HomePod impresses audiophiles but Siri said to be falling short

If you're interested in the nitty gritty technical aspects of the Apple HomePod, a comprehensive audio analysis posted to Reddit by a self-confessed audiophile reports that the smart speaker performs exceptionally well from an audio point of view. It's a "100 percent audiophile grade speaker" summarizes WinterCharm.

"Apple has managed to extract peak performance from a pint-sized speaker, a feat that deserves a standing ovation," the post continues, which is apparently based on more than 8 hours of testing, and looks at frequency response, distortion, and many other acoustic measurements to reach its conclusions.

The thoughts put down backed up our HomePod review, pointing out that this speaker is a 'no-brainer' if you're embedded in the Apple ecosystem. If you're not though, then it's a tougher sell thanks to the locked-down elements of the smart home control and reliance on Apple Music.

Respected US outlet Consumer Reports, meanwhile, is also reporting that the HomePod is "one of the best-sounding smart speakers" that has ever arrived on their test bench – but they do point out that the Google Home Max and the Sonos One just edge it out in terms of overall audio quality.

"Hey Siri, up your game"

The HomePod is proving less impressive as a smart speaker, as per a series of tests reported by 9to5Mac. Run by Loup Ventures, the tests showed Siri was only capable of answering 52.3 percent of queries posed to it, behind Cortana (57 percent), Alexa (64 percent) and Google Home (81 percent).

"This places HomePod at the bottom of the totem pole in terms of AI assistant performance. Siri is particularly strong in Local and Commerce queries, handily beating Alexa and Cortana, but still falling short of Google Home in those areas," reports Loup Ventures in a blog post.

The HomePod isn't yet fully functional, with Apple promising that stereo support (for two connected HomePods) and multi-room support will be rolling out later this year. 

In the meantime, one HomePod owner has worked out that you can use the AirFoil app on macOS and Windows to create a stereo setup with two HomePods, if you've got the cash to afford a couple of them.

For the last word on the Apple HomePod, look no further than the TechRadar review, where we give Apple's new smart speaker a thorough testing, and put it dangerously close to a fireplace. 

We found the device excelled at the speaker part, and didn't do so well with the smart aspects - something to consider if you're thinking of picking up the powerful-but-pricey device.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.