Audiobooks

Why I Ditched The HomePod

From my earlier review you will see I was quite impressed with the HomePod but the more I used it the less it seemed like a viable option for my use case of a smart speaker.

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The primary issues I found was that audiobooks were not available, not even those purchased through the iTunes store and the only radio station available was Beats1 which while ok to listen to for a little while does not really cover my music tastes. I have a wide range of tastes including Jazz (1940s - Present), Rock (1950s - Present), Metal (1970s - Present), Classical and Folk, very little of this is included on Beats1 and it seems orientated to R&B, Rap and Pop which would be acceptable if the option of other radio stations were available such as Jazz FM, Planet Rock, BBC Stations and Classic FM. I use a smart speaker in my bedroom (being paralysed I use it as a voice controlled entertainment centre) and the lack of these options made made entertainment very limited.

The ability to play podcasts was extremely hit and miss, the HomePod very rarely was able to access the All Unplayed playlist I had set up in the native podcasts application and in order to play a specific podcast the pronunciation and name asked for had to be extremely precise in order for the desired podcast to play.

The inability to adjust the bass/treble proved to be an insurmountable problem. Why do Apple think they have the right to dictate how every piece of audio is delivered? There are several reasons why the ability to adjust the bass/treble (beyond that of pure audio taste) is required. If like myself you want to listen to something at a low level during the night reducing the bass level is a necessity in order to avoid disturbing others in the house, if you live in an apartment heavy bass tends to travel through walls and floors neighbours above and below will probably not appreciate this, many people with hearing problems find bass levels need to be reduced otherwise the audio just seems a muddy mess or even worse becomes very painful and listening to voice requires a totally different level to music. I found the active adjustment that was supposed to be on the HomePod just didn’t work, thus, over time the bass became more and more prominent while no matter how low the volume was Siri’s voice level was extremely loud.

The reviews all stated that the sound quality was outstanding but in my opinion I much prefer the audio produced by Sonos, a system which gives the user the ability to adjust bass/treble levels.  All of the above (plus the fact there is no sleep timer on the HomePod) made my decision to sell the HomePod (losing quite a bit of cash) and going back to an Amazon Echo which I can tell to play on my Sonos in my bedroom and therefore have the bast of both worlds, Audiobooks, Kindle Reading, Many Radio Stations etc. and the Sonos sound Quality and adjustability. I also now have a Sonos One in the office which I find much more responsive that the HomePod ever was.

My new setup give the entertainment system that I require, that audio adjustment I require and the other features (sleep timers etc.) that I require. In my view Apple really need to up the game on the HomePod to make it a rival to other smart speakers.

Audible Added To Sonos

It’s been a long time coming but solely going from information on my Sonos system (Two Play:1 Speakers) Audible has finally made a return to Sonos. It has been a service that many users have been crying out for but has been consistently put back by Sonos, audiobooks have been available on Sonos via the Audiobooks.com service, however, this service has a much smaller user base and a severely reduced catalogue compared to Audible.

After adding the Audible service in the usual way on Sonos (on the Mac Controller click ‘Add music service’ then choose Audible and follow the instructions to add your existing account or create a new one) the option of Audible is available in your services list. My Audible service shows accounts for several countries, even though I only have an audible.co.uk account (I don’t know if this is a glitch on launch). Once in your appropriate region all of your audiobook purchases should be available.

I am unable to verify if this service is available to control via Alexa on the Sonos One as I do not have a unit available to test. I would like to test a Sonos One in order to do a comparison with the HomePod but obviously there are financial constraints.

The addition of Audible is extremely welcome to users of the Sonos ecosystem and I know I will be making use of it extensively.