Is Google Nest Audio Worth It? [Review]
Yes, the Nest Audio speaker from Google is definitely worth its cost. The speaker hits a sweet spot on the market and makes for a great all-round speaker for the living room.
tl;dr: Won’t disappoint, worth its money, don’t over expect.
That’s an easy conclusion to make, but we are all different and have different needs. In this article, I’ll try to cover all aspects, downside and upsides, as unbiased as possible despite that I can already say I’m really starting to like Nest Audio.
What’s new and different about the Nest Audio speaker?
It’s slightly bigger than the Google Home and quite smaller than the Google Home Max. The sounds volume is also there in between. I’ll touch on the sound quality later in this article.
The design and feel of the device are way more in line with the Google Nest/Home Mini. The woven plastic fabric cover is covering the whole device except the bottom/foot of the device.
I really like the design and most importantly my SO/Girlfriend likes it even more. The speaker just perfectly fits into the living room like another piece of furniture. I also really like that it doesn’t try to be art or something that stands out, like the new Playstation 5 for example.
I think the Net Audio goes very unnoticed in most living rooms, which I also think is kind of the point about most technology today. Technology is there as the “invisible helper” in everyday scenarios. The Nest Audio definitely fulfil that.
It has three capacitive touchpoints located in the top front. You can’t actually see them, they are hidden under the fabric. When you go through the installation process, you’ll learn where they are located. I think they are placed intuitively, but the touchpoints should have been way larger than they currently are.
The installation process is very similar to how you install your typical Nest/Home, Mini and Max. But the installation still seems a little easier and especially faster. The reason for “faster” could also be the new quad-core processor.
Nest Audio Technical Specifications
The Nest audio has definitely gotten some upgrades to the last gens speakers; better processor, new speakers, newest Bluetooth, 5 GHz Wifi to name a few things.
The Google Assistant should also have received some large updates up till the release. Honestly, I cannot see the difference. It works like 95% of the times trying to tell it commands or ask it something.
I don’t think the assistant has gotten any better than on the Google Home/Nest Mini, it definitely doesn’t feel like it. However, it still is the best assistant, in my opinion, on the market today.
Measurement and weight
|Height, width and depth||175 mm / 124 mm / 78 mm|
|Weight||1.2 kg (2.6 pounds)|
Material and colour
|Colour options||Chalk, Charcoal|
|Material, frame||Plastic, Aluminum and Magnesium|
|Material, cover||Woven plastic fabric|
|Wifi||2.4 GHz / 5 GHz|
|Power||External adapter 30 W, 24 V|
|Processor||Quad-Core A53 1.8 GHz|
|OS compatability||Android, iOS|
|Speakers||75mm woofer, 19mm tweeter|
How to control the Nest Audio speaker
Google definitely put some effort into hiding all control for this speaker, but it does have some controls to know of.
As I also said at the beginning of the article, it has three capacitive touch-points in the top front of the device. To see what is front/back, look at the power cord, that should be the back.
You’ll have to learn how the controls are placed because there isn’t really any indication. The controls are however placed in a very common and intuitive way. The three touch-points are “previous, start/pause and next” buttons. “Previous” is to the left, “start/pause” is the middle one and “next” is the to the right.
You have one more button to know of, this is actually the only physical button on the speaker. There is a “mute” button on the back, this button will mute the microphone, so the Nest Audio will not be able to listen to anything you say.
How is the sounds quality of the Nest Audio speaker?
The sound quality is really good for its price point. But it does lack some things you get from other similarly priced speakers.
I’m not an audiophile, but I do appreciate nice audio quality. For other speakers and headphones, I use Libratone, Google Max and Mini, Bose and Sennheiser.
The quality is much better than the Google Home and Home Mini, but I believe that most people don’t get these speakers for actually using them as a primary speaker. So it’s a bit weird comparison I think.
You get the Google Home and Nest Mini to use as a virtual assistant or a smart home hub and maybe consider it a speaker in some very small and specific use cases.
But you can definitely Nest Audio as your primary speaker in the living room. The speaker has plenty of sounds to fill up any room in a typical house or apartment.
But if you are on the lookout for a great primary speaker for your living room, why not get something really great like the Home Max?
I feel like the Nest Audio is the happy middle ground. It’s in a weird spot actually.
If you have the money to spend on a Home Max, do that, definitely go for the Home Max. I would say the quality is pretty much the same, but the Nest Audio lacks the bass and punchiness. It also only has 50% of the capable sound volume.
But the Nest Audio is still very much worth your money. It really delivers, especially my girlfriend is loving it, she doesn’t need the heavy bass. She often listens to generic pop, indie and some podcasts now and then. The speaker is perfect for that.
I however really like the heavy instrumental music with great bass. I don’t think the Nest Audio is intended for that, it’s not a party speaker.
So I don’t think it can outcompete the Home Max one to one, even considered the massive price decrease. However, it might be able to compete against the Home Max, Libratone or Sonos speakers one too many.
The Nest Audio speaker is at such a low price that you could potentially just buy multiple of them and they’ll connect seamlessly to use as stereo speakers. You could have 2 or maybe even 3 Nest Audio speakers for the same price as one Home Max. This will definitely deliver greater sound, especially if you need sound in multiple rooms. I still, however, think you’d miss the bass.
Compared to the Home/Nest Mini I think the Nest Audio actually makes the Mini speakers obsolete. I know this is a hard statement to make, but hear me out a second.
You don’t really use the Mini’s as speakers, they are really just static assistant devices. I think they can be okay in a bedroom or the hallway or if you already have some great wireless speakers and don’t need more sound in the living room. But if you are just in the slightest need of some decent speakers, the Nest Audio wins on every argument.
Conclusion to the Nest Audio’ sound quality
To conclude about its sound quality, I’d say its definitely really good, but not “the most awesome sound” as a lot of sites claim. The quality is comparable to speakers twice the price, but it lacks the sound volume and bass as those larger speakers have.
Some personal observations
- The woven fabric hides dust really well! But it quite hard to get 100% clean.
- The sound experience is quite different from song to song. Some songs you think “wow what a nice speaker” and others “meh, oh well it’s pretty good for the price”. You get the “wow” most often though.
- It really does fit in almost everywhere, the design is much better than you’d initially think.
- You don’t really use the hidden touch buttons anyway.
- It has Bluetooth, nice, now what? It’s on wifi anyway.
- Would really like it to have a small battery included.
- It can literally hear me whisper, even when the music is on, how?? Nice though.
Morten has been working with technology, IoT and electronics for over a decade. His passion for technology is reflected into this blog to give you relevant and correct information.Read more...