Exhaustive acoustical analysis demonstrates HomePod is '100 percent an audiophile-grade sp...

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  • Reply 101 of 127
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 2,946member
    gatorguy said:

    This might be a ridiculous question, but will a HomePod work in a location with no WiFi network and only a Bluetooth streaming source?

    The HomePod does not do bluetooth streaming. 
    Yup. That ensures you only have the highest quality bandwidth for streaming, and won't use it with a cheap Android phone, which could affect, and negatively impact the sound reviews. Once it's achieved its desired reputation, they might open it up to inferior Bluetooth? iFixit thinks there is a BT radio in it, but if there's no antenna it's not likely it could be added via Firmware, so probably HP 2.0.
    edited February 13 tmay
  • Reply 102 of 127
    mac_128 said:
    gatorguy said:

    This might be a ridiculous question, but will a HomePod work in a location with no WiFi network and only a Bluetooth streaming source?

    The HomePod does not do bluetooth streaming. 
    Yup. That ensures you only have the highest quality bandwidth for streaming, and won't use it with a cheap Android phone, which could affect, and negatively impact the sound reviews. Once it's achieved its desired reputation, they might open it up to inferior Bluetooth? iFixit thinks there is a BT radio in it, but if there's no antenna it's not likely it could be added via Firmware, so probably HP 2.0.
    There's no reason for iFixit or anyone else to speculate on the inclusion of Bluetooth hardware (even though it is not presently used for streaming audio) when it's clearly displayed on Apple's website.

    https://www.apple.com/homepod/specs/


    edited February 13 gatorguycgWerks
  • Reply 103 of 127
    bitmod said:
    rain22 said:
    So let’s recap...
    Sounds good for an Apple Music Only - Must Have Subscription - Smart Speaker. 
    If audio quality is your only concern, there are true audiophile speakers that blow HomePod out of the water - but for a much higher price.

    So the HomePod is a made in China, budget consumer-level speaker that sounds pretty good - and has a nifty voice command feature for 1 person only - who is willing to pay for an Apple Music Subscription and already owns Apple devices - who doesn’t value their privacy. 

    Im sure there is a market for that. 

    The market is most of the AppleInsider readership.

    And, you don't need to have Apple Music. You just need something (say, an iPhone) capable of streaming AirPlay to it.
    Wrong.
    For it to be a 'Smart Speaker' you have to have an Apple Music subscription. 
    If you don't have an Apple Music Subscription - it's just a speaker. 
     Bullshit. I don't have an Apple Music subscription.  I run it from my Mac and Siri finds the songs in my Library.  This is an .mp3 downloaded from the web:


    Using airplay to this speaker does seem a little last century and not forgetting inconvenient. Does airplay also affect the sound quality?
  • Reply 104 of 127
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 2,946member
    saltyzip said:
    bitmod said:
    rain22 said:
    So let’s recap...
    Sounds good for an Apple Music Only - Must Have Subscription - Smart Speaker. 
    If audio quality is your only concern, there are true audiophile speakers that blow HomePod out of the water - but for a much higher price.

    So the HomePod is a made in China, budget consumer-level speaker that sounds pretty good - and has a nifty voice command feature for 1 person only - who is willing to pay for an Apple Music Subscription and already owns Apple devices - who doesn’t value their privacy. 

    Im sure there is a market for that. 

    The market is most of the AppleInsider readership.

    And, you don't need to have Apple Music. You just need something (say, an iPhone) capable of streaming AirPlay to it.
    Wrong.
    For it to be a 'Smart Speaker' you have to have an Apple Music subscription. 
    If you don't have an Apple Music Subscription - it's just a speaker. 
     Bullshit. I don't have an Apple Music subscription.  I run it from my Mac and Siri finds the songs in my Library.  This is an .mp3 downloaded from the web:


    Using airplay to this speaker does seem a little last century and not forgetting inconvenient. Does airplay also affect the sound quality?
    How is AirPlay last century? It wasn't even around last century. AirPlay uses wifi which allows full bandwidth vs. bluetooth compression codecs, and offering much better audio quality with the right sound files.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 105 of 127
    dick applebaum said:
    Youtube doesn't see anything but AppleTVs -- I have the homePod, an Airport Express connected to the iPod HiFi, and an Airport Express connected to a Bose Airwave.  iTunes sees all these in addition to AppleTVs.

