Consumer Reports' dismissal of HomePod a familiar tale to Apple fans [u]

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  • Reply 21 of 109
    "Apple says that every time you move the speaker, it senses the motion, then automatically adjusts itself to its placement in the room using a series of test tones and complex algorithms to minimize reflections from nearby walls or other objects. That’s not a feature we evaluated."

    ...is such a core aspect of the design...?  Could that explain why they found the sound (or EQ) less to their liking...?
    pscooter63tmayroundaboutnownetmageargonaut
  • Reply 22 of 109
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,169member
    zoetmb said:
    CR does two types of reviews:  one uses objective measurements and another uses a consumer panel.   I don't know what they did in this case because I no longer read it, but consumer panels are absolutely worthless for evaluation of audio and video because most consumers have absolutely no idea what constitutes good audio (or picture) - they just know what they think they like.   Consumers will choose a speaker that appears to have more bass and high end over one that doesn't, even if that sound is inaccurate.  They'll also choose whichever system is louder, even if it's as little as 1db difference.   And they'll choose an over-saturated high contrast picture over a properly calibrated one.   That's why retailers set their TV displays to "store blast" mode.  

    Back in the 1970's, CR rated the AMC Gremlin as the best subcompact made.   As a result, I bought one.   Everything that could possibly go wrong in a car (valves, rings, wheel bearings, oil leaks, electrical shorts, etc.) went wrong in that car.   The only thing that always worked fine was the air conditioner and the radiator - the car never overheated even in the desert.   Even the metal that held the seatbacks up wore away and I had to stick a rod in the seat to keep the back from falling down.   CR later apologized, but the damage was done.   I've never trusted them since.  

    The one thing CR is good for is after a product has been out for some years is looking at the repair reports.   Other than that, I find their ratings usually useless - either because their testing isn't valid in the real world, because they only test a limited number of models or because their consumer panel testing is too subjective.   And really - you don't need CR to evaluate audio quality:  just go into a store and listen.  


    Okay I find this totally funny, My family also have a Gremlin and my sister and I beat the hell out of that car, patch it together with bondo due to all the rust and had a front end accident and just pulled the bumper out and that things never died, it just kept running. 

    I personally stop using CR a long time ago, I found as you did their recommendation has no real baring on real world experience. Their testers I conclude had no idea what they were doing. I have an engineering background and spent a fair amount of time in testing labs and one thing I learned from all that testing. You and devise a test that every product passes or one that every product fails, the issue was what did it tell you, absolutely nothing. The hardest thing in the world to do is devise a real world test that replicated failure in the real world. 

    I would not trust their reliability reports either. Here is why, it not base on actually repair data or failure data. It is base on consumers surveys. The issue with the surveys, CR mostly gets back ones which people had an issue or an ax to grind. I did their survey and found only did them when I had an issue with a product, when I told to our CR reader they were doing the same thing. As the old saying goes, if you have good experience you tell 3 people, if you have bad you tell 7, CR is getting the 7 not the 3. I have seen them give good rating on crappy products and bad review to good products and that is simple because people never reported the all the issue on their survey and definitely do not tell me about all the good experiences. Their surveys are skewed towards the complainers and squeaky wheel.

    You point about TV i all call the shopping experience at big box store wall of TVs the bug to the bug light experience. People gravitate to the brightest screen because they can not help themselves. I personally go in late and have the turn off all the TVs i am not interested in looking at, I also have them turn off demo mode, and play a nature scene verse a computer generated video image with fake colors that no one could tell if they were true life colors.

    randominternetpersonargonautSpamSandwich
  • Reply 23 of 109
    CR is like every other review site.  It’s more about confirming what you’ve heard somewhere else.

    For cars I’ll look at CR reliability/safety studies, warranty comparisons etc.  but these are just data points.  For subjective reviews I’ll look at customer experiences, and car expert reviews.  All that just determines which cars to test drive.  Because in the end only my review matters.

    The same goes for audio devices...

