I just heard a demo of the Google Home Max speaker. I won’t say it sounds better than Apple’s HomePod speaker, but it does sound bigger. Product manager James Howarth said Google has been working on the speaker for about a year.
The speaker differs from the HomePod because it has two drivers (4.5 inches each) instead of just one, and there’s a tweeter in each upper corner of the device. It’s a large squarish device that sits on a table or shelf. It has a touch bar on the top for controlling volume. Four lights on the top show you when the Google Assistant inside is listening and responding to requests. Even when the music is playing loudly, the microphones can pick out your voice when you ask the Assistant to do something. And it can distinguish your voice from someone else’s in the household.
Here’s Howarth giving the demo after Google’s big product announcement in San Francisco today:
The two speaker sets in the Max are able to split the left and right channels so that one speaker delivers stereo sound. If you have Max speakers, you can assign the left channel to one and right channel to the other for a full-room stereo sound. Or the same music can be synced to multiple speaker devices (Google Home, Google Home Mini) throughout the home.
Like the HomePod, the Max uses microphones to collect data about the audio environment it’s sitting in, then makes adjustments to the sound frequencies to fit the room. For instance, if the Max is placed in a corner of the room it might reduce the bass to prevent a boomy sound caused by large low-frequency waves bouncing off the walls.
The new Google Home Max will become available in December for $399.