HomePod Am I the only one disappointed with the HomePod's sound quality?

Discussion in 'HomeKit, HomePod, CarPlay, Home & Auto Technology' started by Z3man, Feb 16, 2018.

  1. Z3man macrumors 6502a

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    Feb 19, 2012
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    UK
    #1
    Sorry to start a thread like this but i seem to be just about the only person that is not happy with the HomePod's sound quality, so i want to see if there are other people out their like me.

    I find the sound very muffled and choked as if it is struggling to get out. This could be to do with everything being incased in a plastic tube. I also find the bass very over powering and forced, what i call false bass, though i am no expert with the correct terminology. Add them both together and i if find the HP very unsatisfying to listen to, in fact i dislike it quite a lot and cant wait to say Hey Siri stop.

    Everywhere you look the HP is getting rave reviews about how good the sound quality is, so i am wondering if i have a faulty unit.

    I have checked my production date and it is early November 2017, so mine must be a very early production model, i am wondering if this could make a difference and later production models may sound better for whatever reason.

    I have mine placed in the open on a sideboard with a wall behind it, which i have read gives the best sound quality anyway, so my positioning shouldn't be effecting it.

    I am an Apple fanboy and had really been looking froward to the HP being release as they haven't release anything since the 2015 12" MacBook that i had really been interested in. I am not interested in iPads or the recent iPhone 8 (boring, same as) or the iPhone X (too expensive). So i was really looking forward to the HP, i have tried my hardest to like it over the past week, but no matter how hard i try to like it i just do not like it and find the sound quite annoying.

    My two other music sources just sound so much better, they are a Loewe Speaker2go portable bluetooth speaker released in 2013, and a Denon S-81DAB HiFi System that i have connected to my Airport Express so i can AirPlay to it. The Loewe just has a much nicer and clearer sound than the HP, and has lovely controlled bass. The Denon trounces both of them, but it should as it is a lot more powerful and was quite expensive, but is quite old now, again about 2013 i think.

    So i am sat here very disappointed wondering if i am the only one, so i thought i might as well start this thread to see there are others like me, or am i the only one.

    I am definitely returning this HP, but i am wondering if it might be worth ordering another one in a few weeks and hope it sounds better, i am hoping later production models may sound better because i really want to own the HP and like it.

    There are other issues i have, like Siri being crap, but that can be improved over time with software updates.
     
  2. cyb3rdud3 macrumors 65816

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    Jun 22, 2014
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    UK
    #2
    It was bass heavy when I first got it out, but that seems to have gone away. It was already much better a few hours later.

    Perhaps it is a faulty unit, I have a Denon DAB mini hifi as well in our dining room with Q-Accoustic 1020i speaker, I think this single box solution is slightly better than that.

    But no way it will replace my Monitor Audio floor standing speaker setup in the Lounge :)
     
  3. Shanesan macrumors 6502

    Shanesan

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2006
    #3
    This place is for the HomePod jerk so you won't find much in the way of complaints here.

    Saying this, I thought the quality is the upper tier of "good". For $350 it left me disappointed as I have soundbars for cheaper that sound better (but "sound" and "better" is subjective).

    You may also be using low quality MP3s? Use ALAC rips if you don't have Apple Music subs.
     
  4. Z3man thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    I am using Apple Music, just took up my 3 month trial last week.

    Never used a streaming service before, i am quite impressed with it.
     
  5. Shanesan macrumors 6502

    Shanesan

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2006
    #5
    I myself use iTunes Match. Good service, but you can tell they didn't try as hard as Apple Music on the Homepod (back to the Siri being crap part).

    You may have a defective unit. Go hit up an Apple store and play with the ones on the floor and see if that's the case?
     
  6. steve knight macrumors 68030

    steve knight

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    Jan 28, 2009
    #6
    we thought it was fine till we compared it to our other speakers. Plus the siri issues. But my wife wanted a airplay speaker and figure it would be better to get a better sounding speaker but that worked the same way so she got a beoplay m5. man the difference is pretty big far deeper bass that vibrates the floor and anything sitting on the surface it is on. Plus it has much better mid range since it had a dedicated speaker facing forward for it. but it is almost twice the price. the software sucks compared to apple setup.
     
