After seeing Apple’s HomePod, Amazon is working on an Apple HomePod echo

“It’s been over two years since Amazon debuted the Echo, which kickstarted the current wave of voice-controlled, virtual assistant-powered speakers,” Devindra Hardawar reports for Engadget. Now, “Amazon is working on a new Echo that will improve on the first speaker in practically every way, a source tells Engadget.”

“The new Echo will be both shorter and slimmer than the original, almost as if it were three or four Echo Dots stacked on top of each other, our source claims. Amazon is also softening its design with rounded edges and a cloth-like covering, rather than the current Echo’s plastic shell and flat ends. And yes, it should sound better, too,” Hardawar reports. “The company is packing in several tweeters this time around, instead of just relying on one large tweeter and a woofer (for low end). The HomePod, in comparison, features seven tweeters, which is big reason why it sounded better than the Sonos Play:3 and the Echo in our brief demo.”

Apple's HomePod
Apple’s HomePod

 

Amazon Echo
Amazon Echo

 
“As influential as the original Echo has been, it’s not aging gracefully,” Hardawar reports. “Apple’s HomePod is also significantly smaller, and it packs in plenty of new technology that the Echo doesn’t. At this point, it’s clear that you can design a solid speaker that doesn’t take up a significant amount of room.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Is there an Echo in here? No, we’re waiting for quality audio, not a tin can, which is why we’ll be buying several Apple HomePods since multiple HomePods in a room are able to work together for even richer sound (you can wirelessly connect multiple HomePods — reportedly up to double digits, if desired — to create a surround system)..

As per HomePod via Reddit user Arve:

1. They’re using some form of dynamic modeling, and likely also current sensing that allows them to have a p-p excursion of 20 mm in a 4″ driver. This is completely unheard of in the home market. You can read an introduction to the topic here. The practical upshot is that that 4″ driver can go louder than larger drivers, and with significantly less distortion. It’s also stuff you typically find in speakers with five-figure price tags (The Beolab 90 does this, and I also suspect that the Kii Three does). It’s a quantum leap over what a typical passive speaker does, and you don’t really even find it in higher-end powered speakers

2. The speaker uses six integrated beamforming microphones to probe the room dimensions, and alter its output so it sounds its best wherever it is placed in the room. It’ll know how large the room is, and where in the room it is placed.

3. The room correction applied after probing its own position isn’t simplistic DSP of frequency response, as the speaker has seven drivers that are used to create a beamforming speaker array,. so they can direct specific sound in specific directions. The only other speakers that do this is the Beolab 90, and Lexicon SL-1. The Beolab 90 is $85,000/pair, and no price tag is set for the Lexicon, but the expectation in the industry is “astronomical”.

So yes, compared to the typical sub-$2000 speaker, the technology they apply may just as well be considered “magic”.

SEE ALSO:
Apple Watch and AirPods in high demand; HomePod buying intent outpaces Amazon Echo – July 10, 2017
Apple’s HomePod could have an even more successful start than Apple Watch – July 7, 2017
Amazon Echo has a problem: Apple’s HomePod has major advantage over rivals – June 18, 2017
Apple’s HomePod first impressions: Lots of mystery, impressive sound quality – June 8, 2017
With HomePod, Apple just wants to shake things up (for now) – June 7, 2017
Apple HomePod vs. Amazon Echo – June 7, 2017
CNET: Apple’s HomePod offers superior sound quality vs. Amazon Echo and Sonos Play:3 – June 6, 2017
Apple’s new HomePod sounds incredible! – June 6, 2017
Apple HomePod takes on Amazon Echo – June 6, 2017
Apple reveals HomePod smart home music speaker – June 5, 2017

4 Comments

  1. Will Prime users be interested in paying more for a higher quality Echo when supposedly they’re already happy with what they have? I’d think Amazon would be happy with its already high market share and I would think they’d continue down that path. Echo Show, Echo and Echo Dot is surely enough devices to suit everyone’s price range.

    Everyone is cursing Apple for offering a $349 digital assistant and swearing it’s too expensive for what it does. I’m not going around cursing Ferrari or Lamborghini for building expensive cars. I figure that’s what they want to do for people who like quality cars. I’m not sure why Apple is always being criticized for what it does. Not one HomePod has been used by a consumer so who can say it’s not worth the cost. Amazon’s Echo must be fairly decent as a lot of users say it is and it’s a good product for Amazon to let people use Amazon’s services. However, it surely wasn’t meant to be a really high-quality audio device, so now Amazon has to step up its game a bit.

    I honestly don’t see why someone has to announce Amazon is crushing Apple in a market Apple hasn’t really entered yet? That’s like saying Tesla is crushing Apple in the consumer EV market. So what?

    1. Isn’t your argument like asking “Would Apple users be interested in paying more for a higher quality iPhone when supposedly they’re already happy with what they have”? I think some would appreciate an upgrade every now and then. Amazon’s Echo line being more affordable increases the chance of a good demand for the newer product and may continue to be good competition to Apple in the smart speaker market.

      I agree with you that it’s still too early to tell how good or bad the Apple Pod will be in actual use and whether the price is ‘right’ for the product. Best to hold criticisms till it’s been out for a bit.

  2. I am buying a HomePod as soon as possible. I am a Sonos customer. I have the playbar, two play 1’s and a Sub. Also I have a Play 5. I have NEVER seen a product with such promise and terrible development as the SONOS. No outdoor speaker. You have to use the App even if you want to use the Aux cord. The App dev is slooooow and the interface poor. I would have thrown out my SONOS last year if Apple Music support had not come along and been pretty good. My kids and wife hate the SONOS stuff because they can’t figure out how to use it. They want a system they can easily bluetooth to (or Airplay) that isn’t so tied to the SONOS app. SONOS sounds awesome, looks awesome, and is rock solid in performance but I am dumping it because if momma ain’t happy, no one is happy. Gotta be simpler.

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