Google Nest Audio Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Dec 18, 2020 at 07:41 am
Google Nest Audio Picture
6.2
Music
5.6
Videos/Movies
6.2
Podcasts
8.3
Voice Assistant
4.9
Outdoors
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
Yes
Speakerphone
Yes
Voice Assistant
Yes
Battery Powered
No

The Google Nest Audio is a speaker with built-in Google Assistant capabilities. It's voice-activated, and it can understand you even if you aren't very close to the speaker. You can also mute the microphone when you don't want the speaker listening to you, which is nice. However, it doesn't get very loud, and it's lacking low-bass. Fortunately, there are bass and treble adjustment features available in the fantastic Google Home app.

Our Verdict

6.2 Music

The Google Nest Audio is acceptable for music. Its default sound profile has a balanced mid-range that can reproduce voices and lead instruments clearly, but it also can sound a bit dull and dark. Also, it lacks low-bass, which is disappointing for fans of bass-heavy genres like EDM. It doesn't get very loud, either. Fortunately, you can adjust its bass and treble to your liking using the Google Home app.

Pros
  • Bass and treble adjustments.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
5.6 Videos/Movies

The Google Nest Audio is middling for videos and movies. While its default sound profile can reproduce dialogue clearly, it's lacking low-bass, so you don't feel the deep thump and rumble in action-packed scenes. Also, it doesn't get very loud. Its latency with Android, iOS, and Chromecast devices may be too high to be suitable for videos, though some apps compensate for latency.

Pros
  • Bass and treble adjustments.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • High latency.
6.2 Podcasts

The Google Nest Audio is passable for podcasts. You can stream podcasts to the speaker over a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection, and its balanced mid-range reproduces dialogue clearly. However, this speaker isn't very portable, and its uneven treble can make voices dull or dark.

Pros
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatible.
Cons
  • Needs to be plugged into an AC outlet.
8.3 Voice Assistant

The Google Nest Audio is great for voice assistant. This speaker has built-in Google Assistant, and it's voice-activated. It can hear you even if you aren't very close to the speaker. You can also mute the microphone when you don't want the voice assistant on.

Pros
  • Excellent far-field performance.
  • Microphone mute feature.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
4.9 Outdoors

The Google Nest Audio has to be plugged into an AC outlet to work, so it isn't suitable for outdoor use.

  • 6.2 Music
  • 5.6 Videos/Movies
  • 6.2 Podcasts
  • 8.3 Voice Assistant
  • 4.9 Outdoors

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights No

The Google Nest Audio has a fairly discreet and minimal design. It sits vertically on its base, and it has a unique, somewhat oval shape. It isn't very tall or wide, so it should fit easily into most home decor. Four horizontal lights display when the speaker is active. You can get this speaker in several different colors, including Chalk, Charcoal, Sky, Sage, and Sand.

5.4
Design
Portability
Volume
93 in³ (1522 cm³)
Weight
2.6 lbs (1.2 kg)
Power Source
AC Only
One-Hand Carry
Yes

This speaker has disappointing portability. It's only powered by AC, so you have to plug it into a wall outlet for it to work. Fortunately, it's small and lightweight, so you shouldn't have any trouble carrying it from room to room.

6.4
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Good
Water Resistance
Unspecified
Dust Resistance
Unspecified
Impact Resistance
Unspecified
Floats In Water
Unspecified

The Google Nest Audio has a passable build quality. It's mostly made of plastic, which feels quite solid and durable, and it sits on a rubber-like base. The body is covered in a tight fabric, which feels very nice, though it could collect dust over time. Also, it isn't water-resistant, so you should be cautious if you plan to use it near water.

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 Google Nest Audio has impressive controls. On the top of the speaker, there are touch-sensitive controls that let you adjust the volume, play/pause your music, and answer/end a call. The horizontal lights on the front help display the volume level. You can also mute the microphone if you don't want the voice assistant feature listening to you.

