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Apple HomePod Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Updated Dec 14, 2021 at 11:15 am
Apple HomePod Picture
7.0
Music
6.1
Videos/Movies
6.9
Podcasts
9.4
Voice Assistant
4.5
Outdoors

The Apple HomePod is a wired smart speaker with a Siri voice assistant built-in. Siri can hear your voice commands from quite a distance, and even in a noisy environment. It also has a neutral and balanced sound profile, although it lacks some low-bass. Its 360-degree design also helps create a clear and wide soundstage. Unfortunately, it doesn't offer any functionality with Android devices. It also lacks an EQ and doesn't get very loud. However, if you use many Apple products, this smart speaker can be a nice addition to your Apple ecosystem.

Note: This speaker has been discontinued by the manufacturer, and may be difficult to find in new condition. 

Our Verdict

7.0 Music

The Apple HomePod is decent for music. It has a decently neutral and balanced sound, although it struggles to produce a thumpy low-bass. Thanks to its 360-degree design, it has a clear and wide soundstage. Unfortunately, it doesn't get very loud, and there are some compression artifacts at max volume. It also doesn't have an EQ to tweak its sound.

Pros
  • Decently balanced sound profile.
  • Great 360-degree soundstage.
Cons
  • No EQ.
  • Doesn't get very loud and compression artifacts at max volume.
6.1 Videos/Movies

The Apple HomePod is mediocre for videos and movies. It has a decently balanced sound profile, but it lacks low bass, which may be disappointing for fans of action films. It also can't get very loud, and there are some compression artifacts at max volume. While you can't use Bluetooth to directly play audio from the speaker, it supports Apple AirPlay, although it delays video to compensate for audio latency. On the upside, its 360-degree design creates a wide soundstage.

Pros
  • Decently balanced sound profile.
  • Great 360-degree soundstage.
Cons
  • No EQ.
  • Doesn't get very loud and compression artifacts at max volume.
6.9 Podcasts

The Apple HomePod is fair for podcasts. It has a decently neutral sound profile that can reproduce accurate and detailed vocals. Its 360-degree design ensures you can hear your favorite episodes clearly from all angles. Unfortunately, it doesn't get very loud, and there's some compression at max volume. Since the speaker is wired, it's also not very portable, and it doesn't support multi-device pairing, either.

Pros
  • Decently balanced sound profile.
  • Great 360-degree soundstage.
Cons
  • No EQ.
  • Doesn't get very loud and compression artifacts at max volume.
9.4 Voice Assistant

The Apple HomePod is excellent for voice assistant support. Siri is built into this speaker and can hear you from quite a distance, even in noisy environments. Thanks to its 360-degree design, you can hear your audio clearly from all angles. While you can enable and disable Siri with your voice, there isn't a physical button to turn the mic off, so you need to mute it with a voice command. You can then unmute Siri by pressing and holding the touch-sensitive glass surface atop the speaker.

Pros
  • Decently balanced sound profile.
  • Excellent Siri voice assistant distance performance.
  • Great 360-degree soundstage.
Cons
  • No EQ.
  • Doesn't get very loud and compression artifacts at max volume.
4.5 Outdoors

The Apple HomePod can only be used wired and isn't suitable for outdoor use.

  • 7.0 Music
  • 6.1 Videos/Movies
  • 6.9 Podcasts
  • 9.4 Voice Assistant
  • 4.5 Outdoors
  1. Updated Oct 18, 2022: Changed the 'Microphone Mute' test result from 'No' to 'Yes' in the 'Voice Assistant' box after retesting the speaker. Also added information about dismissing an alarm in the 'Controls' box.
  2. Updated Oct 13, 2022: Changed 'Call Answer/End' test result from 'No' to 'Yes (Tactile)' in the 'Controls' box after retesting the speaker. Minor adjustments to text for consistency.
  3. Updated Dec 14, 2021: Updated review for accuracy and clarity.
  4. Updated Apr 19, 2021: Updated Stereo from 'Yes' to 'No' thanks to user feedback.
  5. Updated Dec 15, 2020: Review published.
  6. Updated Dec 15, 2020: Early access published.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Apple HomePod comes in two color variants: Space Gray and White. These variants are only different in look, and we expect the white variant to perform similarly to our space gray model.

