‘What Hi-Fi?’ reviews Apple’s HomePod: The best-sounding smart speaker we’ve ever tested – by far

“That Apple does things in its own sweet time is no new discovery. But even by its own standards, the company has arrived late to the wireless speaker party,” What Hi-Fi? writes. “But being late is perfectly acceptable if you’re the life and soul when you arrive – and that’s pretty much the story with the HomePod.”

“Despite some flaws and limitations, the HomePod is the best-sounding smart speaker available – and by quite a margin,” What Hi-Fi? writes. “When combined with Siri’s reinvention as your personal DJ/musical guru, it makes for an endlessly entertaining all-in-one system. Assuming you’re already deep in the Apple ecosystem, that is.”

MacDailyNews Take: We are, very thankfully and happily so.

“Having started with an entirely clean slate and apparently worked on concepts for years (HomePod has been in development since 2012), Apple eventually settled on having the tweeters at the bottom and the woofer at the top – the exact opposite of the arrangement found in most traditional speakers,” What Hi-Fi? writes. “Embedded in the underside of the top panel, shielded from the bassy battering it receives from the woofer below, is Apple’s A8 chip… for a wireless speaker it’s quite the powerhouse… It analyses the speaker’s surroundings and the music being played to ensure you always hear the HomePod at its best.”

Apple's all-new HomePod
Apple’s all-new HomePod

 
“If it’s in free space, sound will be dispersed equally around the speaker, but if it’s close to a back wall the HomePod will actively split out some of the more ambient elements of your music and bounce them off the rear surface while projecting the vocals and more direct sounds straight into the room. It’s clever stuff,” What Hi-Fi? writes. “Wherever you place the speaker, it is constantly analysing the music you play and dynamically tuning the sound, from bass to treble, to deliver the track as intended.”

“The big pro is that Siri is surprisingly good here. Apple has clearly tailored Siri for music over the last year or so, and in concert with Apple Music’s superior curation engine it makes for rewarding interactions in a musical context,” What Hi-Fi? writes. “The result is you’re regularly surprised and delighted by Siri’s choices, as you would be a friend who knows what you may like. This really elevates the HomePod experience over that offered by Alexa and Google.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Another winning review for HomePod and even Siri, of all things, gets some praise for a change, too!

SEE ALSO:
Ben Bajarin: You can’t unhear Apple’s HomePod – February 6, 2018
Inside Apple’s HomePod audio lab – February 6, 2018
Ten things nobody has told you about the Apple HomePod – February 6, 2018
TechCrunch reviews Apple’s HomePod: Easily the best sounding mainstream smart speaker ever – February 6, 2018
WSJ reviews Apple’s HomePod: Sounds far better than the popular smart speakers from Amazon, Google, and Sonos – February 6, 2018
CNET reviews Apple’s HomePod: Strong wireless speaker with awesome sound – February 6, 2018

23 Comments

    1. Yep, Siri is awful and I don’t see any improvement with it today when using it for Music it doesn’t understand names correctly as one example. I hope something is changed when the HomePod is available on Friday but not banking on it.

      1. I’ve read from testers that microphone technology in the Home Pod is so much better than any other iOS device that Siri hears and understands in a very improved way.

          1. Siri IS lacking in many ways, but my reply to Rob was only touching on the issue of Siri understanding speech. And reports are that Siri in Home Pod does hear better, allowing it to more consistently execute the things that it is designed to do, tho that list of abilities may be lacking. You see the difference?

    2. I’d rather dance with the slightly dim girl at the party, as opposed to the one who commoditizes absolutely everything I do and say so that Amazon can exploit my life for profit.

    3. Seriously, I said Siri sucks and I get a ton of downvotes. What a bunch of morons on this forum. Can you honestly say Siri is the best it there? It’s one of the worst AI’s compared to the competition.

      1. Not being the best and sucking are two different things. Siri typically works well on my iPhone for my purposes. There is certainly room for improvement – Siri often makes mistakes in noisy environments, for instance. And a good internet connection is required, as well, which has bitten me on a number of occasions as the indicator endlessly spins like a roulette wheel. But, when you have a decent internet connection and the noise around you is not too bad, Siri hears and obeys pretty well.