    I'm on the latest iTunes and the latest High Sierra beta. I suspect that support for AirPlay is an early partial implementation of AirPlay 2.
    Oh, that's interesting. So, it isn't any AirPlay source as advertised.

    waverboy said:
    If you want Incredible sound, you don't want a shelf speaker.
    True to a point, though when I was young and thought I could afford to shop in audiophile stores (or at least liked to browse), I saw a small component system (about the size of a small boom-box) made for yachts that was pretty darn incredible. If I recall, it had 4" or 5" woofers and a tweeter type setup. But, no, it isn't going to sound like a couple 3-way floor speakers with 15" woofers. But, who has those anymore?

    tmay said:
    I'm thinking that this might give the user cleaner, high frequency output, and is easily testable. The HomePod, because of its configuration, doesn't necessarily have to play by rules and be locked to a particular orientation, height offset, or mounting plane. 
    Let the $99 stand accessory making begin. :)

    lorin schultz said:
    Which, of course, is utterly contrary to Apple's claim that one of the primary features of the HomePod is its being placement agnostic!

    I think you're right that audiophiles will create placement optimization guidelines, but not based on any reverse engineering. They will come from purely subjective "listening tests" with no controls on variables. From these will arise explanations for the results, such as the skin effect being minimized in internal wiring when the orientation aligns with Earth's poles.
    Or, all this stuff is more marketing fluff than reality, like AI and self-driving cars.
    lorin schultzmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 106 of 127
    --UPDATE--

    Please read the EDIT portion of the review:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/audiophile/comments/7wwtqy/apple_homepod_the_audiophile_perspective/

    Tl;Dr:

    I am speechless. The HomePod actually sounds better than the KEF X300A. If you’re new to the Audiophile world, KEF is a very well respected and much loved speaker company. I actually deleted my very first measurements and re-checked everything because they were so good, I thought I’d made an error. Apple has managed to extract peak performance from a pint sized speaker, a feat that deserves a standing ovation. The HomePod is 100% an Audiophile grade Speaker.

    EDIT: before you read any further, please read /u/edechamps excellent reply to this post and then read this excellent discussion between him and /u/Ilkless about measuring, conventions, some of the mistakes I've made, and how the data should be interpreted. His conclusion, if I'm reading it right, is that these measurements are largely inconclusive, since the measurements were not done in an anechoic chamber. Since I dont have one of those handy, these measurements should be taken with a brick of salt. I still hope that some of the information in here, the discussion, the guesses, and more are useful to everyone. This really is a new type of speaker (again see the discussion) and evaluating it accurately is bloody difficult.

  • Reply 107 of 127





    This image was incorrect and is very misleading.

    On top of the incorrect measurement method, please read the additional critique.

    The experimenter seems obsessed with that graph which they claim shows a very flat frequency response. They even say, further down the review, that it's an "almost perfectly flat speaker". Mmm. I opened that same measurement in REW and here's what I get (with the same 1/12 octave smoothing as the above image): https://i.imgur.com/3nHZimq.png

    Doesn't look as nice doesn't it? That's because of the scale, you see. It's the ages-old trick of messing with the vertical scale to make things look flatter than they really are. In the screenshot that the experimenter posted, the interval between ticks is 10 dB. That's enormous. Almost anything will look almost flat at that scale.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/audiophile/comments/7wwtqy/apple_homepod_the_audiophile_perspective/du5j2hk/

    This is the same data with adjusted scaling:



    Theorem: any frequency response curve will look flat if you zoom out far enough.

    edited February 14 SpamSandwichcgWerks
  • Reply 108 of 127
    --UPDATE--

    Please read the EDIT portion of the review:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/audiophile/comments/7wwtqy/apple_homepod_the_audiophile_perspective/

    Tl;Dr:

    I am speechless. The HomePod actually sounds better than the KEF X300A. If you’re new to the Audiophile world, KEF is a very well respected and much loved speaker company. I actually deleted my very first measurements and re-checked everything because they were so good, I thought I’d made an error. Apple has managed to extract peak performance from a pint sized speaker, a feat that deserves a standing ovation. The HomePod is 100% an Audiophile grade Speaker.

    EDIT: before you read any further, please read /u/edechamps excellent reply to this post and then read this excellent discussion between him and /u/Ilkless about measuring, conventions, some of the mistakes I've made, and how the data should be interpreted. His conclusion, if I'm reading it right, is that these measurements are largely inconclusive, since the measurements were not done in an anechoic chamber. Since I dont have one of those handy, these measurements should be taken with a brick of salt. I still hope that some of the information in here, the discussion, the guesses, and more are useful to everyone. This really is a new type of speaker (again see the discussion) and evaluating it accurately is bloody difficult.

