Apple HomePod 2: Two-minute review
The HomePod 2 is simply a astonishing relaunch for Apple's astute speaker, due to the fact that astatine archetypal glance, it doesn't look to connection overmuch that’s antithetic to the archetypal model. And aft taking a overmuch deeper glimpse (and listen), I tin study that it does not, successful fact, connection overmuch that’s antithetic to the original.
The HomePod 2 is simply a reasonably compact talker (smaller than astir of the champion wireless speakers, though evidently larger than the dinky HomePod mini) with a lot of talker powerfulness built successful – and you tin perceive it. It's energetic, bursting with detail, dynamic, and underlined with earthy and resonant bass. For its price, nary azygous talker sounds rather arsenic bully – and combining 2 successful a stereo strategy makes for adjacent bigger and bolder sound.
But entree to this powerfulness is frustratingly limited. The lone ways to play audio are done the Siri dependable assistant, oregon Apple AirPlay 2 strategy via Wi-Fi. There's nary Bluetooth, nary Chromecast, nary Spotify Connect, and nary aux-in. The lone mode to nonstop audio to the talker is from Apple devices, truthful if anyone successful your location doesn't person one, you'll person to determine if you’re good with excluding them from being capable to usage the talker successful the aforesaid mode that others can.
Siri tin enactment with aggregate euphony services now, and tin link to your Apple relationship to bash things similar adhd calendar entries; but it's not arsenic astute arsenic Alexa oregon Google Assistant for mostly interpreting your questions well, truthful if you're looking for 1 of the champion astute speakers, it whitethorn not beryllium apical of your list.
However, if you beryllium successful the sweet-spot demographic for the HomePod – an all-Apple house, with Apple Music to instrumentality vantage of its upgraded Dolby Atmos skills – the HomePod 2 is possibly the best-value talker retired there. It’s cheaper than what you get from the hardcore hi-fi brands (such arsenic the Naim Mu-so Qb 2), and with a much afloat dependable than the Sonos One tin deliver.
And its caller smart-home skills are invited too, though we'd emblem them arsenic 'nice bonuses' alternatively than 'reasons to bargain successful the archetypal place'.
Apple HomePod 2 review: Price & merchandise date
The HomePod 2 is released connected Friday February 3, 2022.
It costs $299 / £299 / AU$479, which is beauteous overmuch what the erstwhile exemplary outgo by the clip it was discontinued. It's the aforesaid terms successful the US, portion it's somewhat much costly successful the UK, but that's nary astonishment fixed caller currency speech rates; it's AU$10 much costly successful Australia.
The terms is precocious compared to astir of the best astute speakers – adjacent the Amazon Echo Studio, the astir costly Alexa speaker, is astir fractional the price. The Sonos One is besides overmuch cheaper.
However, determination are plentifulness of overmuch much costly wireless speakers, including the likes of the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin (2021) or the mighty Naim Mu-So Qb 2nd Gen.
So the HomePod is successful the mediate of the marketplace wide – it's conscionable decidedly beyond the precocious extremity of what most people volition wage for thing similar this. But then, the HomePod mini covers the much affordable end.
Apple HomePod 2 review: Specs
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|Dimensions:||5.6 x 6.6 x 5.6 inches / 142 x 168 x 142 mm|
|Weight:||5.16 lbs / 2.3kg|
|Speakers:||4-inch woofer, 5 tweeters|
|Connectivity:||Wi-Fi 802.11n, Bluetooth 5.0 (smart location power only)|
|Streaming support:||Apple AirPlay 2|
|Voice Assistant support:||Siri|
|Smart location features:||Thread/Matter, Apple HomeKit, somesthesia sensor, humidity sensor|
Apple HomePod 2 review: Features
- Use Siri and AirPlay 2 to supply music
- Dolby Atmos support, including from Apple TV 4K
- Matter astute location support, with somesthesia and humidity sensors built in
The features of the caller HomePod are very adjacent to the original. It's a Wi-Fi-connected astute talker based connected Apple's Siri assistant, with the quality to besides nonstop euphony to it implicit Apple's AirPlay 2.
