MacVoices #18064: The MacJury’s First Weekend with the HomePod

The MacJury panel of Michael E. CohenMark Fuccio, and host Chuck Joiner braved a blizzard of Skype issues to discuss their first weekend with Apple’s new smart speaker, the HomePod. Starting with the first music played and preferred test tracks, the group discusses the HomePod’s sound and design, comparing it with other devices they have and dig deep into the issue of stereo from a mono speaker. Siri’s performance under normal listening conditions, what she can or can’t play for you and ordering up news and podcasts were among the topics covered.

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Show Notes:
Chuck Joiner is the producer and host of MacVoices. You can catch up with what he’s doing on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Guests:

Michael E. Cohen  has worked as a teacher, a programmer, a Web designer, a multimedia producer, and a certified usability analyst. He’s the author or co-author of several books, including Take Control of Pages, and Take Control of PDFpen 9.

Mark Fuccio is actively involved in high tech startup companies, both as a principle at piqsure.com, or as an marketing advisor through his consulting practice Tactics Sells High Tech, Inc. Mark was a proud investor in Microsoft from the mid-1990’s selling in mid 2000, and hopes one day that MSFT will be again an attractive investment. You can contact Mark through his web site or through Twitter.

Links

Michael E. Cohen’s Test Playlist & Notes:

  • Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3 “The Organ Symphony” because, well, big booming organ
  • Bach, selected Brandenburg concerti because I wanted to hear chamber music and hear how well individual instruments sounded
  • Beatles, “Good Morning, Good Morning” because rampaging animal noises near the end sound cool in stereo I wanted to know how well it sounded in HomePod’s single speaker rendition (answer, darn good!)
  • “Crosby, Stills, & Nash” a vinyl album I digitized years ago to MP3 format; sounded “muddy” compared to something digitized with better equipment and more care…though, interestingly, it began to sound better the longer it played, as though HomePod’s A8 brain was working on optimizing the admittedly mediocre-quality source audio.
  • “Ben Franklin’s Song” by the Decemberists because I like it.
  • “Temporarily Humboldt County” a late 1960s comedy piece by the Firesign Theatre, because it has interesting sound effects and lots of sotto voce comic lines buried in the sound tapestry. It sounded as good in HomePod mono as it ever did on my old hi-fi stereo.
  • NPR News—yes, it plays the news very nicely.
  • Personal phone call using my HomePod as a speaker phone: one of the best speaker phones I’ve ever used in terms of quality of audio and ease of use.
  • “Wonder Woman” played through HomePod via my Apple TV; it sounded very good. Good enough, in fact, that I have made an Apple TV-HomePod activity in my Harmony remote so I can make that a default way of watching Apple TV media.

Mark Fuccio’s Test Playlist and Notes:

J.S. Bach, Toccata and Fugure for Organ D Minor
“, Fantasia dn Gugue for Organ G Minor
E. Power Biggs

R. Wagner, Das Rheingold
Solti, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
track 1

R. Wagner, Gotterdamerung
Solti, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
track 17, 24, 47

R. Strauss, Also Sprach Zarathustra
Boulez, Chicago Symphony Orchestra
track 1, 2

Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
track 1, 2

Ozawa, Boston Symphony Orchestra
track 1

Riva S

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 

Chuck Joiner’s Test Playlist (in artist order, played at both 50% and maximum volume):

  • AC/DC – Stiff Upper Lip
  • Aerosmith – Nine Lives
  • Blackmore’s Night – Under A Violet Moon
  • Deep Purple – Rat Bat Blue
  • Four Horsemen – Back In Business Again
  • Kix – Wheels in Motion
  • Kix – Book to Hypnotize
  • Loreena McKennitt – Night Ride Across The Caucasus
  • Metallica – Fuel
  • Rhino Bucket – Welcome to Hell