Google Home Max review: Speaker audio
Google has to steal its attention — or rather, its ears and voice — from the competition, as the world of voice-controlled smart home tech products continues to heat up.
Today, it’s not just Amazon with its Echo line – which features Amazon Alexa, the best-known voice assistant – but also Apple, Microsoft and a host of other players with their own systems.
POCKET-LINT VIDEO OF THE DAYSCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT
There are a ton of smart speakers available now, all at various price points and with varying degrees of features, so it’s up to you to browse through them all and figure out which one is the ideal match.
Do you want to spend as little as possible? Want to have the widest range of connected features? Or is price not an issue and you want the most premium sound? Do you care more about fancy features like the touch screen?
Well, if price isn’t an issue and you care most about audio quality, consider the Google Home Max speaker.
It’s basically the same as the Google Home and Google Home Mini, only it’s physically huge and has much bigger sound.
Our quick opinion
The Google Home Max offers the most sound, but it is also very large and expensive.
If you’re tied to the Google ecosystem and want premium sound, then it’s a potentially perfect fit.
But can Google command a similar price to Sonos in its first large-scale outing? Sounds good, sure, but we think you’d have to drop the price to be a true speaker to run out and buy it now.
Google Home Max – 4.0 / 5
How big is Home Max?
- It weighs almost 5.3 kg
- It has dimensions of 336.6 mm x 190 mm x 154.4 mm
- It comes in “chalk” or “charcoal” shades.
His name is Max for a reason.
He weighs almost 5.3kg and looks almost comical, especially when sitting next to Google Home or Google Home Mini.
The considerable size of him lets you know that he is a speaker really.
If we were to compare it to another premium speaker on the market, we’d say its size is close to that of the flagship Sonos Play:5.
The front grille is covered in “acoustically transparent fabric,” which is the same soft-touch material found in the Google Home Mini, available in either a chalk gray or minimalist charcoal gray finish.
The rest of this rounded and rectangular beast has a polycarbonate shell with a smooth silicone base.
Can Home Max be wall mounted?
- Detachable power cord is 2 m (6.5 ft) long
- It has a rubber magnetic pad to place it on
- Can be placed in landscape or portrait orientation
Unfortunately, Home Max lacks the ability to mount it on the wall or on the floor.
So you’ll want to place this speaker on a flat shelf, bookcase, TV stand, or anywhere else you fancy.
Luckily, the detachable power cord is long enough to fit multiple locations without issue.
We recommend that you move it around to see where it fits best.
Due to its sheer size, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a suitable spot for the Home Max in a typical living room, unless you have one of those sleek extra-large ones.
However, thanks to a rubberized magnetic pad – which helps reduce vibrations – you can position the Max both vertically and horizontally.
The Max has a “carefully crafted shape and sensor” for either orientation, though you’ll only get stereo sound in landscape orientation.
That’s right, turn it vertical and it will change to mono.
There’s an orientation sensor inside that does all of this automatically – we even found while taking photos of the Home Max that if you turn the speaker upside down, it’ll tell you right away.
How is Home Max set up?
When you unbox the Google Home Max, simply plug it into the wall and wait for a chime to indicate it’s ready.
While you’re at it, download and open the Google Home app, sign in with your Google account, and select the Devices icon in the top right corner.
You’ll see Google Home Max at the top of the menu.
Tap Set up and follow the onscreen prompts to guide you to connect the smart speaker to your local Wi-Fi network.
You’ll need to specify where the Home Max will be placed within your home, then set up Google Assistant and connect it to your services.
How is Home Max controlled?
- Capacitive touch strip to adjust volume
- Voice commands “OK/Hey Google”.
- Google Home app
There’s a capacitive touch strip on top of the Home Max (well, when it’s horizontal).
You can slide a finger across it to adjust the volume or tap it to pause playback.
It works similar to the touch ring on Google Home.
If you don’t want to use your finger, you can always use the “OK Google” or “Hey Google” voice commands, or you can use the Google Home app.
There are six far-field microphones to pick up voice commands, ensuring voice pickup in various environments, even when the speaker is emitting sound or music.
