Nest audio review: sleek design with an audio update

One look at the Nest Audio and you know you have a good product on your hands. I am not talking only in terms of design, but also in terms of performance. This is why you will notice an audio update on the device compared to Google Home. Aside from this, there’s the fast and responsive Google Assistant, which makes using the device a breeze. The overall packaging promises a stylish and sustainable design, backed by affordability.

As I mentioned, affordability is one of the Nest Audio’s main hooks, we’re looking for $ 99.99 for one and under $ 180 for two of them. That said, the Nest Audio still lacks strong bass at higher volumes. Also, you cannot mount the device on the wall as there is no provision for it. In any case, after watching The Social Dilemma, you really need to get comfortable with Google’s microphones in your space.

Introduction to Nest Audio

Size Matters. However, size is also relevant. In this case, I’d say the Nest Audio’s small size packs in a punch. It’s not very large, so the dimensions (6.89 inches high, 4.89 inches wide, and 3.07 inches deep) make it the ideal companion at home. Unlike the cylindrical Google Home, which had a mesh bottom design, the Nest Audio is designed with a cushion vibe in luscious colors like Chalk, Charcoal, Sage, Sand, and Sky.

The only thing I admire about this device is the way the controls are discreetly fused into the design. To press the touch sensitive volume and the Assistant / Play / Pause buttons, you need to go behind the top front edge. The switch on the back turns off the microphones. Animated lights on the body of the Nest Audio indicate that it is listening to you or processing a request. It can also indicate that the microphone is muted or that you are adjusting the volume.

Sound, it sounds better!

The Nest Audio has two drivers: a 75mm woofer and a 19mm tweeter, in comparison the Google Home has a single 50mm full-range driver and two passive radiators. In short, the device relies on a single driver for its entire frequency range. Bass is not optimal on this device and there is room for improvement. Some clarity and precision are lacking.

That’s why we tend to appreciate the two drivers on the Nest Audio, as the mid-range driver doesn’t need to focus on the high-pitches like the vocals, and can focus on playing the bass. The sound is clearer and the bass is more in tune. You may want to try some music to know for sure if the beats match, however, in general, I found jazz and classical songs to play smoothly. The new tweeter lights up everything!

When it comes to pop, rock, and dance, at higher volumes the bass does its best to keep up with the beats. All in all, Nest Audio makes melodies play smoothly and without distortion. To keep it versatile, you can manually adjust the treble and bass through the Google Home app. There is no automatic calibration as Google Home Max offers. Google has kept Smart Sound out and kept its eyes focused on hardware.

The angle of sustainability

In an effort to keep up with the sustainability ‘buzzword’, Google has used up to 70% recycled materials in the frame and fabric grille. Not forgetting, the aluminum-magnesium chassis underneath is also said to be partially recycled as well. Should you damage the fabric on the front and back panels, you can replace them, and at the end of its life you can send the Nest Audio to Google for recycling.

Because I love the history and thinking behind Nest Audio, it seems surprising that Google missed some key functional aspects. For example, we could do it on the wall or on a Nest Audio stand. Without the typical dots and buttons to control the device, the Nest Audio looks sleek, yet new users can easily bypass the hidden touch pads and thus fail to intuit the controls.

Looking at it from Google’s point of view, it’s clear that they want you to talk to the device rather than touch it, hence the improvements to the Google Assistant. Like other devices, you can expect Nest Audio to answer queries on general knowledge questions, traffic details, calendar information, help you initiate voice calls, and control music playback. Train the Assistant to recognize your voice and get started. With Ambient IQ, you can expect a more responsive and understandable Assistant. Background noise and clutter don’t distract you from listening to your commands.

The three far-field microphones do not allow background noise to affect the Assistant’s comprehension. For example, the volume of music is reduced automatically when you speak, or the coffee grinder, electric shaver or toothbrushes do not compromise communication.

Nest Audio runs faster thanks to local processing power and a dedicated machine learning chip. As you may recall, the dedicated machine learning chip was first added to the second-gen Nest Mini. In short, there is less lag when moving the audio between the speakers.

Our Take

I like the fact that you can name each Nest Audio device according to the room you place them in. You can even group them into groups by forming them into stereo pairs and asking your Assistant, or use the Google Home app to move playback between those zones. You can even have the app play the songs in multiple locations and sync together.

The general picture painted by Nest Audio is good. It is affordable and aggressively priced. It works well, and if you can get by with its design’s bass limitations, then you’ve got a lot on your hands. The Assistant is capable, the speaker is solid, and by combining stereo pairs or placing them in multiple rooms you can add to the party.

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