But that’s not really why you’d buy the Home Max in the first place. You buy it for the sound (which is great) and Assistant (also great). I primarily used the speaker horizontally, allowing it to produce a stereo image; flipping it vertically will run it in mono. If you buy a second Max and prop both up in portrait, they’ll create a stereo pair.

Getting the Max’s assistant features up and running takes no time at all. Simply download the Google Home app, pair the device, and you’re up and running. It’s a completely painless experience.

Setting up Assistant will let you do everything from currency conversions to controlling your smart home. If you have a Chromecast, you can control that, too. Best, and most important, is that Assistant will play music when you command it, whether it be through Google’s Play Music or Spotify. Either can be set as your default.

Once music is pumping, you can control the volume via a touch-sensitive bar or by using your voice. Using the bar is a little finicky and unpredictable, so I’d recommend adjusting it by saying, OK Google, change volume to 80 percent.

Remember that Smart Sound technology I mentioned? The one that dynamically adjusts the sound depending on where the Max is situated in your home. Well, the six microphones used for that feature also listens out for your voice. After two weeks of testing, there hasn’t been a single instance when the Max didn’t hear me, even with the music turned up.

Better yet, the Max can capably understand and respond to multiple users thanks to a feature known as Voice Match. Once set up, Google Assistant will recognize up to five people, so each member can get a personalized experience. It works beautifully, especially if you and your significant other don’t have the same taste in music.

Note: I’ve seen the Home Max frequently compared to the Sonos Play:5, which is about the same size as Google’s powerful speaker. While I’ve never had the pleasure of using the Play:5, I can tell you it’s not quite as useful because it doesn’t have any smart assistant technology. Whether you prioritize that will help determine which speaker to consider.



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