Editorial: Amidst cries for a cheaper HomePod, Amazon now has a higher-end Echo

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Comments

  • Reply 21 of 43
    Wow! So much BS about a speaker that's not even out yet and very few people have heard. Here's and idea, wait until it's in people's hands and tested to draw any conclusions. And just because it differs technically from the HP doesn't mean it wont compete on sound and features.
  • Reply 22 of 43
    gatorguy said: Intentionally or just not finding any advantage to it in their personal spaces? By the way Home Max also analyzes its sound to adjust to the acoustics of a room, so framing it as a "dumb speaker" is a misnomer.  
    Home Max is limited to changing the equalizer settings based on microphone feedback, which is a function that wasn't available when HomePod originally released. Reviews of Home Max back at that time wouldn't have been taking that into account. It also wouldn't change the fact that sitting to the side or behind the Home Max would degrade the listening experience.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 23 of 43
    irelandireland Posts: 17,785member
    Apple should consider a small sibling product. In typical Apple fashion it won't be cheap, but a $149 HomePod mini product alongside its larger sibling would be something.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 24 of 43
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,393member
    gatorguy said: Intentionally or just not finding any advantage to it in their personal spaces? By the way Home Max also analyzes its sound to adjust to the acoustics of a room, so framing it as a "dumb speaker" is a misnomer.  
    Home Max is limited to changing the equalizer settings based on microphone feedback, which is a function that wasn't available when HomePod originally released.
    Nope. Read the specs. Move the speaker and it automatically adjusts its acoustics within seconds. Smart Sound.
    You are confusing that with also being able to manually adjust the EQ to your liking, and you are correct it was not originally available on HomePod.  FWIW I did reduce the bass a bit on my Max's. The HomePod is too bass-heavy for my liking too unless the couple with them has boosted theirs which I doubt they did but..... 
    New music demands massive bass I guess. 

    BTW, why would you be behind a speaker? That's got to be pretty uncommon. I don't know anyone with a speaker in the middle of their room, other than the rare case of a portable one for a get together. For that I have a decent pair of 360 degree JBL speakers with Assistant, good for around the grill and tailgate too. All my wired 360' sound speakers (3 standard "air-freshener" Homes and a half dozen Mini's) are near walls not out in the middle of a room. 

    Fun Fact: Google turns 21 today. Still a kid but now old enough to drink. ;)
    edited September 2019 bigtds
  • Reply 25 of 43
    adamcadamc Posts: 582member
    I believe Amazon is too late to the race. Perhaps only to the die hards.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 26 of 43
    I guess it depends on the size of the place where you live, what you do/listen to in each room, and how you like to move about your house. I don't always carry my phone with me, I don't like to wear a watch at home so I'm happy to have the option to buy smaller, cheaper speakers for rooms where I don't listen to music and better, larger speakers for rooms where I do. Amazon now gives you that choice.
    gatorguywilliamlondon
  • Reply 27 of 43
    The previews of the thing made it sound like the sound was pretty impressive.

    DED will never ever admit that something is better than an Apple product.

    I love my Mac, iPad and iPhone and as of right now, won't get rid of them for anything else but this is a speaker and I will look for the sound quality and if the Amazon product ends up sounding better, then I will go that way.

    Not everything needs to have a Apple logo on it for me.
    bigtdswilliamlondonmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 28 of 43
    This review states, "Each HomePod unit by itself delivers wide, stereophonic sound." That is absolutely untrue! One HomePod delivers only MONO sound.
    Incorrect. Seven tweeters = stereo reproduction in highs/mids. One woofer = mono reproduction in lows. So although HomePod is not capable of delivering true stereo (more than one channel for both tweeters and woofers) with a single unit, it's not a mono speaker. 
    Actually your statement is incorrect. The left and right stereo channels are combined and folded down to mono for both the woofer and tweeters when using a single HomePod. The fact that the HomePod has seven tweeters has absolutely nothing to do with stereo reproduction, since they are all outputting the same MONO information. The sound emanating from one HomePod is always mono. As I referenced in my original post (#14), Apple clearly states, (https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208807), for stereo reproduction you must use two HomePods and the Home app to set them up as a stereo pair, with the result that one HomePod will deliver the left channel of the stereo signal and the other will deliver the right channel. The seven tweeter array in a single HomePod provides for a wider soundstage, but it is in no way stereo.
    gatorguyavon b7andy-ukwilliamlondonFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 29 of 43
    aressaress said: The left and right stereo channels are combined and folded down to mono for both the woofer and tweeters when using a single HomePod. 
    I own a HomePod. Stereo effects are present in the highs/mids with a single unit. Is there as much separation as with two units? Of course not, but that's to be expected from a compact unit. Apple wouldn't need to have tweeters capable of directional audio or an A8 inside that's calculating how to best reflect and cancel certain sound waves if their intent was to provide 100% mono sound in a single unit. Apple makes it clear that all of those things are taking place when you use a single unit. Apple doesn't mention "stereo" with an individual HomePod because there is no stereo reproduction in the low end with only one woofer. That doesn't actually mean the sound in the highs/mids is mono. 
    edited September 2019 watto_cobra
  • Reply 30 of 43
    gatorguy said: Nope. Read the specs. Move the speaker and it automatically adjusts its acoustics within seconds. Smart Sound.
    I didn't need to read the specs. I went to Google's own product page for the current version of the Home Max. Smart Sound is an equalizer adjustment.

