Over the last four months or so, I've spent a chunk of my time getting my home right. Mostly organizing what we need and getting rid of what we don't, but because I do most of my working from home in my living room area, I've been slowly perfecting furniture placement and optimal sound and audio for all of the movies and TV I will be watching, because quarantine. While I just got a soundbar for my TV earlier this year, I have been without a proper speaker for my living room area, so color my surprise when Google announced they would be adding a brand-new home audio speaker to their evolving line of hardware, Nest Audio, during their Launch Night In presentation last week. I was immediately drawn to the little fabric monster, and I wanted to know more.
Lucky for me, they were one step ahead of me; a brand-new Nest Audio device was on the way. Double lucky for me, the device survived the Triple Lindy the delivery guy gave the box when he chucked it on my porch. With this Nest Audio came an invitation to a special press presentation on Nest Audio, which would better inform this weekend test-run I gave the device, which is available today (October 5) for $99.
For those unfamiliar with Google's previous home audio devices, as long as you have your accounts linked you're good to go. YouTube Music, Spotify, Pandora, and Sirius XM are just some of the accounts that, once linked, can be drawn from with a simple voice command (i.e.: "Okay, Google, Play Run DMC on Spotify"). It can also work as a Bluetooth speaker; I'm an Apple Music nut, and it's easy as hell to fire up a playlist I am working on over there via Bluetooth. Unlike other Google home audio devices, however, Nest Audio has three touch areas on the top of the device that allow you to control the volume and pause or play a song. It's cool to talk to your devices when you want something done, but being able to also get physical and control your sound is a dope touch as well. (Get it? Dope touch, because you can press buttons on the devi-... you know what, never mind.)
In the press materials, Google suggested songs like Earth, Wind & Fire's "September" to play on the Nest Audio as a great example of how Nest Audio's improved upon the previous speakers Google has created since their Google Home in November 2016. Having owned the Google Home (which is still running in my home, four years later), the Nest Audio is immediately killer. Its not only 75 percent louder than the Google Home, but it packs 50 percent more bass. I wanted to test the bass with "September," but with Westside Gunn's WHO MADE THE SUNSHINE hitting the streets on Friday, it made sense to throw on something like the Just Blaze-produced "98 Sabers" on to run a better test (although real ones know that any proper drum & bass mix, like DJ Trace's "Rollers Instinct #3", will give you a better examination of the lowest of the low-end while keeping the highest highs in tact). Even at lower volumes, there's no sacrifice in overall quality of sound.
That's because Google's realized that Load Management's sound isn't the same as what The Alchemist is cooking up for Griselda, and Google has added features that allow Nest Audio to automatically adjust the audio based on what kind of audio is being played, but also based on the noise in the room. Google Assistant is on-deck with Nest Audio, giving you a tool that is not only there to handle whatever you need but will also adapt to your needs as an audiophile. Speaking to you audiophiles out there, I can't stress this enough: the audio coming out of the Nest Audio is as full and as crisp as I've heard from any new school speaker. For a relatively a tiny device (it's barely 7" tall, 5" wide, and a hair over 3" deep), Google got the 19mm tweeter and 75mm mid-woofer housed in the Nest Audio to sing. Vocals aren't muddied by the monstrous bass coming from the device, nor does the high end drown out the lower frequencies. A place for every piece of audio, and every piece of audio has a place.
It's always more fun when more speakers are involved, though, and Google's made it easy to pair multiple Nest Audio devices to really open up the audio possibilities in your home. Taking things one step further, Google's allowing you to link Nest Audio with other Nest units you may have in your home already, like those Nest Minis everybody seemed to be grabbing or a Nest Hub Max. You can even group your Nest Audio with your TV via Chromecast to have that audio travel wherever you are in your home.
[Ed note: For those of you with privacy concerns due to the linking of devices and listening in on your at home, know that Nest Audio does come with a physical switch that allows you to turn the microphone off completely.]
And you're going to want a Nest Audio device somewhere in your home. It's a great accent piece for your room—something about that fabric-covered beast sitting beautifully in the right setting. You're also doing your part in reducing the footprint these devices can leave on the Earth; Google's made sure the Nest Audio enclosure is made of 70 percent recycled materials. It's that balance of form and function that Google continues to nail as they dive deeper into how these devices impact our homes, and vice versa.
Nest Audio, with Google Assistant built-in, could also become the center of your connected household. As long as you're connecting your smart devices to your Google Home app, turning off the lights might be as simple as speaking a command to Nest Audio. With multiple devices in the home, you can set up an intercom system for your entire family. Paired with Google Duo, and you're able to make free phone calls...even internationally. You can do anything from check the weather to set a reminder to pick up your laundry to turning your living room into a whole night cub.
At $99, the Nest Audio speaker could be the next best thing in home audio. It's affordable, stylish, and intelligent; a device that could just be used as a top-notch solo speaker for an apartment or utilized as an integral part of a much larger, smarter ecosystem in your household. I love it's potential, but I am also OK with it just being a dope-ass audio device.
Google's Nest Audio is available for $99 via the Google Store.