If you come across a variant of this speaker, please let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Speakers

The Apple HomePod is a speaker with Apple's Siri built-in like the Apple HomePod mini, though it's a bit bigger. It has a mic with excellent far-field performance, meaning you can command Siri with your voice from another room. It also has a 360-degree sound, ensuring a clear sound from any angle. However, its functionality is limited to Apple devices, so Android users can't use this speaker. It's also not very portable since it has a wired design. Its sound profile lacks low bass, and it doesn't get very loud.

See also our recommendations for the best smart speakers, the best home speakers, and the best speakers for iPhone.

Apple HomePod mini

The Apple HomePod is a better speaker than the Apple HomePod mini. The HomePod has a more neutral sound profile and gets louder, too. Also, its built-in Siri has a better ambient noise performance, so it does a better job understanding your voice in noisy settings. The HomePod mini has a smaller, more lightweight design that some listeners may prefer. It's also easier to find on the market since the Apple HomePod has been discontinued.

Amazon Echo Gen 4

The Apple HomePod and the Amazon Echo Gen 4 are both excellent speakers for voice assistants, but the Apple is more versatile overall. Out-of-the-box, the Apple has a more balanced sound profile, and it has a better soundstage. It supports Apple AirPlay, while the Amazon speaker supports Bluetooth. Also, it offers bass and treble adjustments so you can customize its sound. The Apple speaker may be harder to find in new condition since it's been discontinued.

Sonos One Gen 2

The Apple HomePod is a better speaker than the Sonos One Gen 2. The Apple has a better-balanced sound profile and has fewer compression artifacts at max volume. Its built-in Siri voice assistant is better able to register your commands, even if you're speaking in a noisy environment. That said, it may be harder to find in new condition now that it's been discontinued.

Sonos Five

The Apple HomePod and the Sonos Five are two speakers with different strengths, and you may prefer one over the other, depending on your needs. The Apple speaker has a better soundstage and performs better at its max volume. It also has Siri built-in, which can be voice-activated and can hear you from quite a distance. However, it may be harder to find in new condition since it's been discontinued. The Sonos is better for music since it can produce more low-bass, and its sound profile is better balanced. It also has a bass and treble slider via its companion app.

Sonos One SL

The Apple HomePod has a better overall performance than the Sonos One SL. The Apple has a better-balanced sound profile capable of reproducing more low-bass, and it can get louder with fewer compression artifacts. It also has Siri voice assistant built-in, which offers excellent performance. It may be harder to find in new condition since it's been discontinued. However, the Sonos has bass and treble sliders to help adjust its sound, and it feels somewhat better built.

Sonos Move

The Sonos Move is a better speaker for most uses than the Apple HomePod. The Sonos is better built, and its portable design makes it suitable for outdoor use. Its sound profile is more neutral, and it has bass and treble adjustments to help you customize its sound. However, the Apple speaker has a better soundstage, and its voice assistant understands your voice better in noisier environments. It has been discontinued and may be harder to find in new condition.

Amazon Echo Studio

The Apple HomePod is a better smart speaker than the Amazon Echo Studio. The Apple has Siri built-in, has better controls, a more neutral sound profile, and a wider soundstage. It also has low latency on Apple AirPlay. However, it's been discontinued and may be harder to find in new condition. That said, the Amazon is a Bluetooth speaker with Alexa built-in. It has bass and treble sliders so you can tweak its sound profile. It also gets louder with minimal compression.

