As Google Assistant makes its way into more speakers, you're free to be more selective in finding the best smart speaker for you. What matters most: price, sound quality, size or portability? If you're looking for a small, attractive and reasonably priced smart speaker that also sounds great, consider the Onkyo Smart Speaker G3.
Onkyo opted for a more traditional speaker aesthetic with the G3. Instead of the cylindrical form that's common on models such as the Google Home or JBL Link 20, the G3 looks like a standard rectangular bookshelf speaker. At 6.5 x 5.1 x 4.8 inches, it doesn't take up much room. The wood enclosure, stained in a glossy black (it also comes in white), houses a 3.1-inch woofer and 0.8-inch tweeter, and isn't an eyesore on the kitchen counter.
A baffled charcoal grill, which bulges out in the middle, covers the drivers. The top row of the grill features LEDs that indicate the volume level and Google Assistant status. When you say, "OK, Google," four white and one blue light pulse; annoyingly, the blue light constantly pulses to show that Google Assistant is active.
On top, you'll find controls for volume, play/pause, Bluetooth pairing and muting the microphone, although you can use your voice and Google Assistant to manage those things as well. To help you hear what you say, the G3 includes two microphones.
Unlike the Link 20, the G3 doesn't include a battery or any weatherproofing — it's designed to be an indoor-only speaker.
Google Assistant in the G3 was responsive to commands from across the room, and it can do almost everything that the Google Home or Google Home Max can. The speaker set a 15-minute timer, played music from Spotify, turned on a Wemo switch and queued up Jessica Jones to play on a Chromecast. However, it can't make calls — a limitation shared by all third-party smart speakers with Google Assistant.
For a small speaker, the G3 delivers excellent audio — in particular, full, detailed bass and clear vocals. It easily bests the Google Home and even sounds better than the JBL Link 20, though the Sonos One (which features Alexa) still sounds better overall.
The G3 produced thundering, resonant bass on The Weekend's "Pray For Me," while vocals by The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar remained clear; the same track on the Link 20 featured much less bass, while the Google Home had too much low end. The keyboards, bass, guitar and drums on the Decemberists' "Severed" were distinct in the mix, instead of sounding jumbled as they do with some smaller speakers. On acoustic songs such as Fleetwood Mac's "Never Going Back Again," it delivered a warm and realistic sound, although the treble wasn't as sharp as it is on a Sonos One.
Despite its size, the G3 gets really loud. I measured it at 95 decibels, compared to 90 decibels for the Link 20. And even at loud volumes, it doesn't distort, though the treble becomes harsh.
Wireless and Setup
Like Google Home devices, you set up the G3 through the Google Home app on your smartphone or tablet, and then connect the speaker to your Wi-Fi network. You can choose to connect it to a 2.4-Ghz or 5-Ghz Wi-Fi network — the latter isa nice option if you are streaming hi-res files. You can pair it via Bluetooth to listen to music not supported by Google Assistant, such as Apple Music.
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You can also enable multiroom listening through the Google Home app. However, you can't tweak the sound in any way — no adjustments to the treble or bass — and it doesn't offer automated room correction like Sonos' Trueplay or the Google Home Max.
If you're seeking a smart speaker that sounds great, doesn't take up much room and isn't outrageously expensive, the Onkyo Smart Speaker G3 hits that sweet spot. It has excellent bass and vocals, and can fill a large room with sound, despite its small size.
The $99 Google Home offers more features for less money, but doesn't sound as good, while the $399 Google Home Max is twice as large — and twice as expensive. The JBL Link 20 offers portability, but again, can't match the G3's audio quality. For music lovers looking for a reasonably priced smart speaker with Google Assistant, the Onkyo Smart Speaker G3 is the unit to get.
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