See Apple's HomePod take on the competition in our ultimate smart speaker sound comparison...

Posted:
in General Discussion
AppleInsider puts HomePod's sound quality to the test against four smart speaker competitors, Sonos' One, Amazon's second-gen Echo, Google Home and Google's Home Max, in this comprehensive comparison. Find out which comes out on top.





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gatorguylkruppjahblade
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 48
    I have been playing with my HomePod and I can say the sound is much better than my Sonos 1. I have a Martin Logan Soundbar in my bedroom and it always bothered me when I went into my bathroom as the Sonos sounded 'thin and echoish' it was a definite step down from my ML's. The new HomePod sounds pretty close to the ML's. Super rich and enveloping sound. no real discernible difference moving from room to room. In regards to Siri performance, I think it does some things really good (ability to hear your voice under most circumstances, ability to control and tell you about music...) I have Lutron Caseta lightingthrouout my house which I LOVE!! I was disappointed that HP can't control scenes (as of yet). I have several scenes that I use very frequently which makes HP severely lacking in this category. In my living room I have 3 different lights that I like at different levels depending upon what I am doing. Using HP to control them is cumbersome without the scenes ability enabled.
  • Reply 2 of 48
    " I have a Martin Logan Soundbar in my bedroom and it always bothered me when I went into my bathroom as the Sonos sounded 'thin and echoish'"
    Bathrooms have a tendency to sound 'thin and echoish (sic)".
    Try the soundbar in the bathroom, probably sounds kind of the same.
    edited February 12 Soli[Deleted User]
  • Reply 3 of 48
    I still have and used a Harmon Kardon sound stick system purchased back in ‘03. 

    The point is that the HK cost about $200 more than the HomePod, and while I’ve never been disappointed with the HK I won’t be using it anymore. 
    StrangeDayslolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 48
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,274member
    Let's have the guy who spent all weekend testing the homepod and produce the sound response graphs do the same for these other speakers. I want to see how they perform not how someone's ear thinks they perform. I think you'll all would be surprised.
    bshankwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 48
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 1,630member
    Hmm... I know it's speaker into (camera?) recorded and then played back through not all that great speakers... but on the video, the HomePod sounded pretty awful. In that last test, I think I'd pick the Sonos 1... but again, I suppose you had to be there.
  • Reply 6 of 48
    bshankbshank Posts: 140member
    The Google speakers sound horrible 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 48
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,754member
    cgWerks said:
    Hmm... I know it's speaker into (camera?) recorded and then played back through not all that great speakers... but on the video, the HomePod sounded pretty awful. In that last test, I think I'd pick the Sonos 1... but again, I suppose you had to be there.
    Even if they had the best microphones in the world, you'd still have to be there. At best, you can test the mikes and maybe see if there is distortion (if the mikes don't get bent out of shape by it).

    Having a top end mike with a top end recorder and going around the speakers would have given you a read on the volume and maybe frequency in such use case, but again would have reflected more on the frequency response of the mikes than anything.

    Getting good audio in a not good room is very hard to do.
    Basically, you can't really tell anything from the audio. You had to be there.

    cgWerksStrangeDaysjahbladelolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 48
    shakes169 said:
    I have been playing with my HomePod and I can say the sound is much better than my Sonos 1. I have a Martin Logan Soundbar in my bedroom and it always bothered me when I went into my bathroom as the Sonos sounded 'thin and echoish' it was a definite step down from my ML's. The new HomePod sounds pretty close to the ML's. Super rich and enveloping sound. no real discernible difference moving from room to room. In regards to Siri performance, I think it does some things really good (ability to hear your voice under most circumstances, ability to control and tell you about music...) I have Lutron Caseta lightingthrouout my house which I LOVE!! I was disappointed that HP can't control scenes (as of yet). I have several scenes that I use very frequently which makes HP severely lacking in this category. In my living room I have 3 different lights that I like at different levels depending upon what I am doing. Using HP to control them is cumbersome without the scenes ability enabled.
    If you create the scenes in HomeKit rather than the Caseta app, you can trigger them with Siri on the HomePod.  I have the same set up and it works great. 
    StrangeDaysshakes169watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 48
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 1,630member
    foggyhill said:
    cgWerks said:
    Hmm... I know it's speaker into (camera?) recorded and then played back through not all that great speakers... but on the video, the HomePod sounded pretty awful. In that last test, I think I'd pick the Sonos 1... but again, I suppose you had to be there.
    Even if they had the best microphones in the world, you'd still have to be there. At best, you can test the mikes and maybe see if there is distortion (if the mikes don't get bent out of shape by it).

