HomePod: first tests and no red card

The new HomePod arrives on Friday, and the first tests have been published by several media outlets. Apple introduced the second generation of its large speaker in mid-January. It is improved in some aspects (more modern in home automation), reduced a priori in others (fewer speakers and microphone) and all for a price of €349. That is, the debut in 2018 before the modest backpedal for 20 € in 2019.

We have extensively reviewed the technical differences between the two generations of 2018 and 2023 on paper. They are enough that it is impossible to create a stereo pair between the old HomePod and the new one. They are very similar without being the same, and especially in the voice work.

HomePod 2: all the differences with the original HomePod

HomePod 2: all the differences with the original HomePod

This sound, first of all, because we demand the priority of this product: to be pleasant to the ear. The new generation 7 replaces the tweeter 5, 6 microphone 4 and the A8 processor from the iPhone 6 with the S7 from the Apple Watch Series 7.

Compared to the first The Verge did not detect any clear difference, rendering may be different on certain instruments, but this is a matter of detail and sometimes: ” If you were a fan of this speaker, you will be equally pleased with the new generation Chris Welch concludes. He preferred the HomePod to the Sonos One and equivalent products from Google and Amazon, while one of his colleagues liked the Sonos better, thinking the HomePod wasn’t warm and that it was too much. clinical “.

in the house of Numbers, Nicolas Lellouche emphasizes this subjectivity inherent in audio tests, but he also judges that internal technical differences do not adversely affect the sound. We can even find that it’s improved and heads up against what the Sonos One brings back:

The same song played on both generations of speaker will almost always sound better on the HomePod 2. At maximum volume, HomePod 2 sounds more powerful and, above all, louder. Vocals are heard more clearly, mainly due to better spatial diffusion (instruments often feel like they’re coming from the walls and words from the cabinet).

The (relative) disappointment was focused on listening to rap, where the speaker went quiet on the bass. It’s less boom-boom than before, but maybe it’s better that way, come to think of it Numberseventually this HomePod finds ” unusual because she is pregnant for her size.

Google, Sonos, Amazon and Apple. Credit: Chris Welch/The Verge

Brian Heater at TechCrunch also raves about the device’s audio capabilities: ” If I had to choose one word to describe the sound, I’d probably choose “full.” The highs are high, the lows are low, the mids… you know what I mean and especially appreciated the good stereo separation.

Same story for stereo The Verge He also notes the increased convenience of listening to tracks in spatial audio: ” More engaging than the experience with headphones or earphones “. However, Chris Welch noted that the speaker hesitated to play tracks in spatial audio, even though it was sealed. He seemed to have difficulty detecting this criterion at times.

Some may want to use a HomePod or two as a powerful soundbar. This is possible thanks to eArc technology (even for the first HomePod), provided you have the latest Apple TV 4K, which will send the sound wirelessly. According to tests, it works well, but the problem is more with the price of this solution, especially with two HomePods.


Apple TV 4K 2022 review: More compact, more powerful, but not that different

The new speaker model also stands out from the old model with a range of small innovations in home automation. Like the temperature and humidity sensors that are already on the HomePod mini, but are inactive, and Apple hasn’t said anything about it. There’s also Matter compatibility for using the speaker with other platforms’ home automation products.

HomePod: Major update 16.3 with temperature sensor enabled for HomePod mini

HomePod: Major update 16.3 with temperature sensor enabled for HomePod mini

A software update is coming in the spring so that the HomePod’s (and the mini’s) microphones can detect and identify the sound of a smoke or monoxide detector alarm in the home. When you’re not home, you’ll receive a notification on your iPhone with the ability to chat through speakerphone with people who might be home. On the other hand, we cannot create automation between the detection of this problem and the triggering of another action, such as starting ventilation or unlocking the door.

Finally, Apple has taken various criticisms into consideration. The power cord has a standard plug and can be easily removed instead of pulling like crazy. The illuminated surface and its colorful animation now cover the entire disc, and the + and – zones are drawn, they no longer disappear when the speaker is not active. As detailed as the HomePod mini, apparently its base no longer mentions wooden surfaces…

HomePod 1 and 2. Credit: Chris Welch / The Verge
Photo: Thomas Ancelle / Numerama

Ultimately, these testers judge this HomePod 2023 to be very competent in audio, especially in stereo, but still expensive (and again in the US it’s back at $299, a lower price than when it disappeared) and especially interesting. The Apple ecosystem. Spotify has never made an effort to integrate this speaker, Bluetooth connectivity is also not possible in the audio, and in terms of sensors, the big HomePod does not offer more than a thousand of the small HomePod. Given this unchanged price for many markets, is it likely to be better than its predecessor…?

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