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  • Cheryl Tan

Apple HomePod 2 First Impressions: FINALLY!

When Apple suddenly dropped the news that the HomePod lineup would be coming to Singapore, I could barely contain my excitement. After all, the original HomePod was never made available in Singapore and people here who wanted to get one could only do so by importing a unit from overseas. I've never gone through the hassle, but now that the HomePod 2 and HomePod Mini are available, all I can say is that I finally get why people would be willing to do it.

Let's briefly touch on design for the new HomePod 2. It looks very similar to the original model, although the touch display on the top is now slightly recessed into the mesh fabric. One big and very welcome change is the move to a removable power cable, so now you can swap out cables if the original dies, or if you just want a longer cable.

But aside from that, it's mostly the same. A slight quibble I have is with the glossy touch surface since it's the ultimate fingerprint magnet and does require constant upkeep to remain pristine, but I can't deny it looks good.

Inside, you still get the up-firing woofer, although Apple has tightened the band of tweeters at the bottom and removed some, leaving only five tweeters in the second-gen. The speaker is now running on the S7 chip and we get real-time tuning thanks to a bunch of sensors and microphones inside. There's even a bass-EQ microphone that measures the internal pressure to tune and adjust the bass.

And like always, the HomePod works best with Apple devices. More specifically, you'll absolutely need at least an iPhone or an iPad to set it up. But if you're already enmeshed in the Apple ecosystem, this is a fantastic addition with new features like Handoff from your phone enabled by the inclusion of the ultra-wideband U1 chip. You can also use the HomePod as a smart home hub to control your smart lights, thermostats and more through Siri and the Home app.

If you have the Apple TV 4K, well, these can also be used as speakers that support Dolby Atmos content as long as you have the Apple TV 4K hooked up to an eARC-supported TV. For people living in bigger homes, there's also the handy Intercom feature which allows you to avoid shouting to speak to others. While it's not a terribly useful feature for those of us who live in HDBs, I can see this being very useful for people who live in multi-storey houses.

But let's talk about performance. Overall, the HomePod 2 is snappy and responsive. It can catch the tiniest whisper of "Hey Siri", which is excellent. Voice controls can still be a bit clunky from time to time, and you do have to be particular with your wording, although I did notice some inconsistency in how voice commands are acted on between the HomePod 2 and HomePod Mini.

As for music playback, it's not too bad. There is plenty of impactful bass with a good amount of sub-bass rumble present, and the five tweeters do a good job of providing detailed, clear mids and crisp treble. Where the HomePod really shines, though, is when two of them are brought together in a stereo pair. The soundstage opens up, there's more directionality and layering to the music and overall, it's just a much better experience.

Of course, we've only had these speakers for a few days and done some limited testing, but we're impressed so far. There's still more testing to be done, so stay tuned for our full review. Both the HomePod 2 and HomePod Mini are now available in Singapore via Apple's website.

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