Apple Speaker – The Best Audio Gadget We’ve Tested
Apple’s HomePod smart speaker stands out as our top pick among audio gadgets we tested, offering superior sound quality while working seamlessly with other Apple products and services such as Apple Music.
But is Apple’s beautiful sound quality worth its lock-in? That depends on what and how you listen. A white orb illuminates with a swirling pattern when Siri is listening in, while its touchpad controls functions.
Apple’s smart speaker HomePod sounds incredible for its price range. Featuring deep bass and crystal-clear treble, listening to music or podcasts is highly enjoyable – even at higher volumes! One HomePod can easily fill an entire small room with music without distorting at high volume levels.
The second-generation HomePod ($299) features several upgrades from its predecessor, such as more robust assistant support from Siri and Dolby Atmos compatibility for playing content back. Furthermore, its newly designed speaker array now has five tweeters rather than seven that can direct sound towards listeners to create spatial audio–Apple’s term for surround-sound technology used in movie theaters and certain Apple Music tracks.
Consumer Reports testers discovered the second-generation HomePod to be an ideal option for Apple Music enthusiasts looking for immersive audio experiences. It can play any track purchased through iTunes or streamed directly via Apple Music app; plus you can manually send music directly from other services like Spotify and BBC Sounds directly onto it.
HomePod excels as a home assistant with its voice recognition abilities. A simple “Hey Siri” activates all microphones at maximum volume even during music streaming. When active or playing media, its touchpad glows white when active; an animated light show displays when activation or media playback begins; it responds to touchpad commands such as playing/pauseing music with single tap, double tap skipping ahead in playlist or triple-tapping previous song – each tapping can control playback of media from device or playback of media content respectively.
HomePod features a custom A8 chip with built-in stereo processing, offering crisp, clear sound quality with deep bass management. An accelerometer and microphone detect where it is being placed before making adjustments accordingly – similar to how other smart speakers tailor their sound performance depending on your room environment.
Apple aims for premium design with their HomePod speaker, and this small and round device certainly lives up to that expectation. It comes equipped with mesh fabric covering for an unobtrusive appearance in any room and comes either white or black to blend in seamlessly with any surroundings.
HomePod features seven beam-forming tweeters and an upward-firing four-inch high-excursion woofer to produce rich, balanced, and clear sound. Powered by an A8 chip that constantly analyzes music and optimizes output accordingly; additionally it listens for how sound bounces off walls to better understand your environment, retuning itself if the HomePod moves to new locations.
Apple’s smart speaker with Siri support works seamlessly with other Apple products and devices, offering convenient control of HomeKit compatible gadgets, answering queries about products from various categories on HomeKit and making calls – all hands free! Since HomePod first debuted in 2011, improvements in Siri have come steadily and now compete directly against Alexa and Google Assistant services.
If you don’t own an iPhone, setting up and using the HomePod speaker may be challenging. To set it up you’ll require an iOS device running iOS 16 or later and will not be able to pair with Bluetooth devices. Furthermore, the HomePod can only play Apple Music; limited support exists for other streaming services like Spotify, iHeartRadio and TuneIn is limited as well. Conversely, Sonos One supports more streaming services and features such as an equalizer for sound customization.
Apple Speaker works seamlessly with other Apple products and third-party ones that use HomeKit, such as Bose and Sonos smart home devices and audio services like Spotify and Amazon Music, supporting multiroom audio. It has a built-in microphone that can hear even when music is at high volume, its Siri voice assistant answers queries and performs tasks, controlling smart home devices such as alarm clocks or lights; making phone calls; reading news reports; providing traffic and weather reports; checking stock prices; translating languages; as well as sending text messages using voice dictation while making notes of what happens during interaction between speakers based on what happens on screen.
HomeKit accessories can be found through the Discover tab of the Home app and it’s a great way to explore what’s possible in your home. Siri can recommend top-rated accessories tailored specifically for you based on your individual needs and preferences, with privacy protected through either activating the mute switch on the bottom or saying, “Hey Siri, stop listening.” Apple takes privacy seriously and strives to maintain customers’ rights when using devices connected to Wi-Fi networks and communicating with Apple servers; in such a scenario, this speaker does communicates directly with Apple servers; however only information that you voluntarily share or communicates directly between devices connected via Wi-Fi networks is shared between Apple servers and Apple servers if plugged into and connected directly.
The Apple Speaker is an impressive new kind of audio device that stands out among its competition by sounding amazing and performing many basic tasks expected of smart speakers, yet remains hard to recommend given its connectivity issues, limited functionality outside Apple’s walled garden, and dependence on Apple Music subscription fees compared with rival products that offer similar services at more reasonable price points.
Apple has promoted the HomePod as a music player almost exclusively, touting itself as a “mixologist” of tunes. Indeed, when playing Apple Music songs, the speaker does a commendable job of hearing requests at normal speaking volume while blasting music out at full volume – especially impressive! Unfortunately though, other streaming services such as Spotify or BBC Sounds cannot be set as the defaults; you may use AirPlay over wifi with their apps on an iPhone to stream them as needed but these cannot become default services on HomePod itself.
Siri supports some smart home features, though these are limited to devices compatible with Apple’s HomeKit framework. You can ask it to read you news, weather and traffic reports, keep you up-to-date on stock prices, translate language for you and keep notes – as well as make calls or send messages – but it lacks Alexa and Google Assistant’s rich functionality when it comes to smart home and personal assistant functions.
What’s more, it is intimately tied to an iPhone and iCloud account than any other smart speaker on the market, creating an experience tailored for people living entirely within Apple ecosystem. Without an iPhone nearby to provide context or capability – such as setting multiple timers simultaneously without being able to name them – which would be especially helpful for chefs and cooks who rely heavily on timers; one limitation aside however, HomePod remains a solid smart speaker with superior acoustics and Siri intelligence capabilities.
Apple’s HomePod smart speaker is an impressive smart speaker offering room-filling sound quality and plenty of features, but there are cheaper alternatives out there that could better meet your needs.
Apple made a point to highlight its premium audio quality upon introducing the first HomePod in 2018. Although it still outshines competitors, its second-generation model surpasses even that standard thanks to new design elements, improved Siri support, and updates to music and home automation features.
The Apple HomePod comes at a luxury end of the market for $299, placing it squarely in its luxury segment. While not as budget-friendly as Amazon Echo or Google Home, its sound quality stands out. This is particularly noticeable for vocal-based content like podcasts or popular playlists; plus multiple speakers allow for listening in different rooms simultaneously!
Notable among its many features of note is the HomePod’s automatic room calibration feature, which adapts its output based on your home’s acoustics and makes it an excellent option for anyone who wishes to listen to music in one specific spot without constantly manually adjusting volume levels as they move around their space. This makes the HomePod an excellent solution for people wanting uninterrupted listening in specific rooms throughout their home without having to manually alter volumes manually every time they move from place to place.
One of the greatest strengths of HomePod is its ability to recognize and follow multiple simultaneous commands, answer complex queries, perform various tasks with ease, connect to other HomePods and Apple devices for multi-room music playback experience and more. Unfortunately, Android app that enables its use with services like Spotify, iHeartRadio and TuneIn Radio remain unavailable at present.