Apple’s HomePod speakers will be the best-sounding ones you’ve ever owned – Recode (Ha! – Kirk)

Where to begin…? Let’s see; perhaps with that stupid headline? Unless you’ve only ever used an Amazon Echo or a cheap Bluetooth speaker to listen to music, then, no. They won’t. If you have a halfway decent stereo, with halfway decent speakers, you’ve already got stereo, not a single speaker, which is how most people will use the HomePod.

HomePod has what can only be explained by the most balanced audio, not just of any smart speaker but of any speaker I currently own, which includes a number of Sonos speakers and a Bose Home Theatre system.

Right. He’s comparing the HomePod to standalone speakers; which is the fair comparison. But “the best-sounding” speakers? Not by a long shot.

The other thing that really impressed me about HomePod was how great it sounded at nearly every volume level. If you have any experience with speakers, you know that there is also a sweet spot for volume. Too low and you lose almost all bass; too high, you blow out the high end/treble and often your ears hurt as the high-end parts of the audio start to distort and lose clarity

This is one of the more interesting DSP (digital signal processing) elements of the HomePod, and something that will certainly set it apart. I have a Yamaha R-N803D receiver in my office, which features their “continuously variable loudness” feature. This changes the adjustment to bass and treble as you change volume. The loudness control on a received doesn’t just make it louder; it makes certain frequencies louder, the lows and the highs, which we don’t hear as well at lower volumes. But if you use this all the time, then the music doesn’t sound right at different volumes. Yamaha, and some other manufacturers, use this continuously variable loudness to fix those discrepancies in the way we perceive audio. And it works.

I have no doubt that HomePod will compete with the best speakers in your house even if you have an expensive/high-end setup.

Uh, no. Sorry. I don’t think you know what that means if you think a single standalone speaker will “compete” with a real stereo with good speakers. Unless by “compete” you mean, well, I don’t know…

When it came to music, Siri knocked it out of the park. In fact, because Siri is learning about its owner when you ask to play music, when I said, “Play Jack Johnson radio,” she would say, “Sure, here is a personalized playlist for you.” What’s happening is Siri is acting as a “mixologist,” as Apple likes to say, but essentially she is playing DJ according to my music preferences.

No, Apple calls it a “musicologist,” which is a shameful way of appropriating a word that has a real meaning.

I have no doubt, based on reviews by people I know, that the HomePod will sound excellent, in comparison with standalone speakers. But it’s not a replacement for true stereo sound. It will be interesting to hear how two HomePods sound in a stereo pair; because for that amount of money – $700 – you can get a good amplifier and a very good pair of speakers.

Source: Apple’s HomePod speakers will be the best-sounding ones you’ve ever owned – Recode