The original Google Home was interesting and came when smart home speakers were starting to take off, but it had issues, namely the sound quality and power. Google has rectified that with the new Google Nest Audio speaker, and it’s actually a pretty darn good speaker.
The design is completely changed now. Instead of the “air freshener” look, it’s now a rounded rectangular speaker that’s covered completely in mesh fabric. For the environmentally conscious, you’ll be happy to know that the enclosure is made of 70% recycled plastic, which definitely is a nice touch.
You get three touch-sensitive areas on the top of the speaker for volume up and down, as well as a play/pause button. As usual, there are four LED lights that display the volume level, and they also light up as a visual cue once the speaker hears the activation phrase, “Hey Google” or “Okay, Google”.
But of course, let’s talk about the most improved aspect, and that’s the sound. Google wasn’t lying when they said the speaker is louder and clearer. As to whether the speaker really is 75% louder and has 50% stronger bass than the original Google Home speaker, it’s anyone’s guess. But the fact is that even at 50% volume, the speaker is plenty loud.
You get a balanced sound that has a good amount of bass, while still retaining clarity in the mids and highs. If anything, I’d say the overall sound is definitely more natural and less prone to distortion when listening to music at loud volumes. The speaker has a pretty decent soundstage, and two speakers can be paired for left/right channel separation.
If you don’t fancy the sound of the speaker out of the box, there’s an EQ feature in the Google Home app which allows for tweaking to the levels of bass and treble. The Nest Audio speaker also has a Media EQ feature which automatically adjusts the volume of content playing on it, whether it be audiobooks, podcasts, music or others, based on the amount of background music the speaker detects.
The Nest Audio speaker is also connected to your other Google devices in the home, so if you have a few speakers strewn about the house, and you’re listening to music in your bedroom but want to move to the living room, you can easily say “Hey Google, move the music to the living room” and the music will switch to the speaker in the living room.
For people worried about smart speakers listening in on them, there’s a physical switch on the back of the Nest Audio that turns off the microphones in the speaker.
If that’s not enough, you can also check your history in the Google Home app, which lists down everything you’ve said to the speaker. The history can be deleted and there’s also an option to automatically delete activity older than three, 18 or 36 months.
The best part is that the Nest Audio only costs S$139. While it’s not the cheapest or best speaker around, the price is quite reasonable when you take into account the improved sound quality. And of course, if price is a major concern, there’s always the cheaper Google Nest Mini at S$79. But for people who are more interested in music fidelity and sound quality, I’d say give this a miss, and save up to get something like the Sonos One.
More information and preorders for the Google Nest Audio (S$139, only Chalk and Charcoal colours available) can be found at Google’s website.