Review in two minutes
The Nest Audio is the successor to Google’s first smart speaker: the Google Home. In the four years since the product has been on the market, a lot has changed in the world of smart speakers.
During this period we have seen several other speakers and smart displays from Google. The company has even changed its name to integrate these products with the Nest brand. An ocean of smart speakers from other brands with Google Assistant integration has also emerged.
This means that Google isn’t just releasing a new product that should be better than the older model. The Nest Audio also has to compete with similar products from Harman Kardon, Sonos, LG, JBL and many more.
This is probably one of the reasons audio quality was such a big focal point for Google. So much so, that Google has included the word ‘Audio’ in the name of the product. However, this makes it even more disappointing that the sound quality does not meet our expectations.
The product sounds fine when playing uncomplicated pop music. In other genres, however, there is a lack of detail in the highs and mids audible. As a result, the sound lacks sparkle and sounds muffled.
On the positive side, the Google Nest Audio functions well as a smart speaker. The assistant’s voice can be heard loud and clear. Voice commands are picked up well. The device also comes with some useful features such as a voice call via Google Duo. This allows you to keep in touch with family.
As a smart speaker, the Google Nest Audio works well. If sound quality is important to you, some other smart speakers on the market offer a better listening experience.
Price and release date
Google Nest Audio specs:
Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz/5 GHz) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
Speakers: 75mm woofer, 19mm tweeter
Processor: Quad Core A53 1.8 GHz
Dimensions: 175 x 124 x 78 mm
Weight: 1.8 kg
The Google Nest Audio is now available for pre-order via the Google Store and other larger outlets. The device will be released on October 15th.
The smart speaker has a price tag of € 99.99 and is available in the colors ‘chalk’ and ‘charcoal’, which actually means light gray and dark gray. This price is lower than the original launch price of the Google Home, which is now no longer available from Google itself.
The Google Nest Hub is available for a similar price. If sound quality isn’t your top priority, the Google Nest Mini is also available for a lot less money. If sound quality is important to you, the Sonos One or Google’s own Home Max might be a more suitable choice for you.
- 70 percent recycled materials
- Simple and subtle design
- Good touch buttons
While last year’s Nest Mini kept the same design as the Home Mini it replaced, this time Google has opted for a completely new design.
The entire device is covered in the fabric that we know from Google’s other smart speakers. The simple design works well with the smaller smart speakers, but in this case it leads to a characterless case on your table. On the other hand, the design is very discreet, which means that it should fit well in most interiors without being too obvious.
It’s also good to emphasize that the new Nest Audio is made from 70 percent recycled materials. According to Google, each unit keeps 1.2 PET bottles out of landfill, which is of course a positive.
While you can’t tell from the design, there are three touch buttons on the top of the speaker. These let you change the volume and stop or resume the sound.
The only physical button on the speaker is the switch on the back, with which you can mute the microphone. This prevents Nest Audio from listening in when you do not want this.
In addition, four recognizable LEDs can be seen on the front. These light up when you have activated the Google Assistant.
- Improved bass response
- Lacks details in midtones and highs
- Pick up voice commands well
Audio quality seems to be one of Google’s main focus points when it comes to the Nest Audio. According to Google, the speaker can be 75 percent louder than the Google Home. It also offers 50 percent more bass. This could be true, but we don’t think it delivers the improvement in sound quality we were hoping for.
To be fair, the Nest Audio sounds pretty good when you’re listening to straightforward pop music like The Weeknds Blinding Lights. Similar songs are reproduced well and the bass is certainly there. This provides a solid foundation without being overwhelmed.
When we put the Nest Audio next to the small, portable JBL Flip 5, we notice that the latter can deliver significantly lower frequencies. We therefore do not understand why Google has not been able to get more out of this new speaker.
More complicated songs give the speaker more challenge. The surprising thing is that it’s not the bass that disappoints. The highs lack the sparkle we hoped for. The sound image therefore sounds somewhat muffled.
At the same time, the mids lack detail, for example when listening to a classic like Fleetwood Macs Rhiannon. As a result, the vocals don’t get the focus they deserve, while the details are snowed under by the lower notes.
The lack of treble can be fixed by turning this setting a little higher in the Google Home app. However, no adjustment is possible for the midtones. In fact, there is not much you can do about the lack of details.
Increasing the volume does create some higher tones, but also introduces a new problem. The sound becomes rough and grainy. We experienced this especially when listening to Björk’s Army of Me. The vocals took on an unpleasant grainy tone, which really shouldn’t be there.
To be clear: the sound quality is really not that bad. The Nest Audio can offer you an enjoyable listening experience at a moderate volume. But for a little more money you have a speaker that can offer a lot more bass and sparkling high tones, without that roughness.
As a smart speaker, the Nest Audio works very well. The assistant’s voice comes out of the device clearly and clearly. Even if you are not close to the speaker, you can clearly understand the voice. The microphone could also pick up our voice well, even with loud music and other noises in the room.
User Experience and Features
- Simple installation
- Automatic tone control
You install your Google Nest Audio through the Google Home app. Connecting the device to Wi-Fi and setting the settings for the Google Assistant is quick and easy. From this moment on you can start giving voice commands. You can ask questions or have music played. If you already use a smart assistant, it will do exactly what you expect it to do.
Via the Google Home app you can link the smart speaker to a specific room in your house. This is useful if you have multiple audio devices in different rooms in your house. You can set filters and activate a night mode. It is also possible to link two Nest Audio devices together for stereo. Other Nest speakers only deliver mono sound in combination with the Nest Audio.
Another supported feature is the ability to make calls from your phone with the smart speaker. This way you can keep in touch with your children and keep an eye on them when you are out the door. Your children can also come into contact with you by asking the speaker.
The Google Nest Audio has an automatic tone control (equalizer). This adapts the sound to the type of sound being played, for example music or a conversation in a podcast. Since this happens automatically in the background, it is difficult to say exactly what is being adjusted. In any case, it does not improve the sound quality when listening to loud music. However, this makes voices sound clear and clear.
Is the Google Nest Audio right for me?
Buy it if …
You want a simple and compact smart speaker
The Nest Audio takes up little space and is not noticeable. This smart speaker fits anywhere in the house.
You want a smart speaker in your kitchen or bedroom
The Nest Audio is good enough as an audio device for the kitchen or bedroom. However, it does not provide enough volume for larger spaces.
You want a good smart speaker
Although the sound quality when listening to music is not great, the Nest Audio remains ideal as a smart speaker. The voice output is crisp and clear. It also contains a good microphone to hear your voice well.
Don’t buy it if …
You want good sound quality
The sound quality of the Nest Audio is good enough for listening to pop music in the background. But if you are an audiophile you will likely be disappointed by the lack of detail.
You want to fill a space with sound
Nest Audio isn’t designed to fill a large room with sound. If the sound is too loud, it will sound rough.
You are looking for an interesting design
The Nest Audio’s design doesn’t look bad, but it’s not something to write off either. For a more interesting design, you better look at other smart speakers.
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