  7. MacBird, Feb 16, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2018

    MacBird macrumors 6502a

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    Apr 1, 2010
    #7
    At first, I had the HomePod near a corner of the room where it sounded very bass-heavy and muffled as you described and I then experimented a little. I found a spot where it sounds better (bookshelf and HomePod at eye level while sitting) and when I listen to Apple Music, I use AirPlay on my computer and set the equalizer in iTunes to 'classical' which is the kind of music I listen to most of the time. I'm quite happy with the sound now.
     
  8. za9ra22 macrumors 6502a

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    Sep 25, 2003
    #8
    I think there are others who are not happy, or at least not really satisfied, with their HomePods, but by and large most seem to be quite pleased.

    One thing you can be certain of is that the sound you hear, "very muffled and choked as if it is struggling to get out", is not the result of the design. If it were, everyone would hear the same result, albeit with their own personal preferences and familiarities colouring their judgement. But the fact is that with many others reporting very different sound qualities, your experience cannot be the result of a basic design failure - and nor would Apple bring such a fundamentally flawed product to market.

    I have no idea when mine was manufactured (or even how to find out) but it sounds clear, balanced and while not 'punchy' certainly it has a very pleasing quality which varies very little when I try it in different rooms and placements.

    Given that you have other audio equipment which sounds better, it clearly removes the possibility that your hearing is deficient, and in the light of the majority of other users who report significantly better results, would suggest that you have a unit which is faulty in some way. The first thing to do is to move it elsewhere to see if it adjusts to the new location and performs better, and the second thing would then be to return it if it does not markedly improve.

    If the features of the HomePod still meet your needs and intended uses, I wouldn't hesitate to replace the present one with a new one. Given the reviews and positive comments generally, it seems very likely that you too would be both surprised and pleased with the result.
     
  9. douglasf13 macrumors 68000

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    Jul 2, 2010
    #9
    How old are you, and when did you start listening to music? Not only do we all have "different ears" and tastes, but we likely all have different baselines depending on our age, because music production and how we listen to it has changed so much over the years.

    In my case, I was a teen in the mid 90s, which I consider the zenith of analog production for rock bands, and I've always gravitated towards flat sounding studio monitors and headphones. I'm wondering if it's possible that you're used to a bit more EQ in the sound. I am a little surprised Apple doesn't have at least a few fixed EQ settings, for those who don't prefer things flat.
     
  10. Z3man thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Feb 19, 2012
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    UK
    #10
    Thanks for the feedback.

    I am going to try it in some different positions, although i don't have a lot of places to try it as i have quite a small living room. I do have a tall floor standing set of shelves where i can try it a different levels.

    I am 50 years old and started listening to music in the mid to late 70's.
     
  11. Macalway, Feb 16, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2018

    Macalway macrumors 68030

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    #11
    It's just an cute item for people who don't like ugly boxes. I'm sure it sounds ok, if not bloated and inaccurate. What do you expect with that ridiculous design?

    More reinventing the wheel. Except in reverse :D
     
  12. douglasf13 macrumors 68000

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    #12
    Have you even read about or listened to the thing? You couldn't be more wrong. It's actually has a somewhat flat response and a very advanced speaker design.
     
  13. Macalway macrumors 68030

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    #13
    Oh sorry, I thought this was the not happy thread. My bad :)
     
  14. steve knight macrumors 68030

    steve knight

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    #14
    humm I have one siting on the table right now. it is not bad but I already have speakers that sound better.
     
  15. douglasf13 macrumors 68000

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    #15
    Yeah, I was responding to someone else. Either way, something like the m5 sounding better than the Sonus Play 5 is debatable, and the HomePod sounding better than either is debatable. That's really the point. The m5 has a more colored sound, so it's just a matter of preference.
     
