Professional-Grade Acoustic Tests Support Apple's Claims About HomePod's Superior Sound Distribution

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Feb 14, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot

    MacRumors

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    HomePod acoustic tests performed by Fast Company and published Tuesday appear to support Apple's claim that algorithms built into the smart speaker make it capable of distributing sound evenly throughout a room.

    According to Apple's marketing material, music played on HomePod is evenly distributed so that it sounds similar regardless of where the listener is standing or sitting in the room. Apple also claims that HomePod's output remains consistent wherever it is placed in an environment, thanks to sophisticated always-on sound processing algorithms.

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    HomePod uses its six-microphone array to record the behavior of the sound waves emitted by the speakers, while the algorithms analyze the incoming data to adjust the output of the speakers and deliver a consistent representation of a piece of music throughout the listening environment. Another microphone deeper inside the HomePod picks up the presence of walls and other large objects that might interfere with the distribution of certain sounds, like the long sound waves of bass notes, and the algorithms adjust the output accordingly.

    To test the claim, a HomePod was placed on a 30-inch high table by a wall and a white noise test sound was played through it that produces an equal amount of decibels throughout the frequency spectrum. This output was recorded from four locations in the room, and then each sound profile was compared to see how much variation occurred across the full frequency spectrum. The testing gear used in the experiment was loaned by Liechtenstein-based acoustics company NTi Audio AG.

    According to Brian MacMillan of NTi Audio AG, which provided the testing gear used in the experiment, the HomePod's profile changed very little, with an average variance of less than 0.95 decibels across all audible frequency bands, which is considered below the threshold that can be heard by a human ear. Comparatively, the test team saw considerably more output variation from a Harman Kardon Invoke speaker, which had an average variance of 3.4 decibels.
    The HomePod's sound has received praise by both new HomePod owners and media sites that tested the device ahead of its release, although Consumer Reports' doesn't believe the HomePod outshines the Google Home Max and the Sonos One. Other reviews have disagreed with that analysis, including an extensive, in-depth review published by a self-professed audiophile on Monday.

    Article Link: Professional-Grade Acoustic Tests Support Apple's Claims About HomePod's Superior Sound Distribution
     
  2. Jeaz macrumors 6502

    Jeaz

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    #2
    Sounds (no pun intended) like a great product but I just wished they'd increased their target customers beyond music and voice commands. Compared to how much I watch TV or use the TV to play music, I can't motivate a buy of an HomePod that's just focused on playing music. It's beyond me how they ignored creating interoperability between the Apple TV and the HomePod (I know AirPlay works but it's not a viable set up for everyday usage), and other entertainment sources like consoles. Hopefully they'll realize this in HomePod 2.

    EDIT: Also, if the rumors are true, they are focusing a lot on music videos on Apple Music in the coming months. That's completely out of sync with the HomePod strategy.
     
  3. enigmatut macrumors member

    enigmatut

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    #3
    Quick anecdote: at least 3 times since getting my HomePod I have absentmindedly said “hey Siri [do xyz with Apple TV]” trying to pause, mute, etc, while walking across the room. It doesn’t work, of course, but even just simple control over the ATV is a use case not currently supported.

    I remain tentatively optimistic that Apple has a 3-5yr roadmap that will bring more speakers and ATV interoperability. They do have a track record of starting simple in a new product category. For now it just is a more limited product, but I trust we’ll see features continue to roll out.
     
  4. asdavis10 macrumors 6502

    asdavis10

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  5. fumi2014 macrumors member

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    #5
    MacRumours, ffs, will you please stop hyping this thing up. It's a smart speaker with all those limitations. End of story.
     
  6. keysofanxiety macrumors G3

    keysofanxiety

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    #6
    They're not hyping it, they're sharing information about people who have tested it. Personally I found this article really interesting about the sound distribution.

    If it was a crap product with terrible reviews then MR would be sharing those too - just because you don't like it doesn't mean positive feedback is artificial hype.
     
  7. CharlesShaw macrumors 6502a

    CharlesShaw

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    #7
    But all the reader complaints about macrumors writers covering new Apple products never get old.
     
  8. 69Mustang macrumors 603

    69Mustang

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    #8
    Of course the HomePod/ATV relationship is awkward. How else will the future HomeBar/ATV relationship be marketed as revolutionary if the HomePod could already function properly?
     
  9. BvizioN macrumors 601

    BvizioN

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    #9
    I "trust" CC bias results.
     
  10. boshii macrumors 68040

    boshii

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    #10
    ...nothing about it not distributing sound evenly.
     
  11. OldSchoolMacGuy macrumors 601

    OldSchoolMacGuy

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    #11
    You don't understand the story and haven't been paying attention. Apple has said again and again that this is a music device. Smart speaker isn't one they use in describing it. They've actually gone out of their way to avoid lumping it into that designation. It's all about music. 95% of the keynote announcing the HomePod was about music. 95% of the Apple webpage for HomePod is about music. All of the interviews they've done about the product have focused on music and sound quality.