    I haven't yet had time to read the full exchange in detail, but I have a couple observations based on the skimming I've done so far:

    1. I've been politely hinting that the graph provided by the reviewer contradicted his assertion of flat response. It is decidedly NOT flat, and shows particularly broad swings from the low mids on down. The variations at the lower end of the scale are usually -- not always and not necessarily, but usually -- indicative of room nodes causing waves to cancel and reinforce at certain frequencies. This ties in to the second point:

    2. It's true that speakers are traditionally measured in anechoic chambers exactly because room reflections cause the kind of problems we see in this test, and the results will vary not only from room-to-room, but from one position to another in the same room. HOWEVER, Apple has made a lot of noise about the automatic room correction the HomePod is supposed to perform. That means in the case of the HomePod -- not necessarily any other speaker, but specifically the HomePod -- it's fair and reasonable to conduct frequency response testing in ANY space, anechoic or not. Apple claims the HomePod will automatically adjust itself to compensate for room acoustics. If it does, then an anechoic chamber should not be required. If the gross non-linearity we saw in the reviewer's test actually is the result of room nodes, then HomePod's automatic room correction apparently doesn't work very well.

    Neither of these points are meant to demean the HomePod in any way. By all accounts it sounds better than it costs. The fact that it isn't a studio monitor-grade performer doesn't mean it can't be an excellent value and thoroughly enjoyable. It just isn't the paradigm shifting revolution the marketing implied it would be.
    SpamSandwichgatorguymuthuk_vanalingamcgWerks
  • Reply 109 of 127
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,058member
    zroger73 said:
    tmay said:
    After some thought experiments, I came to the conclusion that some experimentation might be of interest for HomePod users, of which I am not, yet anyway.

    The experiment is to partially overhang the surface that the HomePod is sitting on, such that there is no proximate reflectance for forward facing tweeters; think of a diver on the edge of a pool. With that, I would note that the user can also align the tweeters in an alternate fashion by a rotation of 25 degree off of center, as each tweeter is located at a 51 degree spacing, giving a bit of asymmetric bias to the setup. Raising the HomePod has been already demonstrated to help on reflective surfaces, and even a slight fore or aft tilt would potentially have an effect.

    I'm thinking that this might give the user cleaner, high frequency output, and is easily testable. The HomePod, because of its configuration, doesn't necessarily have to play by rules and be locked to a particular orientation, height offset, or mounting plane. 

    Of course, HomePod will still attempt to optimize itself for the room. Likely these will be subtle differences.
    I wonder how it would sound hanging from the ceiling by its power cord in the center of a room? :smile: 
      


    I watch a youtube review where they said they place the HomePod on the Carpet and found the sound was muffled. Turns out that HomePod's speakers fire downward and bounce off the surface they are on. It may not work Hanging it upside down. But let us know.
  • Reply 110 of 127
    --UPDATE--

    Please read the EDIT portion of the review:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/audiophile/comments/7wwtqy/apple_homepod_the_audiophile_perspective/

    Tl;Dr:

    I am speechless. The HomePod actually sounds better than the KEF X300A. If you’re new to the Audiophile world, KEF is a very well respected and much loved speaker company. I actually deleted my very first measurements and re-checked everything because they were so good, I thought I’d made an error. Apple has managed to extract peak performance from a pint sized speaker, a feat that deserves a standing ovation. The HomePod is 100% an Audiophile grade Speaker.

    EDIT: before you read any further, please read /u/edechamps excellent reply to this post and then read this excellent discussion between him and /u/Ilkless about measuring, conventions, some of the mistakes I've made, and how the data should be interpreted. His conclusion, if I'm reading it right, is that these measurements are largely inconclusive, since the measurements were not done in an anechoic chamber. Since I dont have one of those handy, these measurements should be taken with a brick of salt. I still hope that some of the information in here, the discussion, the guesses, and more are useful to everyone. This really is a new type of speaker (again see the discussion) and evaluating it accurately is bloody difficult.

    I haven't yet had time to read the full exchange in detail, but I have a couple observations based on the skimming I've done so far:

    1. I've been politely hinting that the graph provided by the reviewer contradicted his assertion of flat response. It is decidedly NOT flat, and shows particularly broad swings from the low mids on down. The variations at the lower end of the scale are usually -- not always and not necessarily, but usually -- indicative of room nodes causing waves to cancel and reinforce at certain frequencies. This ties in to the second point:

    2. It's true that speakers are traditionally measured in anechoic chambers exactly because room reflections cause the kind of problems we see in this test, and the results will vary not only from room-to-room, but from one position to another in the same room. HOWEVER, Apple has made a lot of noise about the automatic room correction the HomePod is supposed to perform. That means in the case of the HomePod -- not necessarily any other speaker, but specifically the HomePod -- it's fair and reasonable to conduct frequency response testing in ANY space, anechoic or not. Apple claims the HomePod will automatically adjust itself to compensate for room acoustics. If it does, then an anechoic chamber should not be required. If the gross non-linearity we saw in the reviewer's test actually is the result of room nodes, then HomePod's automatic room correction apparently doesn't work very well.

