Makes better audio more accessible
It’s been four years since Google launched its first smart speaker – Google Home – and then Google acquired Nest for its smart home ambitions and released a few more iterations of its smart speakers, followed by the latest Google Nest audio. This means that Google now has Nest Mini, Nest Hub and Nest Audio, which is a great proposition to embrace Amazon’s wide range of Echo devices. As the name implies, Nest Audio focuses on bringing a rich audio output so that it is suitable for music listeners and can serve a larger customer base.
Audio quality is now one of the main focus areas and proof of any Alexa or Google Assistant-based smart speakers from manufacturers like the new Echo speakers or just Bose or Sony. Notably, after Apple released its impressive-sounding homepod. Before making any assumptions, you must know that Google Nest Audio costs a lot less than Bose 500 or Apple HomePod. It retails at Rs 7,999, which makes it an attractive option for a price-sensitive market like India. But does it deliver the ‘audio’ performance we expect from it? Find out.
Audio Performance: Google is on the right track
Nest Audio packs a 75mm upper and a 19mm twitter pack Since it carries ‘audio’ in its name, one is bound to have high expectations in this category. For its size, Nest Audio sounds pretty impressive. It is a loud and clear word for all kinds of media from spoken word to music. It works at 90Hz frequency response, which is considered great if you want to listen to music completely. In my use, I found it really impressive, but keep in mind that if you’re a big fan of the bus, you can’t enjoy base-heavy tracks. However, I guessed it because of the speaker size limitations.
It’s not a party speaker, but it’s just as good as any other single-body compact speaker at that price. I don’t think I’ve missed playing any genre on this speaker in the last 25 days, from my mother’s incompetent hymns to Led Zeppelin’s beautiful guitar work on ‘Stairway to Heaven’. But sometimes when playing a song like ‘The National Anthem’ on Radiohead, you may want to manually tweak the equalizer to get the right balance. In a quiet home like mine, I find the 6-7 level volume to be suitable for music when you are talking or working with someone. Even at half the volume, the middle and lower ones are well reproduced. If you are a fan of melodic instruments, vocals and electronic music, you have a high chance of enjoying it. Or if you listen to a lot of podcasts, this speaker won’t let you complain there.
Microphone Performance: Price Appreciation
I would always say that a microphone is just as important as the performance of the speaker in voice-enabled gadgets. Fortunately, Google does not disappoint here. Whether it’s voice picking, recognition, or responsiveness, the speaker feels more user-friendly and closer to being one step closer to making it more realistic.
I have been using it for over 25 days and there is not a single instance where I have seen myself struggle to understand what I mean. However, my 56-year-old mother had a hard time conversing with Google Assistant in Hindi about her first smart speaker experience. I immediately realized that it still involved a learning curve for first-time assistant users to understand how it responds to commands. Due to the variety of tones and pronunciation in different regions, there is still a lot of work to be done in Hindi recognition.
The only instance where I had to raise my voice a bit when the volume was higher than 7, but it’s still reasonable compared to the Mi Smart Speaker, which costs a little less than this. You can talk to it up to 10-feet without shouting.
Design and construction: seamless minimalism
If you’ve seen previous Google Home and Google Nest speakers, you can immediately tell that Nest Audio comes from the same family. It has a very simple, concise and neutral look, which we have seen in the company’s smart speakers in the past. The front is uninterrupted, with nothing but four LEDs that light up when you interact with the speakers. If you look at Google Home Max, it is about the same size but one-third of its size. It is 7 inches long and only 3 inches thick.
It features Google’s uniform net-style fabric with a single seam wrapped around the body, with a flat rubberized bottom attached with a ‘G’ (Google logo) in the middle. When I first bought my Google Home Mini three years ago I had doubts about the durability and dust resistance of the material, but it is still as good as new in shape, texture and appearance. For those who are going for light shade, they need to clean it more often.
The moment I picked up the Google Nest Audio box, I could feel the height of it. It has a very sturdy construction, weighing just over 1 kg, which should not be a problem as it is a fixed speaker that is not meant to be carried in your bag. All you have to do is move it around your house, and its weight makes it more stable, preventing it from falling even if the platform shakes.
It also has touch controls like the old Google Home and Nest speakers. The volume decreases when you tap on the left side while it increases when you tap on the right side. The middle part lets you control the music playback for play, pause, next and previous.
Minimalism is all over the body because it only has a body-colored mute switch, Google logo and a DC power port on the back. It comes in five colors: chalk, charcoal, sage, sand and sky and all of them look suitable for most room settings because they don’t go too far with design or color. Also, keep in mind that you cannot mount it on a wall, so the only option is to place it vertically on a flat surface.
Smart home features
It works just like any other Google Assistant-based smart speaker, maybe a little faster because of the new chip. It lets you do basic tasks like setting reminders, booking an Uber, controlling IoT-based devices, and telling weather and jokes. The speaker also has a Chromecast built-in, which works just fine when I try to stream video and music on a smart TV. It can also be used as a standalone Bluetooth speaker if you lose Wi-Fi. All you have to do is instruct the assistant to “pair Bluetooth” and it will automatically switch to pairing mode.
Setting up Nest Audio is not uncommon. Just download the home app, power the speaker, add the device and follow the instructions. Make sure you connect it to a permanent Wi-Fi If you are new to the Google Home ecosystem, you must know that it uses third party services as well as sources for music and other content, so you need to sign them up in the app. Note that it does not support Apple Music and Amazon Music, which can be annoying for some. Other popular apps you can use are YouTube Music, Deezer and Spotify. If this scares you, know that almost every app except the two mentioned above gives you the option to cast your music.
There is also an option to group multiple Nest audio speakers, but we didn’t get a chance to test it. The way it is advertised, it should create a proper 2 channel sound system if you want it.
The last row
Nest Audio is an affordable, elegant and a great-sounding compact smart speaker for your room. If your question is, is this the best smart speaker for listening to music? Absolutely not. But Google Assistant’s smarts wrapped in an elegant design with a responsive microphone and a good audio performance for just Rs 7,999 (currently selling for Rs 6,999), this is a great offer for those who want something more than Nest Mini or Echo Dots and something like Google Home Max. Don’t want If you are planning to save some money and can compromise with responsiveness, design and audio quality, then Mi Smart Speaker is the best money-saving option for Nest Audio.