    Personally, I have some Panasonic wireless headphones that work fine so spending on a HomePad that doesn’t even connect to the TV is a no go.
  • Reply 24 of 109
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,847member
    Soli said:
    I trust Consumer Reports. In general they have always given Apple positive reviews. 
    I don't trust CR, but their results mostly match my experience with the HomePod. As even AI's video comparison shows, if you have a Google Home Max as your sole speaker system under your TV facing your couch, it'll be a better result than the HomePod. They didn't test two Sonos Ones acting in unison, but the results of the single Sonos One were close enough that I have to assume that the same setup would be better than a single HomePod or Google Home Max, especially since you can separate the sound better. There are reviews that have the Sonos Play 3 and Play 5 as being better single speaker options for directional setups, and, of course, Apple fanatics are first make claims that no one uses any Alexa of Google Now features except for playing music (denial, plus it allows them to negate that people can easily connect their ), which is usually followed by comments that they'll make it a better digital personal assistant soon (sounds like how Android fanatics talk about Android on this forum), which all ignores that so many said that Apple would've made a home-based digital personal assistant years ago if there was ever a market for it and that they'd never have something in their home that could always be listening (despite having mics, cameras, and internet-connected devices in pretty much every facet of their life).
    That may be the case, and I see where it might be accurate. But, they went out of their way after three whole days of testing to declare a winner. Not only that, they didn't talk about the whys and the hows -- just that it wasn't Apple.

    That's my issue. I'm fine with them declaring whatever the winner. But, that's not enough -- and leaving it at that breaks the group's stated goal of exhaustive testing.
    That's why I don't trust CR. There methodology is severely lacking, just like with their iPhone testing years ago.
  • Reply 25 of 109
    Soli said: As even AI's video comparison shows, if you have a Google Home Max as your sole speaker system under your TV facing your couch, it'll be a better result than the HomePod.
    The problem there is that the HomePod's design is obviously meant to eliminate the need for sitting directly in front of the speaker to get it's best sound. So even if the Max was judged to have an advantage there, it's not necessarily much of a point relative to the HomePod's design. I think most people that have owned forward facing compact systems know that's a significant weak spot.
    brucemcwatto_cobra
  • Reply 26 of 109
    Soli said:
    I trust Consumer Reports. In general they have always given Apple positive reviews. 
    I don't trust CR, but their results mostly match my experience with the HomePod. As even AI's video comparison shows, if you have a Google Home Max as your sole speaker system under your TV facing your couch, it'll be a better result than the HomePod. They didn't test two Sonos Ones acting in unison, but the results of the single Sonos One were close enough that I have to assume that the same setup would be better than a single HomePod or Google Home Max, especially since you can separate the sound better. There are reviews that have the Sonos Play 3 and Play 5 as being better single speaker options for directional setups, and, of course, Apple fanatics are first make claims that no one uses any Alexa of Google Now features except for playing music (denial, plus it allows them to negate that people can easily connect their ), which is usually followed by comments that they'll make it a better digital personal assistant soon (sounds like how Android fanatics talk about Android on this forum), which all ignores that so many said that Apple would've made a home-based digital personal assistant years ago if there was ever a market for it and that they'd never have something in their home that could always be listening (despite having mics, cameras, and internet-connected devices in pretty much every facet of their life).
    So you are saying that the you have compared these speakers yourself and these others in your opinion sound better than homepod? I am not trying to be snarky I just had a hard time following what exactly you are saying here?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 27 of 109
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,889member
    zoetmb said:
    CR does two types of reviews:  one uses objective measurements and another uses a consumer panel.   I don't know what they did in this case because I no longer read it, but consumer panels are absolutely worthless for evaluation of audio and video because most consumers have absolutely no idea what constitutes good audio (or picture) - they just know what they think they like.   Consumers will choose a speaker that appears to have more bass and high end over one that doesn't, even if that sound is inaccurate.  
    Well isn't that what it's about? Why care about specs all of a sudden. If "A" sounds better to two dozen panel members wouldn't that be a better vote of confidence than one audiophile saying "but...but.. B is more accurate". It matters not the technical accuracy unless that's your main criteria for buying audio gear. We all have our own individual "sounds great" because no one else has our exact tastes or exact ears. 

    There's folks out there that prefer Chevy over Ford and drag out "specs!" to prove the other side wrong too. Me I'm a Ford guy but not because of specs.
    edited February 13
  • Reply 28 of 109
    CR thrives when there's a confusing sea of products from many different makers, and no clear standout. That's when people really want to buy a copy of CR before they splurge on a set of speakers. But when there's an obvious, standout, fantastic product that blows away products costing much more? That's not so good for CR. Consumers just go buy the awesome product, and don't pick up a copy of CR while they're at it.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 29 of 109
    lukeilukei Posts: 321member
    We have Which? in the UK which is similar.