    Neither of these points are meant to demean the HomePod in any way. By all accounts it sounds better than it costs. The fact that it isn't a studio monitor-grade performer doesn't mean it can't be an excellent value and thoroughly enjoyable. It just isn't the paradigm shifting revolution the marketing implied it would be.

    I did read most of the exchange. What I came away with:
    1. the article was written by someone who felt the homePod sounded good in his environment -- and tried to analyze why by performing various tests
    2. the detractor, and several others, criticized the authors methodology and subjective evaluation -- because he did not perform traditional tests in an anechoic chamber
    3. people don't listen to music in an anechoic chamber
    cgWerks
  • Reply 111 of 127
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 17,795member
    --UPDATE--

    Please read the EDIT portion of the review:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/audiophile/comments/7wwtqy/apple_homepod_the_audiophile_perspective/

    Tl;Dr:

    I am speechless. The HomePod actually sounds better than the KEF X300A. If you’re new to the Audiophile world, KEF is a very well respected and much loved speaker company. I actually deleted my very first measurements and re-checked everything because they were so good, I thought I’d made an error. Apple has managed to extract peak performance from a pint sized speaker, a feat that deserves a standing ovation. The HomePod is 100% an Audiophile grade Speaker.

    EDIT: before you read any further, please read /u/edechamps excellent reply to this post and then read this excellent discussion between him and /u/Ilkless about measuring, conventions, some of the mistakes I've made, and how the data should be interpreted. His conclusion, if I'm reading it right, is that these measurements are largely inconclusive, since the measurements were not done in an anechoic chamber. Since I dont have one of those handy, these measurements should be taken with a brick of salt. I still hope that some of the information in here, the discussion, the guesses, and more are useful to everyone. This really is a new type of speaker (again see the discussion) and evaluating it accurately is bloody difficult.

    I haven't yet had time to read the full exchange in detail, but I have a couple observations based on the skimming I've done so far:

    1. I've been politely hinting that the graph provided by the reviewer contradicted his assertion of flat response. It is decidedly NOT flat, and shows particularly broad swings from the low mids on down. The variations at the lower end of the scale are usually -- not always and not necessarily, but usually -- indicative of room nodes causing waves to cancel and reinforce at certain frequencies. This ties in to the second point:

    2. It's true that speakers are traditionally measured in anechoic chambers exactly because room reflections cause the kind of problems we see in this test, and the results will vary not only from room-to-room, but from one position to another in the same room. HOWEVER, Apple has made a lot of noise about the automatic room correction the HomePod is supposed to perform. That means in the case of the HomePod -- not necessarily any other speaker, but specifically the HomePod -- it's fair and reasonable to conduct frequency response testing in ANY space, anechoic or not. Apple claims the HomePod will automatically adjust itself to compensate for room acoustics. If it does, then an anechoic chamber should not be required. If the gross non-linearity we saw in the reviewer's test actually is the result of room nodes, then HomePod's automatic room correction apparently doesn't work very well.

    Neither of these points are meant to demean the HomePod in any way. By all accounts it sounds better than it costs. The fact that it isn't a studio monitor-grade performer doesn't mean it can't be an excellent value and thoroughly enjoyable. It just isn't the paradigm shifting revolution the marketing implied it would be.

    I did read most of the exchange. What I came away with:
    1. the article was written by someone who felt the homePod sounded good in his environment -- and tried to analyze why by performing various tests
    2. the detractor, and several others, criticized the authors methodology and subjective evaluation -- because he did not perform traditional tests in an anechoic chamber
    3. people don't listen to music in an anechoic chamber
    ..which means his tests actually didn't demonstrate enough to hang a hat on? The most interesting takeaway from the criticisms outside of the identification of where the author went wrong might be the whether Apple's corrective algorithms are as effective as advertised. The early line on that is...
    Well we can all read it for ourselves, in the comments that follow the yellow highlighted section.
    https://www.reddit.com/r/audiophile/comments/7wwtqy/apple_homepod_the_audiophile_perspective/du5j2hk/
    edited February 14
  • Reply 112 of 127
    FWIW...

    I missed a lot of posts on the homePod on this and several threads.

    Last evening, I decided to recommission the old B&O with McIntosh speakers in the living room.  I unplugged it about 3 years ago because, in the middle of the night, one of our cats would jump up on it, turning on the amp, then dial up the volume spinner.

    It didn't just work!  My grandson and I spent about 45 minutes unplugging/replugging gold-tipped cables, removing components (turntable, cassette player), plugging RCA jacks into the Airport Express -- until we finally got it to work -- bits and pieces spread all over the living room (some very big and heavy bits and pieces).

    It sounded terrible!  I could coax acceptable sound at very low volume. Turns out the speaker cone and adhesive material had deteriorated -- speakers don't last for ever.

