HomePod 2 review: A great smart speaker that struggles to stand out

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Comments

  • Reply 21 of 35
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,784member
    For your TV, two HomePods sound better than the majority of $500 soundbars.”

    We concur in my household. We tested with the Sonos Beam and two HPs were better. 
    williamlondonlolliver
  • Reply 22 of 35
    podman123 said:
    Had the original 1st gen sounded great however the walled garden/prison ecosystem Apple creates makes this a horrible product. Always felt like its glitchy/stutters/doesn't connect/optimized for Apple Music only. No aux out which would be useful for musicians who want to plug in electric instruments and use as amplifier. No battery so can't take this on the go. Siri is terrible. The only upside to this thing is the sound quality. For everything else it's a nightmare. I will never buy a closed ecosystem apple speaker again.
    It’s definitely a nightmare that it doesn’t have a battery. I mean, I can’t park my Tesla on the parking space for bicycles - that’s why I am not going to buy Tesla again, because it’s a nightmare to not being able to park where it shouldn’t be parked.… /s (for clarity)
    mike1williamlondonlogic2.6lolliver
  • Reply 23 of 35
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,940member
    podman123 said:
    Had the original 1st gen sounded great however the walled garden/prison ecosystem Apple creates makes this a horrible product. Always felt like its glitchy/stutters/doesn't connect/optimized for Apple Music only. No aux out which would be useful for musicians who want to plug in electric instruments and use as amplifier. No battery so can't take this on the go. Siri is terrible. The only upside to this thing is the sound quality. For everything else it's a nightmare. I will never buy a closed ecosystem apple speaker again.
    Heck, not only that, but you can’t even use it as a bbq smoker. What a piece of junk. 
    williamlondonlogic2.6lolliver
  • Reply 24 of 35
    charlesn said:I also think that more than a bit too much is made of Apple's computational audio and what it's doing. 
    This isn't an uncommon point of view but the reality is that Apple delayed stereo pairing capability for the 1st gen HomePod due to the complicated nature of two units working in combination with each other per the sound cancellation. If the HP weren't really doing much in that regard, why not just release it with stereo pairing and figure that nobody is going to notice? Obviously Apple believes there is an important enough difference when it comes to sound quality. 
    dewmewilliamlondon
  • Reply 25 of 35
    mike1mike1 Posts: 3,268member
    charlesn said:
    And pity the poor HPv1 buyer, kicked to the curb by Apple with no ability to create a stereo pair in combination with a new HPv2. That in itself seems like a lost opportunity for sales. 1. 
    What?! No speaker manufacturer, ever since the dawn of stereo has ever recommended, or even suggested the possibility, of using different speakers as a stereo pair.
    Even if the differences are minor, it will sound unbalanced and odd.

    ionicle said:
    Cant speak for anyone else but im glad the homepod is back! 
    It will take me a few weeks to save up for, but i Definatly want one to upgrade the homepod mini in my bedroom
    If you have one HomePod Mini in your bedroom, you’re probably far better off getting a second Mini and pairing it. You get stereo separation, comparable sound quality, and all the same features, at a far lower price.
    Not always true. Stereo listening requires sitting in a sweet spot to achieve all the benefits, Unless you have that kind of setup in a bedroom, a single, better HomePod would sound better overall. Especially the low end,.


    dewmewilliamlondonlolliver
  • Reply 26 of 35
    podman123 said:
    Had the original 1st gen sounded great however the walled garden/prison ecosystem Apple creates makes this a horrible product. Always felt like its glitchy/stutters/doesn't connect/optimized for Apple Music only. No aux out which would be useful for musicians who want to plug in electric instruments and use as amplifier. No battery so can't take this on the go. Siri is terrible. The only upside to this thing is the sound quality. For everything else it's a nightmare. I will never buy a closed ecosystem apple speaker again.
    So you bought the HPv1 because why? I always find posts like this highly suspect--rants against a product where everything you're ranting about is right there in the product description before you buy it. Did you somehow get surprised by no battery, no aux input and Apple's closed ecosystem? Look, these are all perfectly good reasons to not buy a Home Pod, but then... don't buy it. 
    logic2.6lolliver
  • Reply 27 of 35
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,264member
    A single HomePod’s ability to fill a decently large area and volume of space, for me this comes down to about 1000-1500 sqft with 8-10 ft flat ceilings, with what I consider very pleasant sound was always impressive. By “pleasant sound” I mean that I recognize that I’m hearing all of the sound components from the original source represented throughout the space. Nothing bothers me more than moving around in a large space that has a multi speaker setup to distribute the sound across the space, but what your hear varies considerably based on what speaker or speakers you happen to be standing closest to. By “varies considerably“ I mean some sound components are missing, underemphasized, or overemphasized. 

