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Google Home Max Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Dec 14, 2020 at 09:43 am
Google Home Max Picture
6.9
Music
6.5
Videos/Movies
6.5
Podcasts
8.0
Voice Assistant
5.4
Outdoors
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
Yes
Speakerphone
Yes
Voice Assistant
Yes
Battery Powered
No

The Google Home Max is a small speaker that has built-in Google Assistant capabilities. It's voice-activated, and it can pick up your voice even if you aren't very close to the speaker. You can also mute the microphone when you don't want it to hear you. Its balanced mid-range makes it suitable for vocal-centric content like podcasts, but it's lacking a bit of low-bass, which can be disappointing for some music fans. On the upside, there are bass and treble adjustments available in its companion app.

Our Verdict

6.9 Music

The Google Home Max is fair for music. Its balanced mid-range can reproduce vocals and lead instruments clearly, but its underemphasized treble can make audio dull. Also, it's lacking low-bass, which is disappointing for fans of bass-heavy music genres like EDM. It gets loud, but there's a bit of compression at max volume. Fortunately, you can adjust its bass and treble levels.

Pros
  • Bass and treble adjustments.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
6.5 Videos/Movies

The Google Home Max is adequate for videos and movies. Its balanced mid-range can reproduce dialogue clearly, but it lacks low-bass, so you don't feel the deep thump in action-packed scenes. Also, it has a mediocre soundstage, and there's compression when you play it at max volume. Its latency with Android and iOS devices may be too high for watching videos, but fortunately, it performs better over a Google Chromecast connection.

Pros
  • Bass and treble adjustments.
  • Low latency over Google Chromecast.
Cons
  • Mediocre soundstage.
  • Lacks low-bass.
6.5 Podcasts

The Google Home Max is okay for podcasts. It has a balanced mid-range that can reproduce voices clearly and accurately. You can also stream podcasts from your phone or tablet to the bar wirelessly over Wi-Fi, and it supports multi-device pairing. Unfortunately, this speaker isn't very portable, and it has a mediocre soundstage.

Pros
  • Multi-device pairing.
Cons
  • Mediocre soundstage.
8.0 Voice Assistant

The Google Home Max is great for voice assistant. It has built-in Google Assistant, and the speaker can hear you even if you're far away. You can also mute the microphone if you don't want the speaker to listen to you. Unfortunately, it's soundstage isn't perceived as very large or directional.

Pros
  • Excellent far-field performance.
  • Built-in Google Assistant.
Cons
  • Mediocre soundstage.
5.4 Outdoors

The Google Home Max needs to be plugged into a wall outlet to work, so it isn't suitable for outdoor use.

  • 6.9 Music
  • 6.5 Videos/Movies
  • 6.5 Podcasts
  • 8.0 Voice Assistant
  • 5.4 Outdoors
  1. Updated Dec 15, 2020: Review published.
  2. Updated Dec 15, 2020: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights No

The Google Home Max has a fairly discreet style and should fit well into most decor. However, some might find it a bit bulky, and due to its non-cylindrical design, some might prefer putting it against a wall. You can also position it vertically, but this turns the sound into mono.

3.7
Design
Portability
Volume
606 inยณ (9,924 cmยณ)
Weight
11.7 lbs (5.3 kg)
Power Source
AC Only
One-Hand Carry
No

This speaker is bulky and isn't designed to be very portable. It's powered only by AC, so it needs to be plugged in a wall outlet for it to work.

6.0
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Decent
Water Resistance
No
Dust Resistance
Unspecified
Impact Resistance
No
Floats In Water
No

The build quality is mediocre. The frame is entirely made of plastic, and there's fabric covering the speaker, which is subject to tearing and can collect dust easily.

8.0
Design
Controls
Ease Of Use
Great
Feedback
Great
Music Play/Pause
Yes (Tactile)
Call Answer/End
Yes (Tactile)
Volume Up/Down
Yes (Tactile)
Track Next/Previous
No
Microphone On/Off
Yes (Physical)
Additional Controls
No

The control scheme is great. You have a small tactile line at the top of the speaker that allows you to control volume and play/pause your audio content easily. You can also turn off the microphone with a physical switch located at the back of the speaker. Unfortunately, you can't skip forward or backward with the speaker's control scheme, but this shouldn't matter too much as you can still do so with voice commands.

Design
In The Box

  • Google Home Max Smart Speaker
  • Power cable
  • Magnetic soft base
  • User Manual

Sound
7.2
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
-0.28
Std. Err.
3.00 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
50.4 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
17.2 kHz

The Google Home Max's frequency response accuracy is decent. The overall sound profile is well-balanced, although it struggles with low-bass, which can result in a lack of thump and rumble. Unfortunately, it also lacks a bit of detail in the upper treble, which might make it sound a bit dark. It's still well-balanced overall, especially in the mid-range, which is great for vocals and dialogue. We used the Smart Sound feature that auto-calibrates the speaker to the room it's in.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
6.3
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
6.44 dB
Stereo
Yes (when horizontal)

The soundstage is mediocre. While it's a stereo sound when placed horizontally, the directivity is quite poor, resulting in a soundstage that feels a bit more closed-off. The speaker automatically becomes mono whenever placed vertically, but we don't test for this. For a smart speaker with a better soundstage, check out the Bose Home Speaker 500.

6.9
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
95.6 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
3.88 dB

The Google Home Max's dynamic performance is fair. It can get quite loud, which is great if you're using it in a crowded or large environment. However, there are some compression artifacts in both the bass and treble ranges at max volume, so pushing it to its limits isn't recommended.

