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Google Home Max: sound to rival the Apple HomePod and Amazon Echo?

The first impressions of Google’s latest smart speaker, the Google Home Max, are in - could this be the best smart speaker for playing music yet?

The Google Home Max is Google’s second foray into the smart speaker market following the Google Home in 2017, and one of the highest-profile wireless speaker launches of 2018. We bring you our first impressions from the Which? lab.

Like the original Google Home, it too sports Google Assistant for controlling it with your voice, but this time Google aims to take on the Apple HomePod and Amazon Echo with a focus on maximising sound quality. But does it deliver?

Unlike cylindrical rivals such as the Amazon Echo and Apple HomePod, and the smaller Google Home before it, the Google Home Max takes on more of a traditional boxy speaker shape. Also in contrast to rivals, it has dual speaker units to produce stereo sound, with a high maximum volume and the potential to deliver a high degree of bass, plus a built-in equaliser to adjust the sound to your taste.

Best Buy wireless and Bluetooth speakers – see our current crop of the very best sounding speakers on the market.

The Google Home Max can either be placed horizontally or vertically, and there’s a choice of two colour schemes: Chalk with a grey speaker front and white surround, or Charcoal with a dark grey/black everywhere.

The Google Assistant voice assistant allows you to control the speaker hands-free with just your voice, so you don’t need to get out of your chair or even reach for a remote. Just tell it to play music and it will play.

To listen to music you can either upload it to Google Play Music or buy music through it, or you can use one of the built-in music streaming services: Spotify, YouTube Music or Pandora (these may require subscriptions). Even more music streaming services can be accessed by playing them from your smartphone through the speaker.

You can do more with the voice assistant as well, including setting calendar reminders and kitchen timers, asking for updates on the news, weather or traffic, and even making phone calls to most UK numbers (excluding premium rate numbers and emergency phone numbers such as 999).

Google Home Max sound quality

Google promises a major improvement in sound quality over the original Google Home – and its gigantic 5.3kg weight suggests it’s packing some serious kit to deliver on this, with the potential to pump out a great deal of bass if you want it to.

However, with the Google Home Max costing £399 – more than the Apple HomePod (£319) – and the original Google Home not being known for superior sound, Google still has to prove that it can produce quality audio.

We took a listen to the Google Home Max to see whether this speaker could really be the dream smart speaker for those looking for great-sounding, full-bodied and room-filling music.

Find out what we thought about its sound quality, plus how easy it is to use and more, in our Google Home Max first look review.

We’ll have full test results within the next two weeks so check back then to find out whether it’s a Best Buy speaker.

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