Google Home Max test: Decent sound for steep price

With Google Home Max the tech giant is taking on smart speakers from the likes of Apple and Sonos. We put one to the test.

Weighing in at just under 5.5kg and made of matt white plastic with a grey fabric covering, the speaker fits quite well with self-assembly furniture from Sweden.

It’s not the first speaker from Google – there was already the Google Home and Google Home Mini – but the Google Home Max is aimed squarely at audiophiles as well as homeowners.

Setup is very simple. Turn it on, wait a moment while the four colourful LEDs flash, then go to the Google Home app, link the device to your account, enter your WiFi password and you’re done.

The speaker can be activated by the phrases “Hey Google” and “OK Google”. It can play radio stations on demand and stream your favourite music via streaming services like Spotify, Play Music or YouTube Music Unlimited. It can also give reminders, for example, if you were cooking something.

For this to work, the Home Max uses an array of microphones to listen for its activation command. All voice commands are recorded and sent to Google where they’re stored in a user’s account.

For a single speaker, the Google Home Max sounds pretty good. It has plenty of bass and a decent mid-range but can sound a little washed-out at the heights. The higher the volume, the clearer the sound.

Music volume and playback can be controlled by voice command but there’s also a touchscreen for doing this.

Voice commands are useful for things like turning on the radio in the morning, listening to the news or checking the weather forecast. They can also be used to control smart home technology such as lights, thermostats and televisions.

However, if you don’t want to be talking to the speaker all the time a lot of actions can also be carried out using the Google Home app for iOS and Android.

All in all, the Home Max is a useful extension of Google’s speaker portfolio. The sound is decent and setup and operation are easy.

However, at around US$450 (RM1,862) the Home Max is not exactly in the entry-level segment of the market and there’s no shortage of competing products with Google Assistant, Siri or Alexa on board.