Why Apple shouldn’t have released the HomePod without AirPlay 2

“I was pretty ambivalent about the HomePod in my review. I found the sound to be mediocre for a lot of music, and it simply wasn’t worth the price. I don’t particularly care about using Siri with that device, and don’t consider that worth paying $350 for the speaker. I’m interested in its musicality,” Kirk McElhearn writes for Kirkville. “Apple (finally) released AirPlay 2 this week, which notably offers the ability to create a stereo pair from two HomePods. I decided I’d try this out. I’m quite impressed by the sound.”

“While the single HomePod is flat, and the frequency response is way too bassy, creating a stereo pair allows the electronic wizardry in the devices’ processors to create something that is frankly surprising,” McElhearn writes. “Music has a very good soundstage, with a much more balanced frequency response (though I still put the Bass Reducer EQ setting on my iPhone when streaming music to them)… Kudos to Apple. Whatever they’ve done to make two HomePods work so well together is impressive.”

McElhearn writes, “Apple should never have released the HomePod without AirPlay 2, because reviewers heard the speaker in sub-optimal conditions.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yup. A late launch, missing Christmas (and already 2-3 years late, no less), and a suboptimal launch to boot shipping sans stereo and multi-room audio; it was obviously a clusterfsck all around.

Only Apple can trumpet the importance of quality audio while shipping a speaker that’s incapable of being set up as a stereo pair out of the box.MacDailyNews, January 31, 2018

Again, you simply cannot miss the Christmas shopping season and not pay a steep price. For Apple, the price is a lost year and millions of potential customers lost to other ecosystems – perhaps temporarily, perhaps permanently; regardless they will be much harder to land had Apple had product on the shelves for Christmas.MacDailyNews, April 13, 2018

Anyway, it’s all now in the past!

A finally finished HomePod (with flawless multi-room audio and stereo pairing out of the box) and, potentially others in the HomePod family, are products for Christmas 2018 and beyond.MacDailyNews, April 13, 2018

HomePod stereo pairing took a frustratingly long time to arrive, but it was worth the wait – May 30, 2018
Strategy Analytics: Apple shipped 600,000 HomePods in Q1 for 6% share of smart speaker market – May 17, 2018
The Inquirer reviews Apple’s HomePod: ‘Looks great, sounds fantastic; Siri needs work’ – April 6, 2018
I want another Apple HomePod for sure, maybe two more – March 20, 2018
Sound quality shootout: Apple HomePod vs. two Sonos Ones – March 16, 2018
Apple HomePod: The audiophile perspective plus 8 1/2 hours of measurements; HomePod is 100% an audiophile-grade speaker – February 12, 2018
Apple’s HomePod is actually a steal at $349 – January 26, 2018
Digital Trends previews Apple’s HomePod: Impressive sound coupled with strong privacy – January 26, 2018
Hands on with Apple’s HomePod: Attractive, ultra-high-quality speaker, an excellent Siri ambassador – January 26, 2018
Apple’s HomePod, the iPod for your home – January 25, 2018
One hour with Apple’s new HomePod smart speaker – January 25, 2018


    1. All I can say is the stereo sound is absolutely stunning. It blows my current home theatre away….Pioneer Elite receiver, 5 Jamo speakers, subwoofers, etc.

      I’m no audiophile but the sound stage is broader, crisper, I can hear more details and subtly on every track. And the bass on watching movies is outstanding.

      I own 5 homepods and enjoyed them in various rooms of house. Now I’m pairing them it’s a whole new level of enjoyment,

  1. Total nonsense. The single HomePod I purchased delivered hours of great listening and Siri works well for my needs. I would not have wanted to give that up in order to have the stereo experience, which I now have and enjoy.

    1. Don’t confuse the issue by being rational. The trendy thing to do on this site is to criticize Tim Cook for delaying the release of Product X (HomePod, for example) AND for releasing it too soon. Both. Within the same posting.

      I don’t remember anybody here criticizing Steve Jobs for shipping the iPhone before 3G and native apps were ready. Or for shipping the iPod before the iTunes Store went online. Sometimes a product in development is better than no product at all.

