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  • Cheryl Tan

I LOVE These Speakers!!!

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

Let’s get one thing straight. The Apple HomePod 2 speaker? You have to get it as a stereo pair. We have the Apple HomePod 2 with us today, and I’ve been waiting for this for so long, because Apple never brought in the original HomePod to Singapore. So this is a bit of a dream come true for me.


Design-wise, it’s very similar to the original HomePod, except the glossy touch surface on top is now recessed and slightly smaller. You get a plus and minus button here that handles volume control, a single tap in the middle controls play/pause, a double tap skips tracks forwards, a triple tap skips tracks backwards and a tap and hold pulls up Siri. Easy. Of course, this surface does pick up fingerprints quite easily and I’ve noticed it does show dust easily as well, at least, the black version does, so that’s something to keep in mind in terms of upkeep and maintenance. You still get the mesh that Apple says is “acoustically transparent” to prevent the sound from changing too much, and a nice change is that the power cable is now detachable, which is great for repairability and all.

I know there was some hooha about the base of the HomePod 2 staining wooden surfaces, and maybe, but I had the white and black HomePod 2s sitting on the same spot on my wooden tabletop, the IKEA Karlby Worktop if you’re curious, for about… two weeks? And no staining issues here, thankfully.

Inside, there are a few changes from the original. It’s still a woofer at the top and tweeters at the bottom, but Apple has removed two tweeters and rearranged them so they’re packed more tightly than before. The tweeters point up and away and the 20mm woofer basically fires upwards and bounces out off the back of the touch panel. The speaker is now running on the Apple S7 chip, and allows for the HomePod to adjust the sound in real-time whenever the speaker detects its moved. There are also additional sensors inside, and an internal bass-EQ microphone that adjusts the bass in real-time. A four microphone array is also present and I can vouch for the superb performance of these mics, because they can pick up “hey Siri” even when I’m whispering.

There’s also a temperature and humidity sensor included here, which is pretty nice. With this, you can set up automations for your fan or your air conditioner to run automatically whenever it goes above a certain temperature or goes below a certain temperature, or for the dehumidifier to come on whenever it gets too humid. And all that is, well, done in the Home app.

So, when setting up the HomePod, you’ll need to use the Apple Home app. This is also where you can add all your smart home accessories and set up automations and scenes and the likes. You get software updates for the HomePods here, you can group two HomePods into a stereo pair and all that.

Unfortunately, my Dyson fan doesn’t play very nicely with Apple HomeKit, so I can’t automate it, but I can still control it via voice commands through a series of workarounds. My Philips Hue lights, though, work perfectly, and I have found, more reliably, when I’m using the Apple HomePod to determine when I leave and arrive home.

We asked Matthew Costello, VP of Hardware Engineering at Apple about how the smart home market starting to gain steam factored into Apple’s decision to relaunch the HomePod and he mentioned that the company believes “in the power the smart home can deliver to our customers and Matter sets the foundation for the future of the smart home. As founding members of the Matter alliance, we contributed the HomeKit protocol, so Matter is built on the same core principles of HomeKit and maintains the highest level of security. With support for Thread, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi, HomePod securely connects all the smart accessories in your home, and enables features like controlling your smart home while you are away from home, running automations based on time of day, location, the activation of a sensor, and more, and inviting others to share control of your smart home accessories.”

It's Just So Good.

And of course, Apple’s products all play very nicely together. I have a HomePod Mini that I set up in the kitchen, and my favourite thing to do in the mornings now, is to tell the Mini to shuffle a playlist while I’m brewing my coffee. Then once I’m done and I’m ready to head back to work in my room, I can just say “hey Siri, move this to my bedroom.” and the music gets swapped over to my bedroom and the kitchen is now quiet. It’s just, so convenient.

Sure, I can use the new Handoff feature to tap my iPhone on the speakers and bring my music around with me, but I don’t need to. I don’t need to bring my phone with me, I can have my own peaceful morning routine in the kitchen and do everything I want, basically everything, with the HomePod Mini or the HomePod 2. And that’s the beauty of it. You might want the HomePod 2 in your bedroom, or in your living room as a pair of TV speakers when paired with the Apple TV 4K. But for the kitchen or the study or your kids’ bedroom, a HomePod Mini does the trick. And if you have a larger house, you can even use the Intercom feature to call your kids to dinner or whatever instead of shouting up the stairs or having to text them to come down.

The Sound Quality

But, let’s talk sound because, that’s still important even in a smart speaker. And I’m very happy to say that I’m very pleased with the HomePod 2 in how it sounds. Of course, these can’t compare to a real home theatre setup with a dedicated sub, rear speakers, centre channel, all that. But for two speakers, and Dolby Atmos, these are very impressive. The bass is wow, it’s really powerful for speakers of this size. There’s plenty of weight and detail and the subbass gets so rumbly it’s a little mind blowing. You’ll hear this in the sound test later.

As for mids, this is a little bit of a mixed bag. Sometimes it can get a bit muddy, but of course, this depends on the mix of the song. Most of the time though, it’s distinct and instruments are well separated. Male vocals do get a tiny bit of a backseat here I think. I personally feel female vocals or higher pitched vocals shine just a touch more on these speakers.

Treble is pretty clear, although not quite as sparkly as I’ve prefer when it comes to flutes and the likes. One thing I have to note is that I’ve found the speaker sounds best when it’s at least 35-ish% volume. If it’s played too low, you don’t really get the heft of the bass and the sound just… doesn’t impress.

Soundstage, well, like I said, it’s crazy how good two HomePod 2s sound. It’s like, there’s a bubble of music around you. When you’re playing Dolby Atmos music on these, it’s incredible. Deep, wide, high, immersive. Okay, I’m fangirling a bit here, but let’s let you listen to the sound test.

So, look, these aren’t hifi speakers. I’m not gonna judge them with the same standards that I would for actual, proper speakers. These are smart speakers first and foremost. So if you’re judging them based off other smart speakers, I think this is one of the best you can get right now in terms of actual smart functionality, convenience and sound quality.

The caveat here is that you MUST be an iPhone or Apple user. Why? Because when you ask the speaker to play music, it doesn’t pull songs off Spotify or whatever. Apple Music only, which means you need a subscription. Otherwise, sure, you can AirPlay Spotify to the speaker, but hey, that means you need an iPhone or another Apple device, right? And maybe I should have started with this, but you can’t even setup the HomePod if you don’t have an iPhone or iPad.

So yeah, if you’re an Android user and you have no plans to switch to an iPhone or whatever, please don’t buy this. If you want a speaker that can do spatial audio, then check out the Sonos Era 300. That’ll be the best option for Android users or for people who already have an existing Sonos system. But, if you’re an iPhone user, these are my honest recommendation. Apple, you make it too easy to stay in the ecosystem. I hate you guys.

Price & Suggestion

At US$299 or S$429, these aren’t the cheapest smart speakers you can get. But they have great sound quality, they support Dolby Atmos, they’re super convenient for smart home automation and, they just work with other Apple devices. In my opinion, the original HomePod was maybe a bit early and a bit too expensive. The HomePod Mini, on the other hand, did pretty decently.

I spoke to Matthew Costello, VP of Hardware Engineering at Apple, on the thought process of relaunching the HomePod, and he said that they were thrilled with the reception of the HomePod Mini and that they heard more requests than ever for a larger speaker. And I reckon yes, because the HomePod Mini is an excellent smart speaker, but not all that fantastic in terms of sound quality. And these, well, they’re pretty much the whole package.

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