Disgruntled HomePod owners say firmware update alters sound quality

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A number of HomePod owners are airing their dissatisfaction over Apple's first firmware update for the device, saying the new software tweaks the speaker's sonic fingerprint, a specific sound for which customers paid a hefty premium.

Reports scattered across social media services and online forums like Reddit suggest Thursday's HomePod update modifies the speaker's onboard DSP or preconfigured equalization algorithm.

The general consensus among detractors is that the firmware, while delivering a more prominent mid-range, noticeably degrades bass impact and loudness. These same people assert bass-heavy tracks lack the punch afforded with HomePod's original software, leaving them with a dull-sounding speaker.

Apple's release notes fail to mention such changes, saying only that the 11.3 update "includes general improvements for stability and quality."

While not overwhelming, HomePod's ability to produce clean, powerful bass was a standout feature for many reviewers, including AppleInsider.

A drastic EQ overhaul would be of major concern for users who purchased HomePod based on their initial impression of the speaker, especially considering Apple does not allow manual tuning. Apple itself touts HomePod's sonic merits over Siri integration, which many find inadequate compared to the capabilities of competing hardware.

However, for every disgruntled user who decries HomePod's software update, there seems to be another dissenting voice extolling the new version's boost to bass fidelity and loudness. Still more say there is no discernible difference between the two firmware releases.

With conflicting views and no tangible evidence, the supposed problem appears to be overblown. As with many audio hardware characteristics, the line between good and bad boils down to perception and user preference. The situation becomes all the more murky when adding advanced technologies like room sensing, dynamic acoustic tuning and beamforming into the equation.

That said, those leery of Apple's update should disable automatic downloads in the Home app by tapping on the GPS icon-styled button in the top left corner of the home screen, scrolling down to Speakers > Software Update and toggling Install Updates Automatically to the off position.

For users who installed the update and are unsatisfied with the supposed changes, check out AppleInsider's guide to tuning HomePod using equalizers in iOS and macOS.