Review: 4 months later, the Nest Audio is still a smart speaker champ

On the planet of Assistant vs. Alexa, the Nest Audio makes Google’s case well.

Replace, February 2021: Nest Audio, four months later

It will be important to not overthink what the Nest Audio is, or what it is looking to be. Google is not; it was once lovely transparent about that reality all through the product’s advent. It is a successor to the preferred 2016 Google House, the corporate’s authentic air freshener-shaped cylindrical Google Assistant-powered speaker, which was once launched all through an excessively other time within the corporate’s hardware roadmap.

It wasn’t till the next yr, in 2017, that the colourful, rounded-corner, fabric-covered aesthetic we all know and love as of late was once printed within the varieties of the Google House Mini and House Max, petite and portly variations of that authentic speaker designed to make the Google Assistant out there to extra house sizes, budgets, and audio fanatics.

Within the remaining couple of years, there was no scarcity of Google Assistant audio system launched to the marketplace, however maximum of them proportion something in not unusual: they’ve shows. Google’s fallen in love with good shows, all of which play track, certain, however none that exemplify the austere audio-focused mandate of the unique Google House. (Sure, 2019 noticed an audio-enhancing refresh of the Google House Mini within the type of the Nest Mini, however even its progressed speaker is not any fit for the dynamic vary of maximum songs launched as of late.)

So right here we’re, days got rid of from an Amazon tournament that noticed some other reinvention of the Echo speaker, and Google has its personal 2020 take at the $100 good speaker. Whilst it isn’t going to vary the dialog round reasonably priced good audio system, it is a forged addition to the marketplace, and reinforces Google as a hardware maker that understands the wedding of speaker design, audio high quality, and its robust platform.

Nest Audio



Base line: Google provides its authentic House speaker an enormous visible and audio improve for 2020, however the most efficient phase is the quicker Google Assistant processing and strengthen for stereo pairing.

Professionals

  • Superb sound high quality for the associated fee
  • Sexy, understated design
  • Superb microphone high quality
  • Google Assistant may be very helpful
  • Intuitive contact controls, devoted mute transfer

Cons

  • Nonetheless some device system faults

$100 at Best possible Purchase
$100 at Walmart
$100 at B&H

Nest Audio evaluate The hardware

Class Google Nest Audio
Dimensions four.89″ x three.07″ x 6.89″, 2.65 lb
Colours Chalk, Charcoal, Sage, Sand, Sky
Processor Quad Core A53 1.eight GHz with TeraOPS ML hardware engine
Audio system 75mm (2.95″) woofer, 19mm (zero.75″) tweeter
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n/ac (2.four GHz / five GHz)
Bluetooth five.zero

While the unique Google House felt like an experiment in design that came about to repay — its top-mounted capacitive ring continues to be certainly one of my favourite techniques to switch quantity — the Nest Audio sits obviously in Google’s circle of relatives of fabric-covered audio system and good shows.

In its most elementary sense, it is a a lot smaller vertically-mounted Google House Max, round 20% taller and 25% wider than the third-generation cylindrical Amazon Echo, and at a shocking 2.6 kilos, round 50% heavier. It additionally dwarfs the OG Google House, and is even reasonably taller than, regardless that now not somewhat as deep as, the Sonos One.

Google obviously put numerous effort into protecting the Nest Audio compact. Its heft comes from a surfeit of steel — aluminum within the entrance and magnesium within the again — intended for warmth dissipation and pressure that are meant to save you distortion at excessive volumes. Instead of the burden, regardless that, you’ll by no means know there was once a steel body within; the entire speaker is roofed in a cushy woven cloth, the vast majority of which Google says is derived from recycled water bottles.

The Nest Audio seems, unsurprisingly, like a smaller Google House Max

To be had in 5 colours, I were given to take a look at the least colourful two — Chalk (white) and Charcoal (black) — however I do not believe it truly issues a lot; this can be a speaker that can be get rid of to the aspect of a room to be known as upon to play track or a podcast when the temper moves. That stated, the Sage inexperienced, Sky blue, and Sand choices are certain to be standard for individuals who do wish to make the speaker somewhat extra distinguished.

Again in July, Google teased the Nest Audio with a few footage and a video, during which it appeared like the speaker may well be used portably. Sadly, that was once only a mirage, because the Nest Audio, like several Google audio system, is supposed for use plugged in — regardless that it does strengthen Bluetooth if you wish to attach it without delay to a telephone.

