HomePod 2nd-Gen: An Apple-Centric Experience with Quality Sound (2023)

The originalApple HomePod came out in 2018, right at the tail end of the smart speaker boom, and it was soon followed by theHomePod Mini. After a self-imposed lull, during which the original was discontinued, Apple has come seemingly out of nowhere with the new second-generation full-size HomePod, aka the HomePod 2.

After reviewing this speaker at home and at CNET's audio test lab I was impressed by its sound quality. From the outside, the second-gen Apple HomePod looks nearly identical to the original, but in true Apple tradition the real changes are on the inside. The company's focus on spatial audio means the tech is front and center on the new version, and I heard a bigger sound than the speaker's dimensions indicate. The HomePod 2 sounds better than the original and more refined than the competingAmazon Echo Studio.

HomePod 2nd-Gen: An Apple-Centric Experience with Quality Sound (1)


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(Video) The Apple HomePod is Amazing (2nd Generation)

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  • Excellent sound
  • Compact size
  • Integrates well with Apple devices and services

Don't Like

  • Costly
  • Not as loud as rivals
  • Still needs an iOS device
  • Can't set Spotify as default music service

There are plenty of smart speakers out there to choose from, and at $299 (£299, AU$479) the HomePod 2 is still at the expensive end of the spectrum. If you're invested in the Apple ecosystem, the new HomePod adds a couple of welcome twists on a familiar formula. If you're an Android user, on the other hand, the HomePod is not for you -- you need an iOS device to set it up. The Echo Studio or Sonos One are better options for non-Apple people and both cost less than the HomePod. And if you want most of the features available in the HomePod at a reduced price, the HomePod Mini is an exceptional value. It's the better of the two Apple speakers for the money.

(Video) Apple HomePod 2 Review + Audio Test

HomePod 2nd-Gen: An Apple-Centric Experience with Quality Sound (2)

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HomePod 2: Sleek design, Apple-centric features

When Amazon released its first Echo back in 2014 it created a brand-new category -- the smart speaker. Since then brands like Google, Sonos, Apple, Samsung, LG and more have tried their hands at creating a smart speaker, all with varying degrees of success.

One advantage the HomePod has over rivals is design. Whether in white or black, the big HomePod looks lovely -- something I can't say for the Echo Studio, for example. The Echo Studio's gaudy light ring and Fisher-Price buttons make it look cheaper than it really is.

HomePod 2nd-Gen: An Apple-Centric Experience with Quality Sound (3)

The HomePod is driven by Apple's popular voice assistant Siri, and to set it up you'll need to use an iOS device like an iPhone or iPad. The speaker is compatible with the Apple AirPlay 2 standard, which means it can stream music and podcasts from your phone, as well as work in a multiroom speaker system.

(Video) Apple HomePod 2 Review: I'm Confused

HomePod plays well with Apple Music but not Spotify

While you no longer need to use Apple Music as your default service, the alternatives are a bit of a motley crew -- iHeartRadio, TuneIn Radio, Deezer and Pandora. Only the last two allow you to hear the song you want, and then only if you pay a monthly subscription fee.

Meanwhile,Spotify, the best music streaming service, can't be set as the default, and the HomePod won't support Spotify Connect. To use Spotify with a HomePod you need to tap the "AirPlay and Bluetooth" button in the Spotify app to play music on the speaker. In other words, most HomePod people are better off paying for Apple Music instead.

HomePod 2nd-Gen: An Apple-Centric Experience with Quality Sound (4)

You can pair two HomePods to play in stereo, although they do need to be of the same type and generation. You can't pair a new HomePod with a HomePod Mini or an older HomePod to play in stereo, for example. The speaker can also sync with an Apple TV streamer to play back your TV audio.

The HomePod also supports Apple's Find My feature so you can ask Siri to play a sound on a misplaced device, or ask for the location of friends or family who share it via the Find My app.

All of these things the HomePod 2 has in common with both the original HomePod and the $99 HomePod Mini. So what's really changed?

Upgraded speakers, spatial audio and new sensors

At first glance, it's difficult to tell that the HomePod 2 isn't the same product Apple released five years ago. It still looks like a packaged Asian pear, and it's basically the same size as its predecessor at 6.6 inches tall and 5.6 inches in diameter. If you're looking closely you may notice a detachable power cord rather than a captive one, and a smaller display that's also now edge-to-edge when you're interacting with Siri.

But the new HomePod has a few key upgrades, including a redesigned speaker array with five tweeters instead of seven. These tweeters point upward from the bottom of the chassis and use beamforming to facilitate the other big improvement: spatial audio.