Google Home Max

The Google Home Max and the Apple HomePod are two speakers with a voice assistant built-in, and you may prefer one over the other. While both speakers have a similarly balanced sound profile, the Google speaker has a companion app that lets you EQ its bass and treble and comes with Google Assistant built-in. It also supports Chromecast. However, the Apple speaker uses Siri and supports Apple AirPlay. Since it's a 360-degree speaker, it also has an outstanding soundstage. Both speakers have been discontinued and may be difficult to find in new condition.

Google Nest Mini

The Apple HomePod is a better speaker than the Google Nest Mini. The Apple has a more neutral sound profile and a better soundstage. It also gets louder, and its built-in voice assistant does a better job of understanding your voice in a noisy setting. However, the Google speaker's bass and treble adjustments offer more sound customization, and it's still a great choice for voice assistant capabilities.

Google Nest Audio

The Apple HomePod is a better voice assistant speaker than the Google Nest Audio. The Apple speaker has a better-balanced default sound profile and a better soundstage. Its latency over a Wi-Fi connection is lower, so it's more suitable for watching videos. However, it may be harder to find in new condition since it's been discontinued. Also, the Google speaker comes with bass and treble adjustments to tweak its sound profile to your liking, unlike the Apple model.

Bose Home Speaker 500

The Apple HomePod and the Bose Home Speaker 500 are very similarly-performing speakers, so depending on your listening habits, you may prefer one over the other. The Apple has a better soundstage performance and a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box. However, it's been discontinued by the manufacturer and may be harder to find in new condition. The Bose offers bass and treble adjustment features to tweak its sound to your liking. It also supports Bluetooth, while the Apple speaker only supports Wi-Fi.

Amazon Echo Dot Gen 4

The Apple HomePod is a better choice for music, videos, and podcasts than the Amazon Echo Dot Gen 4. The Apple speaker has a more balanced sound profile out-of-the-box and a better soundstage. It can get louder, and it supports Apple AirPlay. That said, it's been discontinued and may be harder to find in new condition. The Amazon speaker, on the other hand, supports Bluetooth, and it has bass and treble adjustments, unlike the Apple.

Bose SoundLink Revolve+ II

The Apple HomePod is a slightly better speaker than the Bose SoundLink Revolve+ II, though they have different strengths. The Apple has excellent voice assistant support with Siri built into the speaker, whereas the Bose uses the voice assistants from your smartphone. It also has a more neutral sound profile with a more extended low-bass and better directivity resulting in a more open and spacious-sounding soundstage. The Apple is a wired speaker intended for home use, while the Bose is a battery-powered speaker with a built-in carrying handle that's more portable and better built. Also, while the Apple speaker supports Wi-Fi, the Bose supports Bluetooth connectivity. That said, the Apple speaker may be harder to find in new condition since it's been discontinued by the manufacturer.

Denon Home 350

The Denon Home 350 is a more versatile speaker than the Apple HomePod and is easier to find in new condition since the Apple's been discontinued. The Denon has a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box, and it can get louder, although with a bit more compression. It also has bass and treble sliders to adjust its sound, it supports Bluetooth, and comes with Alexa built-in. It also has lower Apple AirPlay latency. However, the Apple has Siri built-in and a wider-sounding soundstage thanks to its 360-degree design.

Bose S1 Pro System

The Apple HomePod is a better speaker for music, videos, and voice assistant support than the Bose S1 Pro System. The Apple has a better soundstage performance and has built-in Siri capabilities, unlike the Bose. However, it may be harder to find in new condition since it's been discontinued. The Bose can get louder, and you can use it with a battery, so it's more portable and better suited for outdoor use than the Apple.

Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 Gen 2

The Apple HomePod is a better speaker than the Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 Gen 2. The Apple gets louder, and it has a more extended low-bass and a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box. It also supports Wi-Fi, while the Bang & Olufsen supports Bluetooth. However, it may be harder to find in new condition since it's been discontinued. That said, the Bang & Olufsen has a better build and a more portable design. There's also the 'Beosonic' feature and five EQ presets on its companion app to help you customize its sound.