Google informed me that it sought after to make sure the highest-quality Google Assistant efficiency in each surroundings, making it essential that, when hooked up to Wi-Fi, the speaker had a constant supply of energy. Whilst for sure disappointing to a couple who have been in all probability in search of a miniature model of the Sonos Transfer, including a battery sufficiently big to energy the Nest Audio for considerable time, even simply hooked up to Bluetooth, would have upended the compact shape issue Google completed right here.

I carry this up early within the evaluate as a result of, rather than enhancements to design and sound high quality, the Nest Audio is almost no other from the unique Google House. Just like the Nest Mini, there is a devoted microphone mute transfer on board, along side 4 LEDs that remove darkness from when taking part in and pausing track or converting quantity. Best of the speaker additionally homes the capacitive contact zones: left for quantity down, heart for play/pause, and proper for quantity up. Those areas are sufficiently big that actual placement is not important, and the entire interplay type seems like Google has spent the remaining 3 years atoning for the Google House Mini’s faulty contact controls.

The Nest Audio’s design purposefully does not draw consideration to itself. You won’t even be capable of inform it is on until you might be interacting with it.

I just like the Nest Audio’s design regardless of its near-monolithic austerity. In contrast to the Amazon Echo and even the Sonos One, there are not any bodily buttons, or hints at button placements, until you already know the place to faucet. The speaker’s LEDs keep unlit whilst audio is taking part in, and best take care of their presence when the rear mute transfer has been activated (which, once more, is not visual until you might be in search of it). Google has discovered that individuals would relatively pay attention than see a speaker — which is precisely how it must be.

Nest Audio Colors

What the Nest Audio is superb at, like its predecessor, is listening to its keywords even whilst muttered quietly or when the track is blaring. The 3 far-field microphones do an unbelievable task selecting up even the faintest trace of a “Good day Google,” quieting the present music to get a greater earline to a follow-up word. This has at all times been an enormous good thing about Google’s first-party hardware over competition like Sonos that combine the Assistant into its hardware, and that’s the reason true right here, too.

Nest Audio evaluate The sound

The Nest Audio sounds just right, however now not superb. That reality must be evident, however we are used to important tech firms subverting our expectancies by way of subsidizing their hardware to inspire ecosystem lock-in.

The promising information is that in case you are coming from both an OG Google House or a Google House Mini or Nest Mini, this can be a large improve. In contrast to the Alexa ecosystem, which has noticed large expansion as a result of Amazon turns out keen to paintings with actually any corporate that may throw in combination a tweeter and a microphone, there don’t seem to be numerous succesful Google Assistant audio system. And as Google spent the previous couple of years operating with companions like Lenovo, LG, Sony, and JBL to pair audio system with monitors, or even because it constructed out its personal Nest Hub merchandise, audio high quality hasn’t ever looked like a concern.

The Nest Audio sounds a lot greater than the Google House, however that wasn’t a excessive bar to succeed in.

By itself, the Nest Audio speaker is 75% louder, and has 50% more potent bass, than the unique Google House, in step with Google. Whilst that is right away obvious upon first listening, it is the readability and dynamic vary that I recognize extra when evaluating the 2. The Google House, praised when it was once launched for its room-filling constancy, sounds muddy and boomy when compared.

The Nest Audio has a quite flat sound profile, now not uninteresting or useless, however with out including its personal colour to what is being performed. Google says it employs its personal automated tuning algorithms to the sound profile as soon as the speaker has been positioned for a couple of seconds, studying the ambient noise and reverb within the room to decide find out how to equalize the sound. Whilst I did not realize an enormous distinction in sound signature between the speaker positioned in the midst of a big room or the nook of a small one (regardless that the consequences have been clearly extra relaxing within the latter situation), the Nest Audio does modify its quantity, in addition to the room-thumping low-end, relying at the surroundings.

The speaker does really well taking part in maximum genres of track, however it is going to wish to be equalized to extend the bass if you are going to pressure truly thumpy hip-hop or dance track. Nonetheless, the low-end is blank and welcoming, vocals come via superbly, and there is no sharpness or sibilance on the high-end.

I spent numerous time taking note of track at the Nest Audio, biking between 4 different good audio system: the third-gen Amazon Echo ($100, however now discontinued), the Sonos One ($199), the Ikea Symfonisk WiFi bookshelf speaker ($100), and the Google House ($100, now discontinued).

Of the ones 5 hooked up audio system, the Nest Audio reveals itself firmly in the midst of the pack, each on the subject of general audio high quality and the way it reproduces maximum genres of track. It is a long way much less muddy and bass-forward than both the Google House or the Amazon Echo, the latter of which sends audio from its tweeter upwards and its woofer down against the ground, exaggerating its bass reaction because it sends track in all instructions.

