What Hi-Fi? reviews Apple’s HomePod: ‘The best-sounding smart speaker currently available’

“That Apple does things in its own sweet time is no new discovery. But even by its own standards, the company 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. When combined with Siri’s reinvention as your personal DJ/musical guru, it makes for an endlessly entertaining all-in-one system,” What Hi-Fi? writes. “It comes as no surprise the HomePod is beautifully made and looks classy. It’s a bit smaller, and much heavier, than you might imagine – dense in the manner of dark matter… But the really impressive stuff is hidden beneath that acoustically transparent mesh.”

“Having started with an entirely clean slate and apparently worked on concepts for years (HomePod development began in 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. “The tweeters fire outwards and are angled slightly upwards, with the intention of not bouncing sound off the surface upon which the HomePod is placed. By avoiding these reflections, Apple can exert greater control over the treble’s behaviour.”

Apple's HomePod
Apple’s HomePod

 
“For scale, authority, drive and excitement, the Apple speaker is just superb,” What Hi-Fi? writes. “You still need to be a dedicated Apple user to even consider the HomePod, and Apple Music needs to be your default streaming service for you to get anything like the best out of it. If that sounds like you, the HomePod is the party-rocking, musical horizon-broadening smart speaker you’ve been waiting for.”

Much more in the full review here.

MacDailyNews Take: In almost any reasonably-sized room, two stereo paired HomePods are pure bliss!

SEE ALSO:
Apple cuts price of HomePod worldwide, now $299 in U.S. – April 4, 2019
No, Apple’s HomePod is not a ‘flop’ – March 8, 2019
After a year with Apple’s HomePods, I’m glad I bought them – February 28, 2019
Apple’s HomePod sold 1.6 million units last holiday quarter – February 20, 2019
Apple’s HomePod shipments surged 45% in holiday quarter – February 19, 2019

14 Comments

  1. Airplay only…

    Useless to me. Not going to but the “best sounding smartspeaker” usable only by PCs and my iPads..

    My solution has already been an Echo Dot to an already stellar speaker. In my case a B&W A7, but anything with a line-in would do.

    Keep your jail.

            1. And still no line-in, and still Airplay only, and still money invested in “Apple only” for no goo reason. But hey, t’ your idiot money, I won’t curate you.

  2. “Best sounding spartspeaker” is like saying “Fastest 3 Legged Dog”.

    Several people including myself have been critical of the HomePod, and this article only reinforces my suspicions that Apple is now paying reviewers to give its slow selling can good reviews.

    Zip to the bottom of the article, the “Specifications” is a press release reprint. There was no test data taken for objective comparison. Absolutely no measurements for acoustic performance — no response, range, noise ratio or anything meaningful. The reader is supposed to be impressed with hyperbole like “Weighty, authoritative sound”. Seriously? Sounds like it was written by a corporate marketeer.

    The Homepod may be acoustically good enough for most casual listeners, it’s simply not a 5 star product by any stretch of the imagination. Read the full article and the caveats are so many, yet no score deduction is taken. Is this another case of the Apple Fanboy Press picking the smartest student in the special class? The article states some things that would make a true audiophile cringe:

    “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. Or, at least, as the HomePod thinks it’s intended.”

    “Yes, there are slight variances as you walk slowly in a circle around it – a small drop in treble, for example, presumably as you step between the beams of two tweeters…”

    “the HomePod doesn’t have a dedicated app on your iOS device. A small number of settings are available via the Home app…”

    “The almost complete reliance on Siri does have its drawbacks … adding a track to your current queue is something that can only be done using your voice, which means constantly interrupting what you’re already playing. And there are, of course, occasional stutters and misunderstandings which, even after a long sequence of positive interactions, can shatter the illusion.”

    “What we’re not so keen on is Apple’s walled garden. There are elements that are unsurprising, such as the fact that Apple Music is the only streaming service that Siri can control (as well as podcasts and anything you’ve stored in your iCloud Music Library), but there are some that seem overly controlling, even by Apple’s martial standards. The only live radio station that will stream from the cloud, for example, is Beats 1.”

    “[When paired] the sound isn’t projected into the room quite as effectively as that of some rivals or, in fact, a pair of traditional hi-fi speakers. In the average room it won’t be an issue, but if you sit a long way from the two HomePods you will notice that the lovely spaciousness has come at the cost of a little directness.”

    It appears to me that a fully featured smart speaker from one of the best speaker makers was given demerits for 3 things things the Homepod also lacks. Bias anyone? https://www.whathifi.com/bw/zeppelin-wireless/review Note I’m not recommending the Zeppelin as a mark of great audio — it’s an overpriced wireless speaker with Class D amps and IMHO poor user controls — but it’s head and shoulders over the Homepod in features and versatility.

        1. And no easy way to play cassettes AND impossible to find the place where you install the needle! AND doesn’t keep those kids off my lawn either! NO SALE!

  3. The HomePod farce is the biggest example of Apple being paralysed between brand obsession and privacy.

    The HP is not an example of ‘innovation’ it’s the pinnacle of a lack of it. That Apple could sink a few billion R&D into making a Victorian era piece of a tech – a Speaker – insanely great, was never in doubt. ‘Apple uses its money to make an expensive product’ headline should be cautiously applauded.

    No – as I’ve said before, the challenge was to make a great home hub for Siri. In that, the HomePod spectacularly fails. Siri is leagues behind Alexa and google in smarts and crucially, a smart home that relies on a network of $300 speakers is well, dumb.

    This decision was the perfect example of the exec forgetting where the puck is moving to – whole home integration. Yes make a HomePod. But then also release the tech that allows a $50 speaker in every room. That is the only was you will win the home ecosystem market – and why Apple is losing big. They were paralysed by a desire to appear ‘premium’ and terrified of being accused of ‘listening’ to someone through a really innovative, great speaker.

    The biggest lesson for Apple is that, the change curve of consumers being concerned about privacy vs convenience is already accelerating- Generation Z will – and do – accept less privacy, for ease. We oldies may not like that – but it’s unavoidable. Apple could have used their security as a selling point to make a great system – but instead. They made an expensive speaker, first invented over a hundred years ago. Way to go team.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.