  16. steve knight macrumors 68030

    steve knight

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    Jan 28, 2009
    #16
    I have not compared it to the sonos but it works well where the homepod would and you can use eq with it. but sounds better then the homepod but also costs more. my wife got both mainly to stream podcasts and netflix through and sometimes music. but she has three different sonos setups for that.
     
  17. Z3man thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #17
    Wow the difference moving this speaker to a different position is amazing, it really has made a massive difference, i cant believe it.

    I tried it on the tall set of shelves i mentioned, i put it on each shelf at different heights at first which didn't really make any difference, but as soon as i put it on the top shelf which is about 5 1/2' high where it doesn't have anything to the sides or in front of it, so now it is in the open except for the wall behind it and the transformation is amazing, all of a sudden it doesn't sound muffled and it now actually has some treble, and the over powering bass has reduced as well.

    So basically i have moved it about 3' to the left and 3' higher than where it was and it has transformed it. When it was on the sideboard i though it was pretty much in the open, but obviously it wasn't in the open enough, it had a tall set of shelves about 3' to the left of it and my TV about 4' to the right of it, and a couple of small other items on the sideboard, these had all been having an effect on it calibrating itself it seems.

    Now it is out in the open and quite high up, this sounds like a very good sounding speaker. I am going to bed now but i will try some more testing tomorrow, but i can see this speaker being a keeper now.
     
  18. douglasf13 macrumors 68000

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    #18
    Yeah, Apple should definitely offer an EQ option. I'm fortunate in that I keep my Marantz flat, my iPhone flat, etc., but I think an EQ would go a long way in helping other people find a sound they like.
     
  19. MacBird macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    As a workaround, you can already use the iTunes Equalizer on your computer and then use Airplay.
     
  20. Chloros macrumors regular

    Chloros

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    May 4, 2016
    #20
    Returned mine...good speaker but not worth $400+
     
  21. AppleRobert macrumors 603

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    Nov 12, 2012
    #21
    I still have it but to these ears the BoseSoundtouch 20 at the same price has the edge. I may end up keeping that one to tell the truth.
     
  22. cyb3rdud3 macrumors 65816

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    #22
    That is really good feedback, thanks for getting back.

    It just shows that with this one can't necessarily take age old speaker assumptions and apply it like this speaker is the same.
     
  23. Z3man thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    I think where the HP differs from other speakers is that it needs a lot of space due to having the seven tweeters spread around the circumferance of the cylinder, which i now know means placement is very important. Most other speakers just point forwards so placement probably isn't as important.

    Most of the testing i did last night was streaming from my MacBook using the grahic equalizer which sounded very good. I am going to do some more testing later today just using the HP. I did a mall amount from the HP last night but not much, so i will do a bit more experimenting today just to make sure, but all seemed fine last night, but i didn't have time to test a lot of different songs. Might even try some different postitions today just to see what the differences are, but i think it will end where it is now on the top shelf as it is working very well.

    The only problem with it being on the top shelf is that i cant see the top of is as i am only 5 1/2' myself, but this shouldn't be a major probelm as i am hoping to use it 100% voice activated.

    I really think Apple should give us some control over the HomePod's sound even if its just a few presets just adjusting the bass and trebble.

    Also they should let us adjust the volume of Siri's voice, it is too loud.
     
  24. The Game 161 macrumors P6

    The Game 161

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    Dec 15, 2010
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    UK
    #24
    Where have you placed yours?

    I’ve put mine in front of my TV and that’s improved the sound from the side of the room. I had put it under my TV stand but that affected the sound so put it on a Buffon in front of the TV and sound is pretty good.

    Siri is good for basic tasks but you will be disappointed with Siri coming from Alexa for example
     
  25. Z3man thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #25
    I remember seeing your placement photo's on another thread. I would imagine it would have sounded awful under the TV stand

    I have mine on the top shelf of a tall narrow set of shelves 5 1/2' high, the HP really needs to be out in the open with as much space around it as possible to get a good sound from it i have found.

    It's ok i already know Siri is crap as i am Apple evertything, but i am prepared to put up with it to stay in the eco system of Apple. Never had Alexa, but have used my mam's a little bit and it seems very good. Hopefully Siri will improve over time.
     

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