GEAR REVIEW: The Google Max Is The Best Sounding Smart Speaker In The Game
In middle school, I was obsessed with the Crutchfield catalog. I poured over the beautiful stereo systems and home theaters in those gloss pages, dreaming about upgrading my chintzy, hand-me-down bookshelf system for something that made my burgeoning CD collection sound like it was meant to sound: Deep and rich with bass at mid-volume without a tweeter tweaking out on the highs. It took me about a year to save $300 from various odd jobs for mid-tier Technics receiver + speaker combo (…this exact same one), with about 80 watts of power in each speaker channel. Hooking that system up in my parents’ basement was damn near euphoric; the audio quality was so warm and crisp, breathing new life into the hodgepodge of rock-n-roll records I had in my collection at the time: Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Zeppelin, etc.
A house isn’t a home until you can fill it with Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl” at full volume, feeling Crazy Horse bassist Billy Talbot thump the floor boards to the point where you’re concerned about the neighbors paying a visit. Great music is best enjoyed loud, on a speaker system that gives you the ability to pick out the sonic layers that give a composition depth and soul.
A few weeks ago, I brought home the new Google Max, Google’s answer to a premium, HiFi smart speaker. After a couple taps and synching it to my streaming accounts and WIFI via Google’s easy-to-use Home App, I made my command as clear as day:
“Hey Google… Play Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.”
“Now playing Neil Young’s Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere….”
And on a three count, Google Max kicks it to Google Music for the glorious opening power chords to my beloved “Cinnamon Girl”, one of the great rock album openers of all time. Over the next 40 minutes and 29 seconds, I sat there on my couch basking in crunchy, red-blooded Stratocaster fuzz, wrapped in all those punchy guitar solos like a warm blanket.
As an audiophile, the Google Max captures all the highs and lows from Neil Young’s euphonious 1969 album with Crazy Horse – Two 18mm tweeters leave high-octave vocal harmonies razor sharp while two 4.5-inch woofers bellow out the ominous thump in “Cowgirl in the Sand.”