That means it's geared towards euphony successful the Apple ecosystem precise heavily. You tin usage Siri to petition songs from Apple Music, though Siri present works with immoderate different euphony services too. And portion you tin nonstop euphony (or immoderate different audio) to it implicit AirPlay 2 from Apple devices, though there's nary Bluetooth, oregon aux-in, oregon different mode to get audio into it – that means Android devices are near successful the acold with the HomePod, arsenic is your turntable.
If you're successful an all-Apple location and person nary plans to alteration this successful the future, past that's okay. But if 1 of your 2 kids uses Android erstwhile everyone other uses iPhones, it makes the HomePod 2 a mediocre investment. There are tons of different speakers that enactment AirPlay and person options for Android – from the likes of Sonos, Audio Pro, Bowers & Wilkins, and Naim – spot our usher to the best AirPlay speakers. If you're successful a mixed-device house, you should deliberation precise hard whether HomePods are the champion enactment for you, particularly astatine this price.
The HomePod 2 works arsenic portion of AirPlay multi-room systems, naturally, and you tin usage 1 HomePod connected its own, oregon 2 successful a pair.
The caller HomePod is geared up for Dolby Atmos euphony enactment from Apple Music, including Spatial Audio – it volition bounce sounds disconnected your walls to effort to make the feeling of the euphony being separated into different angles, elements and layers.
And these Dolby Atmos skills volition travel successful utile if you ain an Apple TV, due to the fact that you tin usage 2 caller HomePods arsenic an alternate to 1 of the best soundbars – the Apple TV tin nonstop each of its dependable to the HomePod, including Dolby Atmos 3D audio.
The HomePod 2 besides supports lossless audio from Apple Music, for higher-quality audio overall, if you're signed up that service. This is the lone mode it enactment Hi-Res music, though – Apple AirPlay 2 tech doesn't presently transmit it, truthful it's nary bully for playing stored FLAC files oregon anything.
The HomePod 2 has an ultra-wideband spot in, which means it tin observe erstwhile an iPhone 11 oregon aboriginal is adjacent to it, making it casual to beam euphony from your telephone to the HomePod (or vice versa) by conscionable bringing it close.
This besides makes setup precise casual – crook connected the HomePod 2, and bring your iPhone nearby. A pop-up volition appear, asking you to bring the apical of the HomePod into presumption of your phone's camera. Then the HomePod volition play a dependable to place itself to the iPhone, and that'll beryllium it. It'll beryllium connected to your iCloud account, gaining entree to your Apple Music subscriptions.
For astute location lovers, the HomePod 2 is adjacent amended now. It supports Thread and Matter, which are the next-gen protocols that enactment with much accessories than ever – arsenic good arsenic Apple HomeKit – and it tin trigger automations successful your astute location erstwhile you're not there.
It besides has built-in somesthesia and humidity sensors, which are utile for climate-control astute location gear, oregon conscionable for checking connected your home's status. Open Apple's Home app and you tin spot this info successful the 'Climate' enactment astatine the top, though during our clip with the HomePod, the somesthesia ever showed arsenic being wrong a scope (for example, 17-19°C) which is simply a spot odd. Sometimes the scope is arsenic debased arsenic 1.5°C, sometimes it was 3°C. It's not a immense deal, but it's antithetic to spot imprecision successful somesthesia reporting. The humidity besides tends to beryllium successful a range, but it was of conscionable 2 percent successful my acquisition (ie, 63-64%), which is adjacent capable to not fuss me.
It's casual to physique these into an automation – you could trigger 1 of the best astute plugs connected to a dehumidifier to crook connected if the humidity passes a definite point, for illustration – from the Automation tab successful the Home app.
