Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by segue, Aug 3, 2017.
It seems he’s updated his findings...
He did title it: "An Audiophile Perspective".
I take that to mean “A perspective from someone who knows and appreciates good sound”.
Would NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson test drive and write a review about a $30K Camaro and tell everyone it’s not as good as his 800hp Chevy race car? I wouldn’t mind reading Jimmie’s perspective on a $30K Camaro vs. $30K Mustang. [Side note: pro driver Randy Pobst does exactly this]. Just like this guy should have spent more time comparing the HomePod to the Klipsch (or fill-in-the-blank) competition.
Whatever one's views - and there are good points on all sides - when's the last time there's been a mass-media discussion on sound quality? The focus has all been on convenience, portability and aesthetics, and it's refreshing to me to see people debating sound quality. I have a little Anker SoundCore I picked up for twenty bucks and I enjoy it for what it is, but if the HomePod or a similar device takes their place as the best source of music in the average home, that's for the good.
I doubt they will pull Apple Music from Sonos. It did not come to Sonos immediately after rollout and Apple wants their service to keep growing. It’s a much bigger part of their strategy than HomePod.
It would be interesting. But I would find it suspect as consumer guidance. I wouldn't trust anyone's ability to shed a hard-earned ultra-pro perspective in service of giving me advice relevant to my low-end amateur purchasing decision.
Difficult? You listen to it. You like the sound. You don't like the sound. It sounds average. And then you decide if you want one or not. Easy peasy.
Wow, I earlier made some favorable assumptions about the validity of this review's testing and even commented snarkily here (in a post since deleted) about criticism of the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed reviewer.
Then went to bed and woke up to the wholesale dismantling of the review in the r/audiophile comments, which to the reviewer's credit he has accepted meekly. I too now humbly accept I had no idea what I was talking about when I weighed in.
Which is not to say that the HomePod is either wonderful or mediocre from a hi-fi perspective, but I'm done opining until I have direct evaluative experience.
At its size, it sounds better than it has a right to. That being said, I am not sure how anyone can actually measure it in a way that it would be meaningful. The sound changes depending on room conditions and possibly by song. If you put it in an anechoic chamber, you lose the beam forming engineering that makes it sound good in most rooms.
I would love for the people at Stereophile to do an article about how it works in different rooms with different placement, but I am not sure a $350 speaker is something that would interest them. Guess we will see. Maybe if they put it on the front of the magazine it would get them readers outside their usual scope.
And we can say how every single speaker ; high end or low - sounds different in every room and position.
But unlike the Home Pod , other speakers dint recalibrate to the exact changes position.
They will often say some speakers needs to be X feet from the wall in some speaker reviews. This would definitely be addition work beyond that type of assessment.
Something that this made me think of is how the "normal" people who buy entry-level AV receivers from Best Buy get all kinds of advanced room correction and DSP. The Sonos has had the room correction thing for a while even if last I checked it was implemented laughably awful. It's just interesting how this sort of room-calibration is common in the low rungs of audio but rare at the high end.
I’m pretty sure Steve Jobs is spinning in his grave. This is a product that Apple should have introduced years ago in one of their famous “and now for one thing more...” announcements. They had Siri first and combining it with a high end Bluetooth speaker should have been a no-brainer.
Instead, we have a decent speaker (and are we really going to get into the “audiophile” issue on a $300 speaker? Arguing over the quality of Bluetooth speakers is like arguing over the quality of cans of baked beans. Some are sweet and some are spicy but ultimately they’re just cans of beans.) that incorporates the worst of the many digital assistants and somehow manages to make Siri even dumber than on the iPhone.
Alexa is way better than the iPhone/iPad Siri (not a subjective opinion, it’s pretty much universal in any critic’s opinion) and the Echo universe ranges from the Dot to the Show, is extremely easy to set up, is constantly and transparently updated, and just works.
If you want a digital assistant, buy some version of the Echo. If you want a quality Bluetooth speaker, buy one of the dozens that are out there. You can have both - they’re really small.
