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Google Nest Audio Smart Speaker Review

By Dua Rashid
Google Nest Audio

Google Nest Audio

Summary

  • Product Name: Nest Audio
  • Manufacturer: Google
  • Review Date: February 27, 2022 23:30
  • MSRP: $99
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool
  • Buy Now
  • Colors – Chalk, Charcoal, Sand, Sky, Sage
  • Materials – Durable fabric top made from recycled plastic bottles, the enclosure (fabric, housing, foot, and a few smaller parts) is made from 70 percent recycled plastic
  • Power – 30W, 24V external adapter, DC power jack
  • Tweeter – 19mm
  • Speakers and Mics75mm woofer, three far-field microphones, 2-stage mic-mute switch (hardware mute)
  • Technology – Google Assistant built-in, Voice Match technology
  • Sensors – Capacitive touch controls (3 touch areas)
  • ProcessorQuad core A53 1.5 GHz, High-performance ML hardware engine
  • Supported Operating System for Home App – Android, iOS
  • In the box – Google Nest Audio, power adapter, documentation bundle
  • Additional requirements – Wi-Fi network, nearby electrical outlet, Google account, Google Home app on a compatible mobile device
  • Connectivity – 2.4 GHz/5 GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, Built-in Chromecast
  • Dimensions175mm height x 124mm width x 78mm depth (6.9” x 4.9” x 3.1”)
  • Weight – 2.6lbs (Without external power adapter)

Executive Overview

Google Nest Audio is the successor to the original Google Home. The new Nest Audio boasts being 75 percent louder and features bass that is 50 percent louder than its predecessor, the Nest Audio claims to deliver excellent sound. It hosts a 19mm (3/4”) tweeter for hitting those high-frequency notes and sports a 75mm (3”) mid-woofer that should give the sound a satisfying weight and warmth. On paper, the Nest Audio sounds like a great device. Considering it has all of the above-mentioned features at $99.99, it sounds like quite a steal.

The Google Nest Audio is much more than just a speaker. While one Nest Audio device is able to provide you with quality sound, you can set up two of these devices together as well, which then become a stereo pair with left and right channel separation. You also have the option of grouping Nest Audio with other Nest devices. These devices include the Google Nest Mini or the Nest Hub Max. You can also link your TV via a Chromecast to get sound that you can hear from any part of your house.

Thanks to the built-in Google Assistant and the Voice Match technology on the device, you can use your voice to control popular music services. The device is compatible with quite a lot of music platforms, including YouTube music, Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, Sirius XM, and many more. You also have the option of tuning in to your favorite jams on the radio with just a simple “Hey Google” command. The Nest Audio also provides you the option of casting. Through casting, you have access to tons of compatible apps to stream in high-quality over Wi-Fi from your phone, tablet, or laptop. It doesn’t end there. If you’re a YouTube music or Spotify Premium subscriber, you can simply say, “Hey Google, recommend some music”, and Google Assistant will offer you multiple choices right away. The music recommendations may be based on artists and genres that you have showed some interest in, or new ones for you to choose from.

Included in The Box

  • Google Nest Audio
  • Power adapter
  • Documentation bundle

google accessories

Enter the Google Nest Audio

A cool thing about the Google Nest Audio is that it is designed with sustainability in mind. The main unit is coated in a durable fabric top that is made entirely from recycled plastic bottles. The enclosure of the speaker that includes parts such as the fabric, housing, foot, and a couple of other smaller parts, is made from 70 percent recycled plastic. Living in a time when environmental concerns are so important, I instantly gave Google a point for being mindful about their packaging. A little effort goes a long way, and if other companies follow Google’s footsteps, I’m sure they can play some part in reducing their carbon footprint.

 google mesh

The Nest Audio comes in a variety of colors. I was sent the device in sage and I absolutely loved the shade. Its body is as minimal as it gets with nothing but the mute button on its back, the Google logo under the button, and the power adapter socket on the bottom right. The fabric comes off as sophisticated and gives off quite a classy vibe. The material is fine and the body is tough and robust. I liked how the company decided to keep things minimal by not crowding the body with a number of controls. There are three zones for capacitive touch controls on the body of the Nest Audio. The center of the device handles play/pause. Tapping the left side turns the volume down and tapping the right side turns it up. The controls aren’t just strategically designed but are also very responsive. The body is quite sensitive to touch and takes only a few milliseconds to accurately respond to your demand.

 google controls

Set Up and Pairing

In order to successfully set the Nest Audio up, you are first supposed to download the latest version of the Google Home app that is available on both iOS and Android. Then you are supposed to remove the speaker out of the box and place it in a relatively open area. Make sure to place the speaker in such a way that its front is facing you. You’re then required to connect the power cord to the Nest Audio and plug the device into a power source. Once you’ve done that, open your Google Home app. On the top of your screen, you’ll see a notification that says, “Set up Nest Audio.” Tap that. If you have multiple houses connected to your Google Account, it’ll require you to pick a home. If that isn’t the case, the app will search will Google Nest devices that are nearby. Select the Nest Audio device when it appears on your device and then tap “next.” The app will connect to the device.

