HomePod Some thoughts/opinion on the Sonos One (gen 2) and HomePod

Wizec

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 30, 2019
19
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I posted some of this in the recent HomePod sale thread, but thought I'd share some additional comparisons as well in case anyone is looking for more information.

I thought I'd start with some general pros and cons of each (yep, just my subjective opinions below):

Sonos One (gen 2):

Pros:
  • Outer covering is not fabric. It seems easy to clean and less likely to get damaged if the cats decide to use it as a scratching post.
  • Power plug has a thoughtfully designed connection at the bottom which is recessed so the power cord plug disappears into the unit. It's also easily removed to simplify transport, or to replace should the need arise.
  • Weight, it's noticeably (to me) lighter than the HomePod.
  • Easy to disable (not activate a voice service) the microphone array.

Cons:
  • 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi connection. I'm trying to get rid of all 2.4Ghz nodes. 5Ghz AC has been so much more reliable for me, and I have a Wi-Fi system with satellites covering my whole house within 5Ghz distances
  • Latency. At least in my environment, I had to wait about 3 seconds between selecting the Sonos One as an AirPlay target and getting audio
  • Sound quality and lack of bass. I couldn't really get much bass out of the Sonos One, other than some punchy mid bass, and the treble was almost shrill. Disabling equalization made it sound simply awful, while enabling it (after running TruePlay) did produce a fairly good quality sound; certainly much better than the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom bluetooth speaker that it replaced.
  • Higher idle power draw @ 3.8 watts (2.9 watts if the microphone is off)

HomePod

Pros:
  • Sound quality. For its size, I'm very happy with the sound quality, and range of frequencies reproduced. I do use the Classical EQ setting which I think makes quite a bit of difference as compared to no EQ.
  • 5Ghz Wi-Fi
  • Low(er) latency. I only wait about 1 second between selecting the HomePod as an AirPlay target and getting audio
  • Apple HomeKit hub. I use this to manage my Lutron Caséta wireless switches.
  • Lower idle power draw. Rated @ 1.7 watts (some testing has shown even less).
  • Easy to disable Siri.

Cons:
  • Fabric outer covering. This looks easy to damage from an appearance perspective, and more difficult to clean.
  • Software update time. This is a tentative con for the moment. At unboxing, my HomePod had iOS 11.2.5 installed. Updating to 12.3 took almost 3 hours (the download of 3.08GB took about 20 minutes, the "installing" phase took the rest of the time)! Hopefully this won't be the case with every update, time will tell...
  • Embedded power cord (this just seems silly). Transporting it with this attached is a little bit clumsy, and if the power cord ever needs to be replaced it's not a simple plug and play swap.
  • Weight and girth. It's noticeably heavier, and a bit fatter than the Sonos One so I had to buy a specialized wall mount rather than simply set it on my lightweight aluminum "shaver shelf" where I had placed the Sonos One before.
I think that about sums it up from a bullet list perspective. On the balance, I opted to keep the HomePod (after trialing the Sonos One for two solid weeks) and returned the Sonos One. The primary reason was that in my master bathroom, it simply sounded much better to my ears than anything the Sonos One could muster. I also tried tuning the Sonos One using the two sliders for bass and treble within the Sonos app and was unable to get the sound anywhere close to that of the HomePod’s quality.

The main songs I used to test the HomePod and Sonos One were (both were tested with the iOS EQ set to Classical):

Lovers, by Jackie Evancho
Heartache, by Hollie Stell
Requiem, by Three Graces
Du Hast, by Rammstein
The Other Side, by Evanescence
Aqua Drop, by TriBoss
Basshead, by Bass Nectar

I’ve seen some forum posts that say that the HomePod was actually too bass heavy. I could see this being the case in smaller spaces. Luckily, this is easily remedied by going into Settings, Music, EQ and selecting Bass Reducer. Keep in mind that EQ changes only take effect on AirPlay targets if you make the EQ change, switch away from the target and then back. In other words, the EQ setting you want to test has to be in place before you send audio to the given Airplay device.

I said this in my previous post, but it bears repeating. I do not have a horse in this race. I suggest you acquire the audio equipment that sounds best to you. I come from a deep baroque/classical/romance period, and heavy metal background, so a "curved" EQ sounds far better to me than a flat EQ does. My tastes run to tight accurate bass, subtle mid bass, clean mids, and clear but ever so slightly understated treble. (if that even makes sense...; describing musical tastes is a bit like the legendary 'describe how salt tastes' challenge)
 
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DeepIn2U

macrumors 603
May 30, 2002
6,260
1,745
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Great post and thorough on the information that I myself hadn’t even thought to consider!

