Google hands audio crown to Echo Studio as it kills the Home Max

Google's hi-fi focused smart speaker is being 'retired', but existing units will keep working

Google Home Max
(Image credit: Future)

The Google Home Max has been the company's best-sounding smart speaker since its launch in 2017 – we liked it so much we gave it the full five stars in our Google Home Max review – but now it's been officially 'retired', which is gentle corporate speak for saying Google took it round the back of the wood shed and came back alone.

The speaker launched at $399/£399, then came down to $299/£299, before becoming available for just $199/£199 in recent sales, which is a lot of sound quality for the price. It turns out this was because Google was looking to sell out of them, and won't be making any more.

In a statement given to AndroidPolice, Google said:

"We’ve sold out of Google Home Max and will no longer be manufacturing the device. With the launch of Nest Audio, we’re offering a range of great home audio solutions, particularly with two Nest Audios paired for stereo sound.

Existing Google Home Max users shouldn’t worry as they won’t see any change in their service. We'll continue to offer software updates and security fixes to Google Home Max devices. We're committed to delivering great sound and whole home audio features across all of our Assistant-enabled products."

It's a big shame to see one of the best smart speakers disappear from sale this way – the Home Max's two custom tweeters and 4.5-inch high-excursion woofers were a really impressive combination.

If you happen to see any remaining Home Max units selling for $200/£200 or under, they're probably worth snapping up, assuming Google keeps its promise to support them with software updates.

What are the alternatives?

In the statement above, you might notice that Google suggests people might buy two Nest Audio devices instead of a single Home Max. The Nest Audio has one tweeter and one woofer, meaning two of them does technically give you the same number of drivers as a Home Max, but… well, in our Nest Audio review we noted that the sound quality is good, but not great. The choice of drivers here just doesn't match what the Home Max was capable of.

Our pick for a Home Max alternative would be the Sonos One, which offers both Google Assistant and Alexa for voice control. The audio quality is way beyond what the Nest Audio can manage, and a pair doesn't take up too much space.

If you don't mind switching to Alexa, the Echo Studio is the Alexa equivalent to the Home Max – in that it's a bigger, more expensive and better-sounding version of the regular Echo – and even includes some next-gen 3D audio tech, including Dolby Atmos support.

Overall, the best-sounding smart speaker with a remotely affordable price is the Apple HomePod, but this is no good if you're deep into the Google ecosystem – it only uses Siri, with no Google Assistant option, and requires an iPhone or iPad to set up.