 google port

The setup process wasn’t exactly the smoothest. It took quite a while for the speakers to pair. Even though the speakers were right next to my phone, the app had quite a lot of difficulty finding it. After waiting for a long while, when the speakers finally connected, the app immediately asked for an update and took four minutes to update to its latest version. While I understand app updates are necessary, I wouldn’t want that to be the first action that was required right after downloading the app. After the update was complete, the app asked me at least 15 questions (such as prompts to link apps to the speaker and location permissions) before letting me use it. I was extremely irritated by the setup process and preferred the questions to be asked at a later stage. The questions could also have been in an optional section of the app that I can turn to if I wish to avail myself of the extra features.  But the lack of choice given at this stage was annoying, to say the least.

In order to pair two Nest Audio devices in stereo, set up each device using the general setup instructions above. Then open the Google Home app and tap the icon for one of the Nest Audio devices. On the top right of your screen, you’ll see a settings icon. Tap on that, scroll and select the option that says, “Speaker pair.”

You also have the option to set up and control other Nest devices with Nest Audio. Just download the Google Home app and log in with your Google account username and password. If you haven’t already migrated your Nest account to your Google account, do that first. Then set up other Nest devices according to the setup instructions that come with the device. These devices can include the Nest Hello, Nest Thermostat, Nest x Yale Lock, and Nest secure alarm system. Then open the Google Home app and add your device by tapping the Add button that you’ll find at the top right of your screen. Then tap on “Set up device” on the next screen, followed by “Works with Google” after that. Then scroll through the list of brands until you see ‘Nest,’ then log in to the Nest app. By now, your Nest devices should appear in home view in the app. You can either control them there, through Nest Audio, or via other Assistant-enabled smart devices in your home. Also, if you don’t see the device in your home app, you can simply say “Hey Google, sync my devices.”

Sound Quality

Nest Audio’s sound is as clear as it gets in such a form factor. It is focused and precise. While I wouldn’t say the bass was significant, the vocals definitely had depth and space to them. The bass is adequate at best. It’s only a 3” speaker, so you need to adjust your expectations accordingly. I listened to quite a lot of classical music on these speakers and enjoyed the sound very much. The treble sounded natural and didn’t get “spitty” or harsh as you turned up the volume. The mids were full and crisp.

The sound is also very detailed so I could hear even the most minute details of the orchestra. The 19mm tweeter is responsible for how much musical detail there is in every single song. I liked how music on the Nest Audio sounded well-balanced from a tonal standpoint. Google has chosen their spectral colors well and the orchestra didn’t suffer from the artificial “nasality” and coloration that ruins the sound of most other small sound systems. According to Google, they used compressors to preserve the dynamic range.

One of the best features of the Nest Audio are the various profiles it has to ensure that you’re getting the best sound experience. It adapts to your home to make sure you get the best sound possible. There’s a Media EQ that makes sure the speakers are tuned to the content you’re listening to. The Ambient IQ adapts to the background noise in your home, ensuring that you can hear the Assistant, news, or podcasts.

I also loved how easily the speakers connected to my Spotify, as opposed to the Amazon Echo Studio that only connects to Amazon Music and gave me quite a hard time. As I received only one unit, I couldn’t test the stereo sound feature. However, looking at how full and clear the sound of just one speaker was, I’m sure the stereo pair will perform quite well.

Smart Features

The Nest Audio is more than just a speaker. It lets you set reminders quickly and easily. You can use it to remind yourself about groceries, appointments, and meetings. You can get the answers to anything you want. Whether its checking sport scores, weather updates, stock market, translations, the Google Nest Audio has it all.

You can also use the Nest Audio to call phones and tablets. Calls are free and work internationally. The speakers work as an intercom too. In order to call other Nest speakers in your home, simply say, “Hey Google, call the living room” or “Hey Google, call the kitchen.”

Conclusion

The Nest Audio is a brilliant smart speaker offering a range of features for just $99. The fact that such a reasonably priced device offers clear, loud, punchy audio is very impressive. It is also quite aesthetically pleasing and enhances the appearance of your bookshelf or countertop. The material and the build quality is top-notch and it doesn’t look and feel like a $99 speaker at all. One of its best features is that it’s made of recycled plastic. However, I do believe that the pairing process on the Nest Audio could have been better. The process should be much shorter than it currently is.

Apart from that, Google impressed me with their Nest Audio. While you should temper your expectations about the kind of bass it will deliver with only a 3” woofer, its overall audio presentation is well-balanced, natural and detailed. Highly recommended if you're looking for a small potent wireless speaker system for distributed audio around your house.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

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