Consumer Reports Says Google Home Max and Sonos One Sound Better Than the HomePod

Apple’s selling point for the company’s first smart speaker is the device’s audio quality, with everything else it can do, like Siri integration, just a nice little bonus.

And, as such, that is one of the areas that reviews are focusing on. And while many found issues with some elements of the HomePod, including Siri integration, the one thing all the reviews agreed on is that the sound quality is definitely top-of-the-line. Some say that Apple’s smart speaker even outperforms speakers that cost hundreds of dollars more.

“And our testers found that Apple’s speaker does deliver very good audio performance, though it’s not the best-sounding wireless speaker in our ratings—or even the best-sounding smart speaker.”

Now, Consumer Reports is here to weigh in, and, well, while the publication is more than willing to say that the HomePod’s audio quality is great, they say it isn’t as good as some of the more direct competition on the market right now. Specifically, the Google Home Max and the Sonos One.

“The Apple HomePod’s Very Good sound quality rating puts it well ahead of the early generation of smart speakers. But the Sonos One and the Google Home Max also received Very Good ratings—and their sound quality scores were slightly higher.”

All three speakers received a “Very Good” rating from the publication’s reviews, but the competing options earned more points in overall sound quality. As far as the testing procedure, the publication notes that it reviewed the HomePod and other smart speakers in a “dedicated listening room” and that the review process included testers comparing the speakers with “high-quality reference speakers”.

The results, according to the testers, is a wide range of “issues”, including treble sounds being “underemphasized”, and that the overall midrange tones are “somewhat hazy”. In the end, when all three speakers are compared, the testers feel that the HomePod’s sound is “a bit muddy”.

“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.”

You can check out the full review through the source link below, as well as the video review published along with the original article, which is just below.

Our Take

Everyone’s ears are different, and so is how they hear music of any kind, from any source. Some folks will tell you that AirPods sound awful, others will say the opposite. The fact that the same “inconsistencies” are happening for smart speakers of this caliber is no surprise at all. Personally, I think the HomePod sounds fantastic, but even in my early impressions of the device I said I couldn’t compare it to the Google Home Max or other top-of-the-line speakers, just with devices like the Google Home and Amazon Echo.

In the end, it’s going to come down to personal use and what each individual actually prefers. Reviews can help build a picture of a product’s capabilities, though, and, even in CR‘s view, the HomePod sounds great. So if you want that Apple-branded smart speaker with great audio, sounds like you’ll still have a safe purchase.

[via Consumer Reports]

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