HomePod 2nd-Gen: An Apple-Centric Experience with Quality Sound (5)

Spatial audio is Apple's term for 360-degree audio, and it's used on most new Apple products from MacBooks to AirPods to Apple TV. In terms of the HomePod it mostly refers to Dolby Atmos and it is included in most streaming services as well as the Dolby Atmos music available on Apple Music. Atmos is a surround-sound standard used both in movie theaters and the home, and more recently has been used to remix albums.

(Video) HomePod 2nd Gen Review | A New Era (HomeKit 2023)

Temperature and humidity sensors up the smart home game

The other interesting feature to debut on the HomePod is one that's also been hiding on the mini all this time -- temperature and humidity sensors. You can now use the Home app or ask Siri for the indoor temperature, as well as outdoors. This information will also help other smart devices in your home, especially thermostats.

HomePod 2nd-Gen: An Apple-Centric Experience with Quality Sound (6)

In addition to supportingApple's HomeKit, the full-size HomePod also supports the newMatter standard, an open-source protocol that works with numerous smart-home devices. In addition, a feature called Smart Recognition, coming via a software update this spring, "can listen for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and send a notification directly to the user's iPhone if a sound is identified," according to Apple.

You can move an iPhone close to the speaker to hand off whatever is producing audio, from a song to a podcast to a voice call, to the speaker. (This feature requiresiOS 16.3.) The phone will also surface personalized song and podcast suggestions when held near the speaker.

Listening tests: How does Apple HomePod 2 sound?

Though the original HomePod existed alongside podcasts, it was originally billed as a music speaker. From my testing it seems the new HomePod has been designed with a lot more use cases in mind -- including movie watching and podcasts. I tested the speaker with a mix of Apple Music tracks (which were Dolby Atmos where available) as well as Spotify and lossless FLAC files played from a MacBook.

The first thing I asked Siri to do was "play some music." The tune it chose was Planet Earth by Duran Duran and I wasn't even mad. I compared the sound of this new wave classic on the new HomePod and against the rival Amazon Echo Studio. While the Echo Studio threw the accentuated upper mids of the song around the room, it left the sound a little thin. The HomePod's more laid-back sound and insistent backbeat made the Birmingham lads more enjoyable to my ear.

HomePod 2nd-Gen: An Apple-Centric Experience with Quality Sound (7)

I followed with Runner by Alex G, which resulted in a big sound out of the Echo, and while it was "stereo-like" the instruments weren't firmly placed in space. The HomePod had a bubble of sound -- bigger than the proportions of the cabinet but not really stereo either. The Apple speaker was able to better articulate Giannascoli's voice, however, while on the Echo he was sitting a little further back and the vocals sounded a little more smeared.

Next came one of my most venerable test tracks, Nick Cave's Red Right Hand, with its combination of baritone vocals, slippery bass and jarring percussion. At first the bass guitar sounded a little distorted, but enabling the Reduce Bass option fixed the issue. On this song, however, I liked the Echo Studio better. The audio took on a room-size scale in a way the HomePod couldn't.

Comparison: HomePod 2 vs. original HomePod

Next, I compared the new HomePod to the original HomePod across different genres. The HomePod 2 sounded better than the original with a more intimate vocal response. The heftier bass of the second-generation HomePod also gave Red Right Hand a more propulsive sound. Although the HomePod 2 was also a little louder than the original, you wouldn't be able to power a party with either one. The Echo Studio has both beat for pure power.

(Video) Apple HomePod 2: blew my mind AND my wallet 💸

I also listened to some movie soundtracks, including the Dolby Atmos mix of Mad Max, which rendered the dialogue clearly. The pronounced Atmos height effects at the start of the film were there with a single speaker, but adding a second in stereo made the effects so much more pronounced. The bass of the explosions was strong and not overblown. While a home theater system wouldn't be complete without a dedicated subwoofer, in my opinion, the sound was still enjoyable enough for movies.

HomePod Mini holds its own against HomePod 2

Finally, I compared the new HomePod to the HomePod Mini and was surprised how well the company's cheapest speaker fared. With Spoon's U Got Yr Cherry Bomb, the Mini offered forward vocals, plenty of bass and not too much tambourine. While it doesn't do spatial effects, the Mini sounded very good at a third of the price. It's perfectly fine for those who just want a speaker for the voice assistant and some background music.

Overall the HomePod sounds great, but its high price and Apple-centric features simply exclude too many potential users -- including Spotify subscribers and Android owners -- for broad appeal. And for Apple fans who want a Siri speaker, the Mini is probably big enough.


