I recently had the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at Apple’s 2nd-Gen, full-sized HomePod. While I only spent a brief amount of time listening to the new smart speaker, I still walked away with a good idea of its sound quality.
Apple explained how the smart speaker’s spatial audio works, the experience of using two 2nd-gen HomePods in stereo and discussed its deep bass and high chiming pitch capabilities. I can’t yet write about my whole experience with the device (I have a review coming soon), but here are my thoughts on what a few tracks sounded like pumping through the HomePod.
We listened to several songs, including a live version of Hotel California by the Eagles and Everybody by Ingrid Michaelson. With Hotel California, you really feel like you’re a part of the concert thanks to spatial audio, surround sound and clear timbres.
I was pretty impressed by the sound quality. Bass seems truly deep and shook me to my core, whereas high frequencies are clear and easy to make out. Thanks to the HomePod’s room-sensing capabilities (which are also included in its predecessor), the smart speaker can direct vocals toward the listener, including taking advantage of the acoustics in a room to bounce sound off the walls.
I was also fond of how spatial audio pumps through the new 2nd-Gen HomePod. However, some aspects aren’t perfect. For example, the room I listened to the HomePod in featured very high ceilings, which made vertical sounds challenging to distinguish. However, the effect of spatial audio replicating sounds from around you is accurate and really does make it feel like the sound is coming from all directions.
It’s also worth noting that using two HomePod speakers for stereo sound is impressive. The resulting soundscape is incredibly wide, and I actually got confused at one point regarding where the audio was coming from. The room had three speakers, two main ones that were plugged in and one off to the side, and the sound tricked me into believing that the one on the side was plugged in and producing music.
You can use the HomePod to create a home theatre experience with Apple TV 4K. You can make the HomePod the audio system for all devices connected to the TV and control what’s playing on the Apple TV hands-free, though I haven’t been able to test out this feature yet.
The new HomePod is available to pre-order now for $399 ahead of its February 3rd release. This is a welcome price cut considering the original Homepod cost $449 at launch. The smart speaker is available in ‘White’ and ‘Midnight.’ It’s also made with 100 percent recycled fabric with a colour-matched woven power cable. The 2nd-gen HomePod utilizes a custom-engineered high-excursion woofer, built-in bass EQ mic, and beamforming array of five tweeters around the base that work together to offer an improved acoustic experience. It also sports Apple’s S7 chip combined with software and system-sensing tech to offer advanced computational audio.
While these are quick impressions, my time with Apple’s new HomePod was impressive. Of course, I’ll need to test the speaker further once I get my hands on a device for review, including comparing it to Google’s Nest speakers and the HomePod mini.
Image credit: Apple