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Apple's new 1 liter speaker: 10mm xmax woofer, 8 amps, 7 tweeters w/horn, 6 mics

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  • #61
    Originally posted by ---k--- View Post
    Consumer Reports has put out a preliminary report on the Home Pod.
    CR is sometimes excellent, but they also have a long, laughable history of utterly absurd reviews wherein they evaluate products by using them in way completely unrelated to their intended use case.

    One of these days, they'll probably review a screwdriver and give it a bad rating because it's a terrible hammer.

    I remember in one of their car roundups, probably 15-20 years ago, they rated a Corvette ZR1 as "extremely poor" because it had little trunk space and got poor gas mileage. Acceleration, top speed, and handling were not part of their test criteria. They ranked cars like the Corolla much higher. Now, for grocery shopping? Yeah, the Corolla probably is a better car. But that's not the intended use case of a Corvette, just like blistering track performance is not the intended use case of a stock Corolla.

    Yet CR doesn't care how absurd they sometimes are. They have their rigid criteria and that's all that matters. That's why I prefer Wirecutter these days. I don't always agree with their conclusions but I don't see them making utter fools of themselves like CR sometimes does.

    When it comes to audio performance (excluding "smart" features) literally the entire focus of the HomePod more or less boils down to:

    1. Off-axis performance (because there really is no "axis")
    2. Real-time room correction that requires zero effort from the user

    So, of course, Consumer Reports reviewed the HomePod exactly like it was a regular loudspeaker, in an anechoic/quasi-anechoic setting in a heavily treated room. Because they're Consumer Reports, and that's what they do. Thus, they completely defeated the benefits of the HomePod's room correction and, well, it's no mystery that the HomePod would be bested by larger speakers in a situation like that ::forehead smack::

    If you're planning on doing some armchair listening from the sweet spot in an acoustically treated room, thereby negating all of the HomePod's tricks... then yes, the HomePod is probably the worst $350 you can spend. In that situation I doubt it would even compete with $129 Andrew Jones BS-22s from Pioneer, and the Overnight Sensations and C-Notes kits would really mop the floor with it.

    Originally posted by Wushuliu View Post
    Precisely. The target demo for this speaker is anyone who doesn't care about any aspect of their life/privacy being open source for Apple/Google/Whomever (perfect for Apple, since most Apple users absolutely DONT care as long as they have the newest and latest).

    Don't forget it's very possible that Apple has relationships with other parties to share whatever information that glean from these devices. Facebook does the same thing. Never mind that there are probably hackers out there who can compromise it within *minutes*.
    Now that would be an actually useful thing for Consumer Reports to investigate. Apple claims that the HomePod does not send data back to the mothership until it hears the "Hey Siri" trigger phrase. Amazon and Google have made similar claims about their products.

    It would not be hard to test those manufacturer claims by setting up a proxy server and observing the network traffic. (Luckily, lots of folks have already done that. If I ever own a smart speaker, I will too)

    Does Consumer Reports perform a useful service like that? No, of course not. It's obviously more important for them to evaluate a HomePod exactly as if it was a monkey coffin speaker from the 1970s.

    Because they're Consumer Reports, and reality can go take a hike.


    • #62
      CR didn't include measurements, only subjective feelings. I get not trusting the random dude on reddit, and you shouldn't, but at least he gave measurements and provided very, very detailed information about how he got said measurements.

      Subjective feelings like "This speaker sounded better to our ears in a dedicated listening environment" isn't useful when trying to make an accurate, unbiased comparison between different products that are defined by sound quality. Sound quality is a rare thing that can be objectively measured.

      Whether or not YOUR ears enjoy "ruler flat" response is a separate matter. Some people love the sound of B&W, yet their freq responses are literally all over the map. Those types of frequency responses (with massive peaks and troughs throughout the audible spectrum) are defined as objectively poor quality in terms of sound reproduction, but that doesn't mean people can't or don't enjoy that sound "signature".

      Audio magazines pitching "warmth, clarity, spatial depth" with nothing more than how great their favorite jazz tracks sound is how we got into a world full of snake oil. With no baseline, and with everyone's ears being different, coupled with many people finding different tonalities enjoyable, measurements and data are how we find baselines.

      "I can hear the artist's palm rubbing against the guitar in this pair of speakers, but in THIS pair, I can hear the individual pores secreting sweat as the musician's trembling hands begin his majestic solo. sooooo muchhhhhh warmthhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh"


      • #63
        Well, I’m not expecting a review as critical as I’d want eg. a speaker designer. The best one I’ve seen is from Arstechnica, which is a tech site that I frequent.

        These writers are generally very critical of the big boys (Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon etc) and this review is no different.