      1. Its not a matter of trend… but a frustrating reality ..

        I respectfully disagree with your last paragraph and statement.

        A product in development belongs in the R&D labs….. not consumers hand….

        A half baked product breeds unfavorable 1st impressions…. and that is ‘bad’.

      2. You make a good point, yojimbo007

        Hasn’t Apple learned anything from its failures like the iPod, iPhone, and Apple Watch? They were all released without key features and see what happened.

        Those poor deluded fools who built a nearly trillion-dollar corporation need to listen more carefully to their critics.

        1. TxUser: Apple is not the same company today as when the iPod and iPhone were first introduced. Back then Apple clearly spent a lot of effort on continuous improvements aimed at delighting the user. Apple is much less consistent today.

          All electronics can improve over time with software updates. One problem is Apple software support is very unpredictable. Not as bad as some companies, for sure, but horrid considering the resources Apple has and the simple issues that people have repeatedly informed Apple about. After many years, would you rate Siri or Apple Maps ahead of the competition? Me neither.

          Today many Apple products are completely ignored after delivery despite obvious needs for updates — look at iTunes for one. iOS Music is a horrid interface. So now Apple wants to follow Google and Amazon by replacing a poor GUI with voice control only? Bad move.

          So despite Apple promising wireless charging will take over the world and homepods are the best sounding speakers the planet has ever seen, the buyer will never know what level of support Apple will offer in the future. Will Apple soon demonstrate complete disinterest in the Homepod like it has in iPods, routers, displays, iTunes, and Macs since Cook took over? Is the homepod a 2 year investment like the first gen Apple Watch or a 10 year investment like the pre-2012 Mac Pro? You don’t know. The difference between Jobs and Cook isn’t that Apple doesn’t make mistakes — Jobs corrected them quickly. The reason to replace one iPod with a newer one isn’t that the old iPod was abandoned, but because newer models could do more. This isn’t how it works at Apple anymore. Cook allows products to be released half baked, missing hardware features, and allows bad products to persist for years unchanged, or get neutered (Macs, iPhone headphone jack, etc) of useful features. Apple relies more than ever on 3rd party apps to make for a fully fledged function, but scrimps massively on hardware features. No wired input and output on the Homepod is a deal killer whether or not Apple gets around to future software updates.

          Apple’s big push today is obviously to force users into subscriptions PLUS high hardware costs PLUS Applw wants a cut of app sales. User convenience and value no longer appears relevant to Apple. The only thing Apple doesn’t do — yet — is push ads. When the next generation of beancounters take power at Apple, that could change.

          Innovation is also a big concern. Sorry, but most of Apple’s newest stuff is just repackaging the iPhone into different form factors: on your wrist, under your TV, or on your kitchen counter. None of them impress me at all. They don’t replace the iPhone already in your pocket and maybe an accessory or two. The dynamic speaker tech is nothing that doesn’t appear on TV speaker bars for years — and they suck compared to proper audio.

  2. Interesting..before the update I could use the HomePod as my speaker with the AppleTV..but it only played on the HomePod. Now, it plays on the TV and the HomePod. Nice!….other than the lost ability to change the volume of the HomePod with the appletv remote without going back to the home screen..

  3. Apple Watch was first released in April, after much criticism for being late to the party, missing the Christmas shopping period, only having one day of battery, etc, etc, etc….. just sayin’

  4. I make good money, and I love my Apple hardware. I’m 100% into the Apple ecosystem, and have an Apple Music subscription.

    I have no trouble paying $1,000+ for an iPhone I use every few minutes, and replace every 3 years.

    I have no trouble paying $2,500+ for a MacBook I use all day, and get 4-5 years out of.

    I *cannot* see myself paying $700 for stereo speakers I know will be obsolete in 4-5 years.

  5. And two HomePods for the price of one! Would really blow away the competitiion.
    Sadly, Apple elects to move slowly and leaves it to others to grab sesnseless marketshare, banking on uninformed and (maybe rightly so) overly price conscious buyers.
    My point is, should Apple eventually be poised to dominate the market share, it first needs to do some major catching up.

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