    "With Smart Sound, Google Home Max uses machine learning to automatically adjust the equalizer settings to match the acoustics of your room."

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 31 of 43
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,393member
    gatorguy said: Nope. Read the specs. Move the speaker and it automatically adjusts its acoustics within seconds. Smart Sound.
    I didn't need to read the specs. I went to Google's own product page for the current version of the Home Max. Smart Sound is an equalizer adjustment.

    "With Smart Sound, Google Home Max uses machine learning to automatically adjust the equalizer settings to match the acoustics of your room."

    Well that certainly isn't the description of a dumb speaker is it? Nope, the HomeMax is not a "dumb speaker" as you said it is.

    As for the Homepod I think you're ascribing too much "magic" to it.  AFAIK those 7 tweeters are all playing the same signal but adjusting the directional volume from each to accommodate the location of walls and other obstacles to the sound. From what I read there is no variation in the frequencies themselves, some speakers playing mids and some projecting the highs. It cannot play stereophonic sound, sending different frequencies and channels to different parts of the room.  But yeah the guy sitting on the couch along the left wall will hear the same sound as the kid sitting in a chair in the center of the room. That's not always the case with other speaker designs, so kudos Apple. 

    As for the bass it works identically to the HomeMax and is modified only under the same circumstances: When the speaker is moved causing it to "listen" to the returned sound and adjusting equalizer for it's new room position. Unless the speaker is moved there is no change.

     The HomePod does not know where the listener is and it doesn't care. It makes an effort to control the direction of sound so that the entire room is "equalized", readjusting only when the speaker itself moved. It cannot "sense" and adjust when things like people, furniture, drapes, or whatever in the room have moved or been changed.
    If you believe I've misunderstood then please do correct me and point to a source. I've been known to make a mistake. 

    Yeah the HomePod is more technical, "smarter" if you prefer to use that term, than the HomeMax and on that we agree. That doesn't make it a dumb speaker nor does it mean the HomePod will sound "better" than a HomeMax. They are different designs with different focus. The types of music you prefer, your personal listening space dynamics, the volume you like and other variables, can all play into which of the two premium smart speakers sound better to you. You could try buying a used HomeMax off Ebay (sell it afterwards if you wish for little to no loss)  and placing it in the same position as your HomePod and then post with more authority. You should consider it. I'd be happy to do so myself except that Apple pretty much makes it useless to try if you aren't firmly in the Apple product fold.  

    At the end of the day simply being smarter doesn't mean you got better results. The world is full of "smart" losers and "dumb" triumphant's much to the chagrin of some of us.  
    edited September 2019 bigtdsmuthuk_vanalingamCarnage
  • Reply 32 of 43
    I'm a recent long-term AAPL shareholder, who after 12 years of investing in AAPL cashed out with a multi-million capital gain from AAPL. The reason I got out of AAPL is that for about 4-5 years now I've been disappointed in the direction of Apple and lost my faith in Apple under Tim Cook. 

    For years now, as a consumer, I have been reducing my spending on the Apple products compared to how much I used to buy per year. Certain categories no longer interest me at all. They are:the iPad, HomePod, and certain services. I've lost interest in upgrading my iPhone and Apple Watch annually, and I keep my Macs for much longer than I used to. I'm still in the Apple's ecosystem as a consumer, but as a shareholder, I've lost faith in what Apple is doing and where it's going. I've always tried to keep my consumer side and my shareholder side separate. 

    It dawned on me a few weeks ago that, as an average consumer, I've been spending many times more money on Amazon products and services than I spend on Apple products and services per year. The ratio is about 10/1 in favor of Amazon. I buy most of my groceries at Whole Foods, and I use my Amazon Prime membership extensively when I do so to get a discount on groceries. On average, I reduce my grocery bill by about 15-20% every time I buy groceries by buying things that are on sale and exclusive deals for Amazon Prime members. I'm eating much more healthy now while keeping my grocery bill under control with the help of Amazon Prime membership, so my partnership with Amazon is good for both sides.