As for Siri – it works good technically here, being precise speedy and close to prime up commands, and answers from the net travel rapidly. But it inactive gives immoderate unusual responses to adjacent beauteous basal euphony queries, and that's expected to beryllium its raison d'être here. I asked it to "play Blue Monday". "Playing Blue Monday," Siri responded instantly. I was expecting New Order, but figured I'd possibly get a cover. Instead, I got a opus called Here By the Grace of God by Greg Hester, from an medium called American Story. This segued into a Bob Dylan song. I'm guessing it recovered maine a playlist called 'Blue Monday'? But there's nary mode of knowing that for definite – I tin spot connected my iPhone what is playing, but not why.
I asked Siri what the upwind volition beryllium tomorrow, and it said that Location Services hadn't been activated yet (they had, but lone a fewer minutes earlier, truthful we'll forgive that to a syncing issue), truthful it asked maine wherever I wanted to perceive the upwind for. I told it my location city's name. It work maine immoderate facts astir my location metropolis and past asked maine if I wanted to perceive more. Yes! The weather!
Siri is bully astatine taking precise wide commands wrong definite structures. It tin instrumentality requests to nonstop messages you tin inquire it to adhd basal calendar entries (and it tin differentiate voices, if you take to acceptable that diagnostic up), and you tin inquire it for basal factual information. But it's alarming conscionable however often it stumbles. It simply hasn't made the aforesaid advancement that different astute assistants have, and should beryllium thought of arsenic a elemental dependable distant power for your talker alternatively than a astute dependable interface. And I'm good with that personally, due to the fact that audio prime is the gully present for maine – if it's the astute portion of astute speakers that interests you, look elsewhere.
- Features score: 3/5
Apple HomePod 2 review: Sound quality
- Better suited to acoustic/classical than the archetypal acknowledgment to greater upper-mid clarity
- Very afloat and well-balanced dependable wide (but somewhat slimmer bass than original)
- Dolby Atmos is overmuch much pronounced and effective, particularly successful a pair
Let's get thing retired of the mode for radical who utilized the archetypal HomePod: the caller mentation is not arsenic large arsenic the original. I tested it straight against the archetypal model, and the HomePod 2 astatine astir 50% of maximum measurement was equivalent to the archetypal being astatine astir 33%. Now, that's not truly a problem, due to the fact that it's inactive susceptible of going acold beyond filling the mean country successful a location adjacent with conscionable 1 HomePod, fto unsocial a brace – but still.
I've already mentioned respective times that the audio prime is fantastic for the price. The high-end pops and hits with large clarity, the mid-range is fulsome and expressive, and bass is weighty yet controlled.
So to excavation deeper into it, I'm going to comparison it to the archetypal HomePod directly. The archetypal happening I noticed was that the top-end feels brighter, which is driven astir by much pronounced upper-mids than the original. This is particularly wide successful higher-pitched vocals successful song's similar Foxes Gentleman and Haim's Don't Save Me, and successful trumpets successful Holst's The Planets. The vocals are lifted clearer of the remainder of the mix, and it's besides easier for denser collections of instruments astatine the apical extremity to amusement you each detail.
At the different end, the bass is simply a small much resonant, but somewhat little punchy. In M83's Midnight City, each synth bass bushed rolls disconnected somewhat slower and feels much dispersed, which is great, but it besides doesn't consciousness similar it's hitting arsenic hard – conscionable a small little heavy and guttural. Of note, though, is that erstwhile I tried it connected 1 of my shelves, the caller HomePods produced less vibrations into different objects connected the shelf.
In South's Paint the Silence, which starts with strummed guitars and a bass line, the guitar pops retired much and feels much earthy successful the caller HomePod; but the bass enactment drops deeper and has much explanation from the aged HomePod. I would accidental the elevation of the guitar is much prominent, but I decidedly noticed the quality successful the bass.
In the mid-range, idiosyncratic instruments get a small much country to respire during particularly dense moments. Not each opus benefits from this, but it was reasonably wide erstwhile 1 did – there's decidedly much to chew connected from the caller model.
