HomePod is praised by experts, but loses in blind test for major competitors

Being the HomePod a totally different category from the products we’re used to seeing Apple launch (or not), the tests that come out there may also sound strange, but they’re totally legit.

For example, in order for several speakers to be tested without the brand influencing the choice, David Pogue (from Yahoo) carried out a “Blind test” like Sonos One, The Google Home Max, The Amazon Echo Plus it’s the HomePod.

Five “types” of people were chosen for this test: a professional violinist, a businesswoman, two high school students and a sound technician. Between them and the speakers was a curtain, and Pogue did not even speak to which devices they would hear, so that there was no predilection; he just named them “A” to “D”.

Blind test with HomePod and its competitorsSonos One (A), HomePod (B), Amazon Echo (C) and Google Home Max (D)

He then played five songs with different arrangements and tones and, on all devices, the volume was level because, according to Pogue, there is a tendency in people to always choose the highest volumes – and he really wanted to evaluate the sound quality. While the songs were being played, people took notes.

If the test were in line with the reviews that came out in vehicles out there – and even in a similar test that Apple did for journalists with the same devices, but with the difference that it was not a blind test – HomePod would win the battles easily since the consensus is that the Apple speaker has the “best sound quality”. However, much to Pogue’s surprise, it did not.

The guitarist stated that in the song “Havana” (Camila Cabello) HomePod did better because of the lower sounds, and the businesswoman was in doubt between him and Google Home Max because their sounds were “cleaner”. In the end, when they had to choose only one winner in general, the result was that two people chose Google Home Max as the best option and three chose Sonos One (including the sound technician).

Thinking of the reviews, Pogue came up with some possible plausible explanations:

  1. Opinions differ from song to song – most people rated HomePod first on some songs, but not all.
  2. Likewise, opinions differ from person to person.
  3. In the test carried out by Apple, in which Pogue participated and HomePod was clearly the winner, the company reported that the songs were transmitted from a server (Mac), and that each speaker was connected to it differently: via Bluetooth (Amazon Echo), Ethernet (Sonos), mini input plug (Google Home) and AirPlay (HomePod). In the test carried out by Pogue, everyone was streaming Spotify content via Wi-Fi.
  4. People who have always declared HomePod the best choice did not take a blind test to prove it and were not influenced by the brand.

Despite everything, John Gruber (from Daring Fireball) wondered – and I agree – if perhaps the curtain placed in front of the boxes so that the test was blind did not interfere with the sound quality. Regardless, the result is there.

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Two other tests were carried out by Fast Company together with some experts, one to analyze the performance of the HomePod anywhere in a room and the other to check the flat frequency response of the speaker.

Testing HomePod performance

Using a microphone to capture noise from four different locations, the overall result showed that there is a variation of 0.95 decibels, which is not a bad thing since humans are unable to perceive differences in sounds below 1dB. Therefore, the quality remains the same for those who listen in any corner of the room.

Brian MacMillan, associate general manager of NTi Audio, said that “the developers did an excellent job of fitting HomePod to the room, [ele tem] impressive overall consistency and frequency response. HomePod automates spatial compensation that previously required time, tools and an audio experience ”.

In another test in which the HomePod had its performance analyzed by specialists, the conclusion was that the device was able to deliver what they call a “flat response”, that is, that both the magnitude and the output phase were aligned (in most most of the time) with entry into the entire frequency spectrum.

We found a distortion of less than 10% of the range from 40Hz to 10,000Hz, which is very good and less than 2.5% from 150Hz to 10,000Hz, which is excellent.

Therefore, the results are in line with what Apple itself says / promises about its speaker.

Certainly, the tests will not stop there. Until the dust of the animation in relation to the device settles, probably many will continue to put the HomePod to the test.

via Daring Fireball, AppleInsider: 1, 2