Apple HomePod smart speaker

It's after 5pm on Wednesday, and I'm finishing up the listening part of my review of Apple's wireless speaker, the HomePod ($349). On a whim, I've just asked Siri to play me some drinking songs.

I mention this because the HomePod's "smart" features—its integration with Siri and the Apple Music streaming service—is a big part of its appeal. In its natural element, the HomePod provides a way of accessing music that, although as old as our century, to me is still new and unfamiliar: Forget your hoary music collection, your Rolling Stones and Beethoven. Decide what kind of music you want to hear—a genre or a mood—then leave the choice to Siri and her algorithmic minions. Sure, you can request specific songs, but it's easier to call out "Hey Siri, play some jazz" than it is to request a track from Dýrd í daudapögn, an album by Icelandic singer-songwriter Ásgeir Trausti.

So—drinking songs.

Siri's unimaginative recommendations were all current country acts: Little Big Town, Dierks Bentley, Eric Church. Some of that is okay, but city people drink, too. Trust me—I live in New York City. And why only current artists? Where's "Drunk Girls," by LCD Soundsystem? "Warm Beer and Cold Women," by Tom Waits? What about the Doors channeling Kurt Weill and Berthold Brecht in "Alabama Song"? If you must have country, how 'bout some Hank Williams—"There's a Tear in My Beer"—or Merle Haggard's "I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink"? For more recent pop-country vintage, add Garth Brooks to the list, singing "Friends in Low Places"—and where the heck is Gogol Bordello's "Alcohol"?

Why isn't Siri more imaginative in her recommendations? The answer, probably, is that imaginative is not what most people want—the risk with any Apple product. With its vast resources, Apple can do amazing, world-changing things. But will they make the best product they can, or will they aspire instead toward the vast, profitable, Beats-ridden middle of the Gaussian distribution of public taste?

If you give me some whiskey I'll sing you a song
I became interested in Apple's HomePod because I wanted a good-sounding portable speaker to use when traveling. I've been on this quest for years. I get the irony—a HomePod for times away from home—but why not? Music while traveling is a problem, because good speakers tend to be heavy and often large, and I don't love walking around a hotel room with a big pair of 'phones wrapped around my head or little IEMs stuck in my ears. I prefer my music to fill the space around me.

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My ideal musical traveling companion—apart from, say, a beautiful musician who pays her own way, including a plane seat for her fine cello—would fit in a suitcase easily and without complaint, offer practical connectivity options, and, of course, produce pleasant aural vibrations. I envision something simple—a high-quality 4" driver, maybe, mounted in a suitable box with built-in amplification and a hardwired stereo input, wireless optional. Just give me good midrange—on the road, I can live without the highest highs and lowest lows.

High-end speaker designers, take note: I have yet to discover my dream travel device.

Before I even plugged it in, I knew the HomePod wasn't the solution to my music-while-traveling problem, and for reasons that have nothing to do with sound quality. It's no simple 4" driver in a little box. Rather, it's a sophisticated, high-tech, 5.5-lb sound computer with many transducers and lots of unorthodox audio engineering. It's not big, but it's voluptuous, and its connectivity is wireless-only.

So forget about travel. Still, the prospect of a good-sounding, convenient (wireless) loudspeaker excited me. I need something that's good enough for audiophiles, but that I can recommend to people starting out: something that will appeal to those who haven't yet discovered how great it is to listen—really listen—to good music. Such a device could be a gateway drug to a serious audio addiction. I like to think that, once you've gotten used to frequent massages of musical texture and rhythm, you can't go back. Could the HomePod be that gateway drug?

An Unwrapping
If anyone tells you that Apple has lost its packaging savvy—a charge I've read online—don't believe them. The HomePod's packaging is sexy.

My HomePod arrived well protected. Inside the outer cardboard box was an inner cardboard box cradled in bubble wrap. That inner box contained a sturdy cardboard frame supporting a third box—the one you'd see on the shelf at your local Apple Store. Counting the bubble wrap, that's five layers of protection.

The undressing didn't get thrilling until I got to that innermost layer: the display box, wrapped in transparent plastic. At the front is a small tab, on it a green spot and a down-pointing arrow. I pulled the tab, and the plastic fell away on all sides. Cue adolescent fantasies.

