Watch and hear HomePod's multi-room audio with stereo playback on iOS 11.4

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 2018
Apple on Tuesday released iOS 11.4, bringing with it multi-room audio and stereo pairing for HomePod. We show you how to activate those features and take a closer look at how they work in this video.





Promised to arrive sometime this year, the two HomePod features are intrinsically tied to Apple's AirPlay 2 streaming protocol, which also launched today with iOS 11.4.

Alongside multi-room support, AirPlay 2 delivers a more robust listening experience. For example, with the original AirPlay format, we would often experienced connection issues and lag when streaming audio to compatible speakers, including HomePod.

HomePod

How to update HomePod

Once you finish updating your iPhone to iOS 11.4, navigate to the Home app, tap Edit and tap on HomePod > Details to go into its settings. Then tap Update Software.

If your HomePod is set to automatically download and install new firmware, the latest version should already be installed on the device.

Multi-room audio

Launching the Apple Music app and selecting the AirPlay menu, we now see two HomePods listed, complete with their location and custom title. Buttons to the right of the pop-up window allow users to select the HomePods they want to stream audio to.

Selecting a single HomePod will play music in that room, while selecting an additional HomePod will enable multi-room audio. When two or more HomePods are selected, they each get their own volume slider, allowing for granular volume control. A master volume slider can also be used to adjust both speakers at the same time. If you adjusted your HomePods so that one of them is louder than the other, moving the Master slider will keep the volumes offset, just as you had them before.

HomePod Multi


We can also ask Siri to play the same song on all HomePods or AirPlay 2 supporting speakers at the same time.

In our tests, we heard the song start first on our white HomePod before the black one joined in. Audio was perfectly in sync between the two speakers.

Siri is smart enough to interact with a user from the closest HomePod and is able to play music on any other HomePod in the house, even if that device is in a different room.

Next, we switched to YouTube and selected a video with audio output to a local HomePod AirPlay. A little pop-up menu asks if you want to replace what's playing on this speaker. Tapping on replace transfers one HomePod's audio to the YouTube video, while the Apple Music song still plays on the other device.

Stereo pairing

First, navigate to the Home app and perform a force touch on one HomePod, then tap on Details. In the settings menu, tap on Create stereo pair. Select another HomePod, then the room, and assign left and right channels to each HomePod.

If your song supports stereo sound, like "Whatever It Takes" by Imagine Dragons, you can clearly hear the different instruments being played on each individual HomePod. This experience is enhanced when connected to an Apple TV.

HomePod Decibel


Along with stereo sound, paired HomePods output much more sound than a single HomePod. We tested a single HomePod with our decibel meter, and measured a peak of around 85db at about 6 feet away. With stereo pairing, they reached 89db. That's 4 decibels more, which is a little bit more than a doubling of sound.

Not only do you get louder sound, you get much more bass as well. HomePods put out copious bass at low to medium volumes, but become a bit lacking when at maximum volume. When paired, however, the bass is much more prevalent at higher listening levels and the overall experience sounds much better when the volume is at max.
Alex1NMisterKit
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 26
    So no Airplay 2 for existing Airport customers?
    williamlondon
  • Reply 2 of 26
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 329member
    So does it add any features that are actually useful?

    I don't have and will not buy one of those ridiculously overpriced speakers, let alone two of them.
    mike54williamlondon
  • Reply 3 of 26
    hexclockhexclock Posts: 583member
    darkvader said:
    So does it add any features that are actually useful?

    I don't have and will not buy one of those ridiculously overpriced speakers, let alone two of them.
    The features discussed in the article seem pretty solid to me. What do you need it to do? Send faxes?

    A JBL Link 500 is $400.00, by the way. 
    edited May 2018 lolliverandrewj5790StrangeDaysAlex1Nelijahgwilliamlondonstourquewatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 26
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,306member
    darkvader said:
    So does it add any features that are actually useful?

    I don't have and will not buy one of those ridiculously overpriced speakers, let alone two of them.
    What nonsense, they aren’t overpriced at all. In fact, for the quality and the features (seven-drivers, beamforming array, room-specific channel separation, etc) they’re a bargain. More expensive than cheapies and bluetooth tin cans, yes, but much cheaper than the nearest high-end speakers with the same feature set. So it really depends what you want...and if you want high-quality sound, these are great. My friend has one and it sounds amazing; I’m planning on getting a couple soon.

    http://www.loopinsight.com/2018/01/24/on-homepod-and-audio-quality/

    And yes, AirPlay 2 is actually useful. The reduced latency, and multi-room audio are must-haves for me. 
    edited May 2018 patchythepirateAlex1Ncoolfactorstanthemanwilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 26
    KuyangkohKuyangkoh Posts: 346member
    Like I been saying, if you cant afford homepod, stick w the cheap amazon echo....
    williamlondon
  • Reply 6 of 26
    sirozhasirozha Posts: 577member
    If only Apple TV could take audio input from other devices via an optical audio cable and via its HDMI port (if it were ARC), the HomePod speakers would suddenly become much more usable for playing other sources (like a game console, cable TV box, etc.) 
    edited May 2018 williamlondon
  • Reply 7 of 26
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    sirozha said:
    If only Apple TV could take audio input from other devices via an optical audio cable and via its HDMI port (if it were ARC), the HomePod speakers would suddenly become much more usable for playing other sources (like a game console, cable TV box, etc.) 
    Optical is OUT, use a converter, they're cheap.
    stantheman
  • Reply 8 of 26
    Nice video.  However it should be a punishable offense to have a pair of HomePods with mismatched colors.  Unless you're Melanie Martinez I suppose.
  • Reply 9 of 26
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,162member
    darkvader said:
    So does it add any features that are actually useful?

