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One of the first hands-on experiences with the new second-generation HomePod has offered new details on the latest smart speaker's quality and performance compared to the original HomePod launched in 2018.

HomePod-2023.jpg

TechRadar's Lance Ulanoff had the chance to listen to the new HomePod during a listening session by Apple for members of the media and shared his experience with the speaker.

According to Ulanoff, the new HomePod handles the separation of vocals, instruments, and tracks with "excellent" precision when listening to songs like "Everybody" by Ingrid Michaelson. "What I noticed immediately is, from a single HomePod 2, the excellent separation of acoustic instruments and her voice. I could clearly pick out a tambourine, guitar, and drum kit as distinct elements in the air," Ulanoff said.

One challenge often faced by typical speakers is that the louder the volume, the more distorted the audio can become. Ulanoff said that even with the volume at 90%, the new HomePod delivers "aural clarity" with no distortion. According to Ulanoff, the new HomePod has a sensor built into its design that can measure the internal temperature of the system and, if under ideal conditions, can "crank up the power even further."

Like the original HomePod, the new model has spatial awareness, but with better performance thanks to advanced computational audio and improved hardware, like the S7 chip. With spatial audio, the new HomePod, either alone or in a stereo pair, can offer an immersive 360-degree listening experience.

One of the interesting things about the new HomePod 2 is its spatial awareness. As I listened to music from a single and then stereo pair of HomePod 2 devices, I noticed how the sounds often didn't seem to be coming directly from the HomePods (thanks Spatial Audio!). Some were coming from the left, others from the right, and some (usually, but not always, vocals) from dead center. The most interesting sounds though, were the ones that almost seemed to wash over me; they were bouncing off the back wall (maybe a foot away from the HomePod 2) and then rising and, I'm guessing here, bouncing from the walls to the ceiling to my ears.
Ulanoff called a stereo pair of new HomePods "impressive," adding that certain songs felt as if they were "coming from behind and in front of me. The sound stage was so wide and deep that it didn't matter where I stood in the room." It's worth noting that first-generation HomePods can't be used in a stereo pair with the newer model, according to Apple.

HomePod-2023-Internals.jpeg
Internals of the new second-generation HomePod

Visually, the new HomePod looks a lot like the original smart speaker, but with a larger backlit touch interface and a slightly shorter design. Internally, the new model has two fewer tweeters and microphones than the original HomePod, which was likely a cost-cutting decision. The tweeters and microphones are "tilted up to avoid any audio being distorted by reflections from whatever surface the speaker is sitting on," according to Ulanoff.

Like the original HomePod, the new speaker can quickly analyze its placement in a room to adjust the audio accordingly in just 20 seconds, thanks to a combination of the four microphones and the S7 chip. A built-in accelerometer also detects movement to allow the speaker to readjust its room analysis.

The new HomePod comes around two years after Apple discontinued its original smart speaker. The first-generation HomePod failed to be the market success Apple was hoping for, because of its high $349 price at launch and limited integration with third-party services. We'll get a closer look at the new HomePod when media reviews are published in the days leading up to its launch on Friday, February 3.

Article Link: Hands-On Experience of New HomePod Reveals 'Exquisite' Audio Quality
 
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Feek

macrumors 6502a
Nov 9, 2009
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This is good to hear, I'd like to see some more reviews as well.

Just because there are fewer speakers, that doesn't necessarily mean that the audio quality will be lower than the original HomePod. There have been many conclusions already jumped to since the announcement.
 

steve09090

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Aug 12, 2008
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This is good to hear, I'd like to see some more reviews as well.

Just because there are fewer speakers, that doesn't necessarily mean that the audio quality will be lower than the original HomePod. There have been many conclusions already jumped to since the announcement.
I totally agree. Even if it’s the same, and it’s $100 cheaper, isn’t that a bonus? But I suspect there wont Be any degradation of sound. Of course people will knock it, because that’s what they do, and suspect The majority of knockers are people who are using it to listen to their TikTok’s.
 