On the back of the Max is a switch to disable the microphones, if desired.
There’s also a USB-C port, which you can use with an Ethernet adapter for wired networking, plus a 3.5mm input jack for connecting to other audio sources, giving you plenty of options, more than just in other Home products.
How does Home Max sound?
- Includes four transducers and six Class D amplifiers
- Has Smart Sound to automatically adjust
- Supports dual-speaker and multi-room stereo audio
Part of the reason the Max is so big is because it packs four drivers (two 4.5-inch/114mm high-excursion dual voice-coil woofers and two 0.7-inch/18mm custom tweeters, for the fans). audio) and six class D amplifiers.
The result? Home Max has a very high volume; if he’s downstairs and you’re upstairs, you’ll have no problem enjoying the music.
It’s also loud enough for a party and remains clear even at 100% volume.
We’re not lab audiophiles, so we can’t give you detailed charts on whether the treble is too crisp and the bass is too weak (although it’s missing a bit), but in our real-world tests this speaker has blown us away: the Amazon Echo , the Echo Show and the Google Home sound puny in comparison.
Part of the Max’s impressive sound is due to Smart Sound, a nifty feature that allows the speaker to automatically adapt to its surroundings using machine learning.
Google says you can adjust the equalizer settings to suit the acoustics of your room for the most balanced sound, which might sound silly, but Sonos has been offering this with Trueplay for a while now and it really works.
What’s even better is that two Home Max speakers can be paired together for a dual-speaker stereo setup.
Google only recommends placing them at 3m.
So if you want an even more massive sound, it’s available.
It can be a bit pricey though, with each speaker costing £399 ($399), but the Google Home app lets you group the Home Max with other Cast-enabled speakers for multi-room audio, if that’s more convenient for you.
What audio sources does Home Max play?
- Stream songs over Wi-Fi from compatible apps
- Play songs via Bluetooth from your mobile device
- Connect to a device via a stereo AUX cable
Home Max lets you stream songs over Wi-Fi from compatible apps on your phone or laptop, and play songs over Bluetooth from your mobile device.
You can also connect it to your turntable via a stereo AUX cable.
Home Max is a standard Cast speaker, so it is compatible with Google’s Cast protocol and will work with various compatible services.
You’ll find a full list of supported apps and services here, but some of the most popular are YouTube, Google Play Music, Spotify, and Pandora.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t stream from Apple Music, though as we’ve said, you can always stream to the speaker via Bluetooth or connect it to an older iPhone via the 3.5mm jack on the back.
How well does Home Max hear you?
- It has six far-field microphones
- Will not hear you at higher volumes
- A Max only responds when there are two paired
Home Max has six far-field microphones so it can hear your voice commands from across the room… in theory.
Like most smart speakers, this works well in certain situations.
For example, if the house is quiet, it will hear you.
If there are a couple of people talking nearby, it will listen to you.
But if it’s playing at a higher volume, forget it.
You will have to yell at him to hear you.
And, most of the time, it won’t even work.
You will have to physically reach out and tap the strip to lower the volume.
Also, we tried putting the Home Max next to our 65-inch LG 4K TV, but for some reason it couldn’t hear us at all if the TV was on and making any sound.
How does Assistant work on Home Max?
- Works as Assistant in Home and Home Mini
- Play music, control smart devices and much more
- Connects to other Google Home devices like Chromecast
The Google Assistant on the Home Max works just like the Assistant on the Home, Home Mini, Nest Hub, and Nest Hub Max.
You can use it to play music, ask Google questions, control smart home devices, connect to other Google Home devices (like Chromecast and Chromecast Audio), and much more.
We mainly use the Assistant in Home Max to play YouTube videos on our 4K TV (via Chromecast Ultra), turn our basement heating on or off (via TP Link smart outlet), and get updates about the weather and News.
Assistant is a lot like Amazon’s Alexa, but it’s much better at contextual conversational commands and finding information on the web.
The Google Home Max offers the most sound, but it’s also oversized and overpriced.
However, if you’re tied to the Google ecosystem (not Amazon Alexa) and want premium sound, then it’s a potentially perfect fit.