First previews of Apple's second-generation full-sized HomePods are here. They give insight into sound quality, performance, Siri changes, and more. Reviews describe the new HomePod as a successful “remake”; it ends up being “much better than the first”. Below you will find a summary of HomePod reviews published today…
First HomePod 2 Reviews
In an article for Engadget, Billy Steele says that the sound quality of the HomePod continues to impress despite the fact that the new model has fewer tweeters than the first generation. However, he notes that “Apple's choice of customization will not satisfy everyone.”
Sound quality wasn't an issue with the first generation HomePod, and it's still great here. But, as in the first version, Apple's choice for tuning will not satisfy everyone. The focus is on the voice, so things like vocals in music or dialogue in a TV show or movie take center stage. While that's okay at times, with some genres and content it results in a pretty poor experience.
Don't get me wrong, HomePod sounds great for the most part, especially when compared to other smart speakers. The fact is that many of them don't sound very good at all, so Apple continues its efforts to create devices with serious audio capabilities and smart features.
TechCrunch‘ Brian Heather also praises sound quality and marks a nice design change:
The cylindrical shape of the speaker gradually narrows at the top and bottom. Below is a silicone pad that creates little friction but still allows you to push the system into position (unlike the bulbous leg of the 2018 model). Connected to the woofer is an internal suspension system that allows the woofer to produce loud, deep bass without intentionally moving the rest of the speaker in the process. At the top is the familiar touch display, the brightest part of the HomePod design language.
The illuminated touch surface at the top is 6x larger. This means that the brilliant touch display and its primary lighting system wraps around the edges effectively.
The Verge echoes this: Chris Welch and Jennifer Pattison Tuohy say the HomePod 2 “ “sound signature stays true to the original HomePod.” Obviously you can hear some “subtle differences in music playback”. both good and bad:
How does that sound then? After a few days of listening to the new HomePod (both solo and in stereo), I still think its sonic signature stays true to the original HomePod. If you were a fan of this speaker, you will be happy with the second generation version. Of course, you can hear subtle differences in music playback when comparing both generations next to the same track. The newer HomePod can play a guitar solo with a bit more emphasis than the original. But the main features remain the same.
Apple's real-time tuning focuses on crystal vocals and tries to create a rich, full balance by analyzing the environment and bouncing sound off nearby walls. It usually succeeds, and because it radiates sound from all directions, you don't have to worry about getting the best listening experience.
Nicole Nguyen of The Wall Street Journal writes that the new second-generation HomePod smart home features offer a level of “future proof”. something we really didn't get with the first generation.
The new dynamic also uses future-oriented technologies that may become important in the future. It supports Matter, the unifying smart home standard backed by Apple, Google, Amazon, and more. It can also serve as a hub for Thread's networking technology, which allows new smart devices to communicate even without Internet access. The combination of Matter and Thread promises easier setup and a more reliable connection. (The original HomePod supports Matter, but not Thread. HomePod Mini and Apple TV 4K support Matter and can also be Thread Hubs.)
As with the original HomePod, the best experience is when you pair two of them together in a stereo pair. As The Verge explains:
Even at $299, a single HomePod might not be that much. Pairing two of them into a stereo pair allows Apple Music's lossless streaming library to shine even more. And spatial audio is better implemented and more convincing in this scenario than the useless experience you get from headphones and earbuds. With two HomePods firing a virtual array of sound beams across the room, some of the spatial tracks do seem more atmospheric, though poorly mixed Atmos tracks still sound worse than stereo.
< p> The design of the new HomePod is largely identical to the first generation model, but Engadget notes a few small changes:
If you were hoping for a massive redesign of the new HomePod, Apple has no doubt disappointed you. However, there are some notable changes upon closer inspection. First, the speaker's touchpad is now slightly recessed, similar to the HomePod mini. In the original version, this panel is flush with the top edge.
When you launch Siri, this bar's backlight now also comes to the edge. Next, the power cord is now detachable. This means that if you have a problem with this much-needed component, it will be easier for you to get a replacement (through Apple Care). If you have excellent eyesight, you will also be able to tell that the 2023 model is 0.2 inches shorter at 6.6 inches tall (versus 6.8 inches) when they are seated side by side.
< p >How about a new “midnight” color? TechCrunch says it's a “nice color”. but still “mostly black”.
Apple has replaced the gray color of the first generation with what it calls “midnight”. In this case, at least, the company can be forgiven for a not very clear name. It's probably too wordy to call it “mostly black, but bluish in certain lighting.” It's a good color, although of the two I still lean towards white. I could have opted for a simpler black or dark grey, but at least in my opinion it's mostly black most of the time. However, the best thing about the new color is that it's made from 100% recycled fabric.
More HomePod 2 reviews:
- Tom's Guide
- PC Mag
- Travel and Leisure
HomePod Video via MKBHD
New HomePod Hands-On Videos