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Google AI Music Hardware Apple Technology

Google Debuts Its $400 Google Home Max Speaker To Rival Apple's HomePod (techcrunch.com) 60

In addition to the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, Google debuted a $400 speaker, called Home Max, that looks to compete directly with Apple's recently announced HomePod. The Home Max is a larger Google Home that features stereo speakers and more premium looks and materials. It's expected to go on sale in December in the U.S. TechCrunch reports: It can tune its audio to its own space, analyzing the sound coming from the speaker using its built in microphones to determine the best equalizer settings. This is called Smart Sound, and it evolves over time and based on where you move the speaker, using built-in machine learning. It has Cast functionality, as well as input via stereo 3.5 mm jack. Home Max can output sound that's up to 20 times more powerful than the standard version of Home, Google says, and it has two 4.5 inch woofers on board with two 0.7 inch custom-built tuners. It can sit in either vertical or horizontal orientation, and it comes in both 'chalk' and 'charcoal.' Of course, this bigger speaker also includes a noise isolating array that makes it work even in open rooms with background noise, and it's Assistant-enabled, so you can use it to control your music playback via voice, or manage your smart home devices, set yourself reminders, alarms, and timers and much more. Google also launched a budget-friendly Google Home Mini that features the Google Assistant but in a smaller form factor. 9to5Google reports: Google touts the Home Mini as having a powerful speaker with "crisp" 360 degree sound. The Mini can also be connected to any Chromecast wireless speaker, but there is no 3.5mm jack like Amazon's Echo Dot. In the center, there are four white lights that note when the Home Mini is listening or responding. Besides saying the "Ok, Google" hotword, users can tap on the Home Mini to issue a command. Google also retained the Home's original button for disabling the microphone with a toggle next to the charging port. The Google Home Mini will be go on sale later this month for $49, with pre-orders starting today.
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Google Debuts Its $400 Google Home Max Speaker To Rival Apple's HomePod

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  • Connect (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    So, i just plug it in Pixel 2 via 3.5mm audio jack?

    • Except the jack is going away. Just what the world needs is more specialized speakers. Why isn't there an app for this? Why do I need a whole new device?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Interesting at $250 or less. $400, not so much.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What kind of idiot buys a device which sole purpose is to spy and collect data to monetize? Of course _Google_ should pay a sum per month to a person who lets his house to be spied. A some kind of revenue sharing model would be fair compensation for lost privacy.

  • by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Wednesday October 04, 2017 @05:15PM (#55311683)

    >"It has Cast functionality, as well as input via stereo 3.5 mm jack"

    Oh really... a 3.5mm jack. Hmm...

    • Re: 3.5 (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      How courageous of them.

  • It looks nice but if you find other images of people holding it, very large. That is probably good for sounds quality, but it also makes it hard to fit in.

    The Apple HomePod is a bit nicer in a number of ways - it is more multi-directional in figuring out sound abalone (though the Max does that to some unknown degree, how well it does this will be defined by where you aim it). Again related to aiming, the HomePod can target people in the room in a way the Max does not seem too...

    The largest advantage the H

    • Yes, a bigger speaker is usually better for acoustics, no omnidirectional (like HomePod) is not good for audio quality in a room, and yes you can run a pair of Max in a stereo pair. This is more a shot across the bow of SONOS and the new SONOS Home just announced, rather than HomePod. Even the pricing and shape and functionality are reminiscent of the SONOS Play:5. HomePod will probably end up like all previous Apple audio products - forgotten in two years, never to be discussed again.
      • no omnidirectional (like HomePod) is not good for audio quality in a room

        It is when it is specifically focusing sound in different directions. It's just omnidirectional in terms of where it can aim the sound field, not in terms of what actually comes out. It automatically balances effects from walls and other objects around it to account for sound that is meant to travel in a specific direction.

        yes you can run a pair of Max in a stereo pair

        Aha, I have found where it says you can do that on the specs page.