I grasped the box by its top edges and lifted. The base of the box, weighed down by the heavy HomePod itself, stayed in place as the outer sleeve slid slowly off with just the right amount of friction.

There, in a cardboard cradle, sat the HomePod. Its power cord—the HomePod's one and only physical connection—was wrapped around a cardboard spool whose tabs held the coil in place. Had this been any company other than Apple, I'd have torn those tabs away to get at the cord, ripping the cardboard. But this was Apple. The tabs popped gently open—no tearing.

Out of its cradle, boxes, and other wrappings, the HomePod is elegant: a heavy cylinder with smooth, rounded top and bottom edges, a modernist vase full not of flowers but of music. Its single continuous flank comprises a wiry grillecloth apparently stuffed with stiff foam. On top is a touch-sensitive, semitransparent plastic cap, with which the HomePod can be controlled with gentle finger taps: one tap to play or pause, two to skip to the next song, three to repeat that song or skip back to the previous one. There are also touch-sensitive volume buttons labeled – and +.

The software setup was as easy as the unboxing: Plug the HomePod into the wall, activate Bluetooth on your iOS device, and move it close to the HomePod. Setup begins automatically. There's no need to remember your wireless password or other information about your network—the HomePod steals it from your device (with your permission). Then Siri prompts you to talk to her—to ask her for some music. It's time to get to know each other.

COMPANY INFO
Apple Computer, Inc.
1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014-2084
(800) 692-7753
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
Bogolu Haranath's picture

"Hey Siri, play Justin Bieber" ........... "Don't you think you are a little bit too old for that Jim?, let me play Roy Orbison for you" :-) ..............

Anton's picture

I will be interested in your stereo impressions from a pair of those.

Should be fun!

ok's picture

Ilsa: Play it once, Siri. For old time’s sake.
Siri: I don’t know what you mean, Miss Ilsa.
Ilsa: Play it, Siri. Play “As Time Goes By”.
Siri: Oh, I can’t remember it, Miss Ilsa. I’m a little rusty on it.
Ilsa: I’ll hum it for you. Da-dy-da-dy-da-dam..
Ilsa: PLAY IT AGAIN SIRI –

NeilS's picture

"...it's a sophisticated, high-tech, 5.5-lb sound computer with many transducers and lots of unorthodox audio engineering..."

Why no measurements?

dalethorn's picture

Measurements should be a riot, what with all the fully automatic compensations the Homepod applies according to what it senses in its environment. We might have to learn a whole new measurement technology for this smart home appliance.

RafaPolit's picture

I was really disappointed not to get measurements. Every other speaker review gets them, yet the heavily colored Home Pod gets a free pass and we get only the subjective comments with some liberal thoughts like: "I assume the LS50s sound better", but all praise for the apple product.

Seems rather odd. At the very least, a reason as to why these were omitted would have been interesting.

dalethorn's picture

What kind of measurements would you be expecting for a chimeral device like this? A video perhaps, that shows the graphs rapidly fluctuating as the Homepod readjusts its tuning as people walk around it, or the door opens and the wind blows in?

Seriously, this is not a static device like bookshelf or floor-standing speakers, which emit sound that doesn't fluctuate dynamically on its own whim.

John Atkinson's picture
RafaPolit wrote:
I was really disappointed not to get measurements...At the very least, a reason as to why these were omitted would have been interesting.

We didn't include measurements with this review because with a product as complex and idiosyncratic as the HomePod I just wasn't sure what measurements would correctly characterize its performance.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Mrsnikoph78's picture

With all due respect the Homepod was measured, successfully it would seem, in a YouTube video that anyone can watch. It might have 7 tweeters firing in 7 directions, and a woofer, and active equalization/DSP, but it is for all intensive purposes a mono speaker meant to be plunked down somewhere and heard. Given its design I would assume it has good off-axis response since its got a HF driver firing in all directions while the bass is partly omni-directional.

