Ahead of the HomePod release later this week, Apple has provided The Loop with an inside look of its audio labs where it tested its smart speaker. In addition, Apple uses this audio lab to test the speakers of the iPhones and iPads as well.
The HomePod is unique because Apple designed its internal components on its own instead of sourcing them from other parties. This is why the HomePod sounds impressive despite its relatively small size as pointed out in its early reviews. Interestingly, Apple first started working on the HomePod six years ago, with the company asking itself a question: “what would it mean if we decided to design a loudspeaker where we could put it in any room, and that room wouldn’t affect the sound quality?”
As revealed by Kate Bergeron, VP of Hardware Engineering at Apple, the project started very small initially. It was only after the team thought they had something compelling, they went to the higher officials at Apple for the go ahead.
“We think we’ve built up the biggest acoustics and audio team on the planet,” said Gary Geaves, Apple’s Senior Director, Audio Design and Engineering. “We’ve drawn on many of the elite audio brands and universities to build a team that’s fantastic. The reason we wanted to build that team was certainly for HomePod, but to also to double-down on audio across all of Apple’s products.”
The team working inside the audio labs has the best equipment at its disposal. This includes an anechoic chamber designed specifically to build and test the HomePod. This anechoic chamber is built inside a room and is situated on top of isolating springs so that vibrations from outside don’t interfere with the testing environment. It is one of the largest anechoic chambers in the United States. Apple even built another chamber to test out that Siri would work properly even in loud environments. There is a noise and vibration lab as well that was initially set up to detect and work on unwanted noises from Macs. Over the years though, it has been modified to detect electronic noise as well.
Finally, there was another chamber that was used to detect unwanted buzzing sounds and electronic noise from the HomePod. This chamber is based upon 28 tons of concrete, features one foot thick panels and 80 isolating mounts between the actual chamber and the concrete slab. The ambient noise inside the chamber is -2dBA — lower than the human threshold for hearing.
Advancements that Apple made during the development of the HomePod were also used in other Apple products.
“There’s been certain catalysts in the development of HomePod that are feeding other products,” said Geaves. “That’s one of our advantages—we work on a bunch of different areas of audio.”
Do make sure to go through the entire report from The Loop as it provides some staggering details about the testing hardware used by Apple for the HomePod and the extent to which it went to build its smart speaker. The HomePod goes on sale from later this week (i.e. February 9) in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia.
[Via The Loop]