Early previewers praise new HomePod's 'just wow' audio

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV
Apple held a series of closed listening sessions with the new HomePod, and the first reports are almost universally ecstatic.




Apple has brought back its previously discontinued HomePod, and despite the same exterior, it has been redesigned. While the new $299 HomePod will not be available until February 2, 2023, a very few audio reviewers have a brief listening session with it.

Apple set up a single HomePod and a stereo pair of them in a controlled environment, and played an eclectic range of listeners between four and six tracks. It appears to have been the same selection, with multiple previewers commenting on how a live version of "Hotel California" by The Eagles sounded.

Broadly, it sounded great, and so did everything else.

Every previewer noted that Apple had chosen the music, and so every previewer was careful to say they are waiting to try out the new HomePod properly.

However, nearly every previewer so far has also been a fan. The one hold out is The Verge, which summarizes its reaction by saying "Apple's new HomePod unsurprisingly sounds close to the original."

The Verge: "hard to justify"

"I had a brief amount of listening time with Apple's second-generation HomePod speaker this morning," continues the publication's Chris Welch. "There were numerous demos of its capabilities, but I'm only permitted to share details with you on what I heard in one specific room."

"[Even] if the guts have changed some, the new HomePod still... very much sounded like a HomePod during Apple's music demos," says Welch.

Welch does note that the live recording of "Hotel California" that Apple played "sounded splendid," though.

Previewers all listened in a room Apple prepared
Previewers all listened in a room Apple prepared

The Street: "sounds great"

"The new HomePod sounds great with clear, rich playback," goes the headline on the predominantly financial publication, The Street.

"[It's] fair to say that it can roll with the punches of other higher-end smart speakers like the original HomePod," said previewer Jacob Krol, "along with competing options from Bose, Sonos, or even Amazon."

"I'd still stand by that two of these paired together could outperform sound bars as well with crisp, room-filling sound," continued Krol.

Albany Herald: "higher-end experience"

Krol also continued in a different publication, the Albany Herald. For this, he specifically compared the new HomePod to the old one.

"As someone who owns the original HomePod," wrote Krol, "it's clear the first-generation and the new one can both outpace an Echo or Echo Dot, but they both do provide quick access to either virtual assistant."

Previewers listened to a stereo pair of HomePods
Previewers listened to a stereo pair of HomePods

TechRadar: "just wow"

"First impression? Just wow," wrote Lance Ulanoff in TechRadar.

"Listen, I would go to more concerts if it wasn't for the expense, crowds, and rigamarole involved with getting to the venue," continued Ulanoff. "Now, though, after an all-too-brief listening session with the new Apple HomePod 2, maybe I don't need to go anywhere."

"The music experience is that good," Ulanoff said.

Separately, AppleInsider has compared the internals of the new HomePod against the original version.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 65
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,582member
    So in a controlled, closed environment, a hand picked assortment of reviewers listened to a small selection music that Apple picked. 

    Not really an unbiased test. I’ll wait for a broader assortment of reviews. 
    muthuk_vanalingamn2itivguybala1234baconstangappleinsiderusercaladanianRonnyDaddy
  • Reply 2 of 65
    mubailimubaili Posts: 449member
    Apple, please do an even more high end / bigger one so I can use it for home movie theater. But I am very glad that Apple brings back the big HomePod. I listen music on the origin ones every day.
    jas99igorskydanoxwilliamlondonwatto_cobracaladanian
  • Reply 3 of 65
    sflagelsflagel Posts: 690member
    I use paired original HomePods for AppleTV sound (we get everything via Apple TV, including terrestrial channels) and it is fantastic. I would upgrade to the second generation if they could be paired with HP minis for full surround sound. 
    igorskyScot1StrangeDayswatto_cobrariverko
  • Reply 4 of 65
    igorskyigorsky Posts: 661member
    DAalseth said:
    So in a controlled, closed environment, a hand picked assortment of reviewers listened to a small selection music that Apple picked. 