        If you want to get into performance comparisons with the competition, then you have to keep in mind that both Google and Amazon collect, aggregate, and parse personal data like mad. Google reads your gmail before you do, for instance. And Google has incentivized websites all over the world to install its spies on their sites. Google is the closest thing to Big Brother outside of the NSA. Google is fundamentally an advertising company, so its product is *you*. Amazon tracks everything that it can, as well, to sell you more stuff and sign up more Amazon partners to expand its storefront. Accidentally look at a “glaive” rather than a “glove” and you are likely to receive ads for medieval weapons for weeks. Given the massive scale of data collection and parsing, it is no wonder that Google’s assistant is more knowledgeable and capable. You have sold a piece of your soul to Google already, and Google is more than ready to leverage it to gain another piece.

        I place an extremely high value on Apple’s commitment to guard the privacy of its customers. That means a great deal to me, and I am willing to accept a more limited Siri as a result.

    4. No thanks to Apple Siri is percieved as being inferior to its competitors despite many objective tests suggesting otherwise. sadly apple has allowed that perception to develop and persist due to its own stupidity in not making some basic and hardly ‘intelligent’ functions available. Clearly as this report suggests there are many rather more intelligence based functions which don’t get the credit they should. In the end it is very difficult to overcome prejudice be that prejudice based on fact or fiction. In the Apple world with all the trolls and enemies it will be extremely tough. Fact is for some reason Alexa gets a free ride because few expect as much of it as they do Siri. And there Apple has let us down and allowed this background noice of unthinking contempt perpetuate.

      One instance Rob says ‘Siri is awful … don’t see any improvement… can’t understand music names’. Well that is NOT my experience, up to early/mid last year I made repeated complaints on here about Siri not recognising my music request. But in fact testing her since then she has improved considerably in doing just that and barely makes a mistake at all so to say there is no improvement is simply not factual. For me it has so generally it must have too, so maybe she just doesn’t like Rob or his music library who knows.

        1. … and this is a perfect example of how the ‘background noise’ becomes bigger than actual facts. Perhaps ‘crafty’ can explain just how he has made such an ‘objective’ comparison? If not at least he has just shown us how much stereotypes, perception and downright prejudices based on nothing at all, let alone objective assessment, or worse still based purely on what the writer simply ‘wants to believe’ are prevalent in forums of this nature.

  1. Enough with all these rave reviews. I’m waiting for Samuel Gibbs to review it in The Guardian in his usual manner. I’m expecting that there will be a negative headline, followed by an article which reads like a compilation of all the negative things which everybody has already printed about it, topped off with a three star rating.

  2. Here’s an irony: I myself, and everyone I know who is serious about music, have no place in my home for a Homepod, because I already have put together a great audio system in every room I spend time in. And I can already AirPlay Apple Music to every part of it, and control it with Siri in my phone. So the lack of a broadly useful voice assistant really hurts the Homepod. I’m the target for Apple with Homepod, and I’d be better served by a less expensive “cylinder” from someone else.

    1. Not only do I already have an audio system comparable to what you describe, but because my system is a combination of selected elements, it can be reconfigured to work in different ways in the future.

      When I started out forty years ago, I bought Rogers monitoring speakers and a couple of years after that I upgraded the electronics to Quad amplifiers, preamp and FM tuner. CD was only just being invented at the time, but my system was easily able to handle it once I bought a CD player. When computers came along, a DAC meant that I could play high quality recordings via my HiFi. When I moved to a house where the beamed ceilings, solid oak floors and stone walls meant that hiding cables was almost impossible, it was easy enough to incorporate wireless audio distribution around the house to feed speakers in most rooms.

      The point is that my existing HiFi has proved to be versatile and able to grow with my requirements, but remains very high quality and the key elements are now about forty years old.

      Even now, nothing that Apple is offering or likely to offer in the near future is going to be able to provide the versatility that I have enjoyed for many years. Obviously HomePod can do things which my system can’t do, but there are a whole bunch of things which are important to me which HomePod can’t do and seem unlikely to do in the future.

      I might well get a HomePod, but there’s no way it will be able to replace my existing HiFi system and not much chance that it will be able to meaningfully integrate with it either.

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