Google took the wraps off a new high-end smart speaker on Wednesday, a $400 device aimed at audiophiles that turns up the heat in the competition with Apple, Amazon and Sonos.
The new speaker, which goes on sale in December, is called Google Max.
It looks a lot like a Sonos Play 5 speaker:
And there’s a good reason for that!
Google Home Max is a high-end smart speaker aimed at people who care more about sound quality than cost. If you’re balking at the $400 price, that’s probably because this speaker isn’t meant for you. Google showed off the speaker by trotting out Diplo, a DJ who’s especially popular with audiophiles.
More than just a speaker, though, Google Home Max is also a “smart” speaker – meaning it’s a voice-controlled device that has Google Assistant built in. You can ask it how far away Pluto is from Earth, or you can ask it directions, or what the weather is like today, or whatever else – but where it really shines is when you ask it to play music.
That puts it in direct competition with Apple’s forthcoming HomePod, which is also leaning on sound quality as a differentiator, as well as the new Amazon Echo Plus.
Like the other Google Home devices, Max works with services like Spotify and Apple Music so you can say, “Hey Google, play ‘Drops of Jupiter’ by Train” and it’ll play that song. It won’t even make fun of you for listening to “Drops of Jupiter” by Train or anything.
Google Home Max is a large speaker, and it’s housing some serious hardware behind that friendly facade.
There are two 4.5-inch woofers, and a gaggle of tweeters behind that – Google says it’s “twenty times more powerful” than the original Google Home. Since it’s focused on serious music heads, Google Home Max has a line-in port so you can plug in whatever you want. And as you might imagine, Google Home Max works with other Google Home devices.
The new Google Home Max arrives in December, and it costs $400. When it does arrive, it’ll come in two colors: “chalk” and “charcoal.” If you’re interested, here’s hoping you’re in the US – the Google Home Max is a US exclusive until “early next year” when it starts shipping elsewhere.