Google Nest Audio smart speaker is all about sound (review)

Google Nest Audio is a $149 smart speaker with decent audio tuning that makes it both useful and sounds good too. Frankly, the sound quality is unusually good for a low-cost smart speaker.

Google Nest Audio designers wanted to appeal to Joe and Jane Average. They don’t necessarily understand the technicalities of sound signatures – read How to tell if you have good music (sound signature is the key – guide). But they understand loudness without distortion, artificial sound versus natural sound and whether they like it. And the jury says, ‘Yes’.

Australian review: Google Nest Audio smart speaker

Price$149
manufacturerGoogle
product pageHere
Guaranteestwo years
Country of manufactureThailand
AboutGoogle is an American company most commonly known as a search engine. Although the company made its name as a search engine and most of its income comes from advertising, it has branched out into Made By Google Hardware.
MoreCyberShack Google news and reviews

We use Fail (below expectations), Pass (meets expectations) and Exceed (surpasses expectations or is the class leader) against many of the items below. We occasionally give a Pass(able) rating that is not as good as it should be and a Pass ‘+’ rating to show it is good but does not quite make it to Exceed. You can click on most images for an enlargement.

First impression – kinda squat and chunky in Chalk and Charcoal – Pass+

The worst thing would be to compare it to any other smart speaker brand. It is distinctly Google, and you either like its design cues or not. I don’t mind them.

The appearance, however, suggests that sound comes from both sides, but the reality is that it has a forward-firing 75mm woofer and 19mm Tweeter for front-facing sound.

Tech Specs – Pass+

  • Size: 175 (h) x 124 (W) x 78mm (d) x 1.2kg (without power adaptor). The Home was 96.4 (round) x 142.8 (h) x 477g – quite a difference
  • Enclosure: Back and base are plastic, front panel (under acoustic mesh) is metal
  • Forward firing 75mm woofer and 19mm tweeter
  • Three far-field mics
  • Stereo pairable or Google groups
  • Touch for play/pause and volume up/down
  • Wi-Fi 5 AC 2.4/5Ghz dual-band
  • BT 5.0 and Chromecast
  • Quad-core A53 1.8Ghz with embedded Machine Learning
  • Power: 24V/1.25A/30W plug pack with 1.5m cable
  • Black or Chalk
  • Google Assistant and the ability to do more on-device
  • Google Home app for Android or iOS

How does it sound? Pass+

Better than a speaker of this size should. It is due to Google’s ambient IQ. No, this is not room tuning, but it uses its three mics to determine what ambient noises the audio content is competing with and adjusts accordingly. You cannot see or touch it; take Google’s word for it.

Next is a basic Google Home EQ, where you can adjust the Bass or Treble. A Media EQ also analyzes content and adapts for music, podcasts, audiobooks or the Assistant.

Google claims a maximum of 86dB; our tests topped out at 84dB. The sound was surprisingly clear and ‘listenable.’

  • Deep Bass: 20-40Hz – nil
  • Middle Bass: 40-100Hz – building nicely to peak at 100Hz
  • High Bass: 100 to 200Hz – flat
  • Low-mid: 200-400Hz – flat
  • Mid: 400-1000Hz – flat
  • High-mid: 1-2kHz – flat
  • Low treble: 2-4kHz flat
  • Treble: 4-6kHz – dip to avoid treble harshness
  • High Treble: 6-10kHz – flat
  • Dog whistle: 10-20kHz – flat to 20kHz

This is a balanced verging on a neutral sound signature – neither the bass nor treble overpowers the mid-range. The EQ does allow for some high bass reinforcement, but I would leave it flat and let Google smarts do the rest.

Other uses – Pass+

It can do anything any Google Assistant speaker can. But its sound quality is perfect for Google Duo audio calls – clear as a bell.

You can stereo pair and use it for multi-room speaker setups. It has Chromecast for casting music from a smartphone.

Google Assistant and Privacy – Pass

You can read more about what Google Assistant does here.

If you have a smart speaker from any supplier, it collects your data – what you ask for, where it is and often much more.

You can mute the mic via a dedicated slider switch. As we have a home full of Google Assistant speakers, this is handy to stop them all from answering!

You can view your Google Assistant history in My Activity, accessible via the Google Home app and online at myactivity.google.com. You have control over your data and can delete history at any time.

Unlike some other speaker ecosystems, this is not an adjunct to an online shopping mall.

CyberShack’s view – Google Nest Audio smart speaker is all about sound

It is pretty well in a class of its own – lower cost, higher quality music and a smart speaker as well. Rating this is easy. In its price bracket, there is a) no alternative and b) no better. It is a tangible improvement over Google Nest Mini – the low-cost way to add OK Google (speaker review).

Now you should ask why you should go with Google Assistant and not Alexa. Read OK Google rules down under.

Rating Explanation

Features: 90 – It’s a Google Wi-Fi speaker focusing on sound quality

Value: $95 $149 is very good

Performance: 90 The sound signature is good, and the EQ and smarts take care of the rest

Ease of Use: 90 – easy setup via Google Home

Design: 85 – some like it, and some don’t

Google Nest Audio smart speaker

$149

Google Nest Audio smart speaker

Pro

  • Excellent sound for the price
  • Stereo pairable
  • Decent far-field mic sensitivity
  • Local processing power for faster response
  • Chromecast built-in

cons

  • Would have liked 3.5mm AUX in
  • Google Plug pack is too wide for a single 240V power point