Google Nest Audio smart speaker review
Google Nest Audio: is it worth your purchase?
- Impressive bass and midtones
- Compact design
- Only available in two colors
- Harsh sound at high volumes
- Multi-room function could be better
The sweet spot in Google’s smart speaker range. The Nest Audio is excellent value for money if you want rich, powerful sound in a compact device and don’t have overly demanding multi-room needs.
Retail price (RRP)
Google Nest Audio smart speaker review
Google’s long-awaited replacement for the original Google Home smart speaker is here, with a new Nest band, a revamped design, and much better sound quality. Here’s our Google Nest audio review.
Although calling it the Home Nest would have made sense, it seems Google is gradually moving away from that naming system.
The Nest Audio is priced lower than when the Home model was first released and has been updated in almost every way.
Design and build quality
The Nest Audio looks almost completely different to the Google Home with a new shape and now also covered in fabric, aside from the grippy rubber base.
I quite liked the quirky shape of the Home with its sloped top and interchangeable cover. Although the Nest Audio fits best into Google’s range of devices, I’m not sure the design will suit everyone.
My opinion on its design matches that of several tech journalists who have given their opinion online. In my opinion, it looks a bit like a glasses case due to the stitching around the middle.
Whether you like it or not is up to you of course, but the fabric feels good and the speaker is solid and well built. Google has even used 70% recycled plastic, which is great, offsetting 1.2 500ml bottles of landfill water for each device.
It’s a shame that in Spain we only have two colors to choose from: Chalk and Carbon. Whereas in the US there is a full range of five adding: Salvia, Sand and Sky.
There’s little else to say about the design other than that you get the typical set of four LEDs to show when the Google Assistant is responding and the volume level, etc. Hidden capacitive buttons are located at the top in the front so you can control volume and playback.
Most of the time you will interact with your voice and when you don’t want the speaker to be listening, you just have to press the physical switch on the back. You’ll know it’s muted when the LEDs turn orange.
Sound quality and tools
If you agree with the design, then your ears are going to get a deal. The Nest is much better in this department compared to the Google Home.
Google says it is 75% stronger and has 50% stronger bass. I can’t confirm those lab tests but I can tell you that the nest audio sounds great. A larger 75mm woofer paired with a 19mm inside an upgraded chassis combine to make rich sound.
The focus here is a well-rounded sound that accommodates just about anything played through the Nest. There’s a bias in the lows and mids, which sound very warm and the speaker packs a good amount of punch here.
While the tweeter is there to support high frequency output, they are slightly more powerful than the lower range. Luckily, you can adjust the bass and treble in the Google Home app if you agree and want to boost the high-end.
Something called “Media EQ” supposedly automatically adjusts the speaker’s tuning with music, podcasts, or the Assistant. This is noticeable, but all of the above sounds good on the speaker.
Although the Nest Audio isn’t much bigger than its predecessor, it packs more power. The Nest Audio sounds quite loud even at 50% volume.
It will easily fill a medium sized room with sound at this level. The downside is that if you wanted to push it all the way, maybe for a single speaker party, the sound quality would be very good. At more than 80% volume, the nest’s audio sounds harsh and there is an unwanted amount of distortion.
In all honesty, unless you have a huge house with a ballroom the Audio Nest is quite loud at 60-70%.
If you really want bigger sound, then Google has the Home Max, but it’s probably better to spend less on two Nest Audio.
Multi-room and assistant
Keep in mind that the Nest Audio is not designed to deliver 360-degree sound, so it fires forward like a traditional speaker. However, you can get two and create a stereo pair if you want. They only sent me one to test, but I imagine they will sound great as a pair and you will get a discount for buying two.
You could, for example, buy four and place them all in different rooms for a fairly affordable multi-room alternative to Sonos. Although Google has improved this aspect over time with new commands to move music from one room to another, there are still many things that could be better.
It seems strange that there is no way to do this in the Google Home app and that the assistant keeps getting confused when trying to add another room to a group instead of just moving it. It is still largely due to pre-created groups rather than a dynamic system.
Otherwise, the assistant works as you would expect, as you can answer questions, set timers, control other smart home devices, such as lights, etc.
I was hoping, based on leaked video before the Nest Audio’s launch, that the speaker had a battery that would make it portable. A cheap rival to the Sonos Move would have been an excellent selling point, but sadly that is not the case.
Price and availability
The Google Nest Audio is available in chalk (white) or charcoal (black) for € 99.99 through the official Google store.
The unusual design aside (which has grown on me over time), the Nest Audio is very well done. It’s a shame there are only two colors to choose from outside of the US, though.
The bottom line is that it’s the sweet spot in the Google range that delivers big, rich sound from an affordable, compact speaker. Good news if the Home Max is too expensive and bulky.
The lows are particularly impressive and the mids are solid too, plus you can use the Google Home app to boost the highs if needed.
Things go wrong with turning the volume down above 80% but this thing is so loud that I highly doubt you need to turn the volume up above 70%.
Multi-rooms are better with the ability to move music from room to room, but Google still has work to do here to make it more like the Sonos experience.
- 75mm woofer
- 19mm tweeter
- 3 far-field microphones
- Capacitive touch controls
- Microphone mute switch
- 1.8GHz quad-core A53 processor
- 11ac dual-band Wi-Fi 5
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Chromecast built-in
- Built-in Google Assistant
- Supports Android and iOS
- 1.2 kg.
- Chalk, Charcoal
- Made from 70% recycled plastic