    I buy more and more household items on Amazon and utilize my Prime membership for free shipping. I am not yet using the grocery delivery service that Amazon offers but I'm seeing many new Whole Foods employees now that are putting together grocery delivery bags for customers at the local Whole Foods. I see more and more Amazon trucks in the area. In fact, I considered myself owning an Amazon logistics business and having a few dozen trucks. Even with streaming content, I haven't bought or rented anything on iTunes for years now, but I utilize my Prime Membership subscription to stream content on Amazon Video daily. Mind you, I've been a cord cutter since 2010, when I bought my first Apple TV2 (as soon as it came out). I've been with Apple since the beginning of their Apple TV "hobby" and believed in their vision just to end up not using iTunes for years now because Apple completely botched up the entire concept and let both Netflix and Amazon Video overtake them. I stil use Apple TVs in my house, but not many Apple services. 

    As for the new Amazon speaker, I'm sure that Amazon will sell more of them than Apple is selling HomePods. Even if the HomePod is a superior speaker to this new Amazon speaker, HomePod is pretty limited in what it can do. It's locked down to the Apple ecosystem, which is limited and boring. Amazon, on the other hand, has an open ecosystem, which will make owning the new Amazon speaker much more useful and exciting for the user even if the sound quality would be not quite as good as the HomePod's. I don't own any Amazon Echo devices, as I'm cautious about devices with microphones in my house, but Alexa can't be worse than Siri, which is a complete disaster and utter failure. 

    From the growth perspective, Amazon under Jeff Bezos is doing an incredible job. Just think of it: Amazon started out as an Internet book store and look what Bezos is doing now in so many different fields, including building rockets and spaceships. Consumers are thrilled and excited with what Amazon is doing. The return for investors is also much higher than what Apple has done for their investors in the last 5-6 years.

    All in all, IMHO, Apple has become a boring company. It's not going away, and it's not doomed, but it has become like Microsoft of the 2004-2014 decade, and it will take a new CEO to make Apple exciting again. Apple has stagnated and will remain stagnated for some time until the investors force Tim Cook to resign. 

    There's nothing magical about Apple, as a company, compared to other high-tech companies of the Silicon Valley. They are all competing for the same talent, and it's more about a vision of the company's leadership than anything else. Elon Musk has the vision, and so does Jeff Bezos. Tim Cook has none whatsoever. No wonder that both Musk and Bezos are "aiming for the stars" (literally) besides the core businesses that they are running (which are both also very exciting and innovative), and Tim Cook is busy accumulating cash reserves instead, which serves neither customers nor investors, and does nothing for accelerating the innovation at Apple. The recent PR failures like the abandonment of the charging mat and the endless delay of the new Mac Pro demonstrate that Apple can't even execute on such "down to earth" projects, leave alone building something as complex as a spaceship. 

    The original magic of Apple was in Steve Jobs; not in Steve Wozniak. It was about coming up with how to make an exciting device for the consumer based on the existing technologies; not necessarily about inventing new technologies but about using existing technologies in a new and exciting way. Steve Jobs could have found another engineering talent if Woz had refused Job's offer. However, there would have been no Apple without Jobs even with Woz in it. It's really all about the vision with the engineering talent and tech following the visionary. The current Apple tech talent has no visionary to follow. 
    edited September 2019
  • Reply 33 of 43
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 6,288member
    sirozha said:
    I'm a recent long-term AAPL shareholder, who after 12 years of investing in AAPL cashed out with a multi-million capital gain from AAPL. The reason I got out of AAPL is that for about 4-5 years now I've been disappointed in the direction of Apple and lost my faith in Apple under Tim Cook. 

    For years now, as a consumer, I have been reducing my spending on the Apple products compared to how much I used to buy per year. Certain categories no longer interest me at all. They are:the iPad, HomePod, and certain services. I've lost interest in upgrading my iPhone and Apple Watch annually, and I keep my Macs for much longer than I used to. I'm still in the Apple's ecosystem as a consumer, but as a shareholder, I've lost faith in what Apple is doing and where it's going. I've always tried to keep my consumer side and my shareholder side separate. 