        • It is when it is specifically focusing sound in different directions. It's just omnidirectional in terms of where it can aim the sound field, not in terms of what actually comes out. It automatically balances effects from walls and other objects around it to account for sound that is meant to travel in a specific direction.

          That directionality cannot be accomplished over a usable bandwidth. HomePod is simply too small, and has too few elements, to provide beamforming capabilities much below 1 kHz. Meaning you might hear cymbals from the right location, but the rest of the band is "somewhere over in that half of the room". Physics - can't break those laws!

          Apple audio products have mostly been pretty successful it seems like. The only one that is not really around anymore is the Airport Express, but it was not primarily and audio product...

          Apple Hi Fi. And I know of at least TWO attempts at making a home audio speaker that were aborted by Apple (back when Jobs was still there) because they couldn't figure it

          • That directionality cannot be accomplished over a usable bandwidth. HomePod is simply too small, and has too few elements, to provide beamforming capabilities much below 1 kHz. Meaning you might hear cymbals from the right location, but the rest of the band is "somewhere over in that half of the room"

            Not if you have two working in unison. I think you are not understanding how the HomePod is constructed.

            Physics - can't break those laws!

            Don't need to, not quite sure what you are talking about here. It's a s

  • it has two 4.5 inch woofers on board with two 0.7 inch custom-built tuners

    So I can hear two radio stations at a time, or maybe these are tweeters? When it comes to specifications, double checking your facts for typos are important.

    Self calibrating room acoustics is nothing new, most modern receivers have had this for years. Although with something that will probably get kicked around the house and constantly move location it might be more useful in this case. Oh and the 'Smart Sound' moniker was taken by (I think) Magnavox years, or maybe now its decades, ago.

    • On what planet is a 4.5 speaker a woofer? What's the max throw on that? $400? They're on crack. For that kind of money I expect a rapper's brand on the junk electronics.

      • On the planet were progress has made the Creative T20s give perceptible bass out of a 2 inch cone.

      • by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Wednesday October 04, 2017 @05:45PM (#55311865) Journal
        You'd be surprised... I've done lots of real sub-5" woofers, with real stroke. Like 10+mm one way on a Klippel. Even smaller can rock. For example, I designed the transducers in the SONOS Play:1 and that 3.5" woofer has an 8.6mm one way excursion (per Klippel measurements). It'll throw down with most 5.25" woofers, and even embarrass quite a few 6.5" units. SPL is about displacement, and that is bore times stroke, and you can do REALLY big stroke if you know what you're doing...
        • Bose 901s have 9 drivers about that size. Starting in about 1970. New ones have added tweets.

          Not really new, but also not really a woofer. No highs, no lows etc.

          • Bore times stroke. Diameter times motion. The 9 drivers in the 901 had about 1mm of linear excursion; the one in the Play:1 will out-displace all 9 of those ful range drivers in the 901. SPL is a function of displacement, and that means the motion in and out is as critical as the diameter. A small bore/large stroke can generate as much SPL as a large bore/small stroke woofer. Take a listen to a Play:1 sometime - it'll surprise you.
            • Which generation of 901s? You realize they're still made?

              In any case, calling them 'woofers' is just bullshit, 'full range' with decent bass and weak tweet, maybe. Where are the crossovers? Is that a woofer crossover frequency?

      • On what planet is a 4.5 speaker a woofer? What's the max throw on that? $400? They're on crack

        On planet earth. The term "woofer" is about frequency range, not volume. But even so, plenty of those compact home theater systems use 4.5" subwoofers and actually do a not-half bad job at it. They make special long throw/high excursion drivers to help deal with the size issue.

        Back in the early 90s, I was really into the car audio scene and attended several of those max-spl competitions. As I recall, there was one guy who filled a mini van with probably a few hundred 4.5" or 5" subs, and it was actually pre

      • Xmax is 11mm +/-, that's some pretty serious distance. Given the amount of DSP built into it, of course they're actively controlling the drivers to minimize distortion.