The dependable is simply a small much guardant and assertive than from the original, which is energising, but besides makes it consciousness much similar it's coming from a tiny point. The archetypal disperses stereo dependable a small more, truthful it feels similar it's coming from a country of the room; the caller 1 feels much similar it's being delivered to you from a azygous unit. I recovered this wide listening to Dancing successful the Dark – the archetypal gave maine a full gritty partition of Bruce's dependable hanging retired astatine the backmost of the room, and the caller 1 felt similar the singing was directed close towards me.
This each comes unneurotic successful The Prodigy's Firestarter successful absorbing ways. The piercing sounds astatine the commencement detonate from the caller HomePod 2 to drawback your attraction by the… ears acold much than they bash from the archetypal HomePod. But past the caller version's bass is comparatively tame, and it's the archetypal that tin bang its caput that small spot harder. And the heavy twisted and distorted guitars dispersed retired much successful a mode that's absorbing and enveloping from the archetypal – again, it sounds much dispersed. They lash retired excitingly from the caller model, but I'm much into the what the archetypal does with them.
I spell backmost and distant connected which I similar erstwhile it's 1 azygous talker against the other, fundamentally connected a song-by-song basis, and sometimes wrong the aforesaid song. Which is evidently not a occupation successful itself, but I had hoped for an AirPods Pro 2-style leap guardant successful audio quality.
However, that's each with stereo euphony (in Lossless oregon Hi-Res Lossless, from Apple Music). Switching to Dolby Atmos euphony allows the caller HomePod 2 to uncover its existent dependable dispersal skills… depending connected your positioning.
A azygous archetypal HomePod doesn't bash a ton with Atmos – but the caller 1 is intelligibly positioning sounds successful the mix. In Sweet Child O' Mine, the iconic guitar riff comes from the center, but erstwhile Axel Rose's dependable is layered implicit itself, it's intelligibly coming from much than 1 angle. Lady Gaga's Chromatica medium is simply a Dolby Atmos playground, and it's the aforesaid happening present – the HomePod 2 is capable to steer sounds astir successful the premix successful a mode that's wholly antithetic to what you get from a stereo setup, and much than the archetypal can.
However, Dolby Atmos euphony doesn't dependable arsenic earthy arsenic regular euphony from the HomePod 2. Ironically, adding much spreadable dependable makes the dependable consciousness boxier – a small much clipped, a small harder.
Stepping up to a brace of HomePod 2 units combined into a stereo acceptable gives the strategy an other boost with each kinds of music. The forward-ness of the dependable doesn't matter, due to the fact that things are dispersed betwixt the 2 anyway. And it feels similar the bass gets to spell a spot harder – I can't archer if that's conscionable my cognition oregon a freeing up of the strategy due to the fact that 1 portion isn't trying to grip everything astatine once. Either way, I'm loving them arsenic a brace adjacent much than I liked utilizing the originals successful a pair.
And successful Dolby Atmos, it's a wholly antithetic happening with 2 HomePod 2s. With them positioned successful stereo successful beforehand of you, and successful a country that's conducive towards dependable being bounced astir (ie, with walls not excessively acold to the broadside of you), they tin bash immoderate beauteous unthinkable things with audio positioning. Instruments travel from the broadside oregon adjacent somewhat down you, which is simply a feat that adjacent immoderate of the best Dolby Atmos soundbars can't negociate convincingly without existent rear speakers. It's a small spooky, and rather convincing. The joyousness of Dolby Atmos euphony is that it makes your favourite tracks a astonishment again, and you tin truly get that with a brace of HomePod 2 speakers.
This mostly follows done to utilizing a brace with an Apple TV 4K arsenic Dolby Atmos speakers for movies – an alternate to a soundbar. The HomePods are large astatine adding tallness successful presumption of positioning sounds to lucifer the enactment connected the surface (even a 65-inch screen), though can't rather negociate the nonstop 'above you' Dolby Atmos tallness that the champion soundbars tin produce. There's not a batch of precision to it – conscionable benignant of generically high. It's the aforesaid with a batch of broadside oregon rear effects – they don't dependable precise precise from movies. Yes, it's wide there's width and that you're being astir 'surrounded', but without the precision that would marque it wholly convincing.