It would appear that Apple engineered impressively deep bass for a small driver, making the Homepod bascially a full range speaker at lower volumes (bass down to 30 hz or so). The trouble is, the bass is shelved down after reaching a peak level. So, much like "idiosyncratic" modern OEM stereos in cars, DSP or some form of sound shaping is deployed to manage distortion/excursion of inexpensive drivers. This is easily noted by taking measurements at various SPLs (as I have done in many cars to figure out what sort of sound shaping is occurring).

I don't see why the Homepod should be so hard to measure - it would actually be fascinating to see how it reacts to being crammed in a corner, under a TV, on a dining room table, or on the floor. Or, perhaps give the microphone (e.g. the listener) a fixed location, keep the homepod 3-6 feet away, and move it around on a frontal plane (say, corner/floor/TV/fireplace shelf). Does it hit the same response in all locations? Another test could simply observe output as SPL increases - what is the maximum volume before bass limiting kicks in?

I know that the Homepod probably can't get the normal battery of stereophile measures. But something, anything, is more interesting that nothing! C'mon John!

mrkaic's picture

You could take it apart and measure the amp and preamp inside. Just an idea.

Charles E Flynn's picture
Graham Luke's picture

Thanks for that; you've thoroughly gone over the thing. Call me a curmudgeonly old luddite but I can't ever imagine talking to a loud-speaker; the idea seems ludicrous. Oh, and re your travels, have you ever tried the Bose Soundlink Mini? I take one everywhere with me when travelling and love it. Fed from a smartphone or iPod via Bluetooth, the sound is very, very good for such a small device.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

That is nothing .......... Wait few years .......... We will be talking to our refrigerator, washing machine, microwave, lawn mower, automobiles etc. etc. etc . :-) ...............

Anton's picture

My mother in law has been doing that for years.

Hell, my bro-in-law talks to Hannity on the moving picture box.

:D

Graham Luke's picture

I suspect you're right, BH; did it all start with HAL?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

HAL 9000? .......... Yes .........

dalethorn's picture

HAL from 2001, or as Dilbert would characterize the entity decades later: "Mordac - the preventer of information services."

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"Stuxnet"? :-) ............

tonykaz's picture

Not Repairable -- Can't be repaired -- No way to open it up without destroying it -- Intentionally adhesive sealed disassembly access.

Reviewers need to be aware of this sort of thing finding it's way into Audiophile channels.

Another example is NAD 3020D which can't be opened up without destroying it.

Of course, anything from China will already have gaping holes in it's repairability possibilities. Most of Walmarts Chinese stuff will be in the local LandFills within 12 months.

Our Reviewers now have the additional responsibility to report on the possibilities for long-term ownership.

I felt broken hearted because of limited Service available for my favorite high performance gear like Electrocompaniet, Koetsu and now Thiel Loudspeakers.

Stereophile shouldn't recommend any product or gear that doesn't have reliable Service and should issue a Listing of Outfits that provide service of the gear they offer. I'll confine my purchases to those Companys.

No Exceptions, no excuses!

Tony in Michigan

ps. I already research any Company I do business with so I know fully well that Schiit does a dam good job servicing their shit and Apple does not ( expect any Apple to be near worthless in time )

Graham Luke's picture

I've got to disagree with you on Apple. I took a 3 year old iPhone 5 in because the battery was playing up and they replaced it for free over my lunchbreak. The odd other things that have failed (cables or connectors) they replace on the spot. That can't be too bad... I bet you dislike Sonos as well.

tonykaz's picture

Older Apple stuff , like older computers are worthless.

A 1950's Cast iron frying pan is worth $100, a 10 year old iPod is worth nothing

Tony in Michigan

dalethorn's picture

A 10 year old iPod isn't exactly an audiophile device, but perhaps since this discussion is already so fractious, it's considered OK to stray from the main points.

Graham Luke's picture

...but that ol' iPod opened a door to a whole new world for many folks.

dalethorn's picture

Actually I'm only refuting Tony's comments. I bought the original iPods in white and (eventually) black, gave several to friends, bought several generations of iPod Nanos, iPod Touches - currently using a 128 gb iPod Touch, 256 gb iPhone 8-plus, 256 gb iPad Pro Jr., Macbook Pro, not counting my wife's i-devices.

