Google Home Max Review: Great Sound Meets Impressive Intelligence

I was blown away by how clean "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen, a song with a wide range of audio levels and layers, sounded across the board. I could easily pick out the sharp piano bits from the drums and electric and bass guitar with no effort. I expected the highs to fall apart at higher volumes like they do on the Echo and Google Home, but was surprised at how well HomePod preserved it all.

Anything by Adele and Sam Smith sounds terrific. I almost shed a tear listening to "Too Good at Goodbyes" by Sam Smith. Nothing seems lost or muddled in the track; the slow finger-snapping, the choir, the front-heavy bass — they're all distinctly audible.

Rap classics like "99 Problems" by Jay-Z and "In Da Club" by 50 Cent sound more vibrant than I've ever heard before. Less fuzzy sound and more clarity between verses; in "P.I.M.P." I could hear 50 Cent's breath pop while he's spitting lyrics.

Songs with big bass like "Where Are Ü Now" by Justin Bieber and Jack Ü and "Finesse" by Bruno Mars (feat. Cardi B) pack some serious punch, but not in an overpowering kind of way. It's another testament to the impressive sound separation HomePod is capable of. The same songs on Google Home Max play louder with more thumping bass, but it, along with the vocals, get crushed and distorted at louder volumes. Apple says HomePod's A8 chip overcomes distortion by analyzing the next 30 milliseconds of a track while it's playing, adjusting the bass so it doesn't break up.

And if you enjoy classical music — holy cow, you're in for a real aural treat. Bach's "Suite No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007" performed by Yo-Yo Ma just glides on HomePod. This cello composition is one my favorites and it sounded lighter, airier, and more delicate on HomePod versus the other speakers, which were a little more two-dimensional.

Not to mention, HomePod sounded great no matter where I placed it. Music sounded as pure in the middle of our huge photo studio that's surrounded by glass walls as it did on my desk in my bedroom and on a bookshelf in my living room. I tried to trick HomePod into sounding worse by placing it on various surfaces like a fabric-covered ottoman and an aluminum rack, thinking the acoustics would be noticeably different, but it sounded the same to my ears.

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