Active Features
0
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
N/A
Charge Time
N/A
Power Saving
No
Charging Port
No Battery

This speaker doesn't have a battery and only works if it's plugged into a wall socket.

8.9
Active Features
Voice Assistant
Alexa
No
Google Assistant
Built-in
Siri
No
Voice Activation
Yes
Microphone Mute
Yes
Far-Field Performance
Excellent
Ambient Noise Performance
Mediocre

The Google Home Max has excellent voice assistant support. Like the Google Nest Audio, it has built-in Google Assistant and performs very well, even if you're far from the speaker. You can easily control your audio content with your voice, and if you don't like knowing that the speaker is always listening to you, you can mute the microphone with the switch at the back.

9.3
Active Features
App
App Name
Google Home
iOS
Yes
Android
Yes
EQ
Bass/Treble
Stereo Pair Mode
Yes
Party Mode
Yes
Multi-Room
Yes

The Google Home app is remarkable. You can adjust the speaker's bass and treble levels as well as control and configure multiple Google speakers to suit your preferences. You can use two Home Max speakers together to create a larger stereo setup, or set them up in different rooms and cast to them simultaneously via Wi-Fi. If you're looking for a speaker with a Graphic EQ and presets, check out the Sony SRS-RA3000.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Wired
Aux Input
Yes
USB Audio
No
Other Ports
Yes

This speaker has an Aux port for you to plug in your devices and easily switch between them. There's also a USB-C port, but the manufacturer doesn't mention what it can be used for.

7.2
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
4.2
Bluetooth iOS Latency
246 ms
Bluetooth Android Latency
197 ms
Bluetooth Range
170.6 ft (52.0 m)
Multi-Device Pairing
2 Devices

The Google Home Max speaker is Bluetooth-compatible and can be connected to two devices at the same time. Its wireless range is quite good as well. Unfortunately, its Bluetooth latency is a bit too high to listen to videos, although some apps may compensate for this, so your experience may vary.

8.1
Connectivity
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Version
Wi-Fi 5
Wi-Fi Frequency Band
2.4GHz & 5GHz
Apple AirPlay
No
AirPlay Latency
N/A
Google Chromecast
Yes
Chromecast Latency
46 ms

The Google Home Max is Wi-Fi compatible and allows for Google Chromecast with very low latency, which is good. However, if you're looking for a wired speaker that supports Apple AirPlay, consider the Sonos Five or the Sonos One Gen 2.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

This speaker is available in both 'Charcoal' and 'Chalk'. While we tested the 'Charcoal' variant of this speaker, we expect our review to also be valid for the 'Chalk' color as well.

If you come across another variant of this speaker, let us know in the discussions.

Compared To Other Speakers

The Google Home Max is a compact speaker with built-in Google Assistant capabilities. You can only use it when it's plugged into an outlet, so it isn't suitable for outdoor use. However, it's voice-activated, and it can pick up your voice even if you're far away from the speaker.

Bose Home Speaker 500

The Bose Home Speaker 500 is a better speaker than the Google Home Max. The Bose is better-built and it has a better soundstage performance. Also, its voice assistant does a better job understanding you when you're in a noisy environment. However, the Google has a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box.

Google Nest Audio

The Google Home Max and the Google Nest Audio are similar speakers, but the Home Max has a more versatile performance. The Home Max's sound profile is better-balanced, and it can get louder. Also, it has lower latency over a Wi-Fi connection, so it's a better choice for watching videos, and it supports multi-device pairing. That said, both speakers are great for voice assistant support.

Apple HomePod

The Google Home Max and the Apple HomePod are two speakers with a voice assistant built-in and depending on your usage, you may prefer one over the other. While both speakers have a similarly balanced sound profile, the Google has a companion app that lets you EQ its bass and treble. It uses Google Assistant and has a button to mute its mic. It also supports Chromecast. However, the Apple uses Siri and supports Apple AirPlay. Since it's a 360-degree speaker, it also has an outstanding soundstage. 

Amazon Echo Studio

The Google Home Max is a slightly better speaker than the Amazon Echo Studio. The Google has a better-balanced sound profile and can reproduce a bit more low-bass. It has Google Assistant built-in, and it does a better job of understanding your voice in noisy environments. It can also be paired with up to two devices at the same time, and it supports Google Chromecast. However, the Amazon has fewer compression artifacts at max volume.

Sonos Five

The Google Home Max and the Sonos Five are two mid-size speakers with different strengths and depending on your needs, you may prefer one over the other. The Google has better controls and has an excellent performing Google Assistant built-in. It also supports Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Google Chromecast. However, the Sonos can produce more low-bass and has a better-balanced sound profile, which makes it better suited for music. It also supports Apple AirPlay.

Sonos One Gen 2

The Google Home Max is a better speaker than the Sonos One Gen 2. The Google has a slightly more extended low-bass and it can get louder with fewer compression artifacts. It also supports Bluetooth and its built-in voice assistant is better able to register your commands in noisy environments.

Sony SRS-RA3000

The Sony SRS-RA3000 and the Google Home Max are similar home speakers with different strengths. The Sony has a much better soundstage, and its sound profile is more customizable than the Google. That said, the Google offers excellent voice assistant support, while the Sony doesn't have this feature.

Google Nest Mini

The Google Home Max and the Google Nest Mini both offer impressive performances for voice assistant, but the Home Max is a better choice for music and videos. Out-of-the-box, the Home Max has a better-balanced sound profile, and it can get louder. Also, it has lower latency over a Chromecast connection.

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