    All I know is that whenever I read a review in Which? regarding a product category I know about they spout nonsense..
    netmageargonautwatto_cobra
  • Reply 30 of 109
    Like others here, I stopped going to CR for either automotive or computer advice once their reviews came up against my actual experience with some of the merchandise. My one (or several) doesn't amount to much statistically, but I've found, for instance, that cartalk.com has much more reliable information on auto models, and reading a variety of Websites not biased toward or against Apple is much more useful than CR's reviews. The world plus dog like Apple products so much that not only does the company do very well indeed financially, but reporters and bloggers feel they have nothing to lose by continually predicting Apple's immediately impending demise due to one or another product misstep, while discounting Apple's drive to get the product right, sooner or later. Compare with Google's dropping of consumer product after product, prototype or real, usually after a single generation, with e.g. the only persistent value of Pixel phones being their "pure" Android (as opposed to the horrible, obsolete, locked-in provider versions installed on almost any other Android phone). Is it any wonder that consumers ignore advertising approaches ("Ooh, look at our pretty camera") that don't show any advantage to brand loyalty? The reporters and bloggers can get away with their by now amusingly consistent predictions of Apple doom and disaster because nobody really pays any attention. They're too focused on when the can order the next model of iThing.... and with good reason. If you enjoy reading sendups of the end-of-the-Apple-world prophets, check out the Macalope at Macworld: https://www.macworld.com/column/macalope/ . Sample: "And forget about the smartphone market. Pundits have. No one seems to recall how Amazon bombed at it so dramatically and then simply gave up. The Fire Phone has been swept unceremoniously under the rug. Some of them possibly literally. "[Visiting Jeff Bezos’s house] “'What’s that crunching sound?' "'Um… nothing.'"
    edited February 13
  • Reply 31 of 109
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,675member
    CR has a history of ridiculously flawed reviews of audio products gong back generations. I wouldn't trust them to select a loaf of bread.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 32 of 109
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,847member
    Soli said: As even AI's video comparison shows, if you have a Google Home Max as your sole speaker system under your TV facing your couch, it'll be a better result than the HomePod.
    The problem there is that the HomePod's design is obviously meant to eliminate the need for sitting directly in front of the speaker to get it's best sound. So even if the Max was judged to have an advantage there, it's not necessarily much of a point relative to the HomePod's design. I think most people that have owned forward facing compact systems know that's a significant weak spot.
    That may be their intent, but my experience with the HomePod set up very similar to how Apple demonstrated tesulted in less-than-ideal experience. Sound was clearly coming from one side of the room. Even when placing it in front of the TV I was able to discern the location of the sound in a blind test when it was off center by a surprisingly small distance. The only big feature is this beam-forming sound that's support to analyze the space the people in it. if that does exist in what is reportedly a beta OS on the HomePod (which I don't recall Apple ever doing with a shipping product), it's not as good as I expected.

    As the AI comparative review states, it works best when placed in the center of the room because the speakers are even spaced around the device, but how common is that? I'd need to use an extension cord to do that because of the length of the power cable (which is a reasonable length for a typically-placed speaker), and it still has the issue of not being an even sound unless I place it in front of the TV at its center point when connected to my Apple TV. My component speaker setup with an Echo Plus attached simply has much better sound and better functionality, but for me to say that here seems to offend people.

    Note: None of this are harbingers of doom, just as the original iPhone with only '2G' and no cut/copy/paste meant that it was going to fail. Apple has a lot of opportunity to make this a great product, but right now, as a smart speaker it falls short, and those people that are trying to claim that Apple doesn't intent for you are to use Siri as the primary UI and that you're supposed to just grab your iPhone, connect via AirPlay, and then control everything though iOS apps are full of shit. 
    edited February 13 gatorguy
  • Reply 33 of 109
    Sounds like they were just the first not to copy the Verge. I personally enjoy more mid-range when relaxing to audio rather than pumping bass and crisp highs all the time so hoping they add some kind of EQ to the HomePod to make it more versatile.
  • Reply 34 of 109
    Perhaps there is a typo in their mission statement. Rather than "fearlessly investigating where markets have failed,"  I recommend "fearlessly failing where markets have investigated “.
  • Reply 35 of 109
    I think Apple just may survive this review so everyone please take a deep breath or two. 
    lukeiargonaut
  • Reply 36 of 109
    Blunt said:
    Bunch of clowns as a don't live in the USA i don't no how important they are. is it a big deal?