Where it can't get down you, though, it often does a large occupation with layering the dependable instead. In BlacKkKlansman, responses to Brother Kwame's code echo around, intelligibly coming from a antithetic root to his words – without existent rear speakers, this is arsenic bully arsenic you tin do, and it works well.
The occupation is that the HomePods are truthful damn tall. Unless you person abstraction to spot them past each extremity of your TV (which I don't, personally), oregon connected a seat nether a wall-mounted TV, they volition perfectly artifact portion of the screen.
I tried a nonstop examination with a Sonos Beam 2nd Gen, which costs astir 75% of the terms of 2 HomePod 2s. I would accidental that the HomePods were marginally superior – the width of their dependable expanded further past the edges of the screen, they had much pronounced height, and they're a small much dynamic – but erstwhile it came to the halfway positioning of sounds to the screen, vocal clarity and wide dependable balance, I deliberation the Sonos delivered 90% of the HomePod 2s' performance… for movies. For music, the HomePods were the winner, particularly with Dolby Atmos music.
Going backmost to looking astatine the HomePod arsenic conscionable a azygous standalone unit, and speaking of Sonos… compared to the Sonos One – our different favourite tiny wireless talker that goes successful an casual multi-room setup – the HomePod 2 remains a wide measurement up successful vibrancy, dynamic range, richness astir the mid, and particularly successful bass. But then, you tin get 2 Sonos One SL units for a small much than 1 HomePod 2, and (as with the Beam) arsenic an idiosyncratic talker you're decidedly getting much than fractional the performance.
And compared to the HomePod mini, it's evidently a large step-up here, too, successful each conceivable way. More volume, much clarity, much range… the HomePod Mini is truly bully for a smaller room, but for thing larger, the HomePod 2 truly comes into its own.
- Sound prime score: 4.5/5
Apple HomePod 2 review: Design
- Lovely cloth exterior successful Midnight (black) oregon white
- Swirling lights connected apical are fun
- Short cablegram (five feet), but you tin swap it
The caller HomePod 2 looks astir the aforesaid arsenic the archetypal HomePod, with its circular signifier and fabric-covered exterior. I similar this plan a batch – it looks bully erstwhile you absorption connected it, but it's besides large astatine conscionable blending into the inheritance erstwhile you're not, due to the fact that it feels precise neutral. The cloth looks nicer than integrative oregon a akin finish, and doesn't bespeak light. The achromatic (sorry, 'Midnight') and achromatic finishes are beauteous and neutral, though I would've liked to spot immoderate funky colors similar the HomePod mini has.
On top, there's a swirling colored 'screen' (it doesn't amusement info, it conscionable shows erstwhile Siri oregon euphony is active). On the archetypal HomePod, this was conscionable a tiny dot successful the center, but present it's the full top, conscionable similar connected the HomePod mini. The apical is besides sunken somewhat 'into' the fabric.
The caller exemplary is the aforesaid diameter arsenic the archetypal astatine 5.6 inches / 142mm, and is astir the aforesaid tallness – it's imperceptibly shorter astatine 6.6 inches / 168mm alternatively than 6.8 inches / 173mm.
One utile alteration is that the powerfulness cablegram isn't permanently attached immoderate much – you tin conscionable propulsion it retired the back, which tin assistance with installing it connected a acceptable of shelves oregon something. Even much usefully, it means you could swap the annoying abbreviated included five-foot cablegram retired for a longer one, due to the fact that it's a modular figure-eight connector (though you'd request to made definite that 1 you bargain volition acceptable successful Apple's hole).
The wrong of the HomePod 2 is precise different, adjacent though a batch of the principles are the same. For example, there's inactive a large four-inch high-excursion woofer astatine the apical to grip mid-range and bass. Being 'high-excursion' means the operator moves particularly acold guardant and backmost (20mm, successful this case), truthful it tin displace much aerial and nutrient a bigger, deeper sound.
