Google Home Max Review: Best Of Both Worlds
This is my review of the new Google Home Max but you might have forgotten about it since its announcement a couple of weeks ago. So let me refresh your memory on exactly what it is. So we already had Google home Mini, the little donut-sized-puck speaker which is for 49$ & then there is Google Home, it’s about as large as the large coffee mug with the price tag of 119$. And then we have Google Home Max and it’s probably the size of a watermelon, pretty heavy too and it will cost about 399$.
So, the design here is pretty solid. Inside its dual 4.5 inch woofers behind the mesh here and then dual point 7-inch tweeters. So right off the bat, the biggest advantage to Home Max, having this cabinet that’s so big with so much more space. It has dedicated drivers with dedicated frequencies. I want sideways here with landscape mode, these drivers will give you stereo audio which pretty much no other smart speaker does. Apple Home Pod won’t even do that from what I’ve been told. It’s a pretty simple looking speaker. It just blends in with the surrounding. you don’t really want it to be too flashy after all. It comes in two colors; Black & White. You got these lights in the middle of the mesh and there really are no buttons up at the front or sides. Just a single touch bar at the top. You slide left and right to adjust the volume and you can touch in the middle to play/pause, simple as that. It sits on the magnetic circular pad that it comes with. It’s pretty dense and then there are some magnets in the bottom of the speaker and it just kind of slaps on to the bottom and acts as an isolation pad so it doesn’t rumble whatever surface it’s on, which is pretty cool. You have that in a lot of high-end speakers that sits on bookshelves or desktops so its cool that it comes with that. What’s even cooler is that if for some reason, you buy two of these, you can set them up vertically like bookshelf speakers and they pair with each other and each one is a channel in a stereo audio so you can get some real separation and these little isolation pads just slaps on the side so that they can stand up and look great and the volume control will work with the correct orientation as well, which is pretty great. If you accidentally turn the speakers upside down, you’ll get a warning message ‘The Google Home is Upside Down, it’ll work best if you turn it over’.
The Rest of the hardware, if you flip it around to the back, you’ll find at the top, your switch. I wanted it to be a button because, on the Google Home Mini, you could get out of sync but you cant meet the mics with just your voice anymore so it’s just a switch so I guess that’s less confusing. At the bottom corner, you get your headphone jack to plug in an external audio source, A USB-C port (Sweet!), I don’t know what I’d use it for exactly but sweet. I plugged my phone in, it charged which is cool but that’s about it, and then you have the power cable. What I do like about the cable, it has a small end to it, meaning the power circuits are all on the speakers itself so it leaves room for other stuff at your power outlet unlike other Google Homes.
Now, let’s get to the major part of it, which is, how does it sound? It is a 400$ premium smart speaker so it better sound great. Well, it does sound great. It gets ridiculously loud, the speakers are 20 times more powerful than other Google Home Speakers which is nuts. When you’re talking to the assistant, it literally sounds like there is another person in the room with you, its kind of trippy. You get all the benefits of the dedicated drivers though when you just listen to music at full blast. It’s ridiculously loud obviously and unless they’re playing music for a party you’ll probably never use it this loud and it does distort a bit at this volume but at 70-75% volume, it sounds GREAT and is still pretty damn loud. It has a lot of rich punchy bass and a nice clarity to everything across the board and that’s also where these microphones come in. First of all, I need those mics to hear you say commands from like 20+ feet away from the music it’s already playing pretty loud and it does a pretty good job at that. But it also uses those mics for what its called ‘Smart Sound’. When the speakers get big enough, they can produce frequencies so low that they literally bounce off the walls in the room you’re in. I’m sure you’ve been in a room where the sound just resonates everywhere and overpowers everything else. This is supposed to eliminate that. It uses the microphone to measure the acoustics of the room it’s in, figures out how close the nearest wall is so it doesn’t overpower you with bass and then makes its adjustments accordingly. It doesn’t seem to make a drastic difference to me in the way it sounds, it sounds good anyway but the idea is really smart its machine learning. The speakers like to be in the corner of a room in the first place. It’s not omnidirectional speaker like the home mini or like a 360’ sound. All the audio is going in one direction so you tend to put it near a wall or somewhere in the corner and then let it fill the room from there. You can also control the sound via the app. So, if you want more or less bass, you can do that pretty easily. It’s kind of hyper-smart premium. You’re just dragging in the best of both worlds. Most smart speakers like the Alexa and other Googles Homes don’t have the nice rich high-quality sound and stereo speakers but most high-quality systems don’t have the machine learning and the Google assistant built-in.
I really like this thing, I’m not going to lie. I already liked the original Google Home. This thing does all the exact same stuff the Google Home does but sounds a million times better. It just makes me more likely to use it more. Now, is this thing really worth the money with the price tag of 400 bucks? It’s not an instant buy for most people. I say wait until the Apple Home Pod comes out not because you might buy that instead but that’s supposed to come out of 350$ and once it does, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the price drop of this machine to match that. They’re still pretty different in a lot of ways. Google assistant is way better than Siri, HomePods are half the size but it will have some small audio features and I think that’ll make it competitive but if that does not convince you then you’re probably just better off getting the original Google Home.