We've seen a lot of tech reviewers share their opinions on Apple's new smart speaker, the HomePod, but what happens when an audiophile takes it for a spin?
Fouzan Alam on Reddit:
I am speechless. The HomePod actually sounds better than the KEF X300A. If you're new to the Audiophile world, KEF is a very well respected and much loved speaker company. I actually deleted my very first measurements and re-checked everything because they were so good, I thought I'd made an error. Apple has managed to extract peak performance from a pint sized speaker, a feat that deserves a standing ovation. The HomePod is 100% an Audiophile grade Speaker.
This part is cool as well:
This apartment room has no room treatment at all. It's tiny, and the volume of the room is just under 40m3. And as amazing as the measurements above are, It's even more impressive that the HomePod somehow manages an almost perfectly flat speaker response in such a terrible environment. So, not only do we have a little speaker that manages uncharacteristically low distortion, and near-perfect frequency response, but it does so while adapting to the room. The response takes a few minutes of playing music to settle before measurements are stable - indicative of some sort of live DSP correction. Mind you, any audiophile that was getting such good control over a space with lots of room treatment and traditional speakers would be very happy with these measurements. To have this sort of thing be a built in feature of the Digital Signal Processing (DSP) inside the speaker that is, for all intents and purposes omnidirectional, allowing it to adapt to any room, no matter how imperfect, is just beyond impressive. What Apple has managed to do here is so crazy, that If you told me they had chalk, candles, and a pentagram on the floor of their Anechoic chambers, I would believe you. This is witchcraft. I have no other word for it.
We live in an age where Reddit (and YouTube) often simply clown old-world publications like Consumer Reports. Amazing.
The amount of technical information contained in the write-up is beyond impressive — even if, like me, you understand only a fraction of the terminology.
An important caveat from another thread:
In my review, I made a massive caveat that many news outlets when they picked this up, seemed to forget.
IN AN UNTREATED ROOM The HomePods are pushing better sound than a single X300A, as measured.
That's an impressive feat, I was impressed by it. but my conclusion was that obviously in a properly treated room, correctly set up speakers would be much much better. This is why I said that the product was great for the masses, but for audiophiles, you would be better off putting these in places like your kitchen and leaving your normal listening setup intact. Unfortunately, as often happens with the news, they skim and summarize, in a way that some of the subtlety and conditions around which my main point rested are lost in translation
Also, a pro tip, Alam suggests elevating your HomePod slightly so it won't immediately reflect off the surface of a shelf or table.