Someone recently was asking to be able to use an external DAC for their older 30-pin iPod, and I got one for them. So a 10 y.o. iPod might not be "audiophile quality" on its own, but use the 30-pin Camera Kit adapter, and it most assuredly is.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Mr. Cook thanks you for your support :-) ...........

Graham Luke's picture

...a medal in the post from Cupertino, Dale! I must admit I've loved all my iDevices; two iPod Classics and three phones (including a hand-me-down from She Who Must Be Obeyed). I have a Classic (Grey - 160 Gigs) still in it's original packaging INCLUDING original shrink wrap! I'm gonna sit on this one for a while...

Bogolu Haranath's picture

You missed the AirPods :-) ...........

dalethorn's picture

I've purchased 11 sets of Airpods at $173 per set, and given all but two away. Here is my eq curve for the Airpods, where I boost the bass and greatly reduce the treble. My wife plays them with NO eq, even though we use the same eq on full-size headphones. So it's pretty obvious that the outer-ear design is heard very differently by different people. The good news is that the Airpods have hi-fi potential using eq.

http://dalethorn.com/Photos/Audioforge/Apple_Airpods.jpg

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Have you listened to any of the Beats new Bluetooth headphones like the Studio 3? Also, any Beats Bluetooth IEMs? ..............

Graham Luke's picture

...for the 50's frying pan....?

tonykaz's picture

well over $50.

Tony in Michigan

dalethorn's picture

Fry enough foods and your health slips, and there goes your hearing. I'm still crystal clear to 12 khz at 70, but to hear 13-14 khz clearly I have to turn up the volume some.

Gumbo2000's picture

Buy an Apple product, get a pair of handcuffs for free! There is no escape!

drblank's picture

the HomePod is that if you want it covered for 2 years, buy the $39 AppleCare, if not, if it's under warranty, then it's free. If not, then it's $279 and they just toss you a new/refurbished (most likely new) one and call it a day, then you don't have to buy a new one for $349. I don't know why they didn't mention this because it's on Apple's Support Site.

Here's the link. https://support.apple.com/homepod/repair/service

For what it is, it's probably a decent enough of a product, for what it is. I may buy one for my bedroom since I don't have a high end system in that room, nor I want to pay through the nose for something I'm only going to listen to a lower volume levels.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"Hey Siri, play something" ........... "Let me play "Take a chance on me", by ABBA" ...............

brenro's picture

It looks like a roll of Charmin', it has the worst voice assistant out there, and it forces you to use Apple's ecosystem. This is an epic fail and a sales dud. Apple came to market very late with this and one would have expected it to have capitalized on all that time with a better product. It sounds pretty good but it's a lousy smart speaker. Is it any wonder they're scrambling to release an updated one that costs half as much?

dalethorn's picture

The current Homepod is a LOT of Apple hardware (in Apple price terms) for $350. I can hardly believe they'd offer another Homepod for $175, unless they'd put a *much* tighter grip on your monthly allowance than they do currently.

brenro's picture

Beats branded and $200 is what I've been reading for months now.

dalethorn's picture

Not in a thousand years. I have Beats speakers that cost $200, as well as other $200 Bluetooth speakers. Compared to all $200 Bluetooth speakers I've seen and used, the Homepod is a $500 or better device, and I'm astounded that it sells for $350.

Actually, the only possible reason for the $350 price is that Apple makes additional money from the ancillary sales.

drblank's picture

First off, it wasn't even rolled out in all of the markets Apple serves. They are only rolling it out in the markets that has Apple Music and since Apple Music subscribers is there main focus, they aren't trying to capture 90% of the market share. They didn't roll the product out in every country that has Apple Music yet, so they still have a few more left to roll out in. As far as Apple needing to capture market share? That's never been an issue for Apple. They don't need 90% market share to be successful, which is the problem with the other platforms. They need high amounts of market share because their margins are so thin, and so far, all other platforms have had their casualties over they years and they'll continue to have more.

