Apple HomePod Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Dec 14, 2020 at 09:43 am
Apple HomePod Picture
7.0
Music
6.1
Videos/Movies
6.9
Podcasts
8.5
Voice Assistant
4.5
Outdoors
Bluetooth
No
Wi-Fi
Yes
Speakerphone
Yes
Voice Assistant
Yes
Battery Powered
No

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's lacking 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 a lot of Apple products, this smart speaker can be a nice addition to your Apple ecosystem.

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.
  • Excellent Siri voice assistant distance performance.
  • 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 in order 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.
8.5 Voice Assistant

The Apple HomePod is excellent for voice assistant support. It has Siri built-in, which does an excellent job of hearing your voice commands from far away, even in noisy environments. The speaker also has a 360-degree design, so you can hear a clear sound from all angles. However, while you can turn Siri off with your voice, there isn't a physical button to turn the mic off.

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
  • 8.5 Voice Assistant
  • 4.5 Outdoors
  1. Updated Apr 19, 2021: Updated Stereo from 'Yes' to 'No' thanks to user feedback.

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 (3332 cm³)
Weight
5.5 lbs (2.5 kg)
Power Source
AC Only
One-Hand Carry
No

The Apple HomePod is a wired speaker. While it's fairly small in size, it needs to be connected to a power source to be used, which limits its portability.

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

This smart speaker has an unremarkable build quality. It has a glass top that feels premium but the fabric covering the speakers feels a bit rough to the touch. Since it's meant to stay within your home, it's not water or impact resistant.

7.0
Design
Controls
Ease Of Use
Great
Feedback
Great
Music Play/Pause
Yes (Tactile)
Call Answer/End
No
Volume Up/Down
Yes (Tactile)
Track Next/Previous
Yes (Tactile)
Microphone On/Off
No
Additional Controls
No

This speaker has decent controls. Its glass top has touch-sensitive controls that appear when tapped. You can easily control music but you can't manage your calls. You can also turn Siri off with your voice, but there isn't a physical mic mute button.

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 frequency response accuracy is decent. While it struggles to produce a thumpy bass, it has an overall neutral and balanced sound that's well-suited for a variety of audio content. If you're looking for a speaker that's able to produce more low-bass, try 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)

Update 04/19/2021: Thanks to user feedback, we identified an error in our previous results. When this speaker plays stereo content, sound comes from a general area and not specific left and right channels. We've updated Stereo support to 'No'.

The Apple HomePod has a great soundstage performance. Since it's a 360-degree speaker, it can create a clear and wide sound from all angles. However, it has to downmix stereo content into mono in order to play it, which doesn't sound as immersive.

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

The Apple HomePod has okay dynamics. It doesn't get very loud but it shouldn't be too much of a problem if you're using it at home. It struggles to reproduce bass, even at higher volumes, and if you have it cranked up to its max volume, there's pumping and compression artifacts present.

Active Features
0
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
N/A
Charge Time
N/A
Power Saving
No
Charging Port
No Battery

This speaker doesn't have a battery.

8.6
Active Features
Voice Assistant
Alexa
No
Google Assistant
No
Siri
Built-in
Voice Activation
Yes
Microphone Mute
No
Far-Field Performance
Excellent
Ambient Noise Performance
Excellent

The Apple HomePod has Siri built-in and is voice-activated unless you turn this feature off. Unlike the Google Nest Audio or the Amazon Echo Dot Gen 4, you can't turn off the mic, though. That said, Siri can hear you from quite a distance, which is handy if you have this speaker in the living room and you're commanding it from the kitchen.

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 pretty barebones in terms of features, and it's only available for iOS devices. On the upside, you can pair it with other Apple HomePods if you want the same content to play throughout a larger area or in different rooms. If you want a 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 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
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.

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. It has a mic with excellent far-field performance, so 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 really 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.

Apple HomePod mini

The Apple HomePod is a better speaker than the Apple HomePod mini. The HomePod has a more neutral sound profile and it 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. That said, the HomePod mini has a smaller, more lightweight design that some listeners may prefer.