    Not really an unbiased test. I’ll wait for a broader assortment of reviews. 
    Yeah I'm sure that'll sway your already-formulated opinion.
    edited January 20 Spitbathgrandact73lkruppmacxpressJapheyStrangeDayswatto_cobrateejay2012omasou
  • Reply 5 of 65
    Cool beans 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 65
    bluefire1bluefire1 Posts: 1,243member
    I have the original HomePod, the HomePod Minis and the Sonos Move. If the new HomePod comes close to the sound quality of my Sonos, then the upgrade was significant.
    watto_cobramichelb76
  • Reply 7 of 65
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,582member
    igorsky said:
    DAalseth said:
    So in a controlled, closed environment, a hand picked assortment of reviewers listened to a small selection music that Apple picked. 

    Not really an unbiased test. I’ll wait for a broader assortment of reviews. 
    Yeah I'm sure that'll sway your already-formulated opinion.
    I think it will have great sound. The first gen did and this one has been updated so it should. I’m just saying that a stage managed press event isn’t going to produce unbiased reports in the press. Let someone get one or two of them, put them in their home and see how they sound then. That will be a real test. This was a stage managed press event and means very little. 
    Scot1bala1234baconstangmuthuk_vanalingamappleinsideruserentropys
  • Reply 8 of 65
    Wonder if you could use the 1st gen HomePod with the new gen 2 model as a pair. Would you see a major difference in audio from one to the other?
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 65
    sflagel said:
    I use paired original HomePods for AppleTV sound (we get everything via Apple TV, including terrestrial channels) and it is fantastic. I would upgrade to the second generation if they could be paired with HP minis for full surround sound. 
    Ditto, but I'd also want a "BassPod" subwoofer system to go along with it. The HPs did a good job with a lot of things, but simply can't compete w/o a subwoofer.

    I mean, Apple could sell a kit with a couple of HomePods, a couple of minis, and a BassPod for, what, $1999?
    williamlondonbaconstangwatto_cobradope_ahmineomasou
  • Reply 10 of 65
    Scot1Scot1 Posts: 106member
    iOS_Guy80 said:
    Wonder if you could use the 1st gen HomePod with the new gen 2 model as a pair. Would you see a major difference in audio from one to the other?
    I believe it’s already been documented that you can’t mix and match the HomePods. They will not be compatible.
    SpitbathStrangeDaysbaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 65
    hmlongco said:
    sflagel said:
    I use paired original HomePods for AppleTV sound (we get everything via Apple TV, including terrestrial channels) and it is fantastic. I would upgrade to the second generation if they could be paired with HP minis for full surround sound. 
    Ditto, but I'd also want a "BassPod" subwoofer system to go along with it. The HPs did a good job with a lot of things, but simply can't compete w/o a subwoofer.

    I mean, Apple could sell a kit with a couple of HomePods, a couple of minis, and a BassPod for, what, $1999?
    So this kit would include a $1203 BassPod!?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 65
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,576moderator
    DAalseth said:
    igorsky said:
    DAalseth said:
    So in a controlled, closed environment, a hand picked assortment of reviewers listened to a small selection music that Apple picked. 

    Not really an unbiased test. I’ll wait for a broader assortment of reviews. 
    Yeah I'm sure that'll sway your already-formulated opinion.
    I think it will have great sound. The first gen did and this one has been updated so it should. I’m just saying that a stage managed press event isn’t going to produce unbiased reports in the press. Let someone get one or two of them, put them in their home and see how they sound then. That will be a real test. This was a stage managed press event and means very little. 
    It's hard to say they should have done it differently, unless to suggest Apple should just not have had a preview event at all.  Apple can't replicate the acoustics of each reviewer's home or sound studio, so it has to choose a venue where all would hear it in the same environment.  And if you're going to do that, you'd set it up to show off your product.  Sane with the music.  Each reviewer is likely to have their own favorites to evaluate a speaker against, but Apple shouldn't cater to all those different tracks.  So they had to select some tracks that would show off the product.  Five might seem insufficient, but 10 might seem like a labored preview process.  Better to just hit them with enough to whet their appetites and get some press building around the product.  More detailed reviews with come when the product ships. 
    Spitbathwatto_cobradavgreg
  • Reply 13 of 65
    bluefire1 said:
    I have the original HomePod, the HomePod Minis and the Sonos Move. If the new HomePod comes close to the sound quality of my Sonos, then the upgrade was significant.
    Of course, your Sonos Move can, you know, "move" away from an electrical outlet and play anywhere on its battery, which the HomePod cannot. 
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 65
    "[It's] fair to say that it can roll with the punches of other higher-end smart speakers like the original HomePod," 