    My grandson said he'd clean it up and put everything back together -- another 45 minutes.


    I thought about that, and said no...

    The old B&O had given me great service -- bought it in Saratoga, Ca, moved it to Tucson, Pasadena, SF East Bay...

    Each setup or teardown had taken about an hour, plus another hour or so spread over several days fiddling with the tuning/speaker placement -- often buying some expensive new cables.


    I ain't gonna' do that nomore!  


    It took about a minute to teardown and setup my homePod -- moving it from the family room to the living room.  
    The homePod did all the heavy lifting -- and, to quote Jeff Goldblum: It Just Worked!


    For now, the homePod is sitting atop one of the McIntosh speakers -- a second homePod, arriving today, will sit atop the other.  I am going to trash the B&O components.  The B&O cabinet is made of beautiful rosewood, and my grandson will repurpose it for his bedroom.
    cgWerks
  • Reply 113 of 127
    gatorguy said:
    --UPDATE--

    Please read the EDIT portion of the review:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/audiophile/comments/7wwtqy/apple_homepod_the_audiophile_perspective/

    Tl;Dr:

    I am speechless. The HomePod actually sounds better than the KEF X300A. If you’re new to the Audiophile world, KEF is a very well respected and much loved speaker company. I actually deleted my very first measurements and re-checked everything because they were so good, I thought I’d made an error. Apple has managed to extract peak performance from a pint sized speaker, a feat that deserves a standing ovation. The HomePod is 100% an Audiophile grade Speaker.

    EDIT: before you read any further, please read /u/edechamps excellent reply to this post and then read this excellent discussion between him and /u/Ilkless about measuring, conventions, some of the mistakes I've made, and how the data should be interpreted. His conclusion, if I'm reading it right, is that these measurements are largely inconclusive, since the measurements were not done in an anechoic chamber. Since I dont have one of those handy, these measurements should be taken with a brick of salt. I still hope that some of the information in here, the discussion, the guesses, and more are useful to everyone. This really is a new type of speaker (again see the discussion) and evaluating it accurately is bloody difficult.

    I haven't yet had time to read the full exchange in detail, but I have a couple observations based on the skimming I've done so far:

    1. I've been politely hinting that the graph provided by the reviewer contradicted his assertion of flat response. It is decidedly NOT flat, and shows particularly broad swings from the low mids on down. The variations at the lower end of the scale are usually -- not always and not necessarily, but usually -- indicative of room nodes causing waves to cancel and reinforce at certain frequencies. This ties in to the second point:

    2. It's true that speakers are traditionally measured in anechoic chambers exactly because room reflections cause the kind of problems we see in this test, and the results will vary not only from room-to-room, but from one position to another in the same room. HOWEVER, Apple has made a lot of noise about the automatic room correction the HomePod is supposed to perform. That means in the case of the HomePod -- not necessarily any other speaker, but specifically the HomePod -- it's fair and reasonable to conduct frequency response testing in ANY space, anechoic or not. Apple claims the HomePod will automatically adjust itself to compensate for room acoustics. If it does, then an anechoic chamber should not be required. If the gross non-linearity we saw in the reviewer's test actually is the result of room nodes, then HomePod's automatic room correction apparently doesn't work very well.

    Neither of these points are meant to demean the HomePod in any way. By all accounts it sounds better than it costs. The fact that it isn't a studio monitor-grade performer doesn't mean it can't be an excellent value and thoroughly enjoyable. It just isn't the paradigm shifting revolution the marketing implied it would be.

    I did read most of the exchange. What I came away with:
    1. the article was written by someone who felt the homePod sounded good in his environment -- and tried to analyze why by performing various tests
    2. the detractor, and several others, criticized the authors methodology and subjective evaluation -- because he did not perform traditional tests in an anechoic chamber
    3. people don't listen to music in an anechoic chamber
    ..which means his tests actually didn't demonstrate enough to hang a hat on? The most interesting takeaway from the criticisms outside of the identification of where the author went wrong might be the whether Apple's corrective algorithms are as effective as advertised. The early line on that is...
    Well we can all read it for ourselves, in the comments that follow the yellow highlighted section.
    https://www.reddit.com/r/audiophile/comments/7wwtqy/apple_homepod_the_audiophile_perspective/du5j2hk/
    So, you take the detractor's position and ignore the Author's assertion that it sounded good in his environment.  The author lamented that he didn't have access to an anechoic chamber and expensive instrumentation and time to prove it didn't sound good on paper.
  • Reply 114 of 127
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 17,795member
    gatorguy said:
    --UPDATE--

    Please read the EDIT portion of the review:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/audiophile/comments/7wwtqy/apple_homepod_the_audiophile_perspective/

    Tl;Dr:

    I am speechless. The HomePod actually sounds better than the KEF X300A. If you’re new to the Audiophile world, KEF is a very well respected and much loved speaker company. I actually deleted my very first measurements and re-checked everything because they were so good, I thought I’d made an error. Apple has managed to extract peak performance from a pint sized speaker, a feat that deserves a standing ovation. The HomePod is 100% an Audiophile grade Speaker.

