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Google's Home Max Speaker: Impressive Sound, Strong Features, High Price

By Brandon Dimmel
Google Home Max

Google Home Max


  • Product Name: Google Home Max
  • Manufacturer: Google
  • Review Date: October 29, 2017 00:00
  • MSRP: $399
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool
  • Dimensions: 336.6 x 190 x154.4 mm
  • Weight: 5,300g - 11.6 lbs
  • Two 4.5-inch dual voice-coil woofers
  • Two 18mm custom tweeters
  • Always-on Google Assistant: Yes

The remarkable growth of Google's presence in the American home continues with the release of the Google Home Max, a $400 Bluetooth-and-WiFi-connected speaker, powered by the company's Google Assistant technology.

Home Max expands upon Google's 2016 release of Google Home, a smaller, more affordable speaker designed to compete with Amazon's Echo, which uses that company's Alexa personal assistant technology. On the other end of the spectrum from the Home Max is Google's Home Mini, a much cheaper and smaller speaker that also uses the Google Assistant technology.

A conversation Starter

Unlike the Mini, which is small enough to be toted around the house and hidden away in cabinet corners, Home Max is clearly meant to be both seen and heard. It's big ­‑ really big. It weighs almost 12 pounds and is covered in a slick-looking, "acoustically transparent" fabric. You can expect to talk about it a lot with your guests.

And there's a lot to talk about here. Not only does Home Max allow you to do everything that comes with Google Assistant -- like carry out Internet searches and plot calendar events -- it supports a wide variety of audio formats, from MP3, WAV, FLAC, and Opus to HE-AAC, LC-AAC+, and Vorbis. Streaming music via WiFi is easy thanks to support for both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz channels, in addition to Bluetooth 4.2. The Home Max can also be connected to analog audio sources via a 3.5mm auxiliary port.

Home Max

Big device, big sound

Early reviews of the Home Max's sound quality are impressive. The device uses a pair of 4.5-inch woofers and 0.7-inch tweeters that, when matched to the device's "Smart Sound" technology, adapts music playback to fit the size of the room and is sure to leave listeners suitably wowed. You can also control Home Max using your voice, though it sometimes fails to register these cues when music is playing loudly. Controlling playback is simple and straightforward, requiring the user simply touch either side to send the volume up or down.

Support issues

Sadly, the Home Max isn't yet ready for service as a speaker for your television, though Google says it's working to make this possible by matching sound and video. It's not yet clear when this kind of support will be available, so if this is what you're after, look elsewhere.

You'll also want to avoid the Home Max if you're an avid Tidal or Apple Music user, as this device fails to provide WiFi support for those services. That said, you will find support for most popular streaming music services, from Google's own Play platform to Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn, and iHeart Radio. Of course you can run any music app from your phone through Bluetooth.

So, is the Home Max a home run?

In terms of sound quality, it's an impressive device. The Home Max boasts crystal clear music playback that shows no fear in the face of bass-heavy R&B or hard-driving rock. You can expand upon this already great sound by pairing two Home Max units to produce stereo playback.

But when you consider the price and the absence of Apple Music support, the Home Max is a far less attractive device. Coming in at a hefty $400, the Home Max is more expensive than most devices of this size and caliber, including Apple's soon-to-be-released HomePod device. And that's not even considering the many similar products from more traditional home audio companies, like Sony, most of which cost far less than $400. In the end, the Home Max will be a good fit for Android fans in the market for a Google Assistant-powered speaker boasting above average sound quality.

Home Max will be available in the US in December - just in time for Christmas. Will this product be under your Christmas Tree this year? Please let us know in the related forum thread below.

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