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

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Comments

  • Reply 21 of 48
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,461member
    SHK said:
    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.
    Never really heard of them before, but thanks now. They apparently have a good thing going and are lauded for their fidelity too according to reviews I was just looking at. Like other audio manufacturers they say that built-in voice assistants are being added to their speaker line this year but Riva is supported now by both Apple and Google Home. 
    edited February 13
  • Reply 22 of 48
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,169member
    bshank said:
    The Google speakers sound horrible 
    but but .. what does sound quality matter if it can answer more silly questions that trip the brand new Siri up?  /s
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 23 of 48
    larryalarrya Posts: 485member
    Still need to see a double blind study. Or maybe they tried that and got the wrong results. 
    edited February 13 cgWerks
  • Reply 24 of 48
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,461member
    MacPro said:
    bshank said:
    The Google speakers sound horrible 
    but but .. what does sound quality matter if it can answer more silly questions that trip the brand new Siri up?  /s
    The video may have sounded terrible but the reviewer found the sound quality almost indistinguishable from the HomePod. Where HP had the advantage was in 360 sound so that the "sweetspot" was minimized. The Home Max is much more directional so sound fullness fall off faster as you move further to the side.
  • Reply 25 of 48
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,622member
    rain22 said:
    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
    Anyway who says this crap knows nothing about aac, so in fact you demonstrate your "non knowledge".

    I would have made not one ounce of difference for this kind of speakers in this price range in such a room.

    Maybe makes one once of difference on top end headphones if you have super duper ears on recorded live performances with a minimum of post processing.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 26 of 48
    evilutionevilution Posts: 1,261member
    I'm happy with the sound of my HomePod and it's better than the sound from any other speaker I own.
    If the HomePod sounds this good, imagine how good it'll sound with 2 in stereo. Can't wait for that.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 27 of 48
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,563member
    You'd think that the guys creating an audio quality comparison video would have a better mic setup for the reviewer's own voice. That was awful. The audio quality of AI videos is usually a lot better.
  • Reply 28 of 48
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,461member
    volcan said:
    You'd think that the guys creating an audio quality comparison video would have a better mic setup for the reviewer's own voice. That was awful. The audio quality of AI videos is usually a lot better.
    It wouldn't matter. We're all listening to it on stuff ranging from our smartphone speakers to a simple monitor speaker to a nicer 2.1/5.1 speaker setup. There's no way for any of us to discern the quality of the sound from an online video. It's like seeing these amazing commercials for a 65" 4K OLED TV on our 720p 32" bedroom TV. Some are fooled into thinking they see something they aren't. In this case some here are fooled into thinking they're hearing something they aren't. 
    edited February 13 cgWerks
  • Reply 29 of 48
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,506member
    This reminds me of the early days of hi-def televisions, when tech tv shows would demonstrate, then say “But of course, you folk at home won’t be able to see this.”

  • Reply 30 of 48
    rain22 said:
    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
    The problem with pop music for comparisons is that there's so much dynamic range compression that it's impossible to know whether the pumping we're hearing is indicative of a deficient amp or just the way the song sounds.

    I'm not terribly concerned about using AAC files for this kind of thing though. The difference between a well-encoded 256Kb AAC and straight PCM is pretty subtle these days, and is utterly swamped by MUCH more significant anomalies on gear in this range. I seriously doubt most of us could even reliably tell the difference between AAC and PCM in a blind comparison using any of those speakers.
    cgWerks
  • Reply 31 of 48

    cgWerks said:
    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.
    I have a traditional Bluetooth setup in my kitchen (only because I'm already stuck with it, otherwise I'd go with the compact-amp-with-good-little-speakers setup you describe.)

    My complaint is that I have to have a "source" with me to use it. If I want music, I have to use my phone as a controller (I know, such an immense hardship, right? :)) The overwhelming inconvenience is compounded by me having an iPhone 6, so I have to activate Siri MANUALLY! It's not hands free. It's almost as bad as having to walk over to the stereo to insert a CD! It's all just too much sometimes...

    With the HomePod I can just walk into the room and tell it what i want to hear. No phone, no fingers, no problem. Sarcasm aside, I gotta admit that appeals to me.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 32 of 48
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,071member
    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.

    Actually, Go to a Symphony Concert Hall, listen to Bach Beethoven, Mozart  or Tchaikovsky concert and experience how this feels on your body and how it sounds, then go home and locate the best quality versions of these composers music and see if the speakers in your home give you the same experience. Most of the music we all listen today, it poor crappy version of what it could be so there is no way to know if the sound coming out of any speaker or system are any good. Any time I set of my sound system in my home I play a few of these composers and let it rip and see how it sounds and feels on the body. Classical music hits the entire dynamic range.
    SpamSandwichwatto_cobra
  • Reply 33 of 48
    maestro64 said:
    Actually, Go to a Symphony Concert Hall, listen to Bach Beethoven, Mozart  or Tchaikovsky concert and experience how this feels on your body and how it sounds, then go home and locate the best quality versions of these composers music and see if the speakers in your home give you the same experience.
    NO!!! DON'T!!! IT WILL RUIN YOUR ENJOYMENT OF RECORDED MUSIC FOREVER!!!

