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Google’s Nest Audio Is the Best Sounding Smart Speaker You Can Get for $100

Illustration for article titled Googles Nest Audio Is the Best Sounding Smart Speaker You Can Get for $100

Picture: Andrew Liszewski/Gizmodo

After shopping for Nest again in 2014, Google has been repositioning all of its sensible residence merchandise underneath the model, and that features its sensible audio system. One of many final holdouts to be upgraded as a Nest was one of many firm’s first sensible audio system, the 4-year-old Google Dwelling. However the brand new Google Nest Audio sounds prefer it’s really packing in a decade’s price of enhancements.

Once we first reviewed the Google Home four years ago we have been blown away by the sound when in comparison with competing merchandise on the time, just like the Amazon Echo. However on this planet of expertise, 4 years is a very very long time, and the competitors has stepped up its recreation. Google has since been joined by different firms like Apple, whose $300 HomePod stays one of many best sounding smart speakers in the marketplace for these trying to splurge (and take care of the challenges of Siri). At this level, the unique Google Dwelling seems misplaced amongst Google’s different Nest-branded sensible residence audio system and hubs, however for its dimension its sound efficiency continues to be fairly good—no less than that’s what I assumed till I plugged within the new Google Nest Audio.

Throughout the reveal of the Google Nest Audio, the thought that stored popping into my head was how a lot bigger the brand new speaker was in comparison with the unique Google Dwelling, however when sitting facet by facet the Nest Audio doesn’t really look a lot greater. It’s positively taller and wider, but it surely’s additionally barely thinner than the Google Dwelling, and its general footprint means you’re not going to should make further room for the Nest Audio if you happen to’re placing it the place your Google Dwelling used to stay.

To squeeze as a lot sound out of Google Dwelling’s comparatively tiny speaker, Google’s engineers paired a 50-millimeter full-range driver with a pair of passive radiators positioned on all sides. Powered by nothing however the air stress generated by the primary speaker, these radiators did an admirable job at boosting the decrease frequencies popping out of the Google Dwelling. It was a loud sensible speaker that delivered a very good quantity of punch, however the method left so much to be desired within the sound high quality of these decrease frequencies.

The Google Nest Audio splits the Google Dwelling’s single 50mm driver right into a 19mm tweeter for larger frequencies, and a 75mm woofer for the decrease. The outcomes are, not surprisingly, a stark distinction. Figuring out what’s occurring underneath the hood, I’m nonetheless shocked at how good the outdated Google Dwelling sounds, however the Google Nest Audio does a significantly better job at pumping out cleaner, crisper, room-filling sound that’s extra pure, notably on the decrease finish. The intelligent tips used to make the Google Dwelling sound as giant because it did got here with compromises; the bass felt a little bit synthetic and overly boosted. However with the brand new Google Nest Audio it’s onerous to complain in regards to the system’s bigger footprint when the twin audio system sound so significantly better.

That being stated, that is nonetheless a speaker that stands simply 6.89 inches tall and prices $100, so don’t anticipate it to compete with a pleasant set of bookshelf audio system that includes devoted drivers for mid-range frequencies, too, and even bigger sensible speaker choices just like the $300 Google Home Max. The Nest Audio is a tiny speaker that punches a good quantity above its weight class, and I can’t think about anybody being disillusioned in what it may possibly do for a Benjamin. (Had Google compromised a little bit extra on its dimension and included a chargeable battery, I’d even be tempted to advocate the Nest Audio over most Bluetooth audio system at this value level too.)

Aesthetically, the Google Nest Audio isn’t going to depart anybody fawning over its groundbreaking design. As with the corporate’s different Nest merchandise it’s designed to mix in with your house’s decor and all however disappear. It’s fully wrapped in an acoustically invisible material (out there in 5 totally different however very muted pastel colours) and its solely actual distinguishing options are a button on the again for muting its microphone, and a set of 4 color-changing LEDs (they flip orange when the mic is muted) on the entrance hidden beneath the material, a design factor that Google first launched with the Dwelling Mini speaker years in the past.

Proprietary power adapters are never a win, but the Google Nest Audio is power-hungry.

Proprietary energy adapters are by no means a win, however the Google Nest Audio is power-hungry.
Photograph: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

Functionally the Google Nest Audio is strictly the identical because the not too long ago up to date Nest Mini speaker. You possibly can faucet the highest of the Nest Audio in particular locations to manage music playback or regulate the speaker’s quantity, however I’ll admit I miss the Google Dwelling’s contact dial that allowed for quicker quantity changes. Just like the Nest Mini, the Nest Audio now additionally advantages from an onboard devoted machine studying chip that Google guarantees makes Google Assistant reply twice as quick to voice instructions. I’ve by no means been pissed off with Google Assistant’s response occasions (it’s Siri that has me pulling my hair out) however when by chance setting off a number of sensible audio system in my residence with a command, the Google Dwelling does sound just like the ageing grandparent within the room who’s sluggish to reply.

For those who’ve been counting on the Google Dwelling in your residence’s sound system for the previous 4 years, the Google Nest Audio is unquestionably a worthwhile improve. The distinction in sound high quality and efficiency is straight away noticeable, which isn’t at all times the case with iterations of a product, however Google has clearly spent the previous 4 years perfecting a worthy successor to the Google Dwelling. Different upgrades aren’t as instantly apparent, however if you happen to’ve come to depend on Google Assistant in and round your house, the Nest Audio may even deliver the opposite under-the-hood enhancements the corporate has made to its sensible speaker line over the previous 12 months. Meaning you’ll be all set for the subsequent 4 years, too.


  • It’s the very best sounding sensible speaker in the marketplace for $100.
  • There are actually two speaker drivers contained in the Nest Audio, a tweeter and a woofer, however the speaker itself ought to nonetheless simply squeeze into the Google Dwelling’s outdated spot.
  • The Nest Audio’s design is extraordinarily subdued, bordering on boring, however that’s what Google goes for: a tool that may simply disappear in your house.
  • For those who opted for Apple Music over Spotify as your music streaming service, you’ll should accept Bluetooth as the simplest solution to stream your tunes by the Google Nest Audio.
  • Due to an onboard machine studying chip, Google Assistant response occasions are quicker, and as with the Nest Mini, spoken responses keep in mind background noise to make sure they’re at all times simply heard over different noises.

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Andrew Liszewski