Bose Home Speaker 300

The Bose Home Speaker 300 is a better speaker for most uses than the Apple HomePod. The Bose has better controls, supports Bluetooth, and has bass and treble sliders so you can customize its sound profile to your liking. It also has a better voice assistant performance. However, the Apple speaker has a better Wi-Fi performance, though the speaker has been discontinued and may be harder to find in new condition.

Bose SoundLink Revolve

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Apple HomePod or the Bose SoundLink Revolve. The Apple is better for music, videos, and voice assistant. Its sound profile is a bit more neutral, and it has a deeper, more extended low-bass and a better soundstage. Also, it comes with built-in Siri capabilities. However, the Apple isn't meant to be used outdoors, unlike the Bose. It's also been discontinued and may be more difficult to find in new condition. That said, the Bose is more portable, is better built, and it's rated for water, dust, and impact resistance.

Bose SoundLink Micro

The Apple HomePod and Bose SoundLink Micro have different strengths, and you may prefer one over the other. The Apple speaker has a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box. It has Siri built-in, which is great if you use voice assistants, and you can stream audio to the bar via Wi-Fi. However, it may be harder to find in new condition since it's been discontinued. The Bose is battery-powered, so it's more portable and better suited for outdoor use. It also has an IP67 rating for water resistance that certifies it to be immersible in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes.

JBL PartyBox 300

The Apple HomePod and the JBL PartyBox 300 are very different speakers, so depending on your usage habits, you may prefer one over the other. The Apple is better for most uses, as it has a more balanced sound profile and a better soundstage. However, it's been discontinued, so it may be harder to find in new condition. That said, the JBL is bigger and gets louder. Also, since it's battery-operated, you can use it outdoors.

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Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights No

The Apple HomePod is a 360-degree speaker with a very minimalist look. It comes in either a gray or white color, and its overall fabric look doesn't stand out, making it easy to blend into your decor. If you prefer a smaller speaker, consider the Apple HomePod mini instead.

4.2
Design
Portability
Volume
203 in³ (3,332 cm³)
Weight
5.5 lbs (2.5 kg)
Power Source
AC Only
One-Hand Carry
No

It isn't very portable due to its wired design. It needs to remain connected to a power source to work, so it isn't easy to take with you when you're on the go.

6.4
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Good
Water Resistance
No
Dust Resistance
Unspecified
Impact Resistance
No
Floats In Water
No

Its build quality is passable. Its top is made of glass that feels premium, and its body is tightly wrapped in fabric that feels a bit rough to the touch. It also doesn't have an IP rating for water resistance, so it's best to avoid placing it in areas where it may get wet, like near a kitchen or bathroom sink.

8.0
Design
Controls
Ease Of Use
Great
Feedback
Great
Music Play/Pause
Yes (Tactile)
Call Answer/End
Yes (Tactile)
Volume Up/Down
Yes (Tactile)
Track Next/Previous
Yes (Tactile)
Microphone On/Off
No
Additional Controls
Yes

This speaker has great controls. Its glass top has touch-sensitive controls that appear when tapped to easily control music. While there's no physical control to mute Siri, you can mute it with a voice command and unmute it by pressing into the glass surface and holding for a few seconds. While you can't use its controls to accept an initial call, you can tap and hold the green light atop the speaker when you receive a second call to put it on hold, and you can double-tap it to switch calls. To end a call, tap the green light once. You can also dismiss an alarm by tapping the middle of the touch-sensitive surface.