And there's inactive a ringing of higher-frequency tweeters underneath the woofer, but present determination are 5 tweeters alternatively of the 7 successful the archetypal HomePod, and they're placed astatine the bottommost of the portion and space upwards, to assistance debar audio reflections from the aboveground the HomePod is placed on.
- Design score: 4/5
Apple HomePod 2 review: Value
- Sound prime for the terms is excellent
- Limited inputs harm wide value
- It'll beryllium partially connected however Apple-mad you are
I americium the cleanable people for the HomePod 2. I usage Apple Music arsenic my main euphony source. I usage Apple TV 4K for movies. Everyone successful my household has an iPhone. I don't request a azygous acceptable of speakers to beryllium capable to link to a turntable oregon different much accepted euphony source. And I don't person a batch of spare abstraction – for me, their premix of large dependable from a tiny bundle is ideal. I deliberation they're large worth successful my situation, adjacent if I deliberation Siri is practically a spot vestigial astatine this constituent (I bash usage it to petition music, but that's beauteous overmuch it, and I've been utilizing HomePods since 2018).
However, contempt offering me a immense magnitude of options and bully features, the HomePod 2's inflexibility extracurricular of that can't beryllium ignored. I deliberation of the Apple TV 4K (2022), which is truly fashionable with radical who person nary different Apple products, due to the fact that it's simply the champion streaming instrumentality connected the planet, and doesn't necessitate different Apple devices to function. With Bluetooth and/or an aux-in, the HomePod 2 could beryllium the aforesaid for euphony – the best-sounding talker for those who privation much than they tin get from the best Bluetooth speakers, but without spending superior hi-fi money.
As it is, its worth is simply a spot all-or-nothing. It's either a large bargain for all-in Apple users, oregon a mediocre bargain for everyone else. So the people beneath for the radical who really should see buying it – it's large value, but it'd beryllium adjacent amended with immoderate other options.
- Value score: 4/5
Should you bargain the HomePod 2?
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|Features||No Bluetooth and nary aux-in. Good for Apple-led features, but Siri is weak.||3/5|
|Sound quality||Big, expressive, detailed, and afloat from apical to bottom. Even amended successful a pair.||4.5/5|
|Design||Small and good-looking, successful a neutral benignant of way. More colors and a longer cablegram would beryllium welcome.||4/5|
|Value||If you're the close benignant of Apple user, its dependable prime makes it a large buy.||4/5|
Buy it if…
Don't bargain it if…
Apple HomePod 2 review: Also consider
How I tested the HomePod 2
- I listened to the HomePod 2 for astir 12 hours overall
- I listened chiefly to euphony from Apple Music, and movies from Apple TV 4K
- I tested and reviewed it arsenic a azygous portion mainly, but besides tested it successful a stereo pair
I tested the HomePod 2 astatine home, wherever I've utilized different wireless speakers including the archetypal HomePod, HomePod mini and Sonos One. To hole my HomePod 2 units for investigating and let them to tally in, I allowed them to play euphony for astir 12 hours earlier I listened with immoderate judgment.
While testing, I switched betwixt aggregate genres of music, and superior listened done Apple Music, due to the fact that it provides lossless audio arsenic good arsenic Dolby Atmos enactment (and, y'know, it's what the HomePod 2 is built to enactment with).
I compared it straight with the archetypal HomePod for immoderate forensic level analysis, placing some speakers adjacent to each other, and playing the aforesaid way connected both, switching betwixt them. For astir of my listening time, the HomePods were placed connected a wood-fibre shelving unit, to debar vibrations.
For investigating their movie skills, I utilized them with an Apple TV 4K (2021), playing movies from Apple's ain store that included Dolby Atmos soundtracks. To comparison with the Sonos Beam, I connected the Sonos Beam to my TV implicit HDMI eARC, and played the nonstop aforesaid movies via the Apple TV.
- First reviewed: January 2022
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