How is HomePod sound quality? ›

While a bigger speaker, such as the Amazon Echo, will produce deeper bass, the HomePod Mini doesn't sound bass-light in its own right. In fact, it's more solid and authoritative than a speaker this small has any right to be, and its bass is seamlessly integrated into the overall presentation.

Are HomePods good for Dolby Atmos? ›

When you set up home theater audio with HomePod, you can enjoy an immersive soundstage for video content with Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital 7.1, or Dolby Digital 5.1 surround formats. With HomePod mini, you can enjoy an elevated sound experience, rendering these sound formats in mono or stereo.

Do two HomePod minis sound good? ›

The sound quality is quite good, especially given the size of the HomePod minis. You'll definitely get fuller sound with a large sound bar, and you'll have better bass if you have a real subwoofer. The biggest limitation to using a pair of HomePod minis for home theater is the limited volume headroom.

Is Apple HomePod good as a soundbar? ›

You can use the HomePod as a soundbar to create a theater like experience with Dolby Atmos or surround sound right from your home. Since the HDMI ARC support in the new Apple TV 4K, the HomePod can be a default speaker for any device that you connect to your TV.

Can you hear lossless on HomePod? ›

If you have a HomePod or a HomePod Mini (or multiple HomePods) you can listen to supported music in both lossless and Dolby Atmos. It's actually one of the easiest and most affordable ways to listen to the best versions of the Apple Music library.

Does Apple have better audio quality? ›

Audio streaming quality is where Apple Music completely supersedes Spotify. Because of its recent update, Apple Music now offers lossless audio quality of up to 24-bit/192 kHz as well as spatial audio with Dolby Atmos.

How many HomePods do I need for Dolby Atmos? ›

For the best sound, you should get two HomePods and configure them as a stereo pair. The catch with this, however, is that the pair of HomePods need to be the same exact model; meaning you can't use a first-generation HomePod with a HomePod mini or a second-generation HomePod.

Is Dolby Atmos better than spatial audio? ›

Spatial Audio is a layer on top of Dolby Atmos that enables an even more immersive listening experience. Not only do you get a multitude of audio channels via Dolby Atmos, but you also get to move around inside this audio space.

How do I turn on Dolby Atmos on HomePod? ›

How to listen to Dolby Atmos on your HomePod
  1. On your iPhone or iPad, open the Home app.
  2. Tap the Home button .
  3. Tap Home Settings.
  4. Under People, tap your name.
  5. Tap Apple Music.
  6. Turn Dolby Atmos on or off.
Oct 25, 2022

Are HomePods worth it? ›

Apple's budget-friendly smart speaker may be small in size, but it's big on features and audio quality. While available integrated music services are somewhat limited, it's still a fantastic buy, and for those looking for a smart home assistant, you just can't beat Siri.

Why HomePod mini is better than HomePod? ›

Our Verdict

Also, its built-in Siri has a better ambient noise performance, so it does a better job understanding your voice in noisy settings. The HomePod mini has a smaller, more lightweight design that some listeners may prefer. It's also easier to find on the market since the Apple HomePod has been discontinued.

Is HomePod loud enough? ›

The Apple HomePod is decent for music. It has a decently neutral and balanced sound, although it struggles to produce a thumpy low-bass. Thanks to its 360-degree design, it has a clear and wide soundstage. Unfortunately, it doesn't get very loud, and there are some compression artifacts at max volume.

Which sounds better Sonos or HomePod? ›

Our Verdict

The Apple HomePod is a better speaker than the Sonos One Gen 2. The Apple has a better-balanced sound profile and has fewer compression artifacts at max volume. Its built-in Siri voice assistant is better able to register your commands, even if you're speaking in a noisy environment.

Why have Apple stopped selling HomePod? ›

4 years ago, in 2018 Apple released the first-ever HomePod. Apple promised its users that it would “reinvent music in our homes.” However, Apple would soon realise that the demand for the Home was so low that it would have to stop selling it.

Why did Apple stop selling HomePod? ›

Lackluster sales

The HomePod was Apple's competitor for the Amazon Echo and Google Nest smart speakers. However, it seems that it didn't quite see the kind of success it should have. And so the reason for its discontinuation could be a lack of sales.

Is lossless better than Dolby Atmos? ›

Audiophiles don't seem to like Dolby Atmos that much and definitely prefer lossless. Lossless audio is more detailed with less audio "information" lost from a live recording to an audio file.