Design
In The Box

  • Apple HomePod
  • User manual

Sound
7.3
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
0.19
Std. Err.
2.35 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
53.4 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
19.1 kHz

The Apple HomePod has a decent frequency response accuracy. It has a well-balanced and neutral sound profile overall, making it suitable for listening to a wide variety of audio content. That said, it lacks some low-bass, so you can't feel the deep thump and rumble in bass-heavy music like hip-hop or EDM. Unfortunately, there aren't any sound customization features like a graphic EQ or presets you can use to tweak its sound to your liking. For a speaker that can produce a more extended low-bass, check out the Sonos Five.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
7.5
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
0.97 dB
Stereo
No (mono)

The Apple HomePod's soundstage performance is good. Thanks to its 360-degree design, it has outstanding directivity, resulting in an open and natural-sounding soundstage. That said, it needs to be paired to another HomePod speaker to play stereo audio and downmixes stereo content to mono when using it on its own, which isn't as immersive.

6.8
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
88.5 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
2.41 dB

The speaker's dynamics are alright. It doesn't get loud enough to fill a large crowded room, though it should be fine if you're using it at home. That said, there's some compression present at max volume, especially in the bass range, so your audio may not sound as clean during louder listening sessions.

Active Features
0
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
N/A
Charge Time
N/A
Power Saving
No
Charging Port
No Battery
Battery Powered
No
10
Active Features
Voice Assistant
Alexa
No
Google Assistant
No
Speakerphone
Yes
Siri
Built-in
Voice Assistant
Yes
Voice Activation
Yes
Microphone Mute
Yes
Far-Field Performance
Excellent
Ambient Noise Performance
Excellent

The Apple HomePod offers excellent voice assistant support with Siri built-in. You can activate Siri with your voice, and it has no trouble understanding your commands from far away and in noisy settings. That said, while you can disable Siri, there isn't a physical button you can use to mute its mic, so you need to mute it with a voice command. You can then press and hold the glass surface to reactivate Siri. For smart speakers with physical mic mute buttons, check out the Google Nest Audio or the Amazon Echo Dot Gen 4.

6.6
Active Features
App
App Name
Apple Home
iOS
Yes
Android
No
EQ
No
Stereo Pair Mode
Yes
Party Mode
Yes
Multi-Room
Yes

Apple Home is an alright companion app. While it's easy to use, it's only available for iOS devices. It's pretty barebones in terms of features, and there isn't a graphic EQ or presets you can use to tweak its sound to your liking. On the upside, you can pair it with other Apple HomePods when you want to create a stereo pair or when you want to play different audio in different rooms across your home at the same time. If you're looking for a home speaker with an app that lets you adjust the bass and treble, check out the Google Nest Mini, Denon Home 350, or the Amazon Echo Gen 4.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Wired
Aux Input
No
USB Audio
No
Other Ports
No

This speaker doesn't have any physical inputs other than its attached charging cable.

0
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth
No
Bluetooth Version
No Bluetooth
Bluetooth iOS Latency
N/A
Bluetooth Android Latency
N/A
Bluetooth Range
N/A
Multi-Device Pairing
No

The Apple HomePod is listed as having Bluetooth 5.0, but you can't use it for directly pairing or playing audio. It's used for audio handoff, which allows you to transfer audio from your iPhone to the speaker or vice versa by tapping your device on the top of the speaker. If you want to stream content using this configuration, your iOS device must be connected via Bluetooth to the same Wi-Fi as this speaker. However, if you're using an iPhone, you can also use Apple AirPlay to wirelessly play audio. If you're looking for a home speaker that supports Bluetooth, also consider the Bose Home Speaker 300 or the Bose Home Speaker 500.

8.1
Connectivity
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Version
Wi-Fi 5
Wi-Fi Frequency Band
2.4GHz & 5GHz
Wi-Fi
Yes
Apple AirPlay
Yes
AirPlay Latency
37 ms
Google Chromecast
No
Chromecast Latency
N/A

This speaker is Wi-Fi compatible. While it has very low latency using Apple AirPlay, it delays video to compensate for audio latency, so there's a noticeable delay between the time you press play and when the video plays.

Discussions