HomePod Using homepod as a soundbar

Jamie0003

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Apr 17, 2009
719
91
Norfolk, UK
Hey everyone,

For years I have wanted to build my own home cinema, and when I moved out of my parent’s place and into my own, I finally decided to take the plunge. So in my living room I have a full 7.1 setup, and while not the most high end speakers you can buy, they look and sound great. I have a Q acoustics 3000 setup with the big front tower speakers.

However, over time I have realised just how much of a detriment to my living room they are. They really do take over the room, and I have the space for it but there’s not much room for anything else.

I have been thinking of downsizing to a soundbar, or I could go for smaller speakers, but I am also very curious about the homepod. I have been an apple person for years, all my stuff is Apple so it will fit me perfectly, and I could easily sell what I have and buy a couple homepods for my living room, maybe more.

Bear in mind I know homepod is never going to sound as good as a home theatre setup, and may not even be able to do 2.1 ch audio, but maybe the space savings would be worth it to me.

However, I have some questions on this kind of setup, and I’m sure they will get answered as we get nearer to the release this week. So here they are;

First and foremost, I know that you can pair a homepod with an Apple TV, and if you were to turn off airplay on this particular speaker, you could realistically have it connected at all times (Instead airplaying to the Apple TV). However, the obvious limitation here is the fact that it’ll only work with an Apple TV, and not other sources connected to the TV.

Will the Apple TV be able to passthru the audio via ARC? Or would you be able to do this via a receiver? This is obviously no good if I have to use my TV’s speakers for every other source.

I understand the homepod isn’t designed to be used as a soundbar, but if you think about it, it could be possible, obviously providing Apple add the software support for it. It has multiple speakers, and if you placed one directly under your TV, I would imagine it would fill the room better than a home theatre speaker can? Since those speakers generally only point towards the listener and the Homepod can direct sound all around the room. I doubt it would be able to do 2.1 channel audio, even with two of them, but I also wonder whether Atmos is possible too? I’m not sure whether the homepod can direct audio at the celling however. Again, this would require Apple providing the software to work in this setup, which I don’t think it can currently do, but would be awesome if it could.

Another advantage of having it connected to an Apple TV would be instead of having a homepod off to the side of the room, it would be right in the centre, ready to take commands, and if you were to speak to it, I’m pretty sure it’s capable of pausing your movie while it listens to you for example, and again if Apple added in the software support, it would be able to control Apple TV too. Hopefully this stuff is coming at WWDC. I would love to be able to walk into my living room and tell Siri to start playing a TV show instantly, or maybe load up Youtube for example.

Anyway, just thought I would get a discussion going and see what you all think! I’m no audiophile, and I do understand quite a bit about home theatre but my setup has become very cumbersome, and some simplification would be nice.
 
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OllyW

Moderator
Staff member
Oct 11, 2005
17,112
6,485
The Black Country, England
The reviews don't think it's that great for home theatre.

https://daringfireball.net/2018/02/homepod
Where shouldn’t you use HomePod? The one glaring answer is in your home theater setup. HomePod is not intended to serve as the audio output for your home theater or TV. As mentioned above, there’s no line-in input. The only input is AirPlay. Apple TV does support AirPlay speakers, and HomePod does work that way. From the main Apple TV home screen, just hold down the Play button on the remote and you can choose from available AirPlay speakers. Choose your HomePod and yes, it’ll work. But that’s only useful if Apple TV is the only input source you use on your TV. I suspect there are very few people for whom that’s true. And even if you do use Apple TV exclusively, AirPlay 1 necessitates a second or two of latency. (More on that below.) HomePod is a standalone device, not a home theater component.

I can see why Apple did this. There’s a wonderful simplicity to HomePod. There is no wonderful simplicity in the world of home theater audio. But that means if you want HomePod in the same room with your TV (and want better audio than what you get out of your TV’s built-in speakers), you still need a separate speaker system for your TV. That seems inefficient.
https://www.theverge.com/2018/2/6/16976906/apple-homepod-review-smart-speaker
It’s also very inconvenient to use the HomePod as a TV speaker: you can set an Apple TV to AirPlay to it, but it drops that connection when you play music again, and you have go back into the Apple TV’s settings to select the HomePod again every time. There’s no way to get other TV sources like a PlayStation or your cable box to play out of the HomePod at all.
 
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Jamie0003

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Apr 17, 2009
719
91
Norfolk, UK

BlankStar

macrumors 6502a
Aug 13, 2004
713
601
Belgium
Crap, I was thinking the same thing... Also wanted to use it as some sort of soundbar...

The fact that the connection drops each time, will that change when AirPlay 2 is fully rolled out? Since everything is connected to everything the while time then? Or am I getting this wrong...
 