Is Apple Lossless audio worth it? ›

Quite plainly, it's generally not worth it to pay for higher tiers of streaming services to access lossless audio. The vast majority of people are entirely unable to distinguish the difference between a lossless audio file and a compressed file encoded at a decently high bitrate, even in an ideal environment.

Is AirPlay 2 lossless? ›

AirPlay 2 supports higher-grade audio standards offered by Apple, making it an easy way to know your wireless connection is benefiting from Apple Music perks like lossless audio, which can transmit over AirPlay 2 up to 44.1 kHz.

What has the highest audio quality? ›

A lossless audio file format is the best format for sound quality. These include FLAC, WAV, or AIFF. These types of files are considered “hi-res” because they are better or equal to CD-quality. The tradeoff is that these files will be very large.

What is the highest quality way to listen to music? ›

If sound quality is your top priority, your best bet is to listen to vinyl records through high-fidelity headphones. This way, you'll experience the most accurate depiction of the waveform through a truly immersive channel that gives you the full experience of a stereo mix.

Can I use 4 HomePods? ›

You can group more than two HomePods together to play multi-room audio, but each will replicate the same mono audio output.

Can you have too many HomePods? ›

There is no harm in having multiple devices available as Home Hubs, unless one of them is causing issues (such as intermittent wifi problems). You can disable the Home Hub via settings on the Apple TV or iPad but not on Homepods, it seems.

Can you use HomePod as surround sound? ›

Use a HomePod or stereo pair with your Apple TV 4K to create a theater experience with Dolby Atmos or surround sound right in your home.

Does Dolby Atmos improve sound quality? ›

Dolby Atmos is an improvement on what came before and a leap forward from surround sound. It's ultimately designed to put you in the center of it all when watching movies or listening to music to give you the most immersive sound possible.

Is it worth paying for Dolby Atmos? ›

Yes! Movie streaming platforms with Dolby Atmos (From: Dolby). The quality Dolby Atmos lends to movies is unreal, even without a massive home theater setup. So it'll be worth the investment if you're a movie buff and really into immersive audio.

Which spatial sound is best? ›

More realistic sound quality: DTS technology is believed to have the highest quality and most realistic sounds among other spatial sound softwares.

Should Dolby Atmos be always on or automatic? ›

Choose Automatic if you want only Dolby Atmos songs to play in Spatial Audio. Select Always On if you also want to spatialize stereo songs as well.

How many HomePods can you connect to Apple TV? ›

You can connect one or two HomePod speakers to Apple TV 4K to enjoy room-filling stereo sound. When you set up a second HomePod as a stereo pair, you get true stereo sound and a more immersive sound stage for your home theater.

How do I know if my Dolby Atmos is working? ›

The one surefire way to confirm Dolby Atmos is working is to check the information panel on the front of your AV receiver or your soundbar (if it has one, or perhaps an on-screen display). It should display the kind of audio signal it's currently working with.

What are the benefits of a HomePod? ›

Apple says that the HomePod is able to offer rich, deep bass and stunning high frequencies, with directional control enabled through the tweeters. The HomePod integrates with Apple Music and features built-in Siri support, but it is also compatible with third-party music services that have added HomePod support.

What are the advantages of HomePod? ›

HomePod mini and Siri can do even more by seamlessly connecting to your iPhone, and Apple Music Voice gives you access to every song in the catalog — all with just your voice. Listen to tracks by song, artist, album, playlist, genre, or lyrics. Listen to Apple Podcasts and radio stations.

What is the resale value of HomePods? ›

HomePods in used condition with no box tend to sell for prices starting at around $220, but new, factory-sealed HomePods can sell for over $500.

Is a HomePod mini as good as a Sonos? ›

Side-by-Side Comparison

The Sonos One SL and the Apple HomePod mini have different strengths. The Sonos offers a better-balanced sound profile that can produce a more extended low-bass when its Trueplay tuning feature is on.

Is HomePod mini loud enough? ›

The Apple HomePod mini is a smaller version of the discontinued Apple HomePod with a lighter, more spherical design. It also has built-in support for Siri, and its microphone can understand you clearly even if you aren't close to the speaker. However, it struggles to reproduce low-bass and doesn't get very loud.

Is Apple HomePod better than Google home? ›

Our Verdict

The Apple HomePod is a better voice assistant speaker than the Google Nest Audio. The Apple speaker has a better-balanced default sound profile and a better soundstage. Its latency over a Wi-Fi connection is lower, so it's more suitable for watching videos.

