The Google Home and Google Nest family of smart speakers and assistants is now joined by the Google Home Max. In fact, the thanks to its array of features, the Google Home Max, as the name hints at, is the flagship model of the range.
Google Home Max: What you need to know
- $299 price
- Google Assistant
- Huge sound
The Google Home Max has Google Assistant powered core, while also being a more premium and powerful audio device than anything else Google sells in this range.
Of course once you decide you want more premium sound, over the Google Home or Google Nest Mini, you are also going to have to be ready to pay a more premium price. This goes up against the likes of the Sonos Move at $499 and the Apple HomePod at $399. Although this is priced lower, now, at $299.
For that price you still get smart speaker voice controls, multi-room options and the ability to use two of these as a stereo pair. But is this the smart speaker for you?
Google Home Max: Design and build
- Dual woofers
- Six microphones
- Touch controls
The Google Home Max certainly is a large device, standing at 14.5-inches wide and weighing in at 11.6lbs (5.3kg). That makes it one of the biggest smart speakers you can buy, and the heaviest too. Of course in the world of audio, weight is a very good thing, denoting lots of tech inside and that's definitely the case here.
The oblong speaker features a knit cover front, rubber grip footing and touch controls on the top for play/pause and volume, but not track skipping, and a mute button on the rear. Also on the rear is a USB-C port and 3.5mm aux port so you could plug in a turntable, for example. You also get WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity. On the front are four LED lights, mainly used to show when you're being listened to or if the unit is muted.
The speaker is made to lie on its side, wide, but can be stood up to be used as part of a stereo pair. The downside here is that when you stand it up you lose stereo, so you can't really have it stood up as a solo speaker.
Inside are two 4.5-inch high-excursion woofers backed by two 0.7-inch custom tweeters. There is a six microphone array to pick up voice commands and auto calibrate.
Google Home Max: Features
- Smart sound
- Far field voice
- Multiple inputs
The Google Home Max is one of the few smart speakers that allows you to not only play over WiFi and Bluetooth but also with an aux in, making this a speaker for turntables and more. That's a nice feature, especially if you want to use this as a stereo pair from a record player or TV.
Like the Apple HomePod and Sonos Move competition, the Home Max is able to adjust audio to suit the room - something Google calls Smart Sound. This uses an accelerometer to detect when the speaker has been moved then the six microphone array will detect how the playback sounds and adjusts the equalizer accordingly. This is great if you move this near a wall which amplifies the bass too much, since the Home Max will tweak so you get the best sound balance again.
Supported audio is decent with the likes of HE-AAC as well as LC-AAC played back at top quality.
Google Assistant onboard is great as that means your commands can be casual yet most of the time Google will understand what you're after. It also means, beyond music, you have control of a wide array for smart home devices too, using just your voice.
Google Home Max: Performance
- Big sound
- Great voice recognition and understanding
- Very widely compatible
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Google has created a great speaker in the Home Max, one to rival the likes of the Apple HomePod and Sonos Move.
There's plenty of bass and lots of volume if you need them. But, crucially, there is also balance. This is lost a little as you go to the maximum volume but since that's way higher than the HomePod can manage anyway it's fair to compare the two on an even playing field - just with this giving an option to go louder.
At lower volumes the mids are well balanced for clear voices amidst bass and treble. Of course the size of the unit means there is limited space for more complex musical organization but the Max still does a good job for its size of creating a broad stage.
You don't get the 360-degree audio of the smaller Google Home sibling, but then this has more punch so you can point it out and it'll fill a room anyway. Also, the Smart Sound adapts very well so no matter where you place the Home Max it'll create a well balanced performance.
The Google Assistant performs very well with the many microphones picking up voice commands even when music is playing loudly. Everything is generally understood first time and since this supports Google Cast it's easy to sling what you want where you want and enjoy multi-room support too.
Should I buy the Google Home Max?
If you're after big sound that intelligently adapts to its surroundings, but also need the Google Assistant onboard, then this is the speaker for you. It's a huge step up in quality from the Google Home yet still packs in the same smart assistant features as well as enhanced listening abilities.
If you want a speaker you can also move around then shelling out a bit more for the Sonos Move might be a better idea for you. Or, if you're an iPhone and Apple Music user, then the Apple HomePod could be better suited - although it is a very closed system speaker.
Google Home Max: Verdict
The Google Home Max is the best quality and most powerful speaker in the company's range. Not only that, it's one of the best smart speakers for audio quality available now. The price is high, but relative to the competition, it's one of the lowest.
If you want a smart assistant to ask questions, to control your smart home and to play your music then Google Assistant is one of, if not the best. Couple that with great audio quality and a beautiful design and you're getting your money's worth out of this speaker package.