Design
In The Box

  • Google Nest Audio
  • Power cable
  • User Manual

Sound
6.4
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
-0.44
Std. Err.
4.62 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
56.6 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
13.7 kHz

The Google Nest Audio has acceptable frequency response accuracy. Its balanced mid-range can reproduce vocals and lead instruments clearly, but it lacks a bit of detail in the treble range, so audio can sound dark or dull. Unlike the Sonos Five, it's lacking low-bass, so you don't feel the deep thump and rumble in bass-heavy music genres.

This speaker comes with bass and treble adjustments so you can customize its sound profile to your liking. However, we tested this speaker at its default setting, without any adjustments to the bass or treble.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
6.3
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
3.13 dB
Stereo
No (mono)

The soundstage is mediocre. It downmixes stereo content into mono, which doesn't sound very immersive. On the upside, its directivity is very good, so its soundstage is perceived as more open and spacious. If you want a mono speaker with better directivity, consider the Apple HomePod mini.

5.4
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
84.0 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
4.14 dB

This speaker has an inadequate dynamics performance. It doesn't get as loud as the Google Home Max or Amazon Echo Studio, so it may not be suitable to use at loud, crowded parties. Also, when you play it at max volume, there's some compression, 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 you plug it into a wall socket.

9.1
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
Decent

This speaker has superb voice assistant support. Like the Google Nest Mini, it has Google Assistant built-in. It performs very well, even if you're far from the speaker. You can activate the speaker with your voice, and you can also mute the microphone if you don't want it listening to you. If you want a voice assistant speaker that does an even better job understanding you in noisier environments, check out the Amazon Echo Gen 4 or the Sonos One Gen 2.

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 incredible. There are bass and treble adjustments to help you customize its sound profile to your liking. You can also manage multiple Google speakers at once, and pair two Nest Audio speakers together to create a larger stereo setup.

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

This speaker doesn't have any wired inputs, aside from the connection for the power cable.

6.7
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.0
Bluetooth iOS Latency
236 ms
Bluetooth Android Latency
252 ms
Bluetooth Range
254.3 ft (77.5 m)
Multi-Device Pairing
No

This speaker is Bluetooth-compatible, and it has an outstanding range, so it can stay connected even if your device isn't very close to the speaker. Unfortunately, unlike the Google Home Max, you can only pair it to one device at a time. Also, its latency is likely too high to be suitable for watching movies. Some apps compensate for latency, so your experience may vary.

7.3
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
322 ms

The Google Nest Audio is Wi-Fi compatible and allows for Google Chromecast. However, its latency may be too high to be suitable for watching videos. Some apps compensate for latency, so your experience may vary.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Google Nest Audio comes in several different color variants, including 'Chalk', 'Charcoal', 'Sky', 'Sage', and 'Sand'. We tested the 'Chalk' variant, but we expect the others to perform similarly.

If you come across another version of this speaker, let us know in the discussions so we can update our review.

Compared To Other Speakers

The Google Nest Audio is a small speaker with built-in Google Assistant capabilities. It has an excellent far-field performance, and you can easily mute its microphone when you don't want the speaker to hear you. Unfortunately, it doesn't get very loud, and it isn't suitable for outdoor use. Like other Google speakers, it's compatible with the incredible Google Home app, so you can adjust its bass and treble levels and pair it with other Google speakers.

Google Home Max

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 mini

The Google Nest Audio and the Apple HomePod mini are very similar speakers overall, but the Google is a better choice for voice assistant support. The Google comes with a mic mute button, so you can control when it's listening to you. Also, it offers bass and treble adjustments so you can customize its sound. That said, the Apple has a better soundstage.

Apple HomePod

The Apple HomePod is a better voice assistant speaker than the Google Nest Audio. The Apple has a better-balanced default sound profile, and it has a better soundstage. Its latency over a Wi-Fi connection is lower, so it's more suitable for watching videos. However, the Google comes with a microphone mute button and bass and treble adjustments, unlike the Apple.

Amazon Echo Studio

The Amazon Echo Studio is a better speaker for most uses than the Google Nest Audio. The Amazon has a better-balanced sound profile, it can play stereo content, and it gets louder with minimal compression artifacts. However, the Google is a better speaker for voice assistants. It has better controls, its Google Assistant has better overall performance, and it supports Chromecast.

