Consumer Reports has been conducting audio testing of Apple’s HomePod smart speaker, and while the new speaker received a “Very Good” sound quality rating from the consumer watchdog agency, the publication’s testers say the Sonos One and the Google Home Max sound better.
The HomePod will serve many music fans well, but CR testers did hear some flaws. The HomePod’s bass was a bit boomy and overemphasized. And the midrange tones were somewhat hazy, meaning that some of the nuance in vocals, guitars, and horns was lost: These elements of the music couldn’t be heard as distinctly as in more highly rated speakers. Treble sounds, like cymbals, were underemphasized. But the HomePod played reasonably loudly in a midsized room.
The bottom line? Overall the sound of the HomePod was a bit muddy compared with what the Sonos One and Google Home Max delivered.
Consumer Reports’ speaker tests are conducted in a dedicated listening room, where experienced testers compare each speaker with “high-quality reference speakers.”
Consumer Reports evaluates sound quality for speakers, smart or otherwise, in a dedicated listening room in which our experienced testers compare each model with high-quality reference speakers. Each test unit that allows for user controls is tuned for optimum sound quality—we want the speakers to sound their best.
The publication says all three speakers fall “significantly short” of other wireless speakers Consumer Reports has tested, including the $350 Edifier S1000DB, which earned an Excellent sound-quality rating.