Astro A40 + MixAmp Pro
OK GOOGLE, LET’S ROCK
Google’s big bad Home Max speaker is now onsale in Australia (Harvey’s JB, Of ceworks, Good Guys etc – basically everywhere). It builds upon the now quite re ned Google Assistant and Google Home tech and lumps in some serious audio engineering. It’s the largest, most sonically powerful
(and most expensive) Google Home speaker. The aim – to make it the complete home music machine that also exists as the centerpiece of your home AI network.
It’s a machine of two parts. There is its job as a speaker, and how good that sounds at that, and also its functionality as a Google Home device. Because Google Home is a technology you get in this box, but is in actuality is something that umbrellas across many products – including your Android phone and the many third-party AI speakers – that aspect is really an independent adjunct to this product. However, it’s a critical part of it and there’s relevance to how Google has improved its engineering of the hardware to work well with the little talking robot voice.
For the Home Max, Google has a new SoundSense technology. In respect to Google Home it’s able to cleverly identify your voice commands even when there’s very loud music playing, even if you almost whisper, and do that from another room. It’s quite magical to mumble “Hey Google, play some Cat Stevens” from the kitchen right when Led Zepp is blasting. It can’t do this trick when the volume is coming from a source Google didn’t initiate, like a loud TV, but that just underlines how sophisticated SoundSense is, in being able to isolate your voice so effectively when it knows what’s going on.
The other SoundSense trickery is that is tailors the audio output to optimize for the room and its particular acoustic characteristics. It does this whenever it’s powered on just in case something has changed. Other devices can do this so it’s not unique, but this was once audiophile territory that requires time consuming semi-manual calibration.
Inside are two 114mm woofers and a pair of 18mm tweeters, all in a very sturdy and weighty shell, free of branding. Across the top are quick access touch controls, with a long area running across the top that you brush your ngers across to raise or lower the volume. Very nice.
Its closest competitors are the Sonos Play:5, which is pricier at $749, yet has six speaker drivers compared to the Home Max’s four and is an Amazon Alexa ecosystem product. Or, there’s the Apple HomePod, similarly priced at $499. The HomePod also tailors its sound to the environment it’s in. It a sonic face off, though, the Home Max wins. Its audio is a slightly more neutral and natural sound but (perhaps) more importantly, can hold its quality at higher volume levels. There’s more than enough volume at hand than any apartment dweller (or their neighbours) will ever need. The bass in particular is very well mannered. This is no ribthumper, instead it’s a tighter more de ned bass that by design won’t blur the rest of the sound stage.
At medium volume levels there’s less in it compared to the HomePod, but audio is far from the whole story. Google Home is simply legging it away from the competition for what a voice-controlled AI assistant is capable of.
When teamed up with a Chromecast – or any Google Homecompatible speaker for that matter – it can be the new thing you talk at to command your TV to do things. While the smartphone app is still useful for seeing what’s happening, browsing content and con guring things, it’s plainly nicer to be able to give your TV orders by voice.
Google’s punched out a most impressive bit of audio kit, and one that’s going to transform your life it it’s your rst entry into the world of Google Home. Even if you currently run a smaller Home speaker, the imposing size and room lling audio of the Max make the experience feel more tangibly satisfying.
“This is no rib-thumper, instead it’s a tighter more defined bass”