Google Nest Audio speaker focuses on sound quality

Google Nest Audio speaker focuses on sound quality
(Image credit: Google)

Google is another step closer to completing its smart home branding transformation from 'Home' to 'Nest'. At its 'Launch Night In' event today, which was headlined by the Pixel 5 reveal, Google introduced the Google Nest Audio smart speaker – the successor to the Google Home and natural-born rival to the new (and spherical) Amazon Echo

The Google Nest Audio slots in between the existing Nest Mini and the display-toting Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max in Google's smart speaker line-up, leaving just the flagship Google Home Max to be potentially succeeded by a Nest-branded replacement.

As the Nest Audio's name suggests, Google has worked to improve the sound quality over the original – which we're pleased to hear, as we described the Google Home's sonic performance as "average".

The result of 500 hours of tuning, the Nest Audio supposedly goes 75 per cent louder and can deliver 50 per cent stronger bass. Its 75mm mid/bass driver and 19mm tweeter makes for a rather different driver array, too, with the Home sporting a 2in driver and twin 2in passive radiators.

Physically, the Nest Audio is bigger: 175mm tall (compared to 143mm) and 124mm wide (compared to 96mm). The enclosure – made from 70 per cent recycled plastic – is wrapped in either chalk- or charcoal-coloured fabric, and three microphones (which can be disabled at the slide of a button) are onboard for picking up voices during Google Assistant voice commands.

(Image credit: Google)

An Ambient IQ mode allows the Nest Audio to automatically adjust the volume of news, podcasts, and audiobooks based on current background noise, while Media EQ adapts the sound according to the type of content being played.

Naturally the Nest Audio is compatible with the company's recently launched multi-room control, which allows the owner to dynamically group multiple cast-enabled Nest devices in real-time, rather than have to manually create speaker groups. And, as with its predecessor, it can be paired with another Nest Audio speaker in stereo mode.

Bluetooth 5.0 is onboard as an offline alternative to music streaming via Google Chromecast, too.

The Google Nest Audio is available for pre-order now at the Google Store for £89.99 ($100, AU$149). Shipping begins on October 15th, on which date it will also hit other retailers.


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Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her 10+ years in the hi-fi industry, she has reviewed all manner of audio gear, from budget amplifiers to high-end speakers, and particularly specialises in headphones and head-fi devices. In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.