Google Nest Mini

The Google Nest Audio and the Google Nest Mini are very similar speakers with great voice assistant performances thanks to their built-in Google Assistant capabilities. However, the Nest Audio is better for music and watching videos. The Nest Audio has a more extended bass, and it can get louder. Also, it has lower latency over a Chromecast connection.

Sonos One Gen 2

While the Google Nest Audio and the Sonos One Gen 2 are similarly performing speakers in most regards, the Google offers a better voice assistant performance. The Google only has built-in Google Assistant, but it has no problem understanding you, even in a noisy room. It also supports Bluetooth as well as Chromecast. However, the Sonos has both Alexa and Google Assistant built-in, but it struggles to understand you in a noisy environment. It also supports Apple AirPlay and has a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box.

Bose SoundLink Revolve

The Bose SoundLink Revolve is a better speaker for most uses than the Google Nest Audio. The Bose can be used with a battery, so it's more portable and better suited for outdoor use. It's also better-built, has a better soundstage, and lower Bluetooth latency for watching videos and movies. However, the Google is better for voice assistant, as it has built-in Google Assistant capabilities. It also has bass and treble adjustments to help you customize its sound, which is nice.

Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2

The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2 is a better speaker for most use cases than the Google Nest Audio. The Ultimate Ears is better-built, and since it can be used with a battery, it's more portable and better suited for outdoor use. Also, it has a better soundstage, and it can get louder with fewer compression artifacts. Thanks to its lower latency, it's better suited for watching videos and movies, too. However, the Google is a better choice for voice assistant support, since it has built-in Google Assistant capabilities.

Sonos Move

The Sonos Move is a better speaker than the Google Nest Audio. The Sonos is better-built, and its portable design makes it suitable to use outdoors. Also, its default sound profile is more neutral and balanced, though both speakers come with bass and treble adjustments.

Sonos Five

The Google Nest Audio and the Sonos Five have different strengths and depending on your usage, you may prefer one over the other. The Google speaker is better suited for voice assistants, as it has Google Assistant built-in. It also supports Bluetooth. While the Sonos doesn't support voice assistants at all, it's better for movies and music as it has a better-balanced sound profile with a thumpy low-bass. It can also be used in a stereo or mono mode, depending on how it's placed.

Bose SoundLink Micro

The Bose SoundLink Micro and the Google Nest Audio have different strengths and depending on your needs, you may prefer one over the other. The Bose is better for outdoor use as it's more portable since it's battery-powered, better-built, and has an IPX7 rating for water resistance, though we don't currently test this feature. It also supports Bluetooth. However, the Google is better for voice assistant since it has Google Assistant built-in. It also has a more comprehensive companion app, a better-balanced sound profile, and you can play audio from this speaker using Wi-Fi.

Amazon Echo Dot Gen 4

The Google Nest Audio and the Amazon Echo Dot Gen 4 are similar speakers, so depending on your usage habits, you may prefer one over the other. The Amazon is better for voice assistant support, as it has a better ambient noise performance. However, the Google is better for music and videos. It has a more balanced sound profile out-of-the-box, and it gets louder. It also supports Chromecast, unlike the Amazon.

Amazon Echo Gen 4

The Amazon Echo Gen 4 and the Google Nest Audio have very similar performances, but the Amazon is a better choice for voice assistants. The Amazon does a better job understanding your voice in noisy environments, and it also has lower latency with iOS and Android devices over a Bluetooth connection. However, the Google supports Google Chromecast, unlike the Amazon.

JBL PartyBox 300

The JBL PartyBox 300 and the Google Nest Audio are very different speakers, so depending on your listening habits, you may prefer one over the other. The JBL is better for most uses, as it has a better-balanced sound profile and can get a lot louder. However, the Google is a better choice for voice assistants. It also comes with bass and treble adjustments to help customize its sound.

Bose S1 Pro System

The Bose S1 Pro System is a better speaker for most uses than the Google Nest Audio. It can get louder, and it has a more balanced default sound profile. Also, it has lower latency over a Bluetooth connection, and since it can be used with a battery, it's better suited for outdoor use. However, the Google has built-in Google Assistant capabilities, so it's a better choice for voice assistant support.

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