    EDIT: before you read any further, please read /u/edechamps excellent reply to this post and then read this excellent discussion between him and /u/Ilkless about measuring, conventions, some of the mistakes I've made, and how the data should be interpreted. His conclusion, if I'm reading it right, is that these measurements are largely inconclusive, since the measurements were not done in an anechoic chamber. Since I dont have one of those handy, these measurements should be taken with a brick of salt. I still hope that some of the information in here, the discussion, the guesses, and more are useful to everyone. This really is a new type of speaker (again see the discussion) and evaluating it accurately is bloody difficult.

    I haven't yet had time to read the full exchange in detail, but I have a couple observations based on the skimming I've done so far:

    1. I've been politely hinting that the graph provided by the reviewer contradicted his assertion of flat response. It is decidedly NOT flat, and shows particularly broad swings from the low mids on down. The variations at the lower end of the scale are usually -- not always and not necessarily, but usually -- indicative of room nodes causing waves to cancel and reinforce at certain frequencies. This ties in to the second point:

    2. It's true that speakers are traditionally measured in anechoic chambers exactly because room reflections cause the kind of problems we see in this test, and the results will vary not only from room-to-room, but from one position to another in the same room. HOWEVER, Apple has made a lot of noise about the automatic room correction the HomePod is supposed to perform. That means in the case of the HomePod -- not necessarily any other speaker, but specifically the HomePod -- it's fair and reasonable to conduct frequency response testing in ANY space, anechoic or not. Apple claims the HomePod will automatically adjust itself to compensate for room acoustics. If it does, then an anechoic chamber should not be required. If the gross non-linearity we saw in the reviewer's test actually is the result of room nodes, then HomePod's automatic room correction apparently doesn't work very well.

    Neither of these points are meant to demean the HomePod in any way. By all accounts it sounds better than it costs. The fact that it isn't a studio monitor-grade performer doesn't mean it can't be an excellent value and thoroughly enjoyable. It just isn't the paradigm shifting revolution the marketing implied it would be.

    I did read most of the exchange. What I came away with:
    1. the article was written by someone who felt the homePod sounded good in his environment -- and tried to analyze why by performing various tests
    2. the detractor, and several others, criticized the authors methodology and subjective evaluation -- because he did not perform traditional tests in an anechoic chamber
    3. people don't listen to music in an anechoic chamber
    ..which means his tests actually didn't demonstrate enough to hang a hat on? The most interesting takeaway from the criticisms outside of the identification of where the author went wrong might be the whether Apple's corrective algorithms are as effective as advertised. The early line on that is...
    Well we can all read it for ourselves, in the comments that follow the yellow highlighted section.
    https://www.reddit.com/r/audiophile/comments/7wwtqy/apple_homepod_the_audiophile_perspective/du5j2hk/
    So, you take the detractor's position and ignore the Author's assertion that it sounded good in his environment.  The author lamented that he didn't have access to an anechoic chamber and expensive instrumentation and time to prove it didn't sound good on paper.
    Absolutely not! 

    Not even his detractors told him his HomePod couldn't have sounded good. As David Pogue says after being "floored" by his own smartspeaker tests: Whether something sounds good is subjective, not unlike whether something tastes good. I love waffles but hate olives. No amount of technical testing to prove I should prefer olives will make them taste better. So what sounds good to me or in "my environment" might not sound good to you and vice-versa.

    I've not a reason at all to doubt that the OP was being totally honest in his glowing endorsement of the HomePod. What the author was taken to task for, and which he agreed with in hindsight, was what all the extensive testing he did actually amounted to: "A huge brick of salt".
    edited February 14 cgWerks
  • Reply 115 of 127
    Something unexpected:

    I was playing some songs on the homePod from a friend -- that I know do not exist on Apple Music or iTunes Match.  I was at my iMac using iTunes Airplay to play a song out of a group of songs selected. There were several groups from the same artist that I set up as pseudo Albums.

    In the middle of a song playing, I said hey Siri Next Track. As expected, Siri played the next track.  What I didn't expect was that iTunes received feedback from the homePod and moved the Now Playing Indication on iTunes to the next track.  I asked for next track twice as shown below:



    I know that we're in an interregnum between Airplay versions, but something's going on -- who's in charge here, the iMac or the homePod?

    I've read this three times, I can't understand the issue/question.

    If iTunes is playing a song and I say (either to my Mac or to my [hypothetical] HomePod) "next song" I would expect the next song to start playing and the indicator in iTunes would match that.  Is that not what you're describing?