    It's not a big deal.  They review every sort of thing you can imagine and usually compare street prices, specs, reliability data from surveys, and things like that.  The magazine can be very helpful when your alternative would be to essentially pick based on price and appearance.  I don't know much about different dish washers or snow blowers, so at least their information gives you something. A bad review likely affects sales but a so-so review such as I read on HomePod won't have much of an effect.

    In this case, I am thinking that CR's attempt at scientific testing could actually be defeating some of the HomePod's best features.  If they're using an acoustically quiet room, couldn't this screw up the HomePod's ability to detect the room qualities and make adjustments to the sound? Otherwise, I find it difficult to understand why audiophiles are gushing over how advanced it is and how it sounds great in their homes when CR finds no apparent improvements over competitors.

    *I'm not an audiophile.  I don't understand everything I read from audiophiles.  Don't have a HomePod.  But the hype is affecting me.  I want to hear one of these things.

    randominternetperson
  • Reply 37 of 109
    Sounds like they were just the first not to copy the Verge. I personally enjoy more mid-range when relaxing to audio rather than pumping bass and crisp highs all the time so hoping they add some kind of EQ to the HomePod to make it more versatile.
    I listened to Homepod all day yesterday while working from home, there was not fatigue from this speaker in respect to the highs, at least to my ears. Also the bass isn't "booming", it sounds very good at all levels, but was very subtle when at low volumes. It made the music sound full without it being too much. These are just my opinions..
  • Reply 38 of 109
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,506member
    Boy a lot of butt hurt people here.   

    I havent even seen a HomePid yet because frankly it doesnt even come close to meeting my requirements.   As such i cant comment on sound quality.  What i can say though is that everybodies hearing is a bit different so there are no absolutes as to which is better.  

    As for some of the sites refrenced that supposedly reviewed the HomePod why are people yere so willing to trust those positive reviews?    Seriously guys why throw your opinion over to the side that gets stuff to review with the expectation that the review will be positive?     Im not here to say that CRs reports and testing is all that can be,   Rather id trust them far more than engadget and a bunch of other sites with their glowing reviews.  

    In the end it is how the speaker sounds in the installation it is used in that counts.   That is dependent on many factors that makes much of the testing and reviews worthless in my opinion.    A common example here is testing frequency response of a speaker and declaring it good or bad baseed on the results.  While a flat response is nice technically HomePod and many other speaker installations have their response patterns altered via equalization so no flat response.  HomePod is apparently worse here as it is doing some equalization dynamically.   

    Im not trying to dismiss speaker specs here just trying to point out that how a speaker ultimately sounds to a person is subjective.   More so that sound is very installation dependent.  As such dont get wrapped up in metrics as that is only part of the story.  
    mazda 3s
  • Reply 39 of 109
    I am sure they at least as fair-and-balanced about Apple as a website with Apple in its name.

    tokyojimumazda 3s
  • Reply 40 of 109
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,847member
    jcs2305 said:
    Sounds like they were just the first not to copy the Verge. I personally enjoy more mid-range when relaxing to audio rather than pumping bass and crisp highs all the time so hoping they add some kind of EQ to the HomePod to make it more versatile.
    I listened to Homepod all day yesterday while working from home, there was not fatigue from this speaker in respect to the highs, at least to my ears. Also the bass isn't "booming", it sounds very good at all levels, but was very subtle when at low volumes. It made the music sound full without it being too much. These are just my opinions..
    I wish the bass was a little more booming, but I wonder if that could be where it's placed. I have in a wood table that's raised off the ground. Maybe the audio is dispelling too quickly into the air between the wood and the floor.

    I was surprised to see the woofer pointed upwards in the iFixit teardown, but perhaps that's normal so that it pushes more securely down on a surface rather than trying to lift up on it. I was impressed with the size of the magnet in the teardown, but I honestly don't know that means as I assume materials can vary considerably. All I know is how it sounds compared to my standard setup.
    edited February 13
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