The Nest Audio is officially announced by Google on 30 September 2020. Google’s latest smart speaker is on pre-order in Singapore for S$139 at Google Store, Challenger, and Courts. It will be available in-store from 15 October.
Google Singapore sent over a review unit and here are my impressions.
Just like all previous Google speakers, there aren’t a lot of things needed to get Google Nest Audio running. It contains the speaker, the AC adapter, and instructions.
Standing tall at 175mm and weighing 1.2kg, the Nest Audio feels like a premium home speaker. Singapore does not officially carry Home Max and Nest Hub Max, which makes the Nest Audio its largest smart speaker available. Applying the consistent fabric material from previous models, there are no sharp edges, achieving a very blended modern style.
Given it has the word “Audio” on the product name, I have some expectations on the audio quality. In recent months, there has been increasing number of audio brands launching smart speakers, including collaborations like Sonos-IKEA and Devialet-Belkin. Google has finally caught up with a better-sounding speaker so that homeowners would not need to sacrifice audio quality for Google Assistant features.
For existing Google Home or Nest owners, setting up is a breeze. Just power up the speaker, launch Google Home from your smartphone, add Google Nest Audio, and follow the on-screen instructions. Once done, the Nest Audio works just like your existing Google Home, Google Nest Mini, Google Nest Hub. The only difference is the speaker quality.
And yes, it sounds satisfying. Fitted with 75mm woofer and 19mm tweeter, the bass boom is more apparent and the treble is clearer. The midrange is cleaner compared to Google Home. The audio sounds less cluttered and less compressed at loud volume compared to all previous Google smart speakers. Playing Billie Eilish “Bad Guy”, the speaker generates the deep notes audibly while keeping the percussions clear and her voice warm and forward. Listening to Jazz standards, the acoustic bass is pumped effortlessly, even the steel brush drumstick rustling on the snare drums can be projected with depth.
Seated at about a metre away at my study table, when playing the Nest Audio at low levels, the bass impact reaches to my ears more than the other frequencies, but once you turn up the volume more, the midrange and the percussions will be brought more forward. Turn it even louder, and you get better overall balance with better mid-treble presence. Turn it too loud, and the bass starts to distort.
It certainly cannot replace larger and more professionally-engineered speaker units, nor can it rumble the room since the subwoofers are not as massive as Harman Kardon’s Aura Studio or Huawei Sound X. But if you want a Google-brand speakers, these are their best. In fact, you get 15% discount when buying a pair. That’s S$236.30 for two, which you can set up as stereo channels, giving Sonos a run for its money.
What Can You Do With Nest Audio
For the uninitiated, the Nest Audio is a smart speaker with built-in Google Assistant which you can interact with it to ask Google to search for information online, including news, weather, translation, explanations, and more. You can ask Google to control smart devices linked to Google Home app, to play music from linked streaming sites like Spotify and YouTube Music. You can also use it to make Google Duo calls to other Google Duo recipients as well as between Google devices at home like an intercom.
It also supports multi-room audio, so you can move audio from one room to another, and even play the same music simultaneously to all Google smart speakers for a whole-home experience. The Nest Audio also supports Bluetooth, so you can pair with your audio device to play music directly.
In my home, I have one smart speaker in each of my bedrooms. My daughter listens to her Spotify playlist during bedtime which will stop playing after a while, as instructed to Google Assistant. She also uses the Nest Mini to control her smart lighting. In my bedroom, the Google Home is used to play background music and to control smart lights. In my living room, the Google Nest Hub is used mainly as a digital clock to tell the time and to play background music occasionally. This review unit of the Nest Audio sits in my study room, which gets more play time than the Huawei Sound X.
If I were to choose among the Google smart speakers, I would go for Nest Audio, because the audio quality is good enough for me to enjoy. It is loud enough to fill the room with quality heart-throbbing beats while providing the smart functions of Google Assistant. At S$139 (or $236.30 for two), it is competitively priced yet delivers high brand value. Pre-order yours now at Google Store, Courts, or Challenger. In-store sales begin from 15 October.