Sony LF-S50G - A Better Google Home

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I’m a really big fan of the google home mini, I’m also a really big fan of the google home max… but I’m not the biggest fan go the original google home. It just doesn’t sound good for listening to music. And I think Google really needs to release a redesigned google home with an emphasis on sound quality, cause I really just use my Google Home for voice commands and at which point might as well just replace it with a google home mini. But if you want a mid sized smart speaker, I really think the Sony LF-S50G is an awesome alternative to the Google Home. 

The Sony LF-S50G is Sony’s first google assistant integrated smart speaker. When it was first released it retailed for $199.99 but  now you can find it for $149.99 at most places. During the holiday season I even saw it for as low as $100. But still, if you get it for $149.99 its just $20 more than the original google home. And it comes in two colors, black or white. If you want to pick either of the speakers featured in this video I’ll have links in the description below, and if you use the links it really helps out the channel. 

OK, lets get over the obvious… yes the Sony looks almost exactly like an Apple HomePod. And personally I don’t mind, its smaller, a little slimmer, and much lighter than the HomePod. And it also has a fabric outer shell. But this Sony smart speaker is slightly bigger than the google home. Just like the google home the Sony has 360 degree sound, but it also has an led clock display which is something I always thought the google home was missing and instead of touch controls the Sony uses gesture controls to control your music playback and activate google assistant. The only buttons this smart speaker has is a bluetooth button, a mute button, and a dim button to lower the brightness of the clock display on the front. Unfortunately the Sony LF-S50G doesn’t have an aux jack. The only way to listen to music on this speaker is either through voice commands, if you cast it, or over bluetooth. And theres also an NFC touchpoint so if you have an android device pairing is a little easier. 

Now lets talk about the gesture controls cause those can be very hit or miss if they’re not properly built into the product. If you swipe up you’ll play or pause you music, if you swipe down you’ll activate your google assistant, if you swipe right you’ll skip a track and if you swipe  left you’ll go back a track. And to adjust the volume you just make clockwise or counter clockwise circles with your finger. In order for the swipes to work your palm has to be flat and in order to adjust the volume the circles have to be directly over the Sony logo. And once you get a hang for the gestures they work 9 out of ten times. 

Personally one of my biggest grips with the google home, home mini, and home max is that you cant physically control your music playback, google forces you to use voice commands. And only the Google home allows you to touch and hold to activate google assistant where as with the Mini and Max you’re forced to use the hot word. Voice controls are cool and all but sometimes using manual controls is just the simplest solution, and thats why I like this Sony speaker so much, I can simply use the voice commands but if I want to I also have full control with the gestures. And when it comes to voice recognition, the Sony Smart speaker picks up my voice just as well as my google home and home mini. If you’re playing music at higher volumes either of these smart speakers are going to have a problem hearing you. 

Usually when using a third party google assistant smart speaker it means not having all of the features found the the google home, home mini, and max. Most notably broadcasting and making phone calls. Broadcasting works just fine on this Sony speaker, but you cant make phone calls like you can with either of the first party speakers. This feature could possibly come in a feature software update. 

OK, now lets talk about tech specs and speaker set up. The Sony LF-S50G is rock bluetooth 4.2 and has a stable connection up to 40 feet… pretty standard. Its IPX 3 rated so a little splash of water wont hurt it and its fabric shell is removable. Inside theres a single upward facing 1.89 inch diameter speaker, and a downward facing 2.09 inch dimeter subwoofer matted to a bass reflux duct and between the two theres a diffuser that helps evenly spread out all of the sound. For comparison, the Google Home has a a single frontward facing 2 inch diameter transducer and dual 2 inch diameter passive radiators. Even though the google home is a 360 speaker, after living with it for a few months its still pretty directional, for the best sound you want that transducer firing towards you. 

Obviously the JBL Pulse 3 is the best sound speaker here. Its has a far superior speaker set up. My problem with the google home is that it has way too much bass and it just pushes all of the mid and vocals to the back. I feel the Google home is only worth using if you’re strictly going to listen to EDM. The Sony on the other hand has a much more even sound signature. Theres still a good amount of bass but the mids are also very well defined. But the Sony isn’t perfect, it also suffers a good amount of sound distortion if you get above 85 percent volume. 

But even though I really do like Sony’s first smart speaker there is room for improvement. First up I hate the included power cable. The cable it self is too short and cheap and the plug is almost twice as big as the Google Home’s. Something I’ve noticed lately with smart speakers is that their power cables are just as premium as the speaker themselves, all of google’s cable are covered in soft touch rubber, Mini’s and Max’s plugs are very small and the Homepod’s cable is covered in fabric. This is the same issue I have with the JBL link 10 and Link 20. Also, I feel Sony should have included an ambient light sensor so the LED display on the front will automatically adjust itself. I also think Sony should get more use out of the LED display in general. Right now it only displays time and volume, I would like to see it be used for timers, notifications, and maybe even display the current outside temperature. 

But still really do prefer the Sony LF-S50G over the Original Google Home. Personally I think this smart speaker is best suited for the kitchen. It looks good and it has a very small foot print… I just wish I could use the front display for my kitchen timers when I’m cooking. Since it sounds way better than the Google Home I do find myself listening to music again while cooking. If google is working on a next gen google home they should take this concept and improve on it with better sound, the addition of a USB C port so I can have the option charge my own device, and maybe a more useful display.