If you’re one of those who bought an Amazon Echo or a Google smart speaker over the last two years, there’s also a good chance you still held on to your Bluetooth speaker. If you’re a serious audiophile, you might be okay with allowing your smart speaker to play the occasional song on a whim. But you’re more likely to lean on your Bluetooth speaker or soundbar to deep dive into your music playlist. Google’s brand new Nest Audio makes a pitch for the Audio credentials of a smart speaker and it’s certainly not a tall claim.
Almost a year ago we put the Nest Mini, the tiniest member of the Google smart speaker family under the scanner. One of the things that really impressed us was the emphasis on recycled plastics used in the construction of that device. The Nest Audio reaffirms Google’s sustainability commitment. The entire enclosure (meaning the fabric, housing, foot, and a few smaller parts) is made of 70 percent recycled materials. It’s not just the materials, the build quality is premium. The Nest Audio assumes a new shape that’s tough to describe, I can think of an inverted pillow or a curved rectangle but it still doesn’t sound right. I can say this; the Nest Audio looks much better in person than in pictures. It’s available in two colours in India – Chalk and the Charcoal (that we checked out) that might blend in better in most living rooms.
Installation is a breeze, I got it to work via the Google Home App on a Samsung device and the Google Pixel 4a. There are no physical buttons but a quick tutorial will acquaint you with the play/pause and volume touch controls that are located on the top corner of the speaker. It’s quite easy to use it once you know where these controls are embedded but you’re more likely to use your voice to control this smart speaker. The Nest Audio had no trouble picking my voice even over audio interferences (that included a loud pressure cooker) thanks to 3 far-field microphones that are part of the package.
In terms of its ‘smart’ capabilities, Google’s smart speakers are clearly sorted. Google handles most queries – from the weather or news, quite effortlessly. And with Voice Match, you can hear personalised information like your schedule, and access entries from your calendar. You can also make Duo calls and set timers and alarms, all hands-free. If you already own connected devices or are moving towards a smart home, it’s significant that the Nest Audio can talk to a long list of connected devices from a variety of brands (about 3,500 according to Google) like Philips Hue and Xiaomi. But ultimately, if there’s one reason we’d recommend the Nest Audio, it’s sound quality.
The Nest Audio is 75% louder and has 50% stronger bass than its predecessor (the Google Home) with a 19mm tweeter for high frequency coverage and clear vocals. A 75mm mid-woofer enhances the bass. The first track I mirrored from Spotify was AC/DC’s brand new single – Shot in the Dark, from their upcoming album Power Up. The ripping riffs played out really well on the speaker as did the speaker knocking bass kicks of Travis Scott’s Franchise. The Nest Audio holds its own purely as an audio device; you can’t move it around like a conventional Bluetooth speaker given that it needs a power source and there’s no 3.5mm jack to connect it with an external device. This device deserves your attention for its audio capabilities, the smart functionality is almost a bonus.
The Nest Audio comes in two colours – Chalk and Charcoal, and costs Rs 6,999/-