How I see this product is it has to sound great as a speaker first because that's based on drivers, amps, etc. That's hardware. They can't really do any improvements after the product was finalized, but Siri is SOFTWARE, software gets updates and they are adding improvements to Siri with the next release in Sept. so that aspect will always have improvements. Plus, how much time is the average person going to be listening to music vs. giving voice commands and asking questions? I would say hours vs minutes respectively. I rarely use voice commands and I have several apps on my smartphone and they all suck when they suck and they all work great when they work great, but NONE OF THEM ARE 100% RELIABLE. NONE OF THEM. in my own personal comparisons, Siri has worked just as well as Google's voice assistant for the things that I use it for, but Siri was better at adding things to my calendar.

Either way, I don't think it's that bad of a product, it just needs some further software improvements which is forthcoming. It does do Stereo now, And at least it doesn't distort when it's turned up to 100%.

mguthart's picture

Thank you JA - an interesting read. I have to agree with you...if I were ever to consider a smart speaker I wouldn't even bother with the voice assistant - regardless whether it was Siri, Alexa, or whatever Google uses. I'm not part of that "current" generation and I don't feel many of your readers are either. I prefer to search/select the next song I want to listen to, or the genre I want to listen to. I like being in control. But I also know that's not what the current generation expects - which is what these manufacturers target as their audience.

I've experimented with a number of quasi-smart speaker systems (Sonos, Amazon, and yes, even the HomePod) and personally I feel they are best suited for background music and exploring - but are not yet ready to replace a reference system. Does that mean they are bad? Not at all. Anything that attracts a wider audience to music and audio is a good thing IMO (LOL my 14-yr old daughter just asked if I could buy her a turntable for X-mas because she wants to start listening to LPs). It just depends on what your goals are and what you are trying to get out of it as a product.

Do I use Siri on my iPhone? Not at all. Do I use Alexa, Google Assistant, etc on devices that support it? Not at all. Do my daughters? Of course! But again - it's a generational thing.

Thanks for the write-up!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"Hey Siri, what are your measurements?" .......... "Let me play "Measurements", by James Blake for you" ...............

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"Hey Siri, what are your measurements?"............. "6.8 inches tall, 5.6 inches in diameter and I weigh 5.5 pounds and I am pretty looking" ..............

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"May be I should buy another HomePod?"

"Stop talking to yourself and go buy another HomePod ...... I am kinda lonely here" ........

kenkirk's picture

I have been a huge Apple fan for years. But in my opinion Google and even Amazon have run away with the smart speakers. I use a set of Google Max's set up on my Sonus Faber stands. Using the aux input with a Meridian Employer II, playing MQA from Tidal gives one an entry into the high end cheap. I get depth and width sound staging. I get a great bass response due to the Max's DSP to the room. And I can also use the built in Google Assistant which blows away the Siri crap. I hope Stereophile can review a set. And maybe even interview the young female designer. Google Francis Kwee. No I am not selling my Sonus Fabers... but on a limited budget this is a way to get great sound.

kenkirk's picture

I am not sure if providing a link is OK. If not, sorry. Please delete.

https://blog.google/products/home/she-word-frances-kwee-turns-volume-goo...

dalethorn's picture

I read the article at this link - ugh. Have you seen any audiophile reviews, even non-professional reviews?

kenkirk's picture

No I have not seen any audiophile type reviews of the Google Max. I can say they sound excellent for 399.00 each. Things are changing. I am a analog and tube guy. All Cat gear, Basis Debut Gold with vac, Urishi, Sonus Faber Amatis, Extremas, and Electa Amator I's, REL Stentor II's in stereo, Otari MX5050BIII, Nak Dragon, you get the picture. I love my tubes and analog. But this computer speaker modeling and DSP with Class D amps is the future. This stuff is only going to get better. For 800.00 bucks, its a dam nice stereo. Plug the speakers in and stream from Tidal or Pandora etc. Millions of songs to choose from. Its fun. I think Stereophile was smart to review the Apple smart speakers. I am just saying there is something better out there already for about the same money. My opinion. I bought them. And I use them allot. I hope Stereophile reviews them.