Can you use a HomePod as a white noise machine? ›

You can play background ambient sounds when you need to focus, relax, or fall asleep. Listen to rain, forest, ocean, white noise, night, fireplace, or stream sounds.

How many watts sound is HomePod? ›

The comparison is true, as a classic-shaped A-series LED bulb typically draws around 9-10 watts, while the HomePod draws around 8.74 watts with 115V of line voltage during music playback at 50 percent volume.

Does HomePod have a subwoofer? ›

does apple plan on making a subwoofer to use with the homepod for better bass response? Hi, until now there is no dedicated Apple subwoofer to pair with (stereo) HomePods. However, you can easily attach any subwoofer which has a Line-in connector and ideally a frequency control.

How does HomePod compare to Bose? ›

The Apple HomePod and the Bose Home Speaker 500 are very similarly-performing speakers, so depending on your listening habits, you may prefer one over the other. The Apple has a better soundstage performance and a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box.

Is Apple HomePod as good as Alexa? ›

The Apple HomePod and the Amazon Echo Gen 4 are both excellent speakers for voice assistants, but the Apple is more versatile overall. Out-of-the-box, the Apple has a more balanced sound profile, and it has a better soundstage. It supports Apple AirPlay, while the Amazon speaker supports Bluetooth.

Will Apple ever make a HomePod 2? ›

Apple finally lifted the lid on its second generation HomePod 2 smart speaker at the end of January.

Was the HomePod a failure? ›

It is not so often that we see one of Apple's products fail and become discontinued within a few years of its launch, but the HomePod was a prime example of this as it was released back in 2017 and discontinued a measly 4 years later in 2021.

Will there be a new HomePod in 2022? ›

New HomePod: Release date

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo tweeted in May 2022 that Apple's working on a new HomePod for later this year or early in 2023. However, that HomePod arrived and had no screen. See: HomePod vs HomePod mini to see how the two models compare.

Can I use my HomePod as a Bluetooth speaker? ›

You need an iPhone or iPad with the latest iOS or iPadOS version to set up the HomePod mini, which takes just a few moments. The HomePod mini has Bluetooth for its Handoff feature, but doesn't work as a Bluetooth speaker.

Why is Spotify not on HomePod? ›

Get Spotify on HomePod using AirPlay

While you can't natively connect your Spotify account to your HomePod, you can still make use of AirPlay. The Spotify app for iOS will happily output its audio to an AirPlay-enabled speaker, and it's through this that you can listen to music through the HomePod.

Can I connect my HomePod to my TV? ›

You need more than a HomePod

However, in the last few years, it has opened it up slightly. But the HomePod is still a rather 'closed' device. For instance, you cannot simply use it with any Android phone or a Windows device. Having said that, when it comes to TVs, the HomePod is still a very restrictive device.

How good are Apple HomePod speakers? ›

The Apple HomePod mini is a very good entry-level smart speaker. Anyone who's comfortable with an iPhone should have no problem setting up and controlling it. Spotify streaming isn't yet perfect with the HomePod, but this is unsurprising given how Apple makes its products for its own products.

Does HomePod have good bass? ›

Its sound profile lacks low bass, and it doesn't get very loud. See also our recommendations for the best smart speakers, the best home speakers, and the best speakers for iPhone.

Why is Apple discontinuing HomePod? ›

Lackluster sales

The HomePod was Apple's competitor for the Amazon Echo and Google Nest smart speakers. However, it seems that it didn't quite see the kind of success it should have. And so the reason for its discontinuation could be a lack of sales.

Why is Apple Music audio quality so good? ›

Apple has developed its own lossless audio compression technology called Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC). In addition to AAC, the entire Apple Music catalog is now also encoded using ALAC in resolutions ranging from 16-bit/44.1 kHz (CD Quality) up to 24-bit/192 kHz.

How many decibels is a HomePod? ›

Correlated Pink NoiseClassical
Apple HomePod mini70.2 dBA63.5 dBA
TMall Genie X575.4 dBA67.1 dBA
Google Nest Audio81.3 dBA71 dBA
Dec 23, 2020

Does HomePod have an equalizer? ›

In Music you can use Window > Equalizer to bring up the EQ controls, however if you AirPlay from Music they won't be applied.

What is the highest audio quality for music? ›

For perspective, most high-resolution audio content is in the range of 24-bit/96kHz and can even go as high as 192kHz. The higher the bit depth and sample frequency of the track, the better it is at relaying to the listener all of the information from the original recording.


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4. 2 HomePod Mini vs 1 HomePod - Watch THIS Before You BUY!
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