Mini?

Google Home Mini offered slightly stronger sound than the Dot when it made its first debut. With better sound from the new, third-gen Dot, has Amazon caught up?

I'd say that yes, the two are at least on equal footing as far as strength of sound is concerned. The Dot's boosted bass probably even gives it a slight edge. But whether or not the new Dot sounds better than the Home Mini is really up to the listener. Some of us preferred the fuller-sounding Dot, while others thought that the Home Mini offered slightly better clarity.

For what it's worth, I took to Twitter with a couple of videos comparing the way the two speakers sound, and polled my followers as to which they preferred in each case. The new Dot was the clear favorite, earning about 80 percent of the votes in each test. Count me among that majority -- if I had to pick one to listen to my favorite playlist on, it'd be the new Dot. Then again, if you blindfolded me and asked me to tell you which speaker I was listening to, I'm not sure that I'd be able to tell. The two are pretty close.

And "close" is probably just fine as far as Amazon is concerned. People are making first-time smart speaker purchases each and every day, and for many, the choice comes down to the Dot or the Home Mini. Up until now, Google had a pretty strong case that the Home Mini offered better sound, which might have been enough on its own to move the needle for some shoppers.

The new Dot puts an end to that advantage -- and puts the ball back in Google's court (did I mention that Google's fall hardware event is next week? Busy times in these parts, lemme tell ya.)

Speaking of which, we're still testing the new Echo Dot at the CNET Smart Home -- stay tuned for a full review in the coming days.

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