In 2017 it is news that Apple launches a speaker whose main purpose is to be heard and not to listen to you.
The popularity of Amazon Echo, which estimates sales over 10 million, and the Google Home presentation, made us envision a speaker designed in Cupertino to exploit everything that Siri offers and improve its capabilities through the users who would have Than using voice as the only input method.
It makes sense: Apple’s business model is very different from that of Amazon and Google. And where more juice can take off is with Apple Music, its service of distribution of music on demand by “streaming” that already has 27 million paid subscribers.
Focusing on music, part of the company’s DNA sets it apart from the competition. HomePod is designed to be a good wireless speaker for the home, not just under the pretext of putting an assistant there.
Having Siri is important, even more so if it is used to get more information about what is heard and to gain more control over your service in a more comfortable way than through the iPhone and a system such as those offered by the Sonos brand.
Its design already makes clear its main purpose. It’s all grid, it’s all loudspeaker. There is a gadget with audio output like Echo and Home. It is reduced to the minimum expression of what is or should be an environmental listening speaker with sound directed to the 360 degrees that cover.
Its entry price may seem excessive at first sight -350 dollars (taxes not included) and 120 euros per year for the subscription to Apple Music – compared to Home or Echo, which cost $ 109 and $ 179 respectively. But the comparison is not fair, they are speakers who play in completely different leagues.
Its rival is the mid-range and high-end Sonos, not the Echo or Home
A good guide to begin to value a sound equipment by range is its weight. At more weight, you almost always get more sound quality and power. The Apple HomePod weighs 2.5 kg, the Echo 1 kg and the Home 0.5 kg. Its direct competition is cylinders with a few tweeters, while the Apple covers with independent speakers and a well-studied bass, mid and treble design. They have tin sound because their main sound is not to sound good but to listen and understand you well.
Already only by the weight it is seen that HomePod is in a league different from Echo and Home
Its rivals are, therefore, the Sonos speakers, which are often considered the most popular premium option for its great sound quality and support for third-party devices and services.
We could estimate that its namesake is the Sonos Play: 1, the speaker of the entry range intended for small rooms costing 229 euros. But it weighs 1.85 kg and only has a tweeter for the treble and a small woofer for the mid and low frequencies. It has no comparison with the HomePod, which has 7 tweeters of treble that cover 360 degrees and a woofer of 4 “.
The tweeters are specialized speakers in high frequencies (from 3 to 20 kHz), that is to say, high sounds. They have to be directional because due to their short wavelength the diffraction is small. The treble gives detail, positioning, and space to the sound.
It is normal for a speaker to have a tweeter that points to the listener’s ear, but in these speakers that are intended to cover the entire room, it is interesting to have more. Apple has mounted seven on the HomePod, so the listener should be the same anywhere on it.
Its rival is, therefore, the Sonos Play: 3, a speaker with two woofers and a tweeter that weighs 2.6 kg. Its price, curiously, is similar, despite being less compact and not intended for listening in 360 degrees, nor include the advantages offered by HomePod to users anchored to the Apple system.
HomePod also has an ingenious design that takes into account not only the rebound in the surfaces but the space in which it is thanks to its chip. It is able to detect where it has the walls and corners closer to equalize the sound and avoid rebounds. Something impossible to get in speakers of this price so far. The 4 “woofer, quite large for its size but not for the standards of the high-quality speakers, has 20 mm of space between the cone and the driver, something that many experts point out as unheard of. Stronger and sharper than any other loudspeaker of similar size.
Something impossible to get in speakers of this price so far. The 4 “woofer, quite large for its size but not for the standards of the high-quality speakers, has 20 mm of space between the cone and the driver, something that many experts point out as unheard of. Stronger and sharper than any other loudspeaker of similar size.
“It has nothing to do with the competition,” says Alberto Sierra of the recording studio Sierra Studios. “From the design to all the technology inside, it is way ahead of the Sonos. I would have to listen to it and compare, but the woofer has a lot of space to be so compact and the whole cubicle looks very well studied and innovative.”
The digital magazine specialized in sound and image What Hi-Fi? Describes it as a great quality alternative to Sonos, which is flatter than the Apple HomePod and miles away from what the Echo offers. Of course, it indicates that the bass is too highlighted and emphasized, as is usual in Apple headphones. For many audiophiles, it will be a problem. But this speaker is not designed for that 1%, but for the remaining 99%.
It is, after all, a premium wireless home speaker. The wireless speakers are a € 3.4 billion market according to GfK, and Apple may have created a better one than those that, until now, were the benchmark.