Google Assistant is an extremely powerful tool, but for many users, it’s mainly used for music. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, and in fact, it has become a major selling point for “smart speakers” with the Assistant built-in. Google recently put its “Home Max” up for sale with exactly that in mind, but at $399, it’s understandably out of reach for many users. There is a solid alternative, though, in the JBL Link 300…

Sound Quality

Obviously, the first thing we need to talk about with the JBL Link 300 is the sound quality. I’m happy to report that it’s absolutely fantastic. It has two 25W speakers with one 89mm woofer and one 20mm tweeter. In short, the sound quality is epic with great bass and just excellent quality overall.

The volume is impressive as well. In my apartment, I couldn’t comfortably put the speaker above 70% without worrying about really annoying the neighbors. As a point of reference, the Link 300 is considerably louder than the standard Google Home, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it’s louder than something like your typical TV soundbar.

Since this is a WiFi and Bluetooth speaker, you’ve also got plenty of options to play your tunes. Google Play Music, Spotify, Pandora, and the like all work with Cast or Assistant integration, and you can connect via Bluetooth to stream local music from your phone. JBL even throws in 3 months of Play Music when you register your speaker.

Google Assistant Integration

One of the biggest selling points on the Link 300, though, is Google Assistant integration. Just like a Google Home, the JBL Link 300 supports always-listening “Ok Google” or “Hey Google” commands. These work identically to Google Home, meaning you can ask it to stream music, play things on your Chromecast-enabled TV, control smart home lights and appliances, or ask any question your brain thinks up.

One thing I was worried about with a third-party Assistant speaker was the voice recognition. Thankfully, JBL has done great work here. The Link 300 not only hears me over playing music, but I honestly think it hears me more accurately than my standard Google Home does, especially with the “Hey Google” command.

What are you losing with this against a Google Home Max?

The obvious comparison with the JBL Link 300 is Google’s Home Max. These are both powerful speakers, but Home Max does have advantages. For one, it’s louder and produces clearer sound thanks to its superior audio specifications.

However, it also has the ability to shape the sound it outputs to best suit the room and its location. That’s something the Link 300 simply doesn’t do. Another thing you’re losing with the Link is calling, as third-party Assistant speakers cannot utilize this functionality.

Final Thoughts

Google Assistant speakers are popping up left and right at the moment, so you’ve got a lot of options. If, however, the sound quality is your biggest selling point, there aren’t as many. JBL’s Link 300 is certainly one of the best and while it can’t quite match what the Google Home offers, I’d say it’s a worthy alternative at half the price. Retail on the Link 300 lands at $249, but right now you can score one for just $199 at most retailers.

Where to Buy

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About the Author

Ben Schoon

Ben is a writer and video producer for 9to5Google.

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