    How much more clearly does Apple have to put it for you to finally understand that this thing is all about music, not about being a lowly smart speaker?
     
  12. boshii macrumors 68040

    boshii

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    #12
    It doesn’t really matter what Apple wants to classify it as. To consumers and reviewers, it has all the features of today’s smart speakers except more limited. It’s closer to a smart speaker than anything else.
     
  13. dmylrea macrumors 68020

    dmylrea

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    #13
    It tells me Apple has little confidence in Siri.
     
  14. Guidonculous macrumors newbie

    Guidonculous

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    #14
    As a studio producer, no it is not. It is as close to a reference speaker than a smart speaker. It does add some color to the sound, so it’s not going to be my flat reference speaker, although I’ve always preferred headphones for that anyway.

    The speaker will continue to get smarter, but it’s always going to sound about the same. For what it’s worth, I have one, and my studio could use at least 3 more. That wouldn’t be true of any other smart speaker on the market.

    Consumers are a wide market. This is why a variety of products can exist.
     
  15. aristobrat macrumors G5

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    #15
    Like when they posted that Consumer Reports review yesterday saying two other speakers sounded better?
     
  16. unQuestionable macrumors newbie

    unQuestionable

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    #16
    I don’t even have any smart home products, but I have the HomePod. Sure, it would be dope to have some, but that’s not what I got it for—I got it for the audio.
     
  17. fumi2014 macrumors member

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    #17
    please don't tell me that I don't understand the story and have the frankly, utter audacity to lecture me about with words like "How much more clearly.. for you to finally understand."

    Who do you think you're talking to? A five year old?

    I'm outta here. What a crazy forum.
     
  18. 69Mustang macrumors 603

    69Mustang

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    #18
    The speaker will get smarter? You're basing this on what? Can't be on Siri's progression thus far in it's history. No snark. I've seen so many people say this. Why?
     
  19. jclardy macrumors 68040

    jclardy

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    #19
    I'm pretty sure we'll see software updates to support this on the current HomePod. The hardware of HomePod really doesn't need any improvement - it sounds really great, the processor is fast enough, and the microphone array is really accurate at picking out voices. HomePod 2 won't be released until 2-3 years from now. Or more likely, they will release a different form factor HomePod. Maybe a larger one, or one designed to be a sound bar (Maybe with an integrated Apple TV...hmm.)

    They barely got the software side of the HomePod out the door - they were 2 months late and are still missing features that they announced originally as being part of the release (Stereo pairing and AirPlay 2.)
     
  20. bommai macrumors 6502a

    bommai

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    #20
    You can permanently set up the home pod as the target speaker for your Apple TV. Then you get your tv and your audio too.
     
  21. boshii macrumors 68040

    boshii

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    #21
    I haven’t heard it yet but I’m sure it sounds great. That has nothing to do with it being a smart speaker though. Google smart speaker.
     
  22. kdarling macrumors P6

    kdarling

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    #22
    CR was talking about what the HP sound stage sounds like.

    All this test is saying is that the HP calculates and puts out the same sound stage in different rooms.
     
  23. gnipgnop macrumors 65816

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    #23
    LOL, that's exactly the feature that CR said they ignored when rating the HomePod vs. the Sonos One and Max. It's an obvious advantage for the HomePod, so let's see if CR ever gets around to including it in the comparison. If not, that's some clear bias in action.
     
  24. Guidonculous macrumors newbie

    Guidonculous

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    #24
    ?

    What I say: “it’s more than a smart speaker, its sound is more like a reference speaker”

    What you say: “smart speakers don’t need to sound good to be smart”

    Yes, I know. Thank you for restating my comment in a demeaning way.

    The most valid point about HomePod is that its software will be updated regularly, and its hardware is a straight up steal at that price point (if you appreciate high end audio hardware). Belittling HomePods software for not being fully fleshed out is outright ignoring macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS before it, all of which started extremely feature scarce especially compared to the competitors who already lead the market. Apples MO is launch a product that does a few simple things seemingly flawlessly and then iterating from there. Enter HomePod.
     
  25. jmgregory1 macrumors 68000

    jmgregory1

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    #25
    I'm not sure I would agree with your position. Apple has been in the music business and it's where they continue to drive revenue, which is why the HomePod was pitched as a smart speaker for playing music. Yes, it has Siri functionality, but Apple isn't promoting that you can order pizza or toilet paper from it, because that's not what it was made to do.

    It's smart because you don't have to use your iPhone, iPad or computer to stream music to the HomePod, it can do that all by itself.

    I think what Apple should be doing, if they're not already, is to further develop the line to include larger add-on speakers to create a more robust offering that might help some people move beyond seeing these devices as competitors to smart speakers from Google and Amazon.
     

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