The Google Nest Audio packs a big punch
If you’re a fan of Google’s other audio offerings, the Nest Audio is a big step up in just about every way.
It’s been four years since Google’s first smart speaker, the Google Home, made its way onto the market.
In the time since, there’s been a surge in demand for smaller, neater speakers like the Google Home Mini (more recently the Nest Mini) or the Amazon Echo Dot.
There’s also been some movement at the higher end with Apples Homepod amongst others.
The original Google Home from 2016 has a spot firmly in the mid-range, and it was due a upgrade, which the Nest Audio has very much provided.
I’ve been using the Nest Audio around my home for the past few days and can confirm that, while it doesn’t provide the same quality of sound as some other more expensive and more comprehensive speakers, it is a significant step up from the Nest Mini and other smaller speakers.
At €99, it’s not exactly a device you could pick up on a whim, like the Nest Mini (€33). But it’s bigger – although the pillowcase design makes it easier to slot into shelves etc - and cheaper than the original Home and sounds far better than it ever could.
Measuring 6.89 x 4.89 x 3.07 inches and weighing 1.2 kilograms, there's a comforting heft to it without it feeling cumbersome.
It comes in five colours: chalk, charcoal, sand, sky and a new green tone called sage. The charcoal version I’ve been using is inoffensive and sits relatively discreetly in the corner.
From a sound standpoint, it represents some of the best Google currently has to offer.
It's also fitted with a trio of far-field microphones to catch your voice from across the room and comes with its own dedicated machine-learning chip to process your requests faster and learn your preferences.
Google has said the Nest Audio is about 75% louder than the Home, and provides 50% deeper base in conjunction with better overall clarity.
My own Home speaker has gone walkabout so I can't provide a direct comparison, but the claim seems to stack up, and there is a nice balanced sound from the Nest Audio which punches above its weight for this price range.
While it is a monophonic speaker, it can be paired with another Nest Audio to provide stereo performance.
The problem for Google is the Nest Audio is being released into a busy section of the market. Sonos and Amazon have released scores of versions of their smartspeakers over the years - Amazon is due another Echo this month - so while Google was one of the originals, there’s a number of other kids on the block competing for speaker real estate.
But the Nest Audio is definitely a significant upgrade over the Home and for anyone with already integrated Google ecosystem looking to boost their audio offerings, the Nest Audio is a no brainer, particularly at the €99 price point.