Google is constantly updating and improving on its products and now it’s just launched its brand new smart speaker. Nest Audio as it’s now called is the replacement for the Google Home speaker. There are some major design changes and improvements to the overall design and sound. I had the chance to get hands on with Nest Audio ahead of its public debut. Here’s what I found…
Google Nest Audio review
This review will cover the basics of what the Nest Audio device does, and what’s new. If you’re looking for help setting it up or creating a stereo pair or group, check out, how to set up the Nest Audio here.
Nest Audio: what’s new?
First and foremost, Nest Audio is made to sound better than Google Home and it’s 75% louder and has 50% more bass. We’ll get to how it sounds in a sec.
The most visible change from Google Home to Nest Audio is the design. Now taller, slimmer and more elliptical in shape, the Nest Audio is also completely fabric wrapped and it comes in a softer colour palette of five pastel shades. (Google uses recycled bottles to make the fabric wrap too). Google tells me it’s designed to blend in better with your home, and it does indeed look a lot less like technology and more like a softer decorative element.
New Family Bell
With a new feature called Family Bell (English only), you can add bell reminders throughout the day that announce when it’s time to start an online lesson, take a walk, settle in for homework, or even when your favourite show is on.
To set one up you need to go to the Google Assistant app, (not the Home app) and click your profile photo in the top right. Scroll down until you see family Bell and follow the instructions to add one.
Touch controls carry over
Touch controls carry over from Nest Mini and here they are on the top front: play and pause is top middle, and volume is adjusted up or down by tapping the corners. You can turn the mic off for privacy using the physical button on the back.
Nest Audio: sound control & audio quality
The key upgrade on Nest Audio is overall sound quality.
One of the biggest complaints about the original Google Home speaker was that it sounded muffled and wasn’t really designed to be a high end speaker; it was meant to be more of a digital assistant than a fine audio device.
Google remedied that with Google Home Max and then Nest Hub Max which upped sound quality but those are both much bigger speakers. This time around they told me they were trying to get all the audio quality of the Hub Max in a smaller package.
The all new Nest Audio speaker has a 75 mm woofer and 19 mm tweeter, plus 3 far-field microphones to hear your commands or use with phone calls, and a hardware mic mute switch.
So how does it sound? Impressive. Google has definitely gone all out on improved audio quality in a versatile size. Right away you’ll notice the sound is crisp and clear. It comes across as very well balanced, and I can say these speakers are definitely loud. The bass is also much better than the original; there’s a lot more rumble and bump and it’s got a good dancy resonance.
As a stereo pair, this is a really nice set of speakers. They sound excellent together and can definitely fill a space with sound. The sound is perfectly balanced, and you can place these two close together or further apart depending on your space.
Make equalizer adjustments
If you want to fine tune your sound to your own tastes, you can use the EQ settings inside the Google Home app to finesse bass and treble.
Nest is making some promises to consumers when it comes to the sound quality, saying it delivers on sound that’s full, clear and natural. Here’s what they say about the sound:
○ Full: We specifically tuned Nest Audio to balance the lows, mids and highs so that nothing is lacking or overbearing. The bass is significant and the vocals have depth, which makes Nest Audio sound great for all genres: classical, R&B, and pop.
○ Clear: A custom-designed tweeter allows each musical detail to come through, and we optimized the grill, fabric and materials so that you can enjoy the audio without distortion. You can hear the strumming of the guitar and the sizzle of a cymbal.
○ Natural: Our goal was to ensure that Nest Audio stays faithful to what the artist intended when they were in the recording studio. We minimized the use of compressors to preserve dynamic range, so that a whisper still sounds soft and you’ll feel the power of a full choir.
Nest Audio also apparently adapts to your home to ensure that you’re getting the best sound experience possible. With Media EQ, Nest Audio adapts its tuning to the content that you’re listening to: music, podcasts, or audiobooks. Nest Audio also adjusts based on the background noise in the home, raising the volume so you can hear the Google Assistant.
What else can Nest Audio do in your home?
● Voice calling with Google Duo: Use Google Duo on Nest Audio to call mobile phones, tablets and more. This is free and works internationally.
● Call home: In the Google Home app, there’s a “Call Home” coin at the top. Tap that coin and your Nest Audio will become a home phone.
● Use as an intercom: Call any other Nest speaker or display in your home. Just say “Hey Google, call the living room”
● Broadcast: Just say “Hey Google, broadcast [any message]” to send that message to all the other speakers and displays in your house. You can also broadcast from within the Google Home app.
●Transfer music around your home: If you have multiple Nest Audio speakers, you can easily move music around your home with just your voice. Just say, ‘OK Google, move music to living room’.
Smart Home control continues
Nest Audio works with hundreds of compatible smart devices, like TVs, lights, thermostats and locks.
If you’re new to the smart digital assistant speaker concept here’s a quick look at what it can do:
What can Google Assistant do?
- Do information searches and answer questions like you might otherwise type into Google
- Watch or listen to media like radio, YouTube, news briefs etc.
- Get news, weather, sports, business, traffic info on screen
- Set timers, alarms
- Do math & conversions
- Control your home; thermostats, lights
Voice control & music
Naturally since this is a voice controlled digital assistant, you can use your voice to control popular music services like YouTube Music, Spotify, Sirius XM and more on the all new Nest Audio.
And through casting, you’ll have access to hundreds of compatible apps to stream in high-quality over Wi-Fi from your phone, tablet or laptop. Plus, YouTube Music and Spotify Premium subscribers can say, “Hey Google, recommend some music” and Google Assistant will offer multiple choices from artists and genres that they like, and others like them to choose from.
Google Nest Audio: overall review
Overall I’m pretty impressed with these speakers. Google has really upped the bar, making a big sounding speaker in a small package. I love the new design and think it’s super chic and modern and blends in to my home seamlessly.
The sound quality is leaps and bounds better than original Google Home and of course it’s still got all the smart home controls of the original, with some new toys too.
In short, if you’ve been waiting to upgrade your old Google Home, or to get a smart speaker, this is the time to do it and the speaker to do it with.