David Pogue reviews Apple HomePod with stereo and multi-room capabilities: ‘Ooh, man’

“When the Apple HomePod ‘smart speaker’ debuted in February, there were some big fat reasons not to buy it,” David Pogue writes for Yahoo Finance. “For example: “Unlike its rivals from Sonos and Google, you couldn’t set up two HomePods as a stereo pair. You also couldn’t set them up in different rooms of the house and direct them by voice (‘Hey Siri, play Barry White in the bedroom’).”

“With the arrival of a software update (iOS 11.4), you can take [those items] off the list,” Pogue writes. “Stereo pairing and multi-room audio have now come to the HomePod, courtesy of a technology that Apple calls AirPlay 2.”

“And here’s the happy news for the true-blue Applehead: it works great,” Pogue writes. “HomePods have always sounded fantastic… But in stereo — ooh, man. Yes, obviously, there’s twice as much sonic power now. But there’s more to it than that; the sum of the two speakers sounds somehow greater than its parts. The clean, musical bass, already a HomePod specialty, blossoms… Basically, stereo HomePods sound terrific.”

Apple's HomePod (now available in Left and Right)
Apple’s HomePod (now available in Left and Right)

 
“Setting up HomePods in multiple rooms is also simple,” Pogue writes. “You use the Home app for setup. But to control your music, you have two options. First, you can use your voice… You can also direct your multiroom music using the Control Center…”

Read more in the full review here.

MacDailyNews Take: Stereo-paired HomePods are, in a word, glorious!

SEE ALSO:
Why Apple shouldn’t have released the HomePod without AirPlay 2 – May 31, 2018
HomePod stereo pairing took a frustratingly long time to arrive, but it was worth the wait – May 30, 2018

24 Comments

  1. Why can’t Apple prioritize Siri smartening?

    1- Rainbow watchbands and face were priorities for June Pride month.
    2- Completely Non-Political Tim Cook is on a completely political SJW media tour.
    3- Busy working on the Charging pad they introduced 9 months ago.

    1. Although we can all agree that different parts of Apple are working on different things (some of which are easier to deliver than others), the overall picture gives the impression that Apple is preoccupied on trivialities and isn’t seeing the forest from the trees.

    2. BS. Running Mojave and iOS 12. SIRI’s new AI driven suggestions are fantastic. Even in first beta form, these new operating systems are stable, fast, and packed with a ton of very useful and user friendly new features.

    1. Additionally, when testing AirPlay from iTunes, the paired HomePods didn’t initially show up. Quitting and restarting iTunes didn’t cure it, however that resolved itself within a couple of minutes.

      As you can see above, iTunes shows individual AirPlay speakers in the main section, then stereo-paired rooms below. That feels a bit odd – once you have stereo-paired speakers, which by definition have to be in the same room, I can’t think of any circumstance where you might want to select them individually. And the iOS Music app more sensibly only offers access to them as a pair.

      See full Article here
      https://www.google.com/amp/s/9to5mac.com/2018/05/30/homepod-stereo-pairing-review/amp/

  2. HomePod is expensive. When you buy speakers, you expect them to last (in various capacities) for at least a decade until they finally fail. It’s another thing altogether to have a speaker that becomes completely unusable although it’s still working perfectly.

    Most speakers that are geared for audio consumption have additional inputs, which means that they’ll continue to work long after their makers forget about them. Sure, they won’t be smart anymore, but they’ll still deliver good sound.

    HomePod only connects via AirPlay. It can only be set up with an iOS device. What happens when Apple forgets about the first-gen HomePods to chase newer things? Is there a third-party end-to-end solution that lets you set up and use HomePod without an iOS device?