    A solitary HomePod excels in these volume filling scenarios, but I’m sure it has an upper limit on how large of a volume it can fill. For comparison’s sake I also have a single Echo Studio. When the Echo Studio was first released putting it to work in the same role as my HomePod served was distinctly less appealing. The bass in particular seemed over emphasized and Amazon’s computational processing just didn’t seem to produce a natural sounding mix. But after a while and with subsequent firmware updates it got a lot closer to the HomePod. I have no issues with it now, but I still prefer the sound of a single biggy-sized HomePod over the Echo Studio, but they are a lot closer than I’d like to admit.

    Having full access to Apple Music on both HomePod and Echo Studio is rather interesting. Early on, Alexa would sometimes stumble and not automatically resume playing if I queried it for information about the song being played, like “Alexa, what album is this song from?” while Siri had no problem with similar requests. Again, over time Alexa interaction got better and better and no longer pauses playback after responding to inquiries during playback. In terms of responsiveness and accuracy Alexa absolutely crushes Siri.

    I’ve been experiencing problems with Siri working with my most frequently invoked query; “Siri play (or shuffle) my music.” My music collection is around 30K songs and for some reason large collections of anything seem to be choking Apple’s clients lately (HomePod, iPhone, Mac, etc.) and Siri will produce an error on my HomePods and give up. My Echo Studio, in stark contrast, responds immediately and works. After using Alexa for a while, going back to Siri feels like you’re interacting with a child. Going the other way, Siri to Alexa, in similar scenarios, Alexa seems to be clairvoyant. 

    Unfortunately my biggy-sized HomePod died prior to the 2nd Gen HomePod release and I replaced it with two HomePod minis. The HomePod mini does’t come remotely close to supporting the scenarios that the original HomePod excelled so perfectly at. Even as a stereo pair for constrained space listening the minis just don’t have much in the bass department. In the role of desktop computer speakers they remind me a little bit of my Audio Engine A2 Plus USB wired speakers without a subwoofer. Adding a subwoofer to the AE’s blows the HP mini stereo pair away, but at additional cost, more wires, and less convenience. The HomePod minis would seriously benefit from a subwoofer. The biggy-sized HomePod not so much.

    I too am surprised that Apple didn’t come up with a way to allow stereo pairing of v1 and v2 HomePods. They developed their own isochronous synchronization implementation for stereo playback so they had all of the bits necessary to make it work. I don’t believe the acoustics of the two versions are too disparate to obtain a very satisfactory result.

    If I had to guess, I’d say that their isochronous synchronization implementation is wired to the silicon and they tweaked it for the second go-round to the point where it was not easy, or would be a burden for future growth (say to support subwoofers and surround sound) to drag along legacy support for the v1 HomePod to the v2 HomePod. Apple may also be quietly working towards isochronous real-time (IRT) synchronization model that incorporates precision time protocol (PTP) based on IEEE-1588 that has become popular in industrial Ethernet implementations, or their own lower cost equivalent. This move to provide precision real-time based synchronization across a network of connected devices would dovetail very nicely into Apple’s HomeKit, home automation, and ambient computing ambitions, besides falling in-line with the underpinnings of Matter and the networks it supports.
    muthuk_vanalingamlogic2.6decoderring
  • Reply 28 of 35
    A slight tech bump. Really, a reconfiguration. I haven't had a chance to hear them yet, but my guess is those who think they sound slightly better are right. Apple wouldn't have not improved the sound.

    My originals sound great. I'll stick with them because, again it's just a slight reconfiguration. I would have been temped if the advance in sound quality was as drastic as AirPods Pro 2 over the originals. Or maybe if they had added exciting new capabilities.

    But alas...
    williamlondon
  • Reply 29 of 35
    entropysentropys Posts: 4,129member
    laytech said:
    The complaints about $299 being too expensive are ridiculous. Apple has the sales data for the first gen HomePod and it's likely $299 was the sweet spot for sales. The issue was that the first gen wasn't designed to sell at $299, i.e., it didn't produce the profit margin that Apple wanted. So it was redesigned to sell at a lower price AND take advantage of what they had learned technically from the 1st gen and the HomePod mini. 
    I agree, $299 ($479 in Australia) is hardly expensive. It's not cheap but it's not a cheap speak in that sense of the word. Look at Sonos speakers (and they had the cheek to try and make recycling them impossible - turning them into dumb bricks). 

    Users now get a choice, a novel mini or a super sound full pod. Sound for everyones budget. I have multiple of both. Next, Apple need to release HomePod Air - a portable version. Forget Beats, that's a different brand. 
    There is no getting around the reality the Hompod is poorly positioned in the market. Price fir what it is, is what killed the first version, and will for this version too.
    it sounds to me like the HP2 is a design improvement from a power connection point of view and the possible savings on internals suggest margins are improved without sacrificing  sound, giving more price flexibility. It still has connection limitations though.


