Following the Google Home speakers, Google has now also released a larger version with more emphasis (in addition to the Google Assistant) on playing music. The smart speakers also get Google’s Nest stamp, which is stuck on all Google home automation: Google Nest Audio.
Google Nest Audio
price € 99, -
Colors Dark gray, white
Link 802.11b / g / n / ac, bluetooth 5.0
Service Google Cast, Touch Keys, Google Home App, Speech
Format 18cm x 12cm x 8cm (H x W x D)
7 Score 70
- Stereo function
- Voice control clumsy
Google is on a mission to get its voice assistant built-in everywhere. Smartphones, headphones, watches… and every room in the house. That first happened with the affordable Google Home and Google Home Mini speakers. Now with these Google Nest Audio speakers. The idea is simple, the Google Home speakers are nice for listening to radio, for example. But the sound remains a bit tinny. By providing the Google Home with slightly better sound and a more confusing name because the Nest stamp should apparently be on all smart home items from Google, the tech giant expects the voice assistant to find its way into even more rooms and households. The concept of a multiroom speaker with built-in assistant is not new, manufacturers such as Sonos and Denon see voice control and assistants as the next step for their speakers.
The Nest Audio speakers are more compact than you might think, only (18 by 12 by 8 centimeters). The outside of the speakers is beautifully finished with textile, from which you see four lights from behind when you operate the speaker. Connect the speakers via WiFi. Which makes sense, as the voice assistant requires an active internet connection to work. Bluetooth is present, but it is used to set up the devices, not for playback. That is a plus: WiFi is able to guarantee higher audio quality. At the back of the speaker there is a slide button with which you can switch off the speech assistant if desired and an adapter connection to supply the speaker with power. It is a pity that this is not USB-C, but its own connection. It is also strange that only the white and dark gray versions are available in the Netherlands.
If you look under the fabric housing, there is a 19mm tweeter and a 75mm midwoofer. That is slightly less than, for example, the Sonos One, but that is also the price. Just like the mentioned Sonos example, you can link two Nest Audios together for a stereo pair.
In addition to the Google Assistant, you can play music via the built-in cast functionality. You can control this with your smartphone or tablet (iOS, Android … it doesn’t matter). You can play your music from multiple streaming sources, such as Spotify or Apple Music. By the way, you can also control the music by hidden touch buttons on the top of the device.
Testing the voice controls of these speakers must have been hilarious for visitors and neighbors.
We have already paid a lot of attention to what you can use a Google Assistant for. This functionality is of course no different from the Google Home and Google Home Mini speakers that have been on the market for a while. The functionality of the Google Assistant here is more on music control. Testing the operation of these speakers with the voice assistant must have been hilarious for visitors and neighbors. Because, this was a very sad experience. I was often misunderstood when looking up my own playlists or starting albums by lesser known artists. This resulted in despondent-sounding voice commands, requiring me to pause the Assistant while it was reading a Wikipedia page on a misunderstood topic.
The Assistant is great for simple music control. Hey Google, play the Foo Fighters. Hey Google, shuffle. Hey Google, stop the music. But I still went back to the control via Spotify on the screen of my PC or smartphone. Faster and more convenient. In addition, continuously listening in on the voice assistant gets on my nerves when it incorrectly picks up a sound somewhere in a conversation or from the TV as a voice command. All in all, I am personally not convinced of the Google Assistant on a speaker. But this experience may be different for people who regularly use the Assistant for other purposes or want to start music that Google is more familiar with. In that case, the Nest Audio is suitable for you and perhaps several rooms in your house. If you also have doubts about the usefulness of the Google Assistant on your WiFi speaker, you can also look at the IKEA Symfonisk speaker. This is roughly in the same price range and comes without voice control and assistant.
Nest Audio or IKEA Symphonic?
The tinny sound of the Google Home is absolutely out of the question on the Google Nest Audio. That is not surprising of course. The bass sound is quite full and the speakers can blow quite hard. When you have two speakers in an audio setup, you will notice a much nicer, fuller sound. For the price, the sound quality is not bad at all, but the enthusiast will have trouble with the fact that some details are lost. The music quality cannot match, for example, the Sonos One. But the IKEA Symphonic speaker also impresses with its sound quality.
Conclusion: buy Google Nest Audio?
Do you have a Google Home at home, but would you actually like to use it more for music? Then the Nest Audio is a huge step forward in terms of sound experience. With its price tag of around 90 euros, the Nest Audio is accessible and definitely not a bad buy, even if you buy two for a stereo pair. The Sonos One is a better, but more expensive choice if you are looking for better sound quality. If you are not convinced or not satisfied with the voice control, then the IKEA Symfonisk is a better option.