Reason No. 2: It’s got a new design. The air freshener aesthetic and swappable bases are gone. Instead, the Nest Audio resembles a mini pillow. Chris Chan, a product manager for the Nest Audio, tells Input they wanted a more organic shape inspired by the products and materials in the rooms the speaker would live in.
If by organic, Nest means basic, then it nailed it because the Nest Audio is as generic as a smart speaker gets. That's not bad if you want the speaker to be as invisible in your home as possible. But also, it sums up smart speakers in 2020: we've peaked.
Lastly, reason No. 3: the Nest Audio sounds terrific for its size. It's still the middle child in Google's smart speaker, which means audio quality falls between a Nest Mini and a Home Max (why it's not rebranded as the Nest Max is beyond me). But in terms of sound, Google's says the speaker has more clarity across all frequencies and lower and higher volumes.
This boost in sound quality is largely due to the bigger drivers: a 75mm woofer and 19mm tweeter. In comparison, the Home had a 50mm "full range driver" and dual passive radiators to assist with bass.
Typically, bigger drivers push more air and allow for more bass. But larger and more powerful speakers wouldn't have been enough. Today, good sound needs good tuning, which means good software. And Google is really good with software.
What is good sound? Balanced frequencies? Louder volume? More clarity at lower volumes? Chan tells Input it's all of the above. Whereas the Google Home's sound was tuned using third-party software, Chan says the Nest Audio was tuned using its own in-house software. The result: clearer sound across the sound stage for all music genres at lower and higher volumes. IMO, the Nest Audio sounds way better than a Google Home and makes the Nest Mini sound unacceptable.
First up is the loudness test. We're listening for clarity at 100 percent volume. Usually, compact speakers sound like garbage at max volume. The Nest Audio does a good job of maintaining separation between the mids, highs, and lows. You'll hear there's less distortion.