    I don't have and will not buy one of those ridiculously overpriced speakers, let alone two of them.
    Adding multi-room audio and stereo paring to a speaker isn't considered useful? 

    Apple HomePod - $350
    Google Home Max - $400
    JBL Link 500 - $400

    Ridiculously overpriced? 
    stanthemanwilliamlondonStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 26
    sirozhasirozha Posts: 577member
    foggyhill said:
    sirozha said:
    If only Apple TV could take audio input from other devices via an optical audio cable and via its HDMI port (if it were ARC), the HomePod speakers would suddenly become much more usable for playing other sources (like a game console, cable TV box, etc.) 
    Optical is OUT, use a converter, they're cheap.
    You didn’t get what I meant. 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 11 of 26
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,509member
    darkvader said:
    So does it add any features that are actually useful?

    I don't have and will not buy one of those ridiculously overpriced speakers, let alone two of them.

    As others have stated, the tech built into these speakers, and the quality of the build, justifies the high cost. I do wish Apple would make them more open to be compatible with other input sources, though.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 26
    hmlongcohmlongco Posts: 180member
    So next on the wish list.... I have a room with a TV and sound bar/sub-woofer at one end of the room, and a side table with a HomePod on it at the other end of the room. Be nice if the HomePod could pick up and play the 5.1 back channels from the Apple TV.

    Hmmm... or even work in a three-pod configuration with stereo in front and back channels in the rear. With the beam-forming speakers it should be able to separate and play the left, center, and right rear channels.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 26
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,643member
    Not that I do not like my Homepod, it is great and replaced my Bose Sounddock. Debating whether to invest in another Homepod. However I am planning building a new home and plan to have whole home sound and want speaker in the walls/ceilings hidden is all possible. I am not sure I want a bunch of Homepod scatter about the house. Would love to have a whole house receiver with airplay support and allow the same kinds of controls we are not seeing with the latest update. 

    The fact you can have individual volume controls as well as a master is exactly what you need for whole home sound system. Room are different sizes so the volume in each location has to be control separately.

    Big questions, can more than one person control the volume on each Homepod independently of the person who is streaming the much. Does everyone in the house see the controls for the Homepod. I can see having music playing throughout the house and the wife wanting to turn down the volume in her location and she will not be happy if she needs to yell to me to turn down that location.

  • Reply 14 of 26
    hmlongcohmlongco Posts: 180member
    maestro64 said:
    However I am planning building a new home and plan to have whole home sound and want speaker in the walls/ceilings hidden is all possible. 
    I  might reconsider that, if I were you. Our current home has a built-in music/intercom system that's horribly outdated (AM/FM with no inputs). Same for the in-house vacuum cleaner that's a pain to use compared to the portable Dyson. A friend spent quite a bit of money wiring up CAT-5 ethernet, only to end up using mesh WiFi in the house to connect all of his wireless gadgets. He also built parallel runs for cable everywhere... only to end up streaming video over the WiFi network.

    Technology moves pretty fast, and pretty much any state-of-the-art technology you built into the home today will be obsolete tomorrow.

    If I were building a new house, the one thing I'd do is make sure I run power outlets EVERYWHERE. Even in the walk-in closets and to places inside and out where I might want security cameras and sensors.
    edited May 2018 watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 26
    frantisekfrantisek Posts: 495member
    Kuyangkoh said:
    Like I been saying, if you cant afford homepod, stick w the cheap amazon echo....
    Or do things as you did till now. Old way.
  • Reply 16 of 26
    wwchriswwchris Posts: 53member
    Anybody know how to create rooms that work properly with HomePod? So for example, I have the HomePod and two AppleTV's in my Basement. I wan't to say play a playlist on the basement group and have it stream to all. I have put them in the same "room" in the home app but it doesn't;t work.
  • Reply 17 of 26
    frantisekfrantisek Posts: 495member
    Adding multi-room audio and stereo paring to a speaker isn't considered useful? 
    < If you have one, probably not.
  • Reply 18 of 26
    felix01felix01 Posts: 248member
    Good example of why Siri needs voice recognition...while listening to the video above, my HomePod (located in the same room) started following the "Hey Siri" request in the video. 
  • Reply 19 of 26
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,306member
    darkvader said:
    So does it add any features that are actually useful?

    I don't have and will not buy one of those ridiculously overpriced speakers, let alone two of them.
    Adding multi-room audio and stereo paring to a speaker isn't considered useful? 

    Apple HomePod - $350
    Google Home Max - $400
    JBL Link 500 - $400

    Ridiculously overpriced? 
    Another:

    Bose SoundTouch 300 soundbar - $700

    ...and has no special features. 

    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 26
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,929member
    Personally even with really good sound available to me now I most often just opt for "sounds pretty good" convenience. Just not worth it to me to invest another several hundred dollars for great sounding (smart) speakers compared to good enough one's that more often than not are just serving up background music while I'm involved with other tasks and not concentrating on the sounds anyway.

    Now if did critical listening with that as the main focus on a somewhat regular basis ( and I didn't irritate the other family members) I might be more inclined to look at relatively expensive yet compact (smart) speakers scattered around the house. As is I'll usually grab my B&O Play's and plug 'em up to the Axon if I want to listen to music for the music itself. My tastes are somewhat eclectic and fairly often not one that the rest of the family wants even as background. Plus it's portable and private, always a plus IMHO.

    That's why I don't fire up the surround system all that often. I rarely have that much time to myself to stay in the same room for extended periods anyway. But once in awhile I still have to just blow it out....
    :)
    edited May 2018
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