Google Nest Audio Review
Already at the launch of the first Google Home speaker exactly two years ago, it was clear that all other smart speakers were stern.
The Google Home ecosystem, as their smart home is called, is easy to use and can control a variety of other smart products such as robotic vacuum cleaners, cameras, TVs and motorized blinds. And so speakers. However, this does not mean that Google is known for delivering the best sound from such smart speakers.
For example, we were very disappointed with the deplorable sound quality of the original Google Home speaker. Even the voice assistant sounded stuffy and gray. Then it was actually much better to buy the Home Mini and eventually the replacement Nest Mini, for less than half the price. Much clearer speech, at the expense of less bass. But the miserable bass in Google Home we could do without anyway.
Google’s hi-fi alibi?
In other words, Google has become known for its good ecosystem, while third-party manufacturers have been responsible for the good sound. For example, Sonos One and Marshall Stanmore II Voice, both of which have the Google Assistant built-in.
Google now hopes that Nest Audio can become their new hi-fi alibi, for people who want good sound. Like several of the other Google speakers, two Nest Audio speakers can be paired in stereo.
According to Google, Nest Audio itself delivers 50% more bass and 75% more sound level than the original Google Home. A 19 mm tweeter should provide even coverage of the high frequencies and give clear voices. A 75 mm midrange bass handles the lower frequencies, and Google promises that it will really swing.
The speaker is upholstered in gray or black fabric. The fabric, cover and foot are, along with “some smaller parts of the speaker”, made from 70 percent recycled plastic. If the look is not exactly exciting, the speakers with their elegant rounded corners are something that fits perfectly into any minimalist home.
Ease of use
Google Nest Audio connects easily by searching for them in the Google Home app on an Android or iOS mobile phone or tablet. It’s all extremely simple, you rent by hand through it all.
After setup, you can enter the settings and choose whether to pair two speakers in a stereo pair. I’ve actually got two speakers in for testing, so I do.
The sound can be adjusted up or down by touching the right or left front of the top of the speaker. You pause and start the music with a light tap on the “forehead” of the speaker. Or talk to the speakers: “Hey, Google, turn down the volume.”
You can ask the speaker to tell you about the weather, how long it takes to drive somewhere, about when your favorite restaurant closes, the possibilities are many.
But all other Google speakers can do all this. Original as a third party. The only thing I am therefore really interested in knowing is how good Nest Audio actually sounds.
I have tried as best I can to like this speaker. The positive, in addition to the ease of use we know so well from before, is that the sound of speech is clear and distinct. In other words, it is never a problem to hear what the assistant says, whether it is a female or male voice you have chosen. But that is not the case with the half as expensive Nest Mini.
Nest Audio plays louder than the Mini, and it has louder sound. And with two speakers in stereo, you get a much larger sound picture than with just one speaker.
I would still say that it does not help. It is not good enough, because the bass is much tamer than I had hoped and the sound is generally flat. It sounds gray and woolly in the treble range, and it does not help to pull it up in the tone settings. It gets sharper, but does not give any more air or details.
Do not get me wrong, Nest Audio does not clone it in any way. Not like Google Home, which sounds downright spongy and stuffy. Nest Audio is far more balanced. But, again, so does the Nest Mini. In fact, Audio and Mini sound very similar in sound. It’s very good for the Nest Mini, but less good for the Audio.
Misses the target
Who is this speaker made for? If it is for people who want a handsome smart speaker they can talk to and control the home with, and always hear the voice clearly, then Nest Mini fulfills all this.
If, on the other hand, it is for people who place greater demands on sound quality when they listen to music, then Nest Audio does not meet. It is far too anonymous and boring, and it can not be driven particularly high until the bass almost disappears completely.
To put it a bit in perspective, the Sonos One sounds infinitely better. More details at the top, far better dynamics and a fuller bass. Sure, it’s also more expensive, but I would much rather have one of it than two of Google Nest Audio.
Apple HomePod also plays rings around Nest Audio, and so does the new Huawei Sound X. They are also more expensive, but then I had also hoped that it was in this class Google would go this time.
Google Nest Audio: Conclusion
Google Nest Audio is a speaker you will see everywhere, both in store and in advertising. It knows infinitely many tricks and makes them more user-friendly than other smart home systems. And the price is absolutely edible.
Unfortunately, the speaker is also totally unnecessary. The reason I do not dance for joy is because, well, it does not offer to dance. Here, Google had all the prerequisites to give us a speaker with proper sound that competes with both the Apple HomePod and the new Huawei Sound X, but we instead got another dull speaker for people who do not care about sound quality.
If this is the kind of speaker you are looking for, then just as easily buy the even cheaper – but far more honest and equally advanced – Google Nest Mini. It can do everything Nest Audio can, at a much lower price. That it sounds even flatter and lifeless doesn’t matter, none of them are for serious music listening anyway.
Google Nest Audio can be purchased at store.google.com