Audiophile’s Comparison Review: HomePod Sound Better than $999 KEF Hi-Fi Speakers

BY Rajesh Pandey

Published 12 Feb 2018

HomePod Features 3

Every review of the HomePod so far has praised it for its music quality. But exactly how good does the HomePod sound? Well, if one goes by the numbers and testing done by a Reddit user, then the HomePod sound better than the KEF X300A — a Hi-Fi speaker with a $999 price tag. 

All the data was collected using a miniDSP UMIK-1 USB calibrated microphone using the Room EQ wizard app on a 2011 MacBook Pro.

With a flat frequency response graph, the HomePod is capable of reproducing the sound as intended by the original artist without deviating from it. For the highs, Redditor ‘WinterCharm’ says that they are exceptionally crisp on the speaker with Apple managing to keep the distortion level remarkably low. The same stands true for the mids and vocals which are “very true-to-life” and have an “incredibly flat” frequency response. For the lows and the woofer, Apple has done a remarkable job in controlling the distortion even at full volume.

Apple’s got the HomePod competently producing bass down to ~40 Hz, even at 95 dB volumes, and the bottom-end cutoff doesn’t seem to be a moving goalpost. Thats incredibly impressive. It’s also important to note that the woofer is being reigned in to never distort the mids or highs, no matter what is playing. The result is a very pleasing sound.

Even more impressive is the fact that the HomePod manages such a flat frequency response graph in a “terrible environment.” This is all thanks to the HomePod adapting to the room it is placed in and tweaking the sound quality depending on its surroundings.

What Apple has managed to do here is so crazy, that If you told me they had chalk, candles, and a pentagram on the floor of their Anechoic chambers, I would believe you. This is witchcraft. I have no other word for it.

From an audio quality viewpoint, the HomePod sounds very, very impressive. But that does not mean it is perfect. It has its own set of caveats.

Great sound aside, there are some serious caveats about the HomePod. First of all, because of the onboard DSP, you must feed it digital files. So analog input from something like a Phono is out, unless your Phono Preamp has a digital output which can then be fed to the HomePods in realtime via airplay, possibly through a computer. But you cannot give the HomePod analog audio, as the DSP which does all the room correction requires digital input.

Speaking of inputs, you have one choice: AirPlay. which means, unless you’re steeped in the apple ecosystem, it’s really hard to recommend this thing. If you are, it’s a no brainer, whether you’re an audiophile or not.

The HomePod has been praised by everyone for its sound quality and now there are numbers to prove it as well. Suddenly, at $329, the HomePod does not feel that pricey when one factor in its excellent audio quality that rivals the likes of $999 Hi-Fi speakers.

What do you think about the audio quality of the HomePod? Do you find it as impressive as the numbers suggest?

[Via Reddit]