Sonos V HomePod

  • 10 February 2018
  • 8 replies
  • 4920 views

As good a start as any - assuming that it is indeed from the Sonos ex CEO, a cut/paste of his tweet, to kick off proceedings:
"Got my HomePod. First impressions... Good packaging, easy setup. Great sound. No clipping at volume. A little heavy on the bass (Jimmy Iovine effect). Handily beats a single Sonos One, at full, acoustically. Two Sonos Ones, in pair, do a superior job. Great start by Apple."

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8 replies

From a recent post I wrote on the subject:

In this comparison, the waters will always be muddied by the different speaker placement philosophies. Even though Apple claims to use reflected sound to accommodate placement by the wall, I suspect that direct sound projection as the One/1 pair largely provide to the stereo sweet spot in the room will trump that from Apple. On the other hand, Sonos units are not designed to be placed closer to room centres and then deliver sound all around them, where HomePods should easily win.

A lot therefore also depends on the accumulated user experience that any user relies on for their definition of what is good sound.
The really cool thing:

It analyses the speaker’s surroundings and the music being played to ensure you always hear the HomePod at its best.

The surroundings are only analysed when you use the HomePod for the first time or move it to a new position (there are accelerometers to let it know) and, unlike the implementation of something like Sonos, involves no manual measuring on the part of the user. Instead, the HomePod uses the first song you play to listen to itself and adjust the sound accordingly.

If it’s in free space, sound will be dispersed equally around the speaker, but if it’s close to a back wall the HomePod will actively split out some of the more ambient elements of your music and bounce them off the rear surface while projecting the vocals and more direct sounds straight into the room. It’s clever stuff.

Wherever you place the speaker, it is constantly analysing the music you play and dynamically tuning the sound, from bass to treble, to deliver the track as intended. Or, at least, as the HomePod thinks it’s intended.

This analysis takes place the first time music is played in a new location in the room. And I presume it would also take place if another unit is playing music in the space which raises the question of how the feedback loop from one to the other is managed.

And this, from the Apple site: Direct sound is beamed to the middle of the room, while ambient sound is diffused into left and right channels and bounced off the wall.

If the ambient sounds in the mastering are the cues needed for stereo imaging, it will be interesting to see if the unit can take the lead in delivering a stereo image from a single box, some distance away from it, that few have been able to do till now, where the stereo image collapses to mono if one moves more than a few feet away from the unit.

The proof of this pudding is in the eating of it, of course. But the tech is certainly cool.
Washington Post:

Yes, the HomePod sounds good. But not as good as two Sonos One speakers for the same price.

Apple engineers and marketing people will talk your ears off about the HomePod’s innovations in high-excursion woofers and flimflam flibbertigibbets.

But if you cared about audio that much, you probably already own good speakers. Can most people tell the difference?

Here’s how I found out: Beyond trying the HomePod myself in multiple rooms, I asked volunteers to compare it with the $100 second-generation Amazon Echo featuring Alexa, the $400 Google Home Max featuring Google Assistant and the $200 Sonos One which will work with both talking AIs

We tested them using a blindfold. Amazon CEO Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post, but I review all technology with the same critical eye — or ear.

Everyone could tell the difference between the least-expensive, the Amazon Echo, and the HomePod — which you’d expect, given the price difference. The Echo is probably fine if you want a soundtrack for your dishwashing or showering, but it sounded tinny next to the HomePod.

For the rest, results were mixed. The HomePod had more bass than the Sonos — sometimes too much. The Sonos was more pleasing in the midrange tones that make vocals sound bright. The Home Max did a better job at filling the room with sound than the HomePod, but had so much bass it was often muddled.

For my money, the best choice is a deal Sonos is offering (for an undisclosed amount of time) to get two of its One speakers for $350. They can form a pair that offers real stereo separation that sounded better than any of the solo speakers. Or you can put Sonos speakers in different rooms, giving you tunes all over the house.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/02/09/five-things-to-know-before-you-buy-an-apple-homepod/
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Washington Post:

Yes, the HomePod sounds good. But not as good as two Sonos One speakers for the same price.

Apple engineers and marketing people will talk your ears off about the HomePod’s innovations in high-excursion woofers and flimflam flibbertigibbets.

But if you cared about audio that much, you probably already own good speakers. Can most people tell the difference?

Here’s how I found out: Beyond trying the HomePod myself in multiple rooms, I asked volunteers to compare it with the $100 second-generation Amazon Echo featuring Alexa, the $400 Google Home Max featuring Google Assistant and the $200 Sonos One which will work with both talking AIs

We tested them using a blindfold. Amazon CEO Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post, but I review all technology with the same critical eye — or ear.

Everyone could tell the difference between the least-expensive, the Amazon Echo, and the HomePod — which you’d expect, given the price difference. The Echo is probably fine if you want a soundtrack for your dishwashing or showering, but it sounded tinny next to the HomePod.

For the rest, results were mixed. The HomePod had more bass than the Sonos — sometimes too much. The Sonos was more pleasing in the midrange tones that make vocals sound bright. The Home Max did a better job at filling the room with sound than the HomePod, but had so much bass it was often muddled.

For my money, the best choice is a deal Sonos is offering (for an undisclosed amount of time) to get two of its One speakers for $350. They can form a pair that offers real stereo separation that sounded better than any of the solo speakers. Or you can put Sonos speakers in different rooms, giving you tunes all over the house.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/02/09/five-things-to-know-before-you-buy-an-apple-homepod/


This. Two Sonos Ones can be had for £350 in the UK at the moment (usually £200 each).
Apple fanboy David Pogue does a blind test. Oops. Nobody chooses the HomePod. :D

"They held up their signs. Two of them ranked the Google Home Max (“D”) as the best. Three of them ranked the Sonos One (“A”) the best.
Nobody ranked the HomePod the best."

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/head-head-apple-homepod-really-sound-best-160346138.html
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http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/homepod-launch-latest-release-sonos-apple-spotify-playlist-smart-speaker-which-a8203021.html
On the other hand, a review that ranks it above the 5: https://9to5mac.com/2018/02/09/homepod-review-diary/

A common theme emerging seems to be that HomePod is deserving of serious consideration from those in an all Apple environment with iPhone ownership a must. With an already good integration/mediocre Siri expected to improve over time via software upgrades.

For other users, the device has a long way to go to be a viable alternative.

At my home, it will have an automatic place in my son's room/world that employs Mac and iPhone - 7 at this time - that does not need any integration with the rest of the home for audio.

On the other hand, there is absolutely no reason for the 5 zone Sonos based set up to be replaced elsewhere - except in the kitchen where the wife now prefers a stand alone Echo. All this horses for courses hardware enabled now because the music feed has moved on to streaming services and not a local NAS that holds everyone's music. Thankfully my Apple Music family plan does not care that it feeds both Sonos in most of the home and HomePod in my son's room; while the Prime membership needed for Echo is free till 2020.
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If you are undecided between HomePod ad Sonos think about this. 1st gen Apple TV no longer supported by Apple on the 25 of May. Sonos is loyal to its customers long after their purchase. Apple have lost their crown for the best built products and after care sevice. Hail the new king. Sonos.