    Wow, talk about damning with faint praise! It's going to have to do a whole lot more that "roll with" the original HomePod considering that it previously failed in the marketplace. No one thought the original HomePod sounded bad, it's just that the sound didn't justify the price. We'll see this time around. That these tests were only done with hand-picked reviewers and a few carefully chosen tracks leaves me doubtful. If HomePod 2 audio quality really IS the sh*t, then it would be readily apparent without the need to be so controlling. We'll know soon enough... 

    edited January 20 elijahgwilliamlondonbaconstangwatto_cobramuthuk_vanalingamcaladanianentropys
  • Reply 15 of 65
    Scot1 said:
    iOS_Guy80 said:
    Wonder if you could use the 1st gen HomePod with the new gen 2 model as a pair. Would you see a major difference in audio from one to the other?
    I believe it’s already been documented that you can’t mix and match the HomePods. They will not be compatible.
    Well, you can’t set them up as a stereo pair… but you can airplay to both individually at the same time. It’s the same exact restrictions that have been in place with the OG HomePod and the mini’s this whole time.
    williamlondonwatto_cobraentropys
  • Reply 16 of 65
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,457member
    charlesn said:
    bluefire1 said:
    I have the original HomePod, the HomePod Minis and the Sonos Move. If the new HomePod comes close to the sound quality of my Sonos, then the upgrade was significant.
    Of course, your Sonos Move can, you know, "move" away from an electrical outlet and play anywhere on its battery, which the HomePod cannot. 
    But I don't really care if I have to plug my HomePods in. They just sit behind my TV for AppleTV sound. HomePod isn't meant to be portable. 
    williamlondonradarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 65
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 1,463member
    macxpress said:
    charlesn said:
    bluefire1 said:
    I have the original HomePod, the HomePod Minis and the Sonos Move. If the new HomePod comes close to the sound quality of my Sonos, then the upgrade was significant.
    Of course, your Sonos Move can, you know, "move" away from an electrical outlet and play anywhere on its battery, which the HomePod cannot. 
    But I don't really care if I have to plug my HomePods in. They just sit behind my TV for AppleTV sound. HomePod isn't meant to be portable. 
    Interesting. I never considered putting mine behind the tv, they were always underneath or off to the side. But maybe now I’ll give that a try. How far from the wall do you have them?
    edited January 20 watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 65
    hmlongco said:
    sflagel said:
    I use paired original HomePods for AppleTV sound (we get everything via Apple TV, including terrestrial channels) and it is fantastic. I would upgrade to the second generation if they could be paired with HP minis for full surround sound. 
    Ditto, but I'd also want a "BassPod" subwoofer system to go along with it. The HPs did a good job with a lot of things, but simply can't compete w/o a subwoofer.

    I mean, Apple could sell a kit with a couple of HomePods, a couple of minis, and a BassPod for, what, $1999?
    Home theater speaker kits are way too far removed from their core business. 

    I dunno, I find the HPs have quite adequate bass — I replaced my Anthony Gallo 5.1 speakers including the honking sub. I don’t miss it. 
    williamlondonwatto_cobrasflagel
  • Reply 19 of 65
    Sounds like people were probably wow’ed by the stereo pair demo and the one glowing review was probably placebo effect. For whatever reason (upsell opportunity?), Apple gimps the volume output of a single HomePod. Mine is nothing to write home about and I use these in areas where a stereo pair is not feasible. I’m convinced that people who think this is the “best sounding speaker on the market,” etc, have just never had a high quality audio setup. If Apple remove the artificial volume limitation from a single HomePod, it would be enough to make me upgrade to the new model.
    edited January 20 williamlondonbaconstangwatto_cobramichelb76muthuk_vanalingambeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 20 of 65
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,898member
    I’d really love a pair, but w/o audio in, it’s a no-go. And, I wonder if they solved the problem with a seemingly high percentage of the original ones breaking? They are way too expensive if they only last a couple of years (and Apple won’t stand behind them, just like they haven’t for my crackling AirPods Pro).
    williamlondonbaconstangPhobos7watto_cobracaladaniandewme
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