Ken

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Does Google Home Max has wired connection(s)? ............ either analog or digital? ......... It does have BlueTooth, right? ...........

kenkirk's picture

Yes the Google Max has an Aux stereo input via mini stereo headphone type jack. No digital inputs. The speakers sync in pairs wirelessly. They have of course WiFi to stream from the internet and connect to the Google Assistant. They also have Bluetooth but I never use it. If you search around you can find the specs for the digital connections between the speakers and off of the wifi. Google updates the firmware from time to time to open up more abilities. They switch automatically to Aux input when they detect a signal. Of course you can just say: Hey Google, play Ac/DC Thunderstruck at volume 10 and they will respond. :)

Ken

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Thanks for the information ......... From what I see in the specs, it appears that, in addition to analog input, the USB-C input supports digital connectivity up to 24/96 ............. Also, one of the comments I saw on Engadget was, that a single Home Max can work as stereo, if placed horizontally ........... Makes sense, it has two woofers and two tweeters .........

dalethorn's picture

If those can actually be driven directly by a phone through a digital input, then on that basis alone they have a huge advantage over the Homepod.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

You got that right bro :-) ...........;.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

BTW ......... Why stop at 10? ....... Turn it up to 11 :-) ..............

dalethorn's picture

Many, many years ago, Audio magazine (I think) featured an article on a tiny speaker that could put out "1/4 acoustic watt" in the deep bass range, although to my knowledge it never became a commercial product. This was well before subwoofers became common. Certainly these little speakers are utilizing a lot of that magic today, but apparently "magic" is still an order of magnitude below "miracle". Stepping up to the large PS Audio towers playing the Widor organ symphony, you will get a visceral thrill that's missing on these smart speakers, although the smart speakers will compete well with headphones for those who can run up the volume without disturbing the neighbors.

kenkirk's picture

https://store.google.com/us/product/google_home_max_specs?hl=en-US

Google says it supports 24/96 FLAC .

This smart speaker market is moving fast. I am already starting to see powered speakers with Google Assistant built in. I would bet there are some high end speaker builders already developing smart speakers.

Ken

kenkirk's picture
dalethorn's picture

This was an older review that talked about the Homepod not yet being available. Still a good look at the Google Max, and good comparisons to the Sonos line.

Ordinarily, audiophiles would be evaluating small speakers based mainly on their sound, and secondarily on their features, unless the features were overwhelmingly important. In this case though, these speakers sell at headphone price levels, so for speaker-user audiophiles, these are cheap and almost disposable. Which leads me to believe that these will be purchased based on convenience features (much like smartphones) moreso than absolute sound quality.

This is a very different direction from classic audiophilia, which to me means sound quality first. Somebody in the audiophile media should be planning now how to build and represent the new "convenience infrastructure" for reporting these things, before classic audiophilia gets further marginalized and defunded.

kenkirk's picture

Yes, these speakers are playing to a different market. I bought one because I loved the Google Home speakers I got for Christmas. I was having fun with them. I bought a Google Chromecast Audio to hook up to my McIntosh receiver to drive my outdoor speakers. Then the Max came out so I bought one thinking it might be fun for some decent back ground music in my listening room when I did not want to fire up the tubes. I was very surprised with the sound quality and volume level it could play at. And the excellent bass quality until it falls off. So after one evening of playing with it I decided this is too good for back ground use. I went and bought another one, put them on my Sonus Faber stands and positioned them in the room to soundstage where the Electa Amators do well. Well I was extremely surprised when I heard depth and width and excellent punchy bass. At this point I had to try them with the Aux input and MQA. They stepped it up another big notch. They are good enough when I don't have time to warm up the tubes, I can have a decent quick listening session. And in the morning I just say: Hey Google, good morning. I get the time, weather, traffic situation to my office, and it switches to my favorite local news radio station. I drink my coffee and when I leave I just say: Hey Google, Off. And it goes silent. Of course I do not discuss politics around the little spies. :)

Ken

dalethorn's picture

"Of course I do not discuss politics around the little spies"

The film "Man With One Red Shoe" with Tom Hanks and Dabney Coleman had some funny bits along that line. You wouldn't want to have someone knocking on your door or visiting where you work, asking about your meeting with the Senators, if that were just the name of your baseball team.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

NSA could be listening :-) ...........

dalethorn's picture

"NSA could be listening"

Is that a joke, or a statement by someone still in the third grade in school? I wrote a paper about very fast database technology back in 1980, and we're nearly 40 years beyond that now. Do you understand, just a little bit, what NSA et al scoops up and indexes with their electronic nets?

