REVIEW: Google Nest Audio - A Solid Improvement
As part of their #LaunchNightIn event last week, Google announced its newest smart speaker called the Nest Audio, which is a direct follow on to the original Google Home. Why the change of name you ask? It’s to do with Google bringing its smart home tech and devices under the Nest brand which they acquired back in 2014. For this review, we want to compare Google’s newest smart speaker with its oldest and the type of improvements you can expect if you decide to pay its €99 asking price.
When it first launched in 2016, the Google Home was quite striking in its design as a smart speaker with its cylindrical shape and multi-coloured LED pattern on its slanted top. When it came to audio performance though, it was never going to win awards but for casual music listening and responding the Google searches and questions, it was more than adequate.
Now, 2020, the new Nest Audio not only comes with better Google Assistant features, it’s also had its internals upgraded to offer a much better experience for ‘music lovers.’ Google claims the new speaker is “75-percent louder and 50 percent stronger bass” than the original Google Home and, when comparing them side by side, we can definitely hear the difference. The deeper bass is handled handled by a 75mm mid-woofer and the high-frequency coverage and clear vocals are made possible by a 19mm tweeter.
Combining these two upgraded speaker systems, the Nest Audio actually sounds more natural with clearer and fuller audio all round. The upgraded grill and fabric cover also ensures the tweeter can deliver its detailed nuances without any distortion from the housing of the speaker.
Upgraded Google Assistant
A nice new feature is the Nest Audio’s ability to automatically tunes itself to your listening habits so it’s able to adjust the volume of the Google Assistant, for example, on the fly, based on the background noise.
As you obviously expect, the Nest Audio also uses Google Assistant to stream your favorite music, podcast and more from a wide range of streaming services but, this time round, it’s able to deliver the goods twice as fast and is also able to learn your most common commands and response twice as fast as the original Google Home.
We definitely found this to be the case as we did our daily ‘Hey Google, what’s the temperature outside?” and “turn on the living room lights’ requests being handled super fast over the original speaker.
Seamless Multi-Device Connectivity
As you’d expect, the new Nest Audio speaker can be synced up with whatever other Google smart home products you may already have to create a larger audio listening experience.
For example, we have a Google Nest Hub in the Kitchen and Chromecast Ultra hooked up to the TV and, when streaming music to the Nest Hub, you can also add on the new Nest Audio along with the Chromecast Ultra to stream the same track as well, helping create a ‘whole home’ music experience.
You can also pair two Nest Audio speakers together to create stereo audio pair but we didn’t get to try this out.
When it comes to design, the new Nest Audio leaves behind the somewhat ‘air freshener’ look of the original Home and now its completely wrapped in a cloth fabric material that’s actually made from 70% recycled material. The pillow-like rectangular shape has rounded edges with the top front half of the device housing the touch sensitive buttons for play/pause and volume control.
There’s also a physical mute button on the back of the device, just like the original Google Home, that let’s you switch off the microphones if you’d like. When it comes to colour options, unfortunately, Irish buyers are limited to the Chalk (light grey) or Charcoal (dark grey) colour options but hopefully we see the Sky (baby blue), Sage (mint green) and Sand (salmon pink) colour choices become available here at some stage.
All round, the new Nest Audio is a marked improvement over the original Google Home in almost every way. The sound is louder, the bass is deeper, the Google Assistant has become quicker and smarter and it costs less then when the Google Home first arrived on the seen.
You can pre-order the Google Nest Audio now on the official Google Store and it’s expected to start shipping on October 15th.