    It dawned on me a few weeks ago that , as an average consumer, I've been spending many times more money on Amazon products and services than I spend on Apple products and services per year. I buy most of my groceries at Whole Foods, and I use my Amazon Prime membership extensively when I do so to get a discount on groceries. On average, I reduce my grocery bill by about 15-20% every time I buy groceries by buying things that are on sale and exclusive deals for Amazon Prime members. I buy more and more household items on Amazon and utilize my Prime membership for free shipping. I am not yet using the grocery delivery service that Amazon offers but I'm seeing many new Whole Foods employees now that are putting together grocery delivery bags for customers at the local Whole Foods. I see more and more Amazon truck in the area. In fact, I considered myself owning an Amazon logistics business and having a few dozen trucks. Even with movies, I haven't bought or rented anything on iTunes for years now, but I utilize my Prime Membership subscription to stream content on Amazon Video daily. Mind you, I've been a cord cutter since 2010, when I bought my first Apple TV2 (as soon as it came out). I've been with Apple since the beginning of their Apple TV "hobby" and believed in their vision just to end up not using iTunes anymore because they completely botched up the entire concept and let both Netflix and Amazon Video overtake them. 

    As for the new Amazon speaker, I'm sure that Amazon will sell more of them than Apple is selling HomePods. Even if the HomePod is a superior speaker to this new Amazon speaker, HomePod is pretty limited in what it can do. It's locked down to the Apple ecosystem, which is limited and boring. Amazon, on the other hand, has an open ecosystem, which will make owning the new Amazon speaker much more useful and exciting for the user even if the sound quality would be not quite as good as the HomePod's. 

    From the growth perspective, Amazon under Jeff Bezos is doing an incredible job. Consumers are thrilled and excited with what Amazon is doing. The return for investors is also much higher than what Apple has done for their investors in the last 5-6 years. I don't own any Amazon Echo devices, as I'm cautious about devices with microphones in my house, but Alexa can't be worse than Siri, which is a complete disaster and utter failure. 

    All in all, IMHO, Apple has become a boring company. It's not going away, and it's not doomed, but it has become like Microsoft of the 2004-2014 decade, and it will take a new CEO to make Apple exciting again. Apple has stagnated and will remain stagnated for some time until the investors force Tim Cook to resign. 

    There's nothing magical in Apple compared to other high-tech companies of the Silicon Valley. They are all competing for the same talent, and it's more about a vision of the company leadership than anything else. Elon Musk has the vision, and so does Jeff Bezos. Tim Cook has none whatsoever. No wonder that both Musk and Bezos are "aiming for the stars" (literally) besides the core businesses that they are running, and Tim Cook is accumulating cash reserves instead, which serves neither customers nor investors, and does nothing for accelerating the innovation at Apple. The recent PR failures like the discontinuation of the charging mat and the endless delay of the new Mac Pro demonstrate that Apple can't even execute on such "down to earth" projects, leave alone building something as complex as a spaceship. 

    The original magic of Apple was in Steve Jobs; not in Steve Wozniak. It was about coming up with how to make an exciting device for the consumer based on the existing technologies; not necessarily about inventing new technologies but about using existing technologies in a new and exciting way. Steve Jobs could have found another engineering talent if Woz had refused Job's offer. However, there would have been no Apple without Jobs even with Woz in it. It's really all about the vision with the engineering talent and tech following the visionary. The current Apple tech talent has no visionary to follow. 
    I see a lot of similarities in your view of Apple and mine from a hardware perspective. Thanks for providing an honest, feet on the ground opinion (and congratulations on the profits made on those shares).


  • Reply 34 of 43
    'Each HomePod unit by itself delivers wide, stereophonic sound'. What? No it doesn't, two Homepods paired together provide stereo, which you presumably already knew. 
  • Reply 35 of 43
    Which is still less expensive than the HomePod.
    You act as price is the only consideration and all Apple products should be less expensive than competitors. Neither of these is true. 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 36 of 43
    This review states, "Each HomePod unit by itself delivers wide, stereophonic sound." That is absolutely untrue! One HomePod delivers only MONO sound.
    Incorrect. Seven tweeters = stereo reproduction in highs/mids. One woofer = mono reproduction in lows. So although HomePod is not capable of delivering true stereo (more than one channel for both tweeters and woofers) with a single unit, it's not a mono speaker. 
    Correct. HP does left and right channel separation and if near a wall bounces channels to different sides. Not mono. 

    This was explained by Apple at launch and on their product page:

    “Place HomePod anywhere in the room. With spatial awareness, it automatically analyzes the acoustics and adjusts the sound based on its location. Direct sound, including the main vocals and instruments,
    is beamed to the middle of the room, while ambient sound is diffused into left and right channels and bounced off the wall.”

    edited September 2019 williamlondon
  • Reply 37 of 43
    This review states, "Each HomePod unit by itself delivers wide, stereophonic sound." That is absolutely untrue! One HomePod delivers only MONO sound.
    Incorrect. Seven tweeters = stereo reproduction in highs/mids. One woofer = mono reproduction in lows. So although HomePod is not capable of delivering true stereo (more than one channel for both tweeters and woofers) with a single unit, it's not a mono speaker. 
    Correct. HP does left and right channel separation and if near a wall bounces channels to different sides. Not mono. 