Mitthrawnuruodo

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Mar 10, 2004
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The original Homepod was never released in Norway, so it was never a (viable) option.

This time around I order a pair.

They are supposed to replace the Powernode 2i I bought two years ago. I do have a nice set of (small) speakers, but the Powernode is not playing well (pun intended) with Airplay, and my main use is streaming music from my Mac (wireless) and providing TV sound (wired) from my Apple TV. The latter works OK, while the first has been riddled with errors.

Now I'm planning to replace and store the speakers, and sell the Powernode to someone not using Airplay. :)
 
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chucker23n1

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Dec 7, 2014
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I'm still utterly baffled that they discontinued it, then brought a changed model out with some improvements (Matter, more sensors, possibly removable audio cord) and some… possible deteriorations (fewer tweeters) two years later. Like, if they think the product is good, why not leave the old one around until the new one is ready? Bizarre.

Is it that there were reliability issues, and the new tweeter layout helps them? (Supposedly, there were also power reliability issues. Maybe there's a new logic board that fixes those?) But that doesn't take Apple two years to fix, does it?
 

Kylo83

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Apr 2, 2020
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No software can cheat physics no one speaker can sound great you need stereo at least and also 2 HomePods before sounded bad u have a full av set up with real floor sounding speakers and atmos home cinema set up, sorry but no marketing can make one Homepod worth it, the original one always got the treble wrong where ever I put it it made the treble and highs on the other side of the HomePods so I didn’t hear it, it never bounced of walls I hated it
 

contacos

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Nov 11, 2020
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This was all said about the original HomePod. I got one, and there was nothing Spacial about the audio at all.

Hehe reminds me of the expensive Sony In-Ear I got or maybe we are just deaf. They were hyped for "360 RealAudio - emerging you into a musical hall when you listen to music". I even tried the Tidal Hifi / 360 Real Audio / Atmos / Master stuff and I do not hear a difference whatsoever to my regular "data saving" settings on Spotify..
 
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mebehere

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Sep 21, 2012
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I'm still utterly baffled that they discontinued it, then brought a changed model out with some improvements (Matter, more sensors, possibly removable audio cord) and some… possible deteriorations (fewer tweeters) two years later. Like, if they think the product is good, why not leave the old one around until the new one is ready? Bizarre.

People talk all the time about Apple not innovating. This thing, especially the marketing of it, is stupid.

Something about HomePod Mini customers wanting a bigger one without mentioning there was already a bigger one that was most likely better than this new bigger one? I don’t even know what to say. It’s like rewriting history.
 

DRDR

macrumors regular
Jul 23, 2008
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I had the pleasure to listen to a lot of different speakers in my life. The hype around the Hompod gives me the impression, that the people do not have a lot exposure to good sounding speakers. They are not bad but far away from exquisite. When Airplay was a new thing, Philips brought some expensive Fidelio speakers to the market. The small ones sounded better than the Hompepod Mini and the large ones sounded better than the original Homepod. And the Infinity Speakers from the nineties sounded better than all of them. So yes, there is a lot of hype and lack of experience.

Old HomePod: WiFI 802.11ac (WiFi 5) introduced in 2014
New HomePod: WiFI 802.11n (WiFI 4) introduced in 2008

This might be a real problem in modern network environments, because it might no longer be supported.
 
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mebehere

macrumors 6502a
Sep 21, 2012
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Why does it have a cord, anyway? Or the Mini for that matter. These things are small. Aren’t they meant to be moved around? Or even taken outside? I don’t get it.
 
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Puiz

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Oct 20, 2016
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What an incredibly frustrating review by TechRadar! It starts by saying that the new HomePod is entirely different from the old one (and really excellent), and then goes through every feature and points out that it’s just like on the old one. There’s even a separate article that claims that there’s “surprise” support for Dolby Atmos spatial audio… which is, again, also there in the old one. I hope Apple will send review units to more competent publications in the future, ones who (a) know how to write, and (b) have some basic knowledge of Apple products. This was a wasted opportunity.
 
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