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We go ears-on with Apple’s new HomePod smart wireless speaker – and it was amazing

Tech Guide has gone ears on with Apple’s new HomePod wireless smart speaker which was unveiled today at the end of the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote in San Jose.

The speaker, which is almost 18 cm tall, connects to Apple Music and offers not only wireless convenience but also amazing sound quality.

We had a chance to listen to the speaker and were blown away by how good it sounded.

The built-in tweeters and upward firing woofers work together with HomePod’s spatial awareness so it can optimise the way it sounds based on where it is positioned in the room.

When we heard HomePod, it was positioned on a shelf against the wall and the music sounded excellent no matter where in the room we were standing.

The speaker actually used the nearby wall to reflect some of the sound towards the centre of the room while directing key elements like vocals directly at the listener.

The result was an amazingly rich audio experience that had size and depth along with an astonishing level of bass with no distortion and all this from a fairly small and compact speaker.

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What was even more impressive was the clarity with every note, every lyric and every beat. The sound just filled the room.

We heard a range of songs and live tracks – Sia’s The Greatest, Sunrise by Norah Jones, the bass-heavy DNA by Kendrick Lamar and the Stevie Wonder classic Superstition – and HomePod handle them all with ease.

And we also had the chance to compare the HomePod sound quality beside two of its wireless competitors – the Sonos Play3 and the Amazon Echo.

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In comparison, the Sonos was fairly one-dimensional while the Amazon Echo sounded tinny.

They both lacked the sound of size and authority of Apple’s HomePod.

We even had a chance to hear a pairing of HomePod speakers set up as a stereo pair.

In this mode, we listened to a live version of Hotel California by the Eagles and it felt like we were in the audience.

From what we could see, HomePod is a purely wireless product. There was no auxiliary in port to physically connect the device.

The only physical controls were on the top panel of the product with volume up-and-down buttons.

There are plenty of wireless speakers on the market and some sound better than others.

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We are also seeing smart speakers as well, including the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

But Apple’s HomePod is one of the first products that combines the ease and convenience of wireless connectivity with smart capabilities and tops it off with mind blowing audio quality.

HomePod works with Siri to take your music requests, answer your questions, set reminders and even perform tasks.

It will also work with Apple’s Homekit which means you will be able to control smart products like lights, switches and other devices connected on your network with your voice.

HomePod won’t be available until December with pricing at $US349.

Australian pricing has yet to be announced but we’re expecting the product to be priced somewhere between $500 and $600.

* Stephen Fenech travelled to San Jose as a guest of Apple 

About Stephen Fenech

Stephen is the Tech Guide editor and one of Australia's most respected tech journalists. He is a regular on radio and TV talking about the latest tech news, products and trends.

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