    This was explained by Apple at launch and on their product page:

    “Place HomePod anywhere in the room. With spatial awareness, it automatically analyzes the acoustics and adjusts the sound based on its location. Direct sound, including the main vocals and instruments,
    is beamed to the middle of the room, while ambient sound is diffused into left and right channels and bounced off the wall.”
    That is interesting. I have read that description quite a few times here on AI (thorough I haven't seen any technical details from Apple). That solution would mean that a single Home Pod has a rather small "sweet spot" where you'd get a balanced stereo sound, while those to the right or left of the speaker will get single channel (left or right) sound - effectively worse than a true mono mix.
    Surprising.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 38 of 43
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,393member
    This review states, "Each HomePod unit by itself delivers wide, stereophonic sound." That is absolutely untrue! One HomePod delivers only MONO sound.
    Incorrect. Seven tweeters = stereo reproduction in highs/mids. One woofer = mono reproduction in lows. So although HomePod is not capable of delivering true stereo (more than one channel for both tweeters and woofers) with a single unit, it's not a mono speaker. 
    Correct. HP does left and right channel separation and if near a wall bounces channels to different sides. Not mono. 

    This was explained by Apple at launch and on their product page:

    “Place HomePod anywhere in the room. With spatial awareness, it automatically analyzes the acoustics and adjusts the sound based on its location. Direct sound, including the main vocals and instruments,
    is beamed to the middle of the room, while ambient sound is diffused into left and right channels and bounced off the wall.”

    "It’s not hard to test it: put on "I Saw Her Standing There" on The Beatles’ 1963 album Please, Please Me. Paul’s voice is on the right channel, and the main guitar and the drums are on the left. This was common practice in the early days of stereo.

    Listen to that song on a single HomePod and you’ll quickly understand that it’s not stereo. The two channels are in a single stream, and you don’t hear the voice on one side and the guitar and drums on the other. It’s logical: how would the HomePod know where the listener is to know how to separate channels?"

    edited September 2019 avon b7muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 39 of 43
    gatorguy said:
    This review states, "Each HomePod unit by itself delivers wide, stereophonic sound." That is absolutely untrue! One HomePod delivers only MONO sound.
    Incorrect. Seven tweeters = stereo reproduction in highs/mids. One woofer = mono reproduction in lows. So although HomePod is not capable of delivering true stereo (more than one channel for both tweeters and woofers) with a single unit, it's not a mono speaker. 
    Correct. HP does left and right channel separation and if near a wall bounces channels to different sides. Not mono. 

    This was explained by Apple at launch and on their product page:

    “Place HomePod anywhere in the room. With spatial awareness, it automatically analyzes the acoustics and adjusts the sound based on its location. Direct sound, including the main vocals and instruments,
    is beamed to the middle of the room, while ambient sound is diffused into left and right channels and bounced off the wall.”

    "It’s not hard to test it: put on "I Saw Her Standing There" on The Beatles’ 1963 album Please, Please Me. Paul’s voice is on the right channel, and the main guitar and the drums are on the left. This was common practice in the early days of stereo.

    Listen to that song on a single HomePod and you’ll quickly understand that it’s not stereo. The two channels are in a single stream, and you don’t hear the voice on one side and the guitar and drums on the other. It’s logical: how would the HomePod know where the listener is to know how to separate channels?"

    Can't HomePod detect a heartbeat in an object that it bounces sound waves off? 
  • Reply 40 of 43
    gatorguy said: Listen to that song on a single HomePod and you’ll quickly understand that it’s not stereo.
    A mono speaker can't separate elements of a track because a mono speaker = all elements of the song have to be combined into the same channel. The paragraph you quoted says that HomePod is separating elements of the track, which isn't possible if the speaker has combined everything into a mono channel. The mistake you're making is in thinking that not hearing the standard stereo mix for two separate speakers means that HomePod isn't processing a stereo track. Like I said earlier, HomePod isn't a stereo speaker, nor is it a mono speaker. You could call it a hybrid.

    This article from Forbes states the same thing in it's second point..."This is not a mono speaker, where the music is mixed down to a mono track. It does pay attention to the distinct left and right channels of a stereo track and uses them as part of the sound it creates."

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidphelan/2018/02/06/ten-things-nobody-has-told-you-about-apples-homepod-secrets-release-date/#4a32505f4d6a
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