Consumer Reports: Google Home Max and Sonos One Sound Better Than HomePod

Consumer Reports has conducted some early audio testing of the HomePod, and while the full evaluation isn't yet finished, the site believes that both the $400 Google Home Max and the $200 Sonos One sound better than Apple's new $349 smart speaker.

The HomePod received a "Very Good" sound quality rating, as did the Sonos One and the Google Home Max, but the latter two speakers also received higher overall sound quality scores.

Consumer Reports says that its speaker tests are conducted in a dedicated listening room, with experienced testers who compare each model with "high-quality reference speakers." In the case of the HomePod, testers found a few issues.

The bass was "boomy and overemphasized," while midrange tones were "somewhat hazy," and treble sounds were "underemphasized." Overall, Consumer Reports found the HomePod's sound to be "a bit muddy" when played next to the Sonos One and the Google Home Max.
The HomePod will serve many music fans well, but CR testers did hear some flaws. The HomePod's bass was a bit boomy and overemphasized. And the midrange tones were somewhat hazy, meaning that some of the nuance in vocals, guitars, and horns was lost: These elements of the music couldn't be heard as distinctly as in more highly rated speakers. Treble sounds, like cymbals, were underemphasized. But the HomePod played reasonably loudly in a midsized room.
All three smart speakers "fall significantly short" of other wireless speakers Consumer Reports has tested, like the Edifier S1000DB, priced at $350.

The HomePod's sound has been highly praised both by new HomePod owners and by media sites that tested the device ahead of its release. While Consumer Reports doesn't believe the HomePod outshines the Google Home Max and the Sonos One, other reviews have disagreed, including an extensive, in-depth review published by a self-professed audiophile earlier this morning.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Neutral)

Top Rated Comments

(View all)

25 months ago
"Consumer Reports doesn't have any idea what it's talking about." - Every response in this thread
Rating: 97 Votes
25 months ago
Consumer Reports hates Apple anyway. Rag magazine at best.
Rating: 94 Votes
25 months ago
Breaking: everyone has a different opinion.
Rating: 69 Votes
25 months ago
Or maybe... They're right? Is it just always assumed that the Apple version of a product is hands-down better and nobody can say otherwise?
Rating: 64 Votes
25 months ago
Literally every review I’ve seen has been super positive. And somehow, anti Apple consumer reports has nothing but bad comments. Shocker.
Rating: 53 Votes
25 months ago
“Sounds better” is always subjective. Only the user can decide what product sounds best to them. None the less, the HomePod is a huge contender in the audio department and the reviews for the audio have been substantially positive throughout.
Rating: 38 Votes
25 months ago
This conflicts with basically every other opinion of the HomePod thus far.
Rating: 38 Votes
25 months ago
I have no plan to buy Homepod, but I think the CR's testing method is unfair for Apple.
Homepod's advantage is in its ability to able to tune its output based on awareness of its surroundings using several mics. Putting the speaker in a dedicated room with sound absorbing wall makes this important feature useless. How is it going to tune itself if there's no echo?
I think they should re-do the testing by just putting the speaker in normal living room.
Rating: 36 Votes
25 months ago
Is CR even that relevant anymore? Honestly if I’m looking for product reviews, I either go directly to industry reviewers, YouTube, or amazon. CR Has not crossed my mind when I’m looking for reviews since the mid-90s.
Rating: 32 Votes
25 months ago
Of all the criticism I read of the HomePod, both before and after the release, sound quality was not one of them. Nobody seriously doubted this thing wasn't going to sound awesome for its size.

However, sound is physics, and other than having massive powerful amps and big speakers, the only way around the physical limitation of having a small speaker is by faking it with DSP and other tricks. The same tricks used by Sonos and everybody else.

I think the HomePod haters mainly hate the pickle Apple is putting them in, as fans. On one hand, they are Apply fans and want to own Apple hardware; if Apple makes a speaker they want that speaker. On the other hand, Apple has never been good with cloud or subscription services, so many many Apple fans subscribe to non-Apple services. By making the speaker only work with Apple's own music subscription service, they are forcing fans of Apple to choose between having Apple hardware or using the service they have been using and like.

Locking down the HomePod away from any third party services isn't just the walled-garden approach - it downright hostile. Imagine if tvOS only worked with iTunes and Apple refused to allow Netflix or Hulu, or if iOS only worked with Apple mail and refused to allow Gmail or Exchange. The same anger would come from Apple fans being forced to choose.
Rating: 32 Votes

[ Read All Comments ]