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, the Bose offers bass and treble adjustment features and a mic mute button. It also supports Bluetooth, while the Apple only supports Wi-Fi.

Google Home Max

The Google Home Max and the Apple HomePod are two speakers with a voice assistant built-in and depending on your usage, you may prefer one over the other. While both speakers have a similarly balanced sound profile, the Google has a companion app that lets you EQ its bass and treble. It uses Google Assistant and has a button to mute its mic. It also supports Chromecast. However, the Apple uses Siri and supports Apple AirPlay. Since it's a 360-degree speaker, it also has an outstanding soundstage. 

Amazon Echo Studio

The Apple HomePod is a better smart speaker than the Amazon Echo Studio. The Apple has better controls, a more neutral sound profile, and a wider soundstage. It also has low latency on Apple AirPlay. However, the Amazon supports Bluetooth, has bass and treble sliders so that you can tweak its sound profile, and has a mic mute button. It also gets louder with minimal compression.

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 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, 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 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 also better able to register your commands, even if you're speaking in a noisy environment.

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. However, the Sonos has bass and treble sliders to help adjust its sound, and it feels somewhat better-built.

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 that you can customize its sound profile to your liking. It also has a better voice assistant performance. However, the Apple has a better Wi-Fi performance.

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 Alexa capabilities. However, the Apple isn't meant to be used outdoors, unlike the Bose. The Bose is also more portable, better-built, and it's rated for water, dust, and impact resistance.

Google Nest Audio

The Apple HomePod is a better voice assistant speaker than the Google Nest Audio. The Apple has a better-balanced default sound profile, and it has a better soundstage. Its latency over a Wi-Fi connection is lower, so it's more suitable for watching videos. However, the Google comes with a microphone mute button and bass and treble adjustments, unlike the Apple.

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. Also, there's a mic mute button for its voice assistant. However, the Apple has a better soundstage, and its voice assistant understands your voice better in noisier environments.

Amazon Echo Gen 4

The Apple HomePod and the Amazon Echo Gen 4 are both excellent speakers for voice assistant, 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 supports Bluetooth. Also, the Amazon comes with a mic mute button, unlike the Apple, and it offers bass and treble adjustments so you can customize its sound.

Bose SoundLink Micro

The Apple HomePod and Bose SoundLink Micro have different strengths and depending on your usage, you may prefer one over the other. The Apple 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, the Bose is battery powered so it's more portable and better suited for outdoor use. It also has an IPX7 rating for water resistance, although we don't currently test for this.

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 supports Wi-Fi, the Bose supports Bluetooth connectivity.

Amazon Echo Dot Gen 4

The Amazon Echo Dot Gen 4 is better for voice assistants than the Apple HomePod, but the Apple is a better choice for music, videos, and podcasts. The Amazon comes with a mic mute feature, it supports Bluetooth, and it has bass and treble adjustments, unlike the Apple. However, the Apple has a more balanced sound profile out-of-the-box and a better soundstage. It can get louder, and it supports Apple AirPlay.

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. That said, the Bang & Olufsen has a better build and a more portable design, as well as some EQ presets to help you customize its sound.

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 it comes with built-in Siri capabilities, unlike the Bose. However, the Bose can get louder, and it can be used with a battery, so it's more portable and better suited for outdoor use than the Apple.

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 understanding your voice in a noisy setting. However, the Google's bass and treble adjustments offer more sound customization, and it's still a great choice for voice assistant capabilities.

Denon Home 350

The Denon Home 350 is a more versatile speaker than the Apple HomePod. 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 so that you can adjust its sound, it supports Bluetooth, and it has lower Apple AirPlay latency. However, while it has microphones, the manufacturer reports that it plans to add voice assistant support in a later firmware update, whereas the Apple has Siri built-in.

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, the JBL is bigger and it gets louder. Also, since it's battery-operated, it can be used outdoors.

+ Show more

Discussions