Google says that the Nest Audio is not only directional, however that it is a waveguide speaker, because of this the tweeter is designed to extra exactly goal precisely the spot the speaker is pointing. That is intended to lead to what hi-fi fanatics name a “candy spot,” the purpose in a room, relative to a speaker’s placement, that ostensibly sounds the most efficient. I if truth be told discovered this to be true, virtually to the speaker’s detriment; given its small dimension and directional output, a music’s musical soundstage seems narrower than at the Sonos One or Ikea Symfonisk, that have better-quality drivers and a bigger enclosure, respectively.

Nonetheless, the Nest Audio holds its personal, particularly when taking part in track the place you need to pay attention a transparent separation between the vocals and tools; and at its upper volumes, a unmarried Nest Audio will get the room vibrating, if now not modestly thumping.

However that is obviously Google tuning its speaker for an target market that listens to only as many podcasts as top-40 hits, simply as many information clips as freestyles. I believe it was once the precise selection, too, as a result of at part the cost of a Sonos One, you might be getting 90% of the efficiency.

The Nest Audio truly has a possibility to polish two gadgets shape a stereo pair.

The place the Nest Audio truly excels is when paired to a 2d unit. Google started providing stereo pairing the entire long ago in 2017 with the House Max, however at $600 that most likely wasn’t a quite common use case. Now all of Google’s first-party audio system strengthen the function, which bodily divides the audio system into devoted left and proper channels, simply as sound engineers meant. It is on this configuration the waveguide tweeters shine, development a gorgeous and succesful little wi-fi speaker gadget for just below $200.

Nest Audio evaluate The Google Assistant

Being a sensible hooked up speaker, the Nest Audio has get right of entry to to the entirety the Google Assistant has discovered through the years, from inquiring for songs or podcasts to environment timers to asking not unusual details to controlling good house units and quite a bit extra. By means of now you most likely know in the event you’d get pleasure from the addition of a sensible speaker, and I am guessing in case you are bearing in mind the Nest Audio, you’ve got interacted with the Google Assistant in some shape or type.

Google Assistant continues to be greater than Alexa for purchasing questions replied, however Amazon is making improvements to its assistant sooner than Google.

The great and dangerous information is that the Assistant works identically at the Nest Audio because it does on each different good speaker hooked up to Google’s ecosystem; there are not any unique or distinctive options right here. It is a competent and succesful vessel to all aspects of Google’s ecosystem, regardless that I did come upon a couple of insects when asking Spotify to play explicit albums — any album that got here out within the remaining couple of weeks did not seem to exist in Spotify’s database, regardless that they may manually be driven to the speaker the usage of Spotify Attach — however the request labored at the Google House or Nest Mini.

In fact, like Amazon’s mainline Echo audio system, the Nest Audio is in a precarious place in its dad or mum corporate’s ecosystem. Google provides away the Nest Mini at each alternative — I have gained and given away a minimum of 5 of them during the last yr — as a result of it is a affordable entry-point to the Assistant. At the different aspect, Google’s Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max have monitors, the entire greater to have interaction with the Assistant, whilst additionally providing a to hand Google Footage ambient show.

Google informed me that the Nest Audio is for individuals who explicitly desire a speaker devoted to audio, and particularly track, the place a sensible show is not suitable and a Nest Mini is not robust sufficient. I take advantage of my House Max in my lounge for its energy and a Hub Max within the kitchen for its show, however I will be able to bring to mind a couple of puts round the home — my place of job, my daughter’s room — the place the Nest Audio’s smaller dimension and loss of a show would turn out to be useful.

In truth the usage of the Assistant at the Nest Audio is a deal with. Now not best does the speaker proportion the similar on-device processing that debuted within the Nest Mini remaining yr, however its extra robust processor implies that that is probably the most responsive Google Assistant has ever been on a speaker. Whilst the Nest Audio does not make Assistant much more likely to get the solution proper — it nonetheless journeys up greater than I would like — it succeeds and fails sooner, and I undoubtedly recognize that.

Nest Audio evaluate Pageant

There don’t seem to be numerous Google Assistant audio system in the marketplace as of late, so discovering apples-to-apples pageant for the Nest Audio is lovely tricky. The excellent news is that there are lots of large good audio system within the $100-200 vary that give the Nest Audio a just right problem.

The Nest Audio has a couple of primary competition in the marketplace, however none extra so than the Amazon Echo (4th Gen). Redesigned in a brand new greater round frame with directional audio, Amazon guarantees louder sound with much less distortion from its new $100 Alexa speaker, and it is stiff pageant for Google’s speaker.

