Google Home Max Review Roundup: What Critics Love and Hate

The Google Home Max ($399) is designed to blow other smart speakers away in terms of sound quality. But what do reviewers think?

Credit: Google

(Image credit: Google)

The smart speaker, which works with Google Assistant, delivers booming audio thanks to its dual 4.5-inch woofers and custom tweeters. And because of its Smart Sound feature, the Home Max can automatically tweak the equalizer settings to match your room's acoustics.

When it's all said and done, the price is high for something that doesn't have a display, but that cost might be easier to swallow than you think.

Read on to hear what the critics are saying about Google Home Max.

CNET

Credit: Chris Monroe/CNET

(Image credit: Chris Monroe/CNET)

CNET reviewer Ty Pendlebury had mostly positive things to say about the Google Home Max in his review. He said he was impressed by the speaker's sound and, although he called the Google Home Maxt a little on the expensive side, he awarded it a score of 8.1 out of 10.

"Although too expensive for mass appeal, the Google Home Max is the best-sounding smart speaker yet."

The Good

"The Google Home Max is not the first smart speaker to aim for better audio quality, but it sounds better than any of the ones I've heard."

"The Max's real competition includes high-end 'dumb' single speakers like the Sonos Play:5 and Bose SoundTouch 30. In my comparison listening tests, Google's big speaker beat the Bose handily and matched the Sonos in many areas, with a powerful, spacious sound that fills a room well for a single speaker."

"By itself, the Google Home Max is an excellent speaker, especially if you're already invested in Google's system and want it to anchor a multiroom setup."

The Bad

"The sound can be a little too revealing, and guitar lines in particular can sound a little too piercing for comfort."

"Despite the self-tuning capabilities of the Google speaker, I found that I needed to tweak it a little, especially when [the speaker was] sitting on [a] table in free space."

"Is the Google Home Max the speaker that will tempt audiophiles away from their two-channel systems? In a word, no. This is a single-box speaker and subject to all the compromises that type of form factor introduces."

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Wired

Credit: Google

(Image credit: Google)

Over at Wired, Michael Calore similarly said he was impressed by the Google Home Max's outstanding sound. He also touted the device's stereo support and said that its easy setup was a selling point. But like some of the other reviewers, he said he wasn't so pleased with the speaker's price. Still, he gave the Google Home Max a score of 8 out of 10.

"The Google Home Max sounds just fantastic."

The Good

"It's a big speaker, powerful and dramatic. It's deep and weighty on the bottom, clear everywhere else, and well-rounded overall. It's voice is better than I expected and also much louder. As much as I wanted to turn it up while I was testing it, I kept nervously nudging the volume down because it puts out such a wallop."

"Ask it to run web searches, tell it to adjust your Nest thermostat, request that it play a video on your Chromecast-ready television or demand that it spool up your reggaeton Spotify playlist, and it delivers. These extra capabilities are what make it worth $400 (and yes, it is worth it, if you're a Google person)."

The Bad

"If you're indebted to another cloud-based domestique, look elsewhere. As good as the Max sounds, it's really only truly useful if you and the Assistant are besties."

"Really shines when Google Assistant is native on your mobile phone — users of iOS may not see as many benefits."

Credit: Juliana Chokkattu/Digital Trends

(Image credit: Juliana Chokkattu/Digital Trends)

Digital Trends staff members gave the Google Home Max a score of 8 out of 10 in their review. They said that the speaker offers "powerful sound with gobs of bass" and its Google Assistant integration is a welcome feature. Still, they wrote that they didn't like its price and thought this speaker would have been better if it could "work as a wireless TV sound bar."

"The Google Home Max is the smart speaker of choice for those who want huge sound for a seriously fun time."

The Good

"If you crave a powerful speaker with massive amounts of bass and rock-solid overall sound, the Google Max is what you're looking for."

"We may have been balking at that $400 price tag from afar, but every cent of that sum is paid back with what the speaker can do to rock a party."

"How does it sound? Impressively loud, and sound signature is huge on bass. Like, insane amounts of bass. It's even more impressive when you pair one Max with another for stereo audio."

The Bad

"The downside of the Max could be its price tag. At $400, it's more expensive than the upcoming Apple HomePod, which aims to offer high-quality audio playback and quick access to Siri. Even the recently announced Sony LF-S50G is just $200, and that product builds on the company's heritage and history in the music space."

"Unlike it's little sisters, the Google Home and Home Mini, this device is heavy and bulky. You'll want to make sure that it's in a secure place in your home, as it might not survive an accidental fall."

USA Today

Credit: Google

(Image credit: Google)

Edward Baig at USA Today took two Google Home Max units for a spin to see how they would sound both individually and together in stereo sound. His verdict? They sounded great, he said.

"If you care more about your smart speaker's sound than which digital assistant it employs, the new Google Home Max speaker should be on your holiday short list."

The Good

"After days of pumping an eclectic range of music through Google's $399 speaker — from AC/DC to the Three Tenors — it's clear the Google Home Max is in a class by itself when it comes to filling a home or apartment with sounds even an audiophile could appreciate."

"I was impressed with the deep bass across an eclectic mix of music as well, ranging from Rockstar by Post Malone featuring 21 Savage to You Know I'm No Good by Amy Winehouse."

"All kinds of music — jazz, classical, classic rock, hip-hop, pop, Broadway — sounded terrific, whether cranked up high or played at more modest volume levels."

The Bad

"The downsides: It's big, heavy, cord-powered and not particularly portable."

"This bookshelf speaker is big and, at nearly 12 pounds, rather heavy, so it's not meant to be moved around a lot. There's also no battery, so it must be plugged in."

"My biggest beef though came when I stopped playing a song and asked the Assistant to respond to a verbal query. The Assistant's speaking volume was often much lower than that of the music, meaning I had to either ask the Assistant out loud to raise the volume or walk over to the speaker and slide my finger against a volume control."