    This is what I did:
    1. I played an Album track thru iTunes
    2. I asked the homePod [Siri] to play the next track
    3. The homePod [Siri] found the next track in the album I was playing
    4. The homePod indicated to iTunes that it had found the next track and was playing it (move the speaker icon)

    Step 1 was initiated by me on iTunes on the iMac

    Step 2 was a request to the homePod [Siri]

    Steps 3 & 4 were initiated by the homePod [siri]

    IDK of any other iTunes (or Music) device where the target device can tell the source device what to do... For example the Music app [source] on the iPhone tells the homePod  [target] what to play.  It may be a fine point, but it surprised me!
  • Reply 116 of 127
    tmaytmay Posts: 2,302member
    gatorguy said:
    gatorguy said:
    --UPDATE--

    Please read the EDIT portion of the review:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/audiophile/comments/7wwtqy/apple_homepod_the_audiophile_perspective/

    Tl;Dr:

    I am speechless. The HomePod actually sounds better than the KEF X300A. If you’re new to the Audiophile world, KEF is a very well respected and much loved speaker company. I actually deleted my very first measurements and re-checked everything because they were so good, I thought I’d made an error. Apple has managed to extract peak performance from a pint sized speaker, a feat that deserves a standing ovation. The HomePod is 100% an Audiophile grade Speaker.

    EDIT: before you read any further, please read /u/edechamps excellent reply to this post and then read this excellent discussion between him and /u/Ilkless about measuring, conventions, some of the mistakes I've made, and how the data should be interpreted. His conclusion, if I'm reading it right, is that these measurements are largely inconclusive, since the measurements were not done in an anechoic chamber. Since I dont have one of those handy, these measurements should be taken with a brick of salt. I still hope that some of the information in here, the discussion, the guesses, and more are useful to everyone. This really is a new type of speaker (again see the discussion) and evaluating it accurately is bloody difficult.

    I haven't yet had time to read the full exchange in detail, but I have a couple observations based on the skimming I've done so far:

    1. I've been politely hinting that the graph provided by the reviewer contradicted his assertion of flat response. It is decidedly NOT flat, and shows particularly broad swings from the low mids on down. The variations at the lower end of the scale are usually -- not always and not necessarily, but usually -- indicative of room nodes causing waves to cancel and reinforce at certain frequencies. This ties in to the second point:

    2. It's true that speakers are traditionally measured in anechoic chambers exactly because room reflections cause the kind of problems we see in this test, and the results will vary not only from room-to-room, but from one position to another in the same room. HOWEVER, Apple has made a lot of noise about the automatic room correction the HomePod is supposed to perform. That means in the case of the HomePod -- not necessarily any other speaker, but specifically the HomePod -- it's fair and reasonable to conduct frequency response testing in ANY space, anechoic or not. Apple claims the HomePod will automatically adjust itself to compensate for room acoustics. If it does, then an anechoic chamber should not be required. If the gross non-linearity we saw in the reviewer's test actually is the result of room nodes, then HomePod's automatic room correction apparently doesn't work very well.

    Neither of these points are meant to demean the HomePod in any way. By all accounts it sounds better than it costs. The fact that it isn't a studio monitor-grade performer doesn't mean it can't be an excellent value and thoroughly enjoyable. It just isn't the paradigm shifting revolution the marketing implied it would be.

    I did read most of the exchange. What I came away with:
    1. the article was written by someone who felt the homePod sounded good in his environment -- and tried to analyze why by performing various tests
    2. the detractor, and several others, criticized the authors methodology and subjective evaluation -- because he did not perform traditional tests in an anechoic chamber
    3. people don't listen to music in an anechoic chamber
    ..which means his tests actually didn't demonstrate enough to hang a hat on? The most interesting takeaway from the criticisms outside of the identification of where the author went wrong might be the whether Apple's corrective algorithms are as effective as advertised. The early line on that is...
    Well we can all read it for ourselves, in the comments that follow the yellow highlighted section.
    https://www.reddit.com/r/audiophile/comments/7wwtqy/apple_homepod_the_audiophile_perspective/du5j2hk/
    So, you take the detractor's position and ignore the Author's assertion that it sounded good in his environment.  The author lamented that he didn't have access to an anechoic chamber and expensive instrumentation and time to prove it didn't sound good on paper.
    Absolutely not! 

    Not even his detractors told him his HomePod couldn't have sounded good. As David Pogue says after being "floored" by his own smartspeaker tests: Whether something sounds good is subjective, not unlike whether something tastes good. I love waffles but hate olives. No amount of technical testing to prove I should prefer olives will make them taste better. So what sounds good to me or in "my environment" might not sound good to you and vice-versa.