It isn’t sudden that the Sonos One sounds greater than the Nest Audio, however it undoubtedly does not sound two times as just right. There is an airiness to track that comes out of the Sonos Person who feels extra compressed and remoted at the Nest Audio, however they each reproduce vocals and tools splendidly. The Sonos One is extra actual and has a cleaner, extra relaxing low-end, however now not by way of a lot — and given its $200 price ticket, most certainly now not greater sufficient.

The most affordable approach to get into the Sonos ecosystem, the Symfonisk WiFi bookshelf is if truth be told an Ikea product made in collaboration with Sonos. At $100, it places out strangely just right sound, with a bigger enclosure that ends up in a extra at ease and relaxing sound than that of the Nest Audio. Whilst it lacks the microphones to make it a devoted good speaker, it may be paired with a Nest Mini for Google Assistant routing functions.

I would recommend getting the Nest Audio over the Symfonisk for simplicity sake until you have already got current Sonos audio system, however it is transparent that Google most certainly may have spent somewhat extra money at the high quality of the audio parts with out expanding the price an excessive amount of — however that might have resulted in a bodily larger speaker.

Nest Audio evaluate Must you purchase it?

I have grown to benefit from the Nest Audio so much since I gained a couple to check remaining week. It is a succesful, horny, and understated piece of hardware that may most likely move directly to promote really well given the luck of the unique Google House.

You must purchase the Nest Audio if…

You wish to have a forged good speaker with Google Assistant. It should sound evident, however the Nest Audio is a no-frills speaker that specializes in audio high quality. For those who plan to hear numerous track or podcasts, and are not looking for the display screen that includes a sensible show, this can be a large possibility.

You must now not purchase the Nest Audio if…

You might be in search of a hi-fi audio resolution. Google greater the standard of the Nest Audio over the unique Google House, however do not be expecting miracles from this $99 field. It sounds just right, but when you need a hooked up speaker with somewhat extra panache, take hold of a Sonos One.

four
out of five


The Nest Audio is precisely what is proven at the tin. In case you are upgrading from an current Google House or Nest Mini speaker, it is a huge growth; in case you are transferring over from an Echo, it is a extra actual and no more aurally colourful listening revel in.

I nonetheless like Google Assistant greater than Alexa, and that have is healthier than ever at the Nest Audio due to its sooner processor and devoted on-device gadget finding out chip.

For $100, there are not any greater Google Assistant audio system for the associated fee, and for $200 a few est Audios paired in combination in stereo mode is without doubt one of the most cost-effective and easy techniques so as to add great-sounding cloud audio to any room.

Nest Audio

$100 at Best possible Purchase
$100 at Walmart
$100 at B&H

Giant improve, small package deal

Google provides its authentic House speaker an enormous visible and audio improve for 2020, however the most efficient phase is the quicker Google Assistant processing and strengthen for stereo pairing.

Nest Audio, four months later evaluate

The Nest Audio has now had round 4 months to search out its footing and turn out that it may well dangle its personal. And you already know what? It is completed a rattling just right task of doing simply that. Not anything has tremendously modified with the Nest Audio since unencumber, however as we have noticed with different Google hardware just like the Chromecast with Google TV, that isn’t essentially a foul factor.

Google’s design for the Nest Audio truly stuck my eye proper out of the gate, and after having two of them on my table for the previous few months, I have but to develop uninterested in them. The material design is heat and alluring, the compact nature makes them simple to put near to anyplace, and the Charcoal colour I opted for makes the Nest Audio great and discrete.

The capability of the design has held up simply as smartly, with the capacitive contact controls for quantity and media playback nonetheless paintings as anticipated. I believed the loss of exact buttons would turn out to be an annoyance, however I have if truth be told come round to truly just like the capacitive controls Google opted for.

Talking of hardware, the two.95-inch woofer and nil.75-inch tweeter have remained very good for informal track listening. I accept as true with Daniel’s preliminary evaluate that the sound profile is somewhat flat proper out of the field, however with somewhat of equalizer tweaking within the Google House app, it is simple to regulate the audio in your liking. I must additionally indicate that I have been the usage of my Nest Audios in a stereo pair, which has confirmed to be a completely killer sub-$200 setup. If you’ll come up with the money for to splurge for 2, I would extremely suggest it.

Mix all of that with very good microphone efficiency and widespread gross sales that regularly carry the Nest Audio down to only $80, and this finally ends up being a sensible speaker that we are nonetheless very happy to suggest. Google hasn’t added any glossy options or settings since release, however the entirety that made the Nest Audio large nonetheless stays as of late. Whether or not you are looking to shop for your first one or upload in your rising assortment, the Nest Audio is a sturdy select for the most efficient good speaker in early 2021.

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