Apple ​HomePod (2nd-gen 2023) assessment

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The HomePod (2nd-gen) comes almost 5 years after the unique and, whereas the design hasn’t modified, it does herald some large new options. Consider the second-generation HomePod extra as a much-needed refresh, fairly than an all-out model new good speaker.

It’s nonetheless very a lot speaker first, and good speaker second. However the addition of Thread implies that this Matter-enabled HomePod could be a centerpiece of the rejuvenated good residence over the following couple of years.

Ensure you learn our information to Matter to know all of the complexities.

We’ve spent a few months dwelling with the Apple HomePod 2. Right here’s our thought of take…

Apple HomePod 2 value

Apple’s newest HomePod has entered the market at £299/$299, surprisingly undercutting its 2018 predecessor’s debut value.

In the event you’re studying this due to Matter, know that the $99/£99 Apple HomePod Mini can also be a Thread border router, and can allow you to construct out a Matter-powered good residence for much less.

The HomePod prices greater than options corresponding to Amazon’s Echo Studio (£190/$200) or the Sonos One (£199 / $219). However it’s nonetheless an inexpensive system, and delivers a good quantity of audio bang for the buck.

Sonos has fired again at Apple by releasing the Period 300 (£449 / $449) which wins on sound and can assist spatial audio on each Apple Music and Amazon Music – however prices considerably extra.

Apple HomePod 2: Have to know

Apple HomePod (2nd Gen 2023) review

When it comes to the design, the 2nd-gen HomePod is an identical to its predecessor. It’s a compact speaker, that’s only a tad larger than a Sonos One.

Externally, the HomePod appears to be like an identical to the unique – the identical cloth mesh outer and touch-enabled high. The one variations are the 0.2-inch drop in peak and a slight weight reduction, with it going from 5.5lbs to five.16lbs.

There’s the identical touch-enabled high, with quantity management and pause/play. However it’s not a display regardless of the Siri swirl animation and doesn’t present information or playback data. There are a sequence of contact controls, very like the AirPods, with double or triple faucets skipping music ahead or backward.

Simply say “Hey Siri” and you will see it gentle up with a colourful swirl, just like what you see for those who name up Apple’s digital assistant on an iPhone.

The primary signal of life on this contact panel (which might get a bit smudgy for those who contact it quite a bit) is a white swirling gentle throughout setup mode. That’ll final for about 10 seconds, you then’ll hear a noise indicating your HomePod is prepared for pairing.

Pairing this factor is a breeze – simply put your iPhone close to it and also you’re executed. It’s going to switch over all of your Apple account particulars, your private home Wi-Fi particulars, the entire shebang. You may be asking Siri to play music inside two minutes of plugging it in.

The brand new HomePod nonetheless helps iOS solely with AirPlay the principle choice for playback with out Siri. There’s no Bluetooth or Spotify Join. So it’s actually for households which are all-in with iPhones, and finest used with Apple Music.

You continue to can’t ask Siri to play from non-Apple Music apps, as there is not any choice for altering the default music service, like you may with Alexa. So you will need to play to the system from inside these apps, which type of negates the advantage of a wise speaker.

You do have entry to all the most important streaming companies and radio stations by AirPlay although – and that features Spotify playback in your HomePod.

Each the HomePod Mini and HomePod – the unique and the second-gen model – can do every thing that every other common AirPlay speaker does. So, in case your favourite streaming app is on iOS and has an AirPlay choice, then you may beam over your tunes by your iPhone or iPad.

You may discover no aux-in port on the HomePod and, though Bluetooth is inbuilt, that is solely there for setup; HomePod is just not a Bluetooth speaker. There are Android workarounds as soon as setup is finished, however they’re actually not value it.

The speaker array has additionally modified barely. The HomePod 2 contains a four-inch woofer paired with 5 tweeters, which is down from the seven tweeters discovered within the authentic HomePod.

New options as a look

Apple HomePod (2nd Gen 2023) review

  • Temperature sensor
  • Humidity sensor
  • Thread powered Matter compatibiltity
  • Tweaked speaker array with 4 tweeters and a 4-inch sub-woofer
  • U1 chip

Audio and spatial

Apple HomePod (2nd Gen 2023) review

In the event you’re right here for sound high quality you then’ll be impressed. The HomePod punches effectively above its dimension for sound and energy – and is surprisingly bassy.

To some, the speaker may very well ship an excessive amount of low-end punch, particularly in smaller rooms, however there’s a setting to cut back bass if wanted.

It definitely works effectively in a bigger room, and within the nook of our loft room, we may have required the low bass setting. Nonetheless, our private style is bass-heavy, with a variety of reggae and dub on rotation, so it suited us simply effective.

Our HomePod lived alongside our Alexa-fired Sonos One, and it blows the One out of the water on sound high quality. There’s actually no competitors, even when listening to the radio, the sound is deeper, hotter, and punchier.

The Sonos Period 300 is a unique story and might be the one good speaker that may outstrip the HomePod as a standalone Spatial Audio speaker.

Nonetheless, the substantial value improve means you possibly can seize a pair of HomePods at the same value, and we’ll come onto why you would possibly try this shortly.

The USP of the HomePod, when paired with Apple Music is Spatial Audio. These are tracks which are combined in Dolby Atmos for a extra ‘immersive’ sound, which ought to go away you with the impression of the band enjoying round you.