Heh. Off-topic, but one of the things that used to drive me crazy about car magazines was the fact a BMW 3-series seemed to be the comparison for all reviews. Minivans, pickup trucks, etc. A Motor Trend review was practically enraged at my car for the crime of not being a sports sedan (which it never claimed to be).
Many high end Home Theater systems, like this one from McIntosh, use Audyssey calibration software. I don't think it is normal for two channel systems, but if you listened to speakers in a normal, untreated room, there is a very good chance you would benefit from Audyssey software.
Tried that, it sucks. Bluetooth hasn’t been reliable for multiple users at my house, and Alexa always drops/loses my home automation devices. Frustrating is an understatement.
Back when I home theatered my gear had Audessy (I have such a hard time spelling that fake word!) and it was fantastic. The audiophile in me hated it, but I knew I was benefitting. I was thinking of the McIntosh product when I wrote that, as they're one of the few companies I'm aware of that make a strictly two-channel calibration product. But that's the sort of thing they OEM from other companies, so I'm not sure who is actually behind it. Stuff like this definitely exists on the high end, but my point was its nearly ubiquitous on the low end, at least in A/V receivers.
Well, here are negative reviews from a variety of sources on Google news. I didn't cherry
pick them. It's just getting universally reviewed as dumb. Plus, apparently it ruins wood furniture. How the hell did they miss that?
Siri, already bumbling, just got less intelligent on the HomePod - The Washington Post
Apple HomePod review: The smart sounding speaker that's just not smart enough - Pocket-lint
Apple's HomePod: Paying $350 for a speaker that says “no” this much is tough --Ars Technica 2h ago
Apple's HomePod speakers leave white marks on wood -- BBC News
Apple HomePod Review: It Only Sounds Great -- Reviews by Wirecutter | A New York Times Company
HomePods are staining wooden tables with a white ring -- The Verge
Audyssey MultEQ XT32 is in a lot of receivers, ranging from $1000 or so up to the price of the McIntosh.
On the lower end of receivers...like the $599 Denons, you get a different version of Audyssey and it isn't nearly as good as XT32, but it is better than not having calibration at all.
In my living room, which definitely has multiple issues, I have a 5.1 setup and used Audyssey MultEQ XT32 during the setup of my Denon receiver. It was the biggest change in sound, for the positive, I have run across. The thing about Audyssey is that it calibrates each speaker independently, so you can be running 2 or 11 speakers and you will see benefit all the way up the chain.
As for the Apple HomePod, the room sensing is a huge bonus and makes the tiny speaker sound much bigger than it is. I doubt anyone will be using this in a treated room, so they made it sound decent wherever it is placed. I have not heard Sonos, so I will take your word on it.
Believe it or not, Audyssey actually made standalone media speakers with their DSP - I have 3 pairs! Even one with built in Bluetooth.
Audyssey Media Speakers review
The sound is nothing special. It should go without saying- of course the HomePod sounds better.
Oh yeah, I sort of remember that. Gosh, they really nailed the 1996 PC speaker look there, huh? Complete with headphone jack next to volume knob.
Or you could just buy an Anthem AVR as they field best in class room correction, even to the point that anthem assures you that the sound with processing is better than can be achieved via analog direct. But we digress...
Many still don't want to understand/acknowledge that there are many of us that have no interest whatsoever in a personal assistant that stores our voice as a profile and stores requests for the purpose of targeted advertising. If this keeps Siri half baked, then so be it. I will never have Alexa or Google Home in my home until they concede that my privacy rights belong to me.
These are/were speakers that have “everything” according to what some folks are asking: Bluetooth, line-in, optical-in, even DSP. You can even use your own speaker cable between master/slave! But they’re not practical as a kitchen or bedroom speaker, even when paired with an Echo or similar.
Something I think is funny about this is when the Homepod was announced, I recall @SamS and I debating if it was an audio product or a home automation/assistant product.
Based on the reviews, it seems it was indeed an audio product when consumers (or at least reviewers) wanted a home automation product. We'll see if things get better with revisions the way they claim. I think a product with limited assistant functionality that is also tied too tightly to Apple Music needs to change one of those quickly.
I don’t expect Stereophile to write about it but their affiliated publication Sound & Vision will.
Separate names with a comma.