Glimpse Into Anechoic Chamber Used To Test Apple HomePod, iPhone and iPad SpeakersJanuary 9, 2020 | Anechoic, Testing
Such is the importance of sound performance in commercial products that big companies like Apple and Microsoft have turned to using an anechoic chamber to thoroughly test and design their latest products. Apple’s new HomePod product underwent thorough design and testing using an echo-free chamber before its release on the market. It’s a sign that good acoustic performance is absolutely paramount to the success of their new device.
Attention to Detail
The HomePod has been six years in development, potentially ceding valuable market space to the likes of Google and Amazon. However, those six years have been spent designing and manufacturing every single component of the new HomePod speaker, right down to the fabric covering.
But the most important detail of all has been extensive testing in an anechoic chamber, allowing Apple to test the directionality of the device and make sound quality the HomePod’s number one feature.
Anechoic or echo-free chambers are designed to minimise reflected noise by cladding the walls, floor and ceiling in sound-absorbent foam. The use of such an echo-free room allowed the Apple HomePod development team to thoroughly test the device for quality before moving to a separate chamber to test the background noise emissions of the HomePod itself so that it is able to sit on a bedside table in complete silence.
Apple has made a huge investment in the quality of its sound devices recently, claiming to have built the biggest audio and acoustics team in the world. But it’s the quality of the sound-testing facilities that has allowed Apple to make huge strides in their audio equipment recently, including the quality of the speakers in the latest iPhones and the quad speakers in the iPad Pro. But the best of them all is the new HomePod.
Unlike its competitors, the HomePod is an omnidirectional device. That means there’s an array of speakers placed around the cylindrical shape that are designed to pick up noise from anywhere. But that innovation also meant that the HomePod had to undergo special acoustic testing to make sure that it would function and sound great, whatever the environment.
Gary Geaves, who serves as Apple’s senior director in audio design and engineering, knew that meant using an anechoic chamber, which is the standard tool for loudspeaker development. In addition, it was the perfect place to test how well the omnidirectional design would stand up. After all, Apple weren’t just interested in seeing how the HomePod performed in one direction but in all possible directions. Apple were then able to take the HomePod into the real world, gathering test data from employees’ houses to improve Siri’s algorithms for flawless performance, even when loud music is playing. The HomePod is the latest example of Apple’s almost obsessive pursuit of perfection.