    Having a top end mike with a top end recorder and going around the speakers would have given you a read on the volume and maybe frequency in such use case, but again would have reflected more on the frequency response of the mikes than anything.

    Getting good audio in a not good room is very hard to do.
    Basically, you can't really tell anything from the audio. You had to be there.
    Yea, I was just a bit surprised that what I thought I'd hear (even in a recording) wasn't anything like like I thought it would be. :)
  • Reply 10 of 48
    shakes169 said:
    I have been playing with my HomePod and I can say the sound is much better than my Sonos 1. I have a Martin Logan Soundbar in my bedroom and it always bothered me when I went into my bathroom as the Sonos sounded 'thin and echoish' it was a definite step down from my ML's. The new HomePod sounds pretty close to the ML's. Super rich and enveloping sound. no real discernible difference moving from room to room. In regards to Siri performance, I think it does some things really good (ability to hear your voice under most circumstances, ability to control and tell you about music...) I have Lutron Caseta lightingthrouout my house which I LOVE!! I was disappointed that HP can't control scenes (as of yet). I have several scenes that I use very frequently which makes HP severely lacking in this category. In my living room I have 3 different lights that I like at different levels depending upon what I am doing. Using HP to control them is cumbersome without the scenes ability enabled.
    If you create the scenes in HomeKit rather than the Caseta app, you can trigger them with Siri on the HomePod.  I have the same set up and it works great. 
    Yeah I’ve found sticking to the HK app for creating and executing scenes is the way to go. I don’t use manufacturer app’s or scene controllers anymore. Just the Home app. 
    lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 48
    shakes169 said:
    I have been playing with my HomePod and I can say the sound is much better than my Sonos 1. I have a Martin Logan Soundbar in my bedroom and it always bothered me when I went into my bathroom as the Sonos sounded 'thin and echoish' it was a definite step down from my ML's. The new HomePod sounds pretty close to the ML's. Super rich and enveloping sound. no real discernible difference moving from room to room. In regards to Siri performance, I think it does some things really good (ability to hear your voice under most circumstances, ability to control and tell you about music...) I have Lutron Caseta lightingthrouout my house which I LOVE!! I was disappointed that HP can't control scenes (as of yet). I have several scenes that I use very frequently which makes HP severely lacking in this category. In my living room I have 3 different lights that I like at different levels depending upon what I am doing. Using HP to control them is cumbersome without the scenes ability enabled.
    If you create the scenes in HomeKit rather than the Caseta app, you can trigger them with Siri on the HomePod.  I have the same set up and it works great. 
    THANK YOU!!! This was bothering me
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 48
    chasmchasm Posts: 847member
    So, let's review:

    1. The Echo and the Google Home are hot garbage in terms of speakers.
    2. If you're not trying to deafen yourself or get the cops called on you, the HomePod and the Google Max about even out, but then advantage to HomePod because it still sounds a bit better, and is $50 cheaper.

    Thanks for the video. Obviously we can't really hear it the way you guys heard it when you were recording, but even through the video being played on crappy desktop speakers here at my workstation, I could certainly tell how bad the bad ones were, and that the Sonos One was muddier than the other two.

    So: if you're okay with using Google Assistant, the assistant is the most attractive feature to you, and you don't mind overpaying, you might prefer the Google Max, as it works well on a wider range of topics than Siri in the HomePod.