I have a HomePod and plan on having my first pet, kitten and you’ve pointed out about the HomePod being a potential scratching post(!) something I need to be mindful of living in an apartment/condowhile being out 12hrs our of the day in sporadic times. (Kitten is better than a dog with these absences)

I’ll need to research if the Sonos One can be used as a speaker phone, without enabling voice control (if I can separate HomeKit functions from internet requests).
 

waw74

macrumors 68040
May 27, 2008
3,232
227
The power cord on the HomePod is actually removable, but it's not recommended link

the sonos has a metal grill, i've moved a couple times, and at least one of mine has a small dent.

no you can't use sonos as a speaker phone.

the HomePod does not have an on board EQ, to use the EQ like you mentioned, you must be using airplay and the EQ on the phone.
Sonos has bass & treble sliders, as well as being able to tune to the room using your phone.
the tuning on the HomePod just happens, you can't turn it off, or force a re-tune if you want to. Supposedly it will re-tune itself if you physically move it.

the only "homekit function" on the sonos is as a target, so you can tell siri on the phone to play XYZ in the bedroom. it's really just to assign a room for airplay, and applies to all airplay 2 speakers.
there is no control of other homekit devices using siri on sonos (or for that matter, anything from siri)

don't worry about it being used as a scratching post, cats scratch above them, or on the ground (like a rug), not directly in front of them. The only way it might be an issue for scratching is if it was on the corner of a coffee table (or sitting on something about a foot off the ground) which would be horrible placement for a speaker.
if anything they will rub against it, possibly knocking it off. But that applies to both sonos and HomePod.


the big plus to sonos, is that it can play everything locally, so using the sonos app, you sign into your spotify, apple, deezer, tidal, google, amazon, or many other services. you can then select an play music directly on the speaker, your phone isn't involved at all. You can even make a playlist that has songs from different services.
for HomePod you can only do that with apple music.

also with sonos, you can do HDMI input (with a sonos beam), and have your TV audio sent all over the house. From people that have tried doing tv audio using airplay, it doesn't work so great all the time.
and with sonos and TV audio, you can get 5.1. HomePod is limited to stereo.

With sonos, if you plug one speaker into ethernet, they will create their own wireless network. Called sonos-net if you want to look into it. It's 2.4 but that's better since you don't need a ton of bandwidth, and 5 doesn't have the range of 2.4.
It also supports mesh, so if the back bedroom is hard to reach, it can hop through one of the speakers in the middle.
Sonos-net uses a combo of 2.4 & 5.
My beam is plugged into ethernet, it's group (beam, sub, 2 surrounds) connects via 5, and uses 2.4 for everything else. The stereo pair in the bedroom both use the 2.4.
if you plug another speaker besides the beam into ethernet, the beam will join the 2.4, and create a 5 for it's group.
you can even plug every sonos speaker into ethernet, and turn off their wifi.
hompod is only wifi.
 
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GDF

macrumors 6502a
Jun 7, 2010
513
235
That is interesting about Sonos creating its own wireless network. I have a Beam/Playbar, Sub and Rears (also a homepod) and never knew that I could connect Ethernet to the Beam or Playbar and then it creates its own network. Will give it a try.

Is there anything special you have to do to have this work, besides plugging internet into the Beam or Playbar? Still debating on which to keep Beam or Playbar. Think Playbar sounds better, but like Alexa and Airplay and HDMI eArch on the Beam. May keep Beam and hope new Playbar comes out next year.
 

waw74

macrumors 68040
May 27, 2008
3,232
227
Is there anything special you have to do to have this work, besides plugging internet into the Beam or Playbar?
nope, just plug it in
it might take a minute or 2 for the system to fully switch over, but it will do it automatically.
if you google "sonosnet" you can find more details.

They do recommend removing your wifi log-in settings once you're up and running.
and the recommend only plugging one device in to the network. Although you can disable wifi, and plug in as many as you want.

there is a "secret" web interface, which will allow you to see how it's working.
 

DeepIn2U

macrumors 603
May 30, 2002
6,260
1,745
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
HomePod has BT 5.0.
I had forgotten about this

I’ll need to research if the Sonos One
ARRRGH!

I feel I made THE WORST decision I've ever done! I just sold my HomePod after getting a Sonos One last Sunday and finally getting it setup within my HomeKit. Was cool to switch both on for same track playback in sync.

I DID notice right away that the HomePod had to be 30% (roughly) lower than the Sonos One to be at the same volume level - the Sonos in my room and the HomePod in the living room. No matter which place I stood I could always hear the HomePod being louder.

FUDGE I haven't felt his caved in about a decision since I sold my iPhone 5!

That's it ... this Friday ... 2 HomePods and the Sonos goes up for sale. Damn the new kitten next month (I'll get a water gun if the kitten comes near my HomePods - or - I'll likely just get a sweet stand).
 
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jeyf

macrumors 65816
Jan 20, 2009
1,367
593
i would look to buy some sort of stereo sonos audio situation. My music is old, some tracks are .wav originals. All counted the collection is approaching 1Gig. Only a few tracks are mp4 so anything iTunes will likely not work. I used run Media Monkey on a virtual machine but need to reconsider how to organize and "broadcast" my music w/o VMWare. Since we moved i just stream some junk but miss my music collection.

Usually summer i have more time and plan to hook up a 4k tv and sound bar in addition to the stereo audio.

i have a 2016 iMac and a NAS box on the house network. The iMac would control the works. We moved back into the city 2years ago into a small 1890's laundry building so home is just all one room. Could connect the Sonos wifi or direct wire, we just re position some furniture.

i will re read this post after a few days but in the past i called Sonos pre sales tec support and it was total "Deer in the Head Lights" experience.