    1. This is my concern with both HomePod and also with HomeKit. High quality audio equipment along with home automation equipment is something which costs a great deal of money and I would expect it to remain fully useable for a minimum of twenty years. I don’t have much confidence that Apple will be fully supporting either HomePod or HomeKit for that length of time and without even having a 3.5mm jack socket, there is no way of feeding other audio sources into HomePod once Apple no longer supports them. Once HomePod is no longer supported by Mac OS or IOS, it can no longer be used for anything, not even as a basic speaker

      To put it into perspective, my HiFi equipment is based around my Quad preamp and amplifiers. it was made in the mid 1970’s and it has been in permanent use ever since. It’s so highly regarded that I could sell it now for more than I paid for it all those years ago – but I’m not selling. The same is true of my speakers, which are Rogers monitoring speakers and because they are classic items, they could now be sold for more than twice what I originally paid for them. The Quad preamp has seen me through all the audio technologies over the last forty years, from vinyl and 1/4″ reel to reel tape, through audio cassette, CD, MiniDisk, DVD, DAT and now multiple forms of digital audio and it can still handle every one of those formats while delivering superb quality with total reliability. If anything were ever to go wrong, I am pretty confident that it would be repairable at component level because it was designed to be repairable indefinitely and the technical manuals are widely available. I have my doubts whether any of my current Apple equipment could be repaired in ten years time, let alone further into the future. That sort of lifespan is tolerable for a phone or a computer, but unacceptable for high quality audio equipment or home automation.

      I was tempted to get HomePods for my bedroom, but there was the problem of how I might feed them with the other audio sources which I currently distribute around my house. Instead I recently bought a dedicated HiFi system for my bedroom and bathroom. If Apple offered a standalone “Audio Sender”, which took an analogue source and streamed it to HomePods, I would have been all over it, but they don’t and probably never will.

      1. In case you come back to see this, home automation is much less of a concern in my opinion. A number of third party servers, like OpenHAB and Home Assistant are integrating home automation devices from all sorts of manufacturers regardless of their preferred interface.

        Where the API is provided, they communicate directly. Where there’s no API, they go via the manufacturer’s cloud platform or reverse engineer the communication protocol to make the device work.

        Before you spend money on a home automation device, quickly check to see how well the open source projects support it. That’ll give you an indication of how long you’ll be able to keep using it.

        Finally, there are AirPlay audio receivers out there that output to 3.5mm. Do a little research and see if any fit the bill because I’m not sure how good they are. Worst case scenario you can use an airport express off eBay. There’s also the possibility of piping your audio over CAT5/6 cabling in your house using RJ45 adapters (again, I don’t know how well this works, so find reviews).

  3. I don’t want stereo pairing, I want to be able to pair 4 or more to create a better sound depth. I also want the ability to use other home theater components as sound sources, otherwise I have no reason to get the HomePod.

  4. I like the HomePod for what it is. A single home assistant and it sounds great filling a space with sound. Perfect background music player for a party. But all the hype around two or more in a room saddens me since it voids any understanding or experience of the incredible world of 5.1 (or other surround formats). When I heard Steely Dan and Pink Floyd on dvd-audio, SACD and Bluray Pure Audio, it changed how I experience sound. HomePod will never do that.

    1. Jay, I’m inclined to think it will head where daaz0404 is suggesting…. They gave a significant mention of Dolby Atmos at WWDC… which to my limited understanding an improvement over 5.1 since it can address each speaker individually instead of just channels. Typical Dolby 5.1 has 5 speakers… If you have 5 homepods.. (or smaller satellite equivalents) I think it will be equal or better… while also and easier to set up environmentally and adjust for the right sound.

  5. It’s all well and good them working great, but ultimately they’re expensive speakers which most people won’t be able to afford, or won’t need because they already have expensive speakers. With the quality of Siri being debatable the overall demand for them is probably limited. I’m not one who thinks that every product Apple releases needs to be a huge seller, I feel they need to have a variety of products to suit the overall eco-system, I just think they would have been well served to launch a HomePod light that just had Siri and perhaps a more basic speaker for people on a budget, or just for placing throughout the house and providing full coverage.

    1. So the little guy can’t buy them? Maps and Siri are like the Apple OS long term on going projects that will get better over time. If you don’t like it you can join my company on Windows 7 2009 edition.

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