HomePod, From an Audiophile's Perspective

HomePod, Apple’s answer to Sonos, Echo, and Google Home is coming out next month. Apple has largely been positioning HomePod as a high-end speaker + assistant, as opposed to an always-on assistant + speaker(Echo and the like). HomePod is designed first and foremost to be a really great speaker, which is something different from other smart-speaker offerings.

Here’s a take on Reddit from one r/Audiophile member who had an early listening:

Having heard it side by side with The Sonos Play One and Google Home Max, A single HomePod is already much better than both in terms of sound quality. I would say the Sonos Play One was 80% of the way there, but it just lacked the clarity of bass and wide soundstage.

I started out with “Hotel California” by The Eagles. The first impression was the neutrality of the speaker. The HomePods are tuned for an as-true-to-recording sound. When the song calls for it, there is bass. When the song turns to crystal clear highs, they are reproduced faithfully. What really was interesting is the instrument separation in the room. At about 45% volume, the HomePod FILLED the room I was in with some great sound. When you walked away from it, the sound gets quieter, but not as quickly as you’d expect. All the details were still there, just softer. there was no feeling of walking out of the sweet spot that you get with a normal speaker. And that’s when it hit me… Apple really has done it.

On value:

I had a hunch that HomePods in Stereo would give my KEF X300A’s a run for their money… now it’s confirmed. Apple briefly demoed stereo for me, and I was quite floored. When Stereo is enabled via software update, a pair of HomePods may be the best bookshelf (2.0) setup under $1000 that you can get.

Ahead of HomePod’s release, I really haven’t had much interest in it - I’m more interested in the smart assistant functionality than audio quality, but this review has piqued my interest. While I typically wouldn’t gravitate towards high-end audio, it sounds like what Apple has done by processing the audio before it’s played has really made HomePod magical.

I haven’t ordered one, but I’m keen to try it out at an Apple Store following release.

Typed on Blue Alps64

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