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Review #IFA18 4 min read 4 comments

Google Home Max: Okay Google, louder!

Google recently presented its Google Home Max smart speaker at IFA 2018 in Berlin. It was finally time for Google to also make the top model of its Home series available in Europe. We were able to get a first-hand look, and all our early impressions are here!

Nothing wrong with the price

The Google Home Max comes at a price of $399. You can choose between the chalk and charcoal variants.

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Google Home Max - a grey  mouse./ © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

Big and unassuming

You can describe the design of the Google Home Max as conspicuously inconspicuous . The front is completely covered with fabric, and the casing is made of sturdy plastic. There’s a touch bar at the top that lets you turn the volume up or down or pause playback.

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Google Home Max in a box: The touch bar is easy to see here. / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

On the back, there’s a switch that you can use to turn off the microphones. There’s also a USB-C port for charging your smartphone.

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Google Home Max comes with a few connection options. / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

You can choose whether you want to set up the Google Home Max vertically or horizontally. Either way, this doesn’t have much effect on the sound. Personally, I preferred the horizontal position, since it seemed somewhat unstable vertically.

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The Google Home Max can also stand up. / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

Setup via Google Home

You can set up the device via the Google Home app and it’s very intuitive .

  • Connect the Google Home Max
  • Launch the Google Home app
  • Wait until the Google Home Maxis ready to be set up
  • Follow the instructions
  • Set up streaming services for Google Home

One the Google Home Max hears the command “Okay Google” or “Hey Google”. If you say “Okay Google, play my Spotify playlist ‘August 2018’”, it will directly start playing it. Alternatively, music or other audio content can be sent to the loudspeaker through a Chromecast protocol.

You can also say, “Ok Google, play Rock’n’Roll Train from AC/CD” or “Ok Google, louder!”...

 

Volume is the key

The Google Home Max can get real loud . So loud that it be used in a normal living room all by itself. What’s even better is that you won’t notice any distortion, even at the highest levels, and it doesn’t matter what music you play. The Google Home Max can handle any taste in music. The two 4.5 speakers do a great job.

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A look at the structure of the Home Max. / © Google

Google also developed its own tweeters to deliver crystal-clear highs. Google has kept that promise too. The speaker delivers powerful bass and clear highs. Perhaps the highs are too clear, since in the middle of the frequency spectrum, the music is less accentuated. And sometimes you might find the highs a bit too aggressive.

After listening to music on another Bluetooth speaker (Marshall Stanmore) and a hi-fi system for a while, the limitations of the Home Max become apparent: the sound is very high and less detailed. With the help of the equalizer in the Home app, it’s possible to reduce the treble, which in my opinion improves the sound quality considerably. But in general, the loudspeakers aren't the best I've ever heard.

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Google Home Max: Not so flashy, but really loud. / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

But Google has a few tricks up its sleeve. It also offers Smart sounds, which will tune the sound to the current acoustics in the room - within seconds. Machine learning algorithms adjust the sound depending on whether the Home Max is next to a wall or in the middle of a room. This will happen completely automatically. Google demonstrates the effect in the following video:

We’ll need to do a few more tests to see how Smart Sound works in greater detail. You can use the Google Home app to pair two Google Home Max speakers into a stereo system, or combine the Home Max with other Home speakers to create a multi-room setup.

Early Verdict

Loud, powerful and a bit too heavy on the treble: that’s how the sound of the Google Home Max can be characterized. Of course, it’s great that the speaker has Google Assistant, and the integration is flawless. But on the other hand, the Google Home and Google Home Mini are also sufficient for the pure Assistant services. If you usually use Assistant for music playback, you’ll find the Google Home Max to be a complete overall package.

For rich sound, the Google Home Max is definitely good. The playback is good for background music and many other purposes. The speaker only reaches its limits when you started looking into the fine details. You’ll just have to ask yourself if the audio and smart assistant functions are worth the price.

What do you think of the Google Home Max? Drop us a line in the comments!

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