  • Reply 30 of 35
    Dear Santa Next Christmas I wish 2 HP2 and a nick change in API to T3000 and  promise RAID  Daughter  card and … etc     :D
  • Reply 31 of 35
    I was so underwhelmed with the HomePod. It is really lacking in base although otherwise decent. Sadly that is not enough reason to keep it. The Sonos One speaker is $100 cheaper and better with good base. It is also a smart speaker with Alexa and Google as options. The HomePod will be the first apple product I have ever returned. 
  • Reply 32 of 35
    No Spotify through Siri and Airplay, no purchase. I have the 1st HomePod and it’s annoying to connect through Bluetooth. 

    Booting an app that has sound immediately stops Spotify playback and it’s extremely slow in responding to play/pause.

    I don’t care who’s fault it is - Spotify or Apple - the result is the same.
  • Reply 33 of 35
    I have a stereo pair gen 1. If the sound quality is clearly better I will hop to a new pair gen 2. But all I can read is “same or nearly the same” in all reviews. Not one which says “definitely better”. 


    lkrupp said:
    Good it is reintroduced, but I had wished for a clearly better sound quality. The verdict seems indecisive throughout the bank. 
    And what does that mean? Pleas explain ‘better sound quality’. Have you heard one or are you just going by specs and numbers of speakers?

    "Opinions vary on this within the AppleInsider staff, but overall, we think the new HomePod does sound better than the original”

    But you’re not going to buy one anyway, right, so what does it matter to you?



  • Reply 34 of 35
    Good it is reintroduced, but I had wished for a clearly better sound quality. The verdict seems indecisive throughout the bank. 
    Opinions on this are all over the map.  I've done the whole audiophile route spending thousands on speakers and amps.  I had the OG HomePod and have four of the new ones in two stereo pairs.  I also have a lot of Sonos.  My observation of the new ones is the bass is tighter and cleaner but still a bit too much squashing the mid-range and treble a little.  Reduce bass reduces it too much.  Apple needs to give us a bass slider that uses DSP to adjust mid range and treble when the bass is reduced.  Overall though impressed they provide a room filling and vibrant sound that other speakers, like Sonos which is heavily DSP'ed too cannot do.  It sounds like the new Sonos speakers might improve on this though.  I think it also depends on what type of music you listen to though.  I don't listen to any current music which is heavily base and auto-tuned so maybe thats why some complain the bass isn't enough.  I do find Sonos has a warmer sound for more laid back music whereas the HomePod is probably more correct to the true sound but it can leave it sounded more cold and technical which isn't my favorite sound.  I think the future of music is spatial/atmos and I'm loving that on the HomePod listening to one song after another including some I have listed to for many years.  Then again some of the mastering with spatial is just odd but most of it is really good.
  • Reply 35 of 35
    I think it's lame to state colors and volume controls as a con.  Black and white is normal for higher end speakers like this.  The printed volume buttons aren't an issue at all.  I can see them spot of the time and even if I don't i just press on the right side to raise volume and the left side to lower it.  Wow, so hard...but I use voice for volume control 90% of the time anyway.  it's like the reviewer was fishing for negatives.  I wasn't impressed with this review at all for a web site that specializes in apple products.
    I am using these with my Apple TV in place of an Arc and Sonos Sub and prefer the HomePods since they are also much better for music which I care most about.  I have a vaulted ceiling so the tiny Arc up firing speakers aren't very effective.  Alot of other people on the HomePod reddit and elsewhere are making the same observation.  if Sonos finally comes out with rear atmos speakers, which sounds soon, then my opinion could change.  I also like how minimal the HP's are and how they also do smart home control.  I use Sonos Voice with Sonos products because it's fast and reliable and guards your privacy.  I would never again use Alexa or Google to control anything and I have done both.  Alexa just keeps getting worse and since both companies have laid off smart speaker staff I anticipate it will get even worse.  I find HomeKit and siri to be reliable for smart home.  I don't ask Siri or any other smart assistant questions, I'd rather do a search and have a choice of answers. As to using old HP parts which is an odd thing to say Apple has said everything in the HP has been redesigned and new.  Audio quality is improved because the OG HomePod only used mics to monitor and control audio while the new versions uses mics and a special chip.  Home theater mode is a big sleeping point.  Country to popular belief its more than just airplaying to speakers.  It uses bluetooth and wifi to create an ad hoc network between the HP's and Apple five that allows for less latency, better volume, and 5.1, atmos etc instead of just stereo.  This is why you can also assign the HP's permanently to the apple tv.
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