    If you're buying the speaker primarily to play music and control said music with your voice, you probably want the HomePod. Every review I've seen thus far (barring that bizarre CR review) basically says the same thing: the HomePod is the smart speaker for people who are into music. As with other Apple products, I expect the HomePod will get "smarter" with updates over the next year or so, but for a music-centered smart speaker, this is the one you should invest in.
    edited February 13 lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 48
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 1,630member
    chasm said:
    If you're buying the speaker primarily to play music and control said music with your voice, you probably want the HomePod. Every review I've seen thus far (barring that bizarre CR review) basically says the same thing: the HomePod is the smart speaker for people who are into music. As with other Apple products, I expect the HomePod will get "smarter" with updates over the next year or so, but for a music-centered smart speaker, this is the one you should invest in.
    But, here's the thing... if you're buying it primarily to play music, then the competition isn't other 'smart' speakers.

    So, then it is up against powered bookshelf speakers in the $350 and under range, as well as any pair of speakers that cost less than $250 (except maybe obnoxiously big ones, as room aesthetics are part of it too) as you can add an adequate amp for ~$100. And, these would even have aux-in, so you could use them with anything, not just the Apple universe.
    [Deleted User]muthuk_vanalingamlarrya
  • Reply 14 of 48
    What a way to test sound quality - heavily compressed studio mush! Live-recorded orchestral or jazz would have been a better testing candidate.
    rotateleftbyteSpamSandwich
  • Reply 15 of 48
    bshank said:
    The Google speakers sound horrible 
    The big google speaker has more fidelity than the HomePod. On the electronic song at 80% you can hear layers that are barely audible or non-existent on the HomePod. 
    Im guessing it’s a better DAC in the google one - as it also sounded more transparent and layers more defined.

    Truth be told, they all sounded pretty bad - compared to a Dali Katch or Naim Muso. 


  • Reply 16 of 48
    I know listening to the AppleInsider tests on my MBP over the web cannot possibly allow me to fairly judge the differences between the speakers. That being said, from what I could extract listening from this limited position, I would say the clear winner was the Sonos and the HomePod coming in second and the Google Max 3rd.  The Sonos in every test just sounded cleaner and more crisp.  The Sonos sounded clearly better from where I stand.  But again, I get that it's not a fair judgement, not actually hearing them in person. This AppleInsider test has definitely drawn my attention to the Sonos.  I will for sure be looking very close at Sonos now and really looking forward to listening to the HomePod versus the Sonos in person!  Hopefully Sonos has plans to change the asthetics of their lineup sooner rather than later because in a looks comparison the HomePod wins hands down!
    cgWerks
  • Reply 17 of 48
    timmillea said:
    What a way to test sound quality - heavily compressed studio mush! Live-recorded orchestral or jazz would have been a better testing candidate
    Agreed. I would have also liked to have heard something from Tidal MQA - to see which handles it better. AM’s low quality AAC compression is the target audience thou. But yah, those 2 songs were brutal
    edited February 13
  • Reply 18 of 48
    timmillea said:
    What a way to test sound quality - heavily compressed studio mush! Live-recorded orchestral or jazz would have been a better testing candidate.
    But... this is seems to be what passes (badly) for 'Popular Music' these days.

    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 19 of 48
    Folks, think of it this way, Apple by all measures including pure scientific measurement is the better sounding product. Apple can always fix Siri, add software functionality both on the homepod and on the cloud servers and continually make it better assistant. So it a great foundation product with years of upgrades in the future.

    However, on the flip side, the competitor has an may an okay speaker and it will never get better and the only way it will get better is to replace it. In typical fashion, you only get what you paid for and if you bought one of those other speakers you most likely will have to replace it. And end up paying more than if you just spent the money and bought a better product.

    As Apple said its a great speaker first and this is what is most important. If all you want is voice assistant, use your phone they work great.
    MacPrololliver
  • Reply 20 of 48
    SHKSHK Posts: 2member
    I really wish they would have also compared it to the RIVA Arena. I've found the Riva Arena to be the best sounding, best built, and most reliable Airplay speaker, and it can be battery powered. It's also far less expensive.
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