8CoreWhore

macrumors 68020
Jan 17, 2008
2,281
409
Big D
Not so fast. The reviews don't say it doesn't work, they just describe "inconvenience" or "latency."

The first is having to make the connection each time ( still works), that's only inconvenient if you watch a movie everyday or you want to use it for every TV show, too. But it'll do for movies until AirPlay 2 comes out, then it'll most likely be fine.

The second - Gruber describes latency/lag but he only mentions a lag between voice controls and when the action occurs. He does not say a video and its sound is out of sync. Does any of the reviews describe a syncing problem where an actors spoken words don't match up with his lips moving? I haven't read that and if they're not mentioning it, it's probably not happening.

So it works, right? Start the movie, sit back and watch it with the sound coming from HomePod. How it sounds overall in this role remains to be seen(heard), but don't rule it out yet as a replacement for crappy TV speakers, and while there are great soundbars out there, lots of soundbars out there are crappy, too. We'll find out in two days.

I'm pretty sure Apple would love to enhance the Apple TV this way.
 
Last edited:

MontTrain

macrumors member
Sep 10, 2012
31
16
Rene Ritchie at iMore said he couldn’t detect any lag between video and audio with Apple TV.

Also when it drops the ATV connection for music you can just select HomePod again by swiping down whilst playing and selecting from the audio menu or alternatively hold play / pause from the dashboard and select
 

AustinIllini

macrumors demi-goddess
Oct 20, 2011
12,061
9,273
Austin, TX
The Sub and Center Channel are glaring shortcomings on the device. No one is comparing HomePod to a sound bar, but I'm almost certain it cannot compete with even a $200-$300 sound bar for television applications.
 
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Jamie0003

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Apr 17, 2009
719
91
Norfolk, UK
Not so fast. The reviews don't say it doesn't work, they just describe "inconvenience" or "latency."

The first is having to make the connection each time ( still works), that's only inconvenient if you watch a movie everyday or you want to use it for every TV show, too. But it'll do for movies until AirPlay 2 comes out, then it'll most likely be fine.

The second - Gruber describes latency/lag but he only mentions a lag between voice controls and when the action occurs. He does not say a video and its sound is out of sync. Does any of the reviews describe a syncing problem where an actors spoken words don't match up with his lips moving? I haven't read that and if they're not mentioning it, it's probably not happening.

So it works, right? Start the movie, sit back and watch it with the sound coming from HomePod. How it sounds overall in this role remains to be seen(heard), but don't rule it out yet as a replacement for crappy TV speakers, and while there are great soundbars out there, lots of soundbars out there are crappy, too. We'll find out in two days.

I'm pretty sure Apple would love to enhance the Apple TV this way.
I think as well the question is whether the Apple TV is capable of seperating the channels so you get 2 channel audio, I wonder if it could simulate a center speaker and right and left channels simultaneously? Dbout it

Same goes if you get two homepods side by side. It’s a long shot but so far it doesn’t appear to be the case, and you still have the issue of passing audio to other devices
 

The Game 161

macrumors Core
Dec 15, 2010
22,619
12,149
UK
Rene Ritchie at iMore said he couldn’t detect any lag between video and audio with Apple TV.

Also when it drops the ATV connection for music you can just select HomePod again by swiping down whilst playing and selecting from the audio menu or alternatively hold play / pause from the dashboard and select
hopefully we see some videos and it working...
 

SpiersyG

macrumors newbie
Feb 9, 2018
7
6
Hey everyone,

For years I have wanted to build my own home cinema, and when I moved out of my parent’s place and into my own, I finally decided to take the plunge. So in my living room I have a full 7.1 setup, and while not the most high end speakers you can buy, they look and sound great. I have a Q acoustics 3000 setup with the big front tower speakers.

However, over time I have realised just how much of a detriment to my living room they are. They really do take over the room, and I have the space for it but there’s not much room for anything else.

I have been thinking of downsizing to a soundbar, or I could go for smaller speakers, but I am also very curious about the homepod. I have been an apple person for years, all my stuff is Apple so it will fit me perfectly, and I could easily sell what I have and buy a couple homepods for my living room, maybe more.

Bear in mind I know homepod is never going to sound as good as a home theatre setup, and may not even be able to do 2.1 ch audio, but maybe the space savings would be worth it to me.

However, I have some questions on this kind of setup, and I’m sure they will get answered as we get nearer to the release this week. So here they are;

First and foremost, I know that you can pair a homepod with an Apple TV, and if you were to turn off airplay on this particular speaker, you could realistically have it connected at all times (Instead airplaying to the Apple TV). However, the obvious limitation here is the fact that it’ll only work with an Apple TV, and not other sources connected to the TV.