Some spatial mixes are spine-tinglingly wonderful, some not a lot. However when it’s executed proper, it’s a recreation changer. And we a lot desire the impact on HomePod, which might carry tracks to life, fairly than on AirPods, the place the head-tracking type of ruins the expertise.

New tracks usually tend to have an honest Spatial Audio remedy than older ones. The Narcissist by Blur advantages from the separation of the lead and backing vocals.

Nonetheless, Easy Man by Lynyrd Skynrd exhibits off the deftness of the HomePod’s tone on the excessive hat, whereas additionally delivering on the guitar and bass as effectively. We frequently use ‘well-rounded sound’ to precise an evenness between all ends of the spectrum, however none excel. The HomePod delivers each, and there’s no actual space for criticism.

Critics of Spatial liken it to the pretend encompass impact on 90s stereos, and there are definitely examples of that inside the catalog. However Spatial could make you sit up and take discover, and the HomePod delivers this expertise in spades. And given it’s out there for no further price on Apple Music, we’re large followers.

Away from Dolby Atmos, the HomePod additionally helps lossless playback in Apple Music, (24-bit/48kHz) which additionally sounds fabulous, whether or not you play to the HomePod by way of your iPhone, or ask Siri for music immediately.

On the multi-room entrance, there’s nothing to arrange as such – you will simply see the HomePods exhibiting up within the AirPlay speaker listing in your iOS system or Mac, and simply choose as many as you should get music pumping round your private home.

Good residence expertise and Matter

Apple HomePod (2nd Gen 2023) review

Good audio system are in fact a key part of the good residence – which is the place The Ambient involves play.

The HomePod (2nd Gen) is Matter appropriate, and it’s additionally a Thread border router for seamless and speedy management of good residence gadgets that assist the usual. That is the stuff you’re going to want when build up a wise residence of Matter gadgets as we go ahead.

We arrange one of many first Matter merchandise – the Nanoleaf Necessities Mild Strip – and had it working in seconds, with a wealthy vary of options, together with colour management.

In fact, Matter is constructed out of Apple’s current good residence expertise, so including a product is a carbon copy of the HomeKit technique of scanning a QR code. There’s no have to seize the proprietary app or make an account elsewhere.

Matter will massively broaden the quantity of gadgets that may play with Apple House, so the good residence ecosystem is about to get a lot larger and higher.

In fact, the place the HomePod falls down in opposition to the likes of the Echo vary and Sonos audio system is that it depends closely on Siri.

Siri nonetheless lags

Siri remains to be not nearly as good a voice assistant as Alexa, neither is it straightforward to hold out comparatively easy duties by voice. There are such a lot of examples. Whilst we write this, we fired off a fast climate question to Siri, which it did not reply after a protracted deliberation. That basically is past fundamental stuff.

Music queries are usually dealt with significantly better – and Siri is de facto adept at listening to a ‘Hey Siri’ over loud music.

However there are niggly downsides. Within the UK, BBC Radio has no assist and must be performed by way of AirPlay from the BBC Sounds app. Not an enormous imposition, however Alexa has a BBC Sounds talent, so we’re used to simply asking for radio and it enjoying – I do not wish to pull my telephone out.

Ultimately, we gave up listening to the radio by way of HomePod, which is maybe a win for Apple, if not for the consumer.

We additionally bumped into issues with Siri figuring out whether or not we wished data by way of the iPhone or HomePod. This often occurred if we have been holding our iPhone when speaking to the speaker.

The HomePod is also now a humidity and temperature sensor, and the accuracy stood up. Our heating system doesn’t permit for third-party sensors, however we may see this develop into extra helpful as Matter rolls out.

iPhone calling means you may ask Siri to make a name or reply an incoming one. As soon as the function is enabled, you may merely say, “Hey Siri, name Jennifer” or “Hey Siri, reply my name.”

Hyperlink to Apple TV

HomePod works finest in all-Apple houses, and it actually obtained good once we hooked it as much as our Apple TV 4K (third Gen).

In our loft room, we arrange the HomePod as a default speaker for the Apple TV. If we had a stereo pair it might have been even higher, however the HomePod did a masterful job.

Even higher was the brand new eARC function of the brand new Apple TV 4K, which permits the HomePod to take over the sound of something performed on the TV. This makes a stereo pair an efficient various to mid-range soundbars, and greater than a match for the likes of the Sonos Beam.

We additionally turned our Xbox Collection X right into a CD participant, and eventually had an excellent high quality outlet for the handful of particular CDs we’d retained.

The Apple HomePod stays a wonderful residence speaker – with a number of the finest sound high quality at this value level. It’s nonetheless solely an choice for all-Apple households, and paired up with an Apple TV, it might do great issues. However in true Apple fashion, you do issues its manner or the freeway by way of the companies you utilize. From a wise residence perspective, nevertheless, Siri nonetheless lags as a voice controller, but it surely will get the job executed with solely occasional frustrations. Matter ought to open up a brand new world of choices for Apple-centric good houses, and may very well be the start of a brand new

  • Nice sound
  • Spatial slaps
  • Matter is a cinch
  • Siri remains to be Siri
  • Non-Apple integrations are flaky
  • No aux-in

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