REVIEW muted than when it was sat on a small table in the lounge, further from a wall. In the latter location, bass was considerably louder. Regardless of position, the motor-driven woofer delivers bass frequencies which many rival smart speakers simply cannot produce. The Amazon Echo, for example, struggles with tracks such as Fractal’s Itvara and bass is largely absent. Not so on the HomePod. In our lounge, it coped effortlessly with the sub-bass with power that you’d associate with a much larger speaker. We’ve listened to just about every genre and the HomePod does a great job with all. If you want to demo the HomePod, pick a simple track with strong vocals and a deep bass line. Diana Krall’s Peel me a 56 TECH ADVISOR • MAY 2018 Worldmags.net
REVIEW grape, for example, sounds utterly crisp and clean where every nuance of her voice and piano can be heard. The accompanying double-bass is similarly strong, but without overpowering the sound of the bassist’s fingers plucking each string. On busier, more complex tracks the HomePod’s processing still manages to create a soundstage in which instruments have decent separation and vocals are clear. The live version of The Eagles’ Hotel California is particularly enjoyable with the bright notes from Don Felder’s 12-string guitar ringing out. On occasion, treble is a little harsh. Play Calvin Harris’ This is what you came for and the electronic cymbals are a little crashy, and Rhianna’s voice quite piercing – exacerbated at higher volumes of course. However, that’s the exception and for the vast majority of tracks the HomePod simply sounds great. Siri performance A smart speaker must be able to hear you when music is playing loudly, and thanks to some nifty beamforming technology, the mics can pick up your voice across the room. Siri responds quickly when you call, and if your command is quick – “Hey Siri, turn it up” – it won’t even pause the music. If you’re actively using your iPhone, Siri will respond on that rather than the HomePod, but in general, it’s the speaker that responds first. Sometimes, Siri will pop up on the phone, then immediately hand off to the HomePod. It’s impressive how it can hear you over the music, but a couple of times during our testing the Worldmags.net MAY 2018 • TECH ADVISOR 57
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