During the Made by Google event last year, the company improved the famous Home Mini speaker and brought it under the Nest branding. This year, the Nest speaker lineup is increasing with a new $99 speaker to slot accurately into the void left by the original Google Home speaker which was released in 2016 and was discontinued recently.
Like we saw in Google’s teaser in July, the Nest Audio has a pillow shape that should allow it to blend in well in almost every home. And, to accurately fit it into your design tastes, the speaker is available in different colours which include: Chalk, Charcoal, Sand, Sky, and a “Sage” green that matches the Pixel 5.
Google Nest Audio Design
Typically, a more prominent speaker equals a bigger sound, but Nest Audio didn’t follow this norm, it has a slim profile, so it fits anywhere in the home. To maximize audio output, Google custom-designed quality drivers and housed them in an enclosure that assists it in squeezing out every bit of sound possible.
It comes in five different colours: Chalk, Charcoal, Sand, Sky, and the all-new Sage, which is an earth tone that was inspired by Google’s ongoing responsibility to protect the environment. Its soft, rounded edges perfectly suit your home’s decor, and its minimal footprint takes a little space on your shelf or countertop.
Google is keeping its commitment to sustainability with Nest Audio. It’s covered in a similar sustainable fabric that was introduced with Nest Mini last year, and the enclosure is made from 70% recycled plastic.
Nest Audio is priced at $99.99 and is available online at the Google Store. It will also be accessible at retail stores like Target, Best Buy, and more in 21 countries from Oct. 15.
Google Nest Audio Features
The Nest Audio isn’t just an ordinary speaker; it’s also a smart speaker that influences voice control and the Google Assistant to perform several tasks. Those abilities have expanded over the years since the Google Home debuted, but the basics never changed. You can still say “OK Google” or “Hey Google” to activate the speaker and then ask it to either play music, or give a weather report, set a timer, give a random fact, program an alarm, or control a smart home device.
The two new features that will make the Nest Audio sound much better are Media EQ and Ambient IQ. The Media EQ will automatically tune the speaker based on what you’re listening to (music, podcasts, audiobooks, etc.). At the same time, the Ambient IQ auto-adjusts the volume depending on how noisy your home is at the moment.
Google Nest Audio Sound performance
- Improved bass response
- Missing details in mids and treble
- Picks up voice commands very well
The audio quality seems to be a key focus for Google with the Nest Audio. According to Google, the Nest Audio is 75% louder and has 50% more bass than the Google Home. That may be correct, but we can’t say it provides the upgrade in sound quality we were hoping for.
To be honest, the Nest Audio does sound pretty good most especially when listening to uncomplicated pop music such as Dagny’s Somebody or The Weekend’s Blinding Lights. Well, tracks like that are reproduced reasonably well, and the bass is certainly present, offering a firm foundation without being intense.
Nevertheless, it’s important to note that a comparison to the small and portable JBL Flip 5 shows that the latter can provide significantly lower frequencies, and we can’t see why Google couldn’t have managed to provide more bottom end out of its new speaker.
More complex tunes seem like more of a challenge for the speaker, and another surprising thing is that it’s not the bass that disappoints. It’s more disappointing that the treble is missing some of the brilliance we expected, and this means that the soundstage is somehow muffled.
Also, the high mids are missing some detail, and when listening to classic music like Fleetwood Mac’s Rhiannon, the vocals aren’t really given the focus they need, while the booming lower mids hide some of the space and detail.
However, the missing treble can be restored somewhat by increasing that setting in the Google Home app, but there’s no adjustment for mids, so you can’t do much about the absence of the detail.
Increasing the volume also shifts the balance somewhat towards more treble, but this also causes another problem, with the sound becoming harsh and coarse.
Indeed, the entire sound quality isn’t unpleasant, and the Nest Audio can provide you with an enjoyable and pleasant listening experience at moderate volume levels.
Nevertheless, as a smart speaker, the Nest Audio works perfectly. The voice assistant comes out audibly and clearly and can be easily heard when you’re not even close to the speaker. Also, the three microphones did an excellent job of picking up voices, amid both loud music and other noise in the room.
The Nest Audio is a comfortable recommendation for a Google Assistant smart speaker. It’s also enjoyable to listen to, and efficiently and adequately fit into several places in a home. The good thing about Google Nest Audio is that it can be extended with stereo pairing or multi room configurations with other Nest speakers and smart displays.
You can surely pay more for better audio quality. Also, there are limits to what the Nest Audio can do as regards volume and presence.
But the Nest Audio makes it more interesting coupled with an accessible price and good sound quality, sufficient volume for most, and little overall complaints. If you’re firmly into the Assistant ecosystem, then this is the speaker to get this year.