Here's an example of where public ignorance drives ignorant policy -- 12 years ago, sitting in a software co. lunchroom in Irvine CA, one of the supervisors said "I don't care if the feds listen to my phone or read my mail". So I asked him "Can I read your mail and borrow your phone for a couple hours"? The answer was "no". And that was because he assumed the "feds" to be 3000 miles away in an office building in Wash. DC. Well, the "feds" were 30 miles away in Los Angeles, but that was where they worked. Where they lived was next door or a few doors away in this supervisor's neighborhood. And so it is with any two-way device - the hackers et al are often close by, and so you might want to stretch the budget with smart appliances to include some extra security.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"Somebody's Watching Me" ............. Rockwell :-) ...........

dalethorn's picture

I'm not watching you, my minimum-wage goons are watching you. I'm watching Oprah.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"Sad" ......... Maroon5 :-) ............

dalethorn's picture

"So after one evening of playing with it I decided this is too good for back ground use"

This too tripped off some engrams -- I see myself listening to two of these and thinking "That's pretty good bass, but I'd like to insert some EQ and tighten it up a bit". Then with increased volume, I'm hearing it break up a bit on a few strong organ pedals, and I'm wondering if I should buy the larger model, or add an approved subwoofer, etc. etc.

And then my thoughts move along to where the erstwhile audiophile community is gradually sucked into the big-corporate world of Apple, Microsoft, Google, and so on. And there's where I see problems. Call it a political hunch or whatever, but you look around audiophilia from at least as far back as 1970, and you don't see IBM or GM or GE or Dow Chemical or Lockheed or other such corporate giants. It's OK for me to get some of my hi-fi from the likes of Apple, but give them too much control and they'll ruin it.

Just one example: If I buy a new iPhone or update mine to a new iOS version (now 5 steps beyond my current version), I'm looking at wading through more than a thousand(!) settings to turn off the things that Apple always enables by default. Most users aren't aware of those thousand settings, because they see a setting with a right-arrow (">") followed by the text "off", and they assume they don't need to click that arrow. But in many cases - an increasing number of cases - there are many new options enabled in that setting, albeit the top-level item is set to "off". Users assume that the top-level "off" overrides everything under it, but that's not the case.

Gordon Holt once said that he got very frustrated reading in a user manual "Don't do such-and-such", but it doesn't say what happens if you do such-and-such. It could be important to know, especially for a reviewer, but when you extrapolate that example to a thousand or more settings on an electronic device that monitors so much of your life, it's potentially more serious than frustrating.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Have you tried the Home Max speakers with your REL subwoofer(s)? ........ If so, how do they sound with the subwoofer(s)? ............. Or, is it possible to pair with subwoofer(s)? .......... You may have to use the analog inputs and a pre-amp ......... That may disable the Wi-Fi and BlueTooth .......... It may be too complicated ..........

kenkirk's picture

The REL's are connected via Cardas Golden Cross directly to my Cat JL-1 amps. It is possible to connect them via via their RCA inputs and tapping into the analog output of the Meridian Explorer II . But honestly thats way too much trouble. And the Max's DSP their bass to the room and their position in the room. The best hope is for Google to release a sub that will sync to the Max's via wifi. Like the way they sync to each other when in paired mode. But the bass is fine like they are. The bass does begin to roll out around volume 8, or maybe 75% of their full volume. It appears to me they are designed to roll off the bass to prevent over excursion of the bass drivers at max volume levels. 75% is plenty loud and the bass is of good quality. Ken

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Stereophile next project ........ Google Home Max review ........... May be? :-) ...........

John C Freeman's picture

You forgot one of the most famous drinking songs of all time.

In heaven there is no beer.
That's why we drink it here (Right Here!)
and when we're gone from here,
our friends will be drinking all the beer!
You can listen to it here,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kF_Z34RBLyg

Bogolu Haranath's picture

No problem ............ There are virgins in Heaven :-) .............

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