        In a well-tuned cabinet, with high-quality drivers and DSP, I bet they can hit 50Hz flat, no problem at all, and probably as low as 40Hz at a decent SPL. Odds are they're boosting the hell out of the low bass at lower volumes and gradually rolling it off as you increase the volume, keeping the low frequencies always right up there close to th

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      When it comes to the most profoundly invasive spy ware imaginable, microphone sensitivity is more important as well as how large and visible the off switch is. It seems the are going for the invisible look, just what you would use on gullible people, make it disappear in their environment so they forget it is there and say things they shouldn't say to be used against them latter. I think they are heading in the wrong direction, a kawaii https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] desk top robot with it's rechargeable

  • by Orgasmatron ( 8103 ) on Wednesday October 04, 2017 @05:30PM (#55311781)

    Why do people keep calling these things "speakers"? It presumably has a speaker in it, but I don't call my car "engine" or "mirror". And, closer to home for most of us, I don't call my computer "CPU" or "hard drive".

    I completely understand why Google, Amazon and Apple all want to misdirect as much attention as possible away from their motivation, but why do we go along with it? Why does a news site that claims to be "for nerds" go along with it?

    And seriously, does no one remember Mister House [sourceforge.net]?

    • I can't speak for everyone, but given I already have a far more useful device in my pocket I think "speaker" accurately describes their sole value.

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JohnFen ( 1641097 ) on Wednesday October 04, 2017 @05:35PM (#55311815)

      Why do people keep calling these things "speakers"?

      Because calling it a "spy portal" didn't score very well in focus groups.

      • I still don't know what it is, or what the Apple competitor is. I don't think I want to find out, I'm afraid it will remove the rest of my hope for humanity.

    • Probably because it will be used for music reproduction the vast majority of the time. If the primary use of the product is as a speaker, then calling it a speaker seems to make sense.
      • But almost no one buys a speaker for $400 unless they're either giving a public concert or they're one of those crazy audiophiles, neither of which would be satisfied with a Google speaker.

        • SONOS sells about 1 million (yes, 1,000,000) wireless speakers a month, and they are around $300-$500 each. That is the number one home audio speaker brand in the world - by number of units AND revenue. Seems a lot of the public buys speakers at that price point...
    • And, closer to home for most of us, I don't call my computer "CPU" or "hard drive".

      Apparently you've never done computer support work. I have people calling their computer a "hard drive" all the time. Why this is baffles me a bit but I'd rather just get the person's issues resolved than debate the distinction between the computer as a whole and the hard drive as a part of that whole.

      I don't call my car "engine" or "mirror".

      I'll hear people refer to their car as "wheels", and I've done the same. Language is a complex thing.

      • Apparently you've never done computer support work.

        I've actually done a lot of support work, as I expect most of us have, which is why I said it was closer to home for us. We are all painfully aware that other people are ignorant about computers and technology and like to show it, but we don't usually join them.

  • I'm good with this not having a speaker jack, as there's no way one of these devices will ever be in my home anyway.

  • So to sum up (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Overpriced speaker, overpriced wireless headphones, overpriced phone with no headphone jack.

    Thanks Google! Keep being like your big brother Apple.

    • Yeah, it's hard to believe the same company was selling the Nexus 5 (that was a ton of phone!) in 2013 for only $350.
  • I preordered a Pixel 2 XL today via googlefi. They're sending me a coupon for a free Mini when they become available, but I can't imagine what the heck I'd do with it. I'm not at all keen on having devices in my home that listen all the time, and even if I can turn that off I don't know what I'd do with the stupid thing. Maybe the kids can just ask it for the weather instead of bothering me all the time.

  • OK, now there's 3 of them.
    Which one is VHS, which one the BetaMax and the Video2000?

  • Yet, I'll see how the actual sound they deliver compares to my Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 computer speakers. I know it's kind of crazy paying ~$500 for computer speakers but the sound is worth it, IMO.

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