    I used to have a pretty good playback system in my acoustically controlled living room. One night I did exactly what you describe -- I came home from a live symphony still wanting more, so I put on a Telarc recording of the same orchestra performing the same symphony. What a let down! My opinion of the state of music reproduction changed forever. If a good system like mine failed so miserably at recreating the real experience, there's just no hope of home listening ever getting close to the real thing. You might as well give up on the idealistic and unrealistic notion of "accurate reproduction" and just buy whatever audio equipment makes you feel good.
    cgWerksSpamSandwich
  • Reply 34 of 48
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,035member
    It's difficult to hear the difference when the audio is going through an external mic and then push out any number of speakers, not to mention whatever YouTube might do to compress audio.

    Is it possible to have a visual representation of the audio from the source as an overlay on the video that would be able to clearly show which devices have the better audio?
  • Reply 35 of 48
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,071member
    maestro64 said:
    Actually, Go to a Symphony Concert Hall, listen to Bach Beethoven, Mozart  or Tchaikovsky concert and experience how this feels on your body and how it sounds, then go home and locate the best quality versions of these composers music and see if the speakers in your home give you the same experience.
    NO!!! DON'T!!! IT WILL RUIN YOUR ENJOYMENT OF RECORDED MUSIC FOREVER!!!

    I used to have a pretty good playback system in my acoustically controlled living room. One night I did exactly what you describe -- I came home from a live symphony still wanting more, so I put on a Telarc recording of the same orchestra performing the same symphony. What a let down! My opinion of the state of music reproduction changed forever. If a good system like mine failed so miserably at recreating the real experience, there's just no hope of home listening ever getting close to the real thing. You might as well give up on the idealistic and unrealistic notion of "accurate reproduction" and just buy whatever audio equipment makes you feel good.

    yep total let down, close but never the same. Total people equate load and heave base as it must be good. If your music through your system is not giving you chills it just sucks. This is why I laugh when I hear all these people saying which one sounds better. I am not Audiophile, far from it, but I know what I like and know what it takes to sound good, which make me a tad bit dangerous. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 36 of 48
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,563member
    gatorguy said:
    There's no way for any of us to discern the quality of the sound from an online video. 
    I have a pretty good setup with external speakers to my iMac 5K and I can definitely hear the difference between good audio and crap audio. The spoken audio in this video definitely falls into the latter category.
  • Reply 37 of 48
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,461member
    volcan said:
    gatorguy said:
    There's no way for any of us to discern the quality of the sound from an online video. 
    I have a pretty good setup with external speakers to my iMac 5K and I can definitely hear the difference between good audio and crap audio. The spoken audio in this video definitely falls into the latter category.
    And you think that allows you to accurately evaluate smart-speaker reproduction based on what it sounds like in a YouTube video? I don't care how good the original source recording was, it ain't gonna happen with an online review video. 
  • Reply 38 of 48
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,563member
    gatorguy said:
    volcan said:
    gatorguy said:
    There's no way for any of us to discern the quality of the sound from an online video. 
    I have a pretty good setup with external speakers to my iMac 5K and I can definitely hear the difference between good audio and crap audio. The spoken audio in this video definitely falls into the latter category.
    And you think that allows you to accurately evaluate smart-speaker reproduction based on what it sounds like in a YouTube video? I don't care how good the original source recording was, it ain't gonna happen with an online review video. 
    Absolutely not. Perhaps I wasn't clear enough. I was only commenting on the poor quality of the reviewer's voice mic set up. Because the other audio was not done in a very controlled environment, the only thing we really had to go on were the remarks from the commentator and his audio was very poor. I watch YouTube all the time with people speaking and rarely have I heard anything worse in terms of the reviewer's voice than this, especially since AI is claiming to be a professional organization. Just flat out poor mic implementation, bad recording or bad audio post, or maybe all three.
  • Reply 39 of 48
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,461member
    volcan said:
    gatorguy said:
    volcan said:
    gatorguy said:
    There's no way for any of us to discern the quality of the sound from an online video. 
    I have a pretty good setup with external speakers to my iMac 5K and I can definitely hear the difference between good audio and crap audio. The spoken audio in this video definitely falls into the latter category.
    And you think that allows you to accurately evaluate smart-speaker reproduction based on what it sounds like in a YouTube video? I don't care how good the original source recording was, it ain't gonna happen with an online review video. 
    Absolutely not. Perhaps I wasn't clear enough. I was only commenting on the poor quality of the reviewer's voice mic set up. Because the other audio was not done in a very controlled environment, the only thing we really had to go on were the remarks from the commentator and his audio was very poor. I watch YouTube all the time with people speaking and rarely have I heard anything worse in terms of the reviewer's voice than this, especially since AI is claiming to be a professional organization. Just flat out poor mic implementation, bad recording or bad audio post, or maybe all three.
    Oh, fair enough then.  :)
  • Reply 40 of 48
    foggyhill said:
    rain22 said:
    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
    Anyway who says this crap knows nothing about aac, so in fact you demonstrate your "non knowledge".

    I would have made not one ounce of difference for this kind of speakers in this price range in such a room.

    Maybe makes one once of difference on top end headphones if you have super duper ears on recorded live performances with a minimum of post processing.
    Anyone who knows anything about audio at all just rolled their eyes and laughed at you. 
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