    I've not a reason at all to doubt that the OP was being totally honest in his glowing endorsement of the HomePod. What the author was taken to task for, and which he agreed with in hindsight, was what all the extensive testing he did actually amounted to: "A huge brick of salt".
    I would note that even the detractors of that specific test haven't figured out how Apple is both analyzing the room and creating the speaker outputs beam forming and levels for that.  Someone probably will, and when they do, then they or someone else will attempt to create a proper test. It's early.

    In the meantime, I have to laugh at the technical capabilities of both CR and David Poque; they don't know how to test the HomePod either, so CR falls back on a very subjective legacy test, and David Pogue creates a blind test with four different speakers side by side, two of which, the Amazon Echo Plus and HomePod, are disadvantaged by close proximity to other speakers due to their component speaker layout.

    I don't know from these tests what the best speaker is of the bunch, and none of these tests is a fair portrayal of that, and likely it doesn't matter anyway.

    I do know that the HomePod is a disruption to the speaker industry, that's pretty obvious from the sturm and drang on all sides, and all of these other companies will have to response with their own active speakers.
    cgWerks
  • Reply 117 of 127
    1. people don't listen to music in an anechoic chamber
    Absolutely true. However, since room boundaries affect the frequency response of a speaker in ways that are impossible for the designer to control, anechoic testing is an objective means of evaluating what the speaker is CAPABLE of doing. Plotting a response graph in situ makes it impossible to determine whether response deviations arise from a deficiency in the speaker or are caused by standing waves. Removing the reflections by testing in an anechoic chamber overcomes that.

    What complicates this particular case is Apple's claim that the HomePod automatically adjusts for room acoustics. If that's the case, then it should not be necessary to test the HomePod in anechoic conditions. If room nodes/standing waves are causing reinforcement of some frequencies and attenuation of others, the HomePod should be adjusting for and correcting that. Clearly, based on the response graph posted by the reviewer, it's not.

    That means both the reviewer AND his critics are wrong. The frequency response of the HomePod is not flat, and the testing methodology was not inherently flawed.
    muthuk_vanalingamcgWerks
  • Reply 118 of 127

    tmay said:
    I would note that even the detractors of that specific test haven't figured out how Apple is both analyzing the room and creating the speaker outputs beam forming and levels for that.
    It's certainly possible that whatever voodoo Apple do with the HomePod confused the analyzer and caused it to report incorrect data.

    It's also possible that the room correction feature of the HomePod just doesn't work very well.

    Based on what we know about the physics of sound and what we've been able to accomplish in reproduction systems over the last century I'm inclined to suspect it's the latter, but I'm keeping an open mind.
    muthuk_vanalingamcgWerks
  • Reply 119 of 127
    tmaytmay Posts: 2,302member

    tmay said:
    I would note that even the detractors of that specific test haven't figured out how Apple is both analyzing the room and creating the speaker outputs beam forming and levels for that.
    It's certainly possible that whatever voodoo Apple do with the HomePod confused the analyzer and caused it to report incorrect data.

    It's also possible that the room correction feature of the HomePod just doesn't work very well.

    Based on what we know about the physics of sound and what we've been able to accomplish in reproduction systems over the last century I'm inclined to suspect it's the latter, but I'm keeping an open mind.
    https://www.fastcompany.com/40530175/acoustics-tests-show-apples-homepod-audio-claims-are-legit

  • Reply 120 of 127
    saltyzip said:
    bitmod said:
    rain22 said:
    So let’s recap...
    Sounds good for an Apple Music Only - Must Have Subscription - Smart Speaker. 
    If audio quality is your only concern, there are true audiophile speakers that blow HomePod out of the water - but for a much higher price.

    So the HomePod is a made in China, budget consumer-level speaker that sounds pretty good - and has a nifty voice command feature for 1 person only - who is willing to pay for an Apple Music Subscription and already owns Apple devices - who doesn’t value their privacy. 

    Im sure there is a market for that. 

    The market is most of the AppleInsider readership.

    And, you don't need to have Apple Music. You just need something (say, an iPhone) capable of streaming AirPlay to it.
    Wrong.
    For it to be a 'Smart Speaker' you have to have an Apple Music subscription. 
    If you don't have an Apple Music Subscription - it's just a speaker. 
     Bullshit. I don't have an Apple Music subscription.  I run it from my Mac and Siri finds the songs in my Library.  This is an .mp3 downloaded from the web:


    Using airplay to this speaker does seem a little last century and not forgetting inconvenient. Does airplay also affect the sound quality?
    Nonsense. Using AirPlay is entirely normal and I do it on multiple devices every day. Contrary to all the hullabaloo about voice assistants, most of the time I do it better with a screen. I like reviewing and browsing my content.
    cgWerks
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