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Pair your Google Home speakers to uplevel your computer or TV

Connecting a pair of Google Home or Nest Home speakers can transform your laptop and TV listening experience.

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If you have two Google Home or Nest Home smart speakers you can create a left/right stereo pairing -- even if they aren't the same color.

James Martin/CNET

Google Home ($69 at Walmart) and Nest Home smart speakers are already great at just being speakers -- especially since Google improved the Nest Mini internals to wring more bass out of the diminutive devices. However, a recent update now allows you to create left/right stereo speaker pairings that has really opened up the possibilities for what, where and how you can use your Google Home devices.

For example, who needs a dedicated soundbar when a pair of Google Nest Minis ($35 at Walmart), Google Homes or Google Home Maxes ($249 at Walmart) can give you sound that's just as crisp and clear and broadcast a bedtime reminder to your family? Or how about this -- whether you use a Mac, PC or Chromebook, a pair of Google Homes will sound just as good if not better than dedicated computer speakers.

For these uses and more, here are some ideas for taking advantage of Google Home's new stereo pairing feature as well as how to set them all up.

How to pair Google Home or Nest Home Minis

First things first -- Nest Home is Google's new name for Google Home, so your speakers may be called either. By pairing the two speakers in stereo, what you're actually doing is creating what's called left/right pairing. That means that you'll get more three-dimensional sound compared to what you'd hear from only one speaker (or two speakers paired in mono).

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Google tests the Google Home and Nest smart speakers, like this Nest Mini, in a lab, then tweaks their responsiveness to squeeze the most sound out of the small devices. 

James Martin/CNET

Before any of these will work, the first thing you'll have to do is create a speaker pair with two Google Home devices assigned to both left and right channels. Here's how to do it:

1. Open the Google Home app on your phone or tablet and tap on one of the two speakers you want to pair.

2. Tap the settings icon (the gear symbol) in the upper right corner.

3. Scroll down to Device settings and tap Speaker pair.

4. Choose the second device for your speaker pair and tap Next.

5. The first device you selected will start blinking -- in the app, select whether the blinking device should be used as the right or left channel (it doesn't matter which) and tap Next. The other speaker will automatically become the opposite channel you choose.

6. Name your new pair something (like "Google Home Speaker Pair") and tap Next.

7. Choose which home and room the speakers belong in, for example "Home" might be the name of your home and "Living room" may be the room where you're putting the speakers.

The pair will now show up as a single speaker on your Google Home app as well as broadcast a single Bluetooth or Chromecast ($40 at eBay) signal, so that you can connect to a computer or TV, as detailed below. Note also that only the left speaker will listen for "Hey, Google" or "OK, Google" commands, as the right speaker's microphone will be muted.

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You can pair two original Google Home speakers, two Google Home Maxes or two Google Home or Nest Minis, but you can't mix and match, not even with a Google Home and Nest Mini.

James Martin/CNET

Cinema sound, with smarts

The best way to connect a TV or computer to the Google Home speaker group you just created is with Bluetooth. If your TV can't connect with Bluetooth, you can give it that ability by adding a Google Chromecast streaming media player (which also will allow you to operate some TV controls with your voice – a win-win). If your computer doesn't have Bluetooth, there's a workaround for that too: You can stream audio from the Chrome browser to your Google Home over Wi-Fi.

Here's how to connect pretty much any Bluetooth-enabled device to your Google Home stereo speaker pair:

1. Say, "Hey, Google, pair Bluetooth" to put your speakers into pairing mode.

2. Go to your Bluetooth settings on the device you want to pair and look for "Google Home Speaker Pair" (or whatever you named your stereo pair).

How to unpair two previously paired speakers

If at some point you want to have two individual speakers instead of a stereo pair, unpairing is easy. Here's how you do it:

1. Open the Google Home app and tap the icon for your speaker pair.

2. Tap the settings icon (the gear symbol) in the upper right corner.

3. Under Sound settings tap Speaker pair.

4. Tap Separate speaker pair, then when prompted tap Separate.

5. You may have to go back and set up the speaker you had on the right channel again. It will be listed under Local devices at the bottom of the Google Home app with the name you originally gave it.

Now that you have a speaker pair, you can include that in your Google Home whole-house audio setup, where it'll appear as one speaker (called "Google Home Speaker Pair" or whatever you named it). If you'll be hosting any gatherings this holiday season, Google Home can help you manage the chaos of your Thanksgiving Day get-together, too. And be sure to show off what Google Home can do that Alexa and Siri can't to all your non-Google Home friends and family while they're there.