Will the Apple TV be able to passthru the audio via ARC? Or would you be able to do this via a receiver? This is obviously no good if I have to use my TV’s speakers for every other source.

I understand the homepod isn’t designed to be used as a soundbar, but if you think about it, it could be possible, obviously providing Apple add the software support for it. It has multiple speakers, and if you placed one directly under your TV, I would imagine it would fill the room better than a home theatre speaker can? Since those speakers generally only point towards the listener and the Homepod can direct sound all around the room. I doubt it would be able to do 2.1 channel audio, even with two of them, but I also wonder whether Atmos is possible too? I’m not sure whether the homepod can direct audio at the celling however. Again, this would require Apple providing the software to work in this setup, which I don’t think it can currently do, but would be awesome if it could.

Another advantage of having it connected to an Apple TV would be instead of having a homepod off to the side of the room, it would be right in the centre, ready to take commands, and if you were to speak to it, I’m pretty sure it’s capable of pausing your movie while it listens to you for example, and again if Apple added in the software support, it would be able to control Apple TV too. Hopefully this stuff is coming at WWDC. I would love to be able to walk into my living room and tell Siri to start playing a TV show instantly, or maybe load up Youtube for example.

Anyway, just thought I would get a discussion going and see what you all think! I’m no audiophile, and I do understand quite a bit about home theatre but my setup has become very cumbersome, and some simplification would be nice.
I've had a couple of different home theatre solutions over the years, none particularly high end, varying from simple 2.1 to a reasonably capable 5.1 setup. I have a HomePod arriving today. I won't be using it for my AV purposes.

To me the main function of any home theatre sound system is to improve on the poor sound that comes from your TV. To me that needs to apply to ALL sources - broadcast, DVD/BluRay, PVR, Apple TV etc. For this to work properly, and conveniently, all the time, I think you have to have a sound system that can manage these sources. HDMI is currently the best way to do this either via an AV amp or soundbar that manages the inputs and feeds an ARC capable HDMI I/O on your TV. Sonos go their own way with their optical I/O which works for some I guess. Without this ability, it becomes a hassle to use the system, which is off-putting to me, let alone less tech-inclined users in my family. I don't see HomePod as being able to intermediate here in a useful, broad way anytime soon.

I also agree with another respondee about needing a dedicated subwoofer - essential for a home theatre IMHO. I have a Yamaha YSP2700. It is a fully integrated solution in terms of source management. It is small and unobtrusive. It sounds pretty good, albeit in my environment it doesn't really do surround, despite their claims. It is AirPlay capable. It is currently very good value and fully compatible with everything bar Dolby Atmos (including UHD/4K).

In summary, addressing your needs, I think my setup is unobtrusive, simple and sounds pretty good. Also doesn't form a roadblock to Apple ecosystem, unlike the partial one of a Sonos based system. Apple may well be looking at greater integration in future but I'd say it's a way off. Having said that a couple of HPs may suit some use cases if all you watch on your TV is ATV stuff.
 

Emiljabo

macrumors member
Dec 16, 2013
40
12
I've been using the Homepod as a speaker while watching movies through the Amazon prime app on Apple TV.

It is far superior to the standalone speakers that are on the TV. Only thing is that we have the Homepod located towards the middle of the living room and the TV up one end which at first can feel strange as the sound is clearly coming from the Homepod instead of the TV, but you soon get used to it. No lag or anything. Only if you pause the movie. You miss about a second of audio when you press play again.
 

Jamie0003

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Apr 17, 2009
719
91
Norfolk, UK
I've been using the Homepod as a speaker while watching movies through the Amazon prime app on Apple TV.

It is far superior to the standalone speakers that are on the TV. Only thing is that we have the Homepod located towards the middle of the living room and the TV up one end which at first can feel strange as the sound is clearly coming from the Homepod instead of the TV, but you soon get used to it. No lag or anything. Only if you pause the movie. You miss about a second of audio when you press play again.
If you were to place the HomePod directly under the TV, is it able to imitate stereo sound? Or does it just work like a 1 channel speaker?
[doublepost=1518440302][/doublepost]
I've had a couple of different home theatre solutions over the years, none particularly high end, varying from simple 2.1 to a reasonably capable 5.1 setup. I have a HomePod arriving today. I won't be using it for my AV purposes.

To me the main function of any home theatre sound system is to improve on the poor sound that comes from your TV. To me that needs to apply to ALL sources - broadcast, DVD/BluRay, PVR, Apple TV etc. For this to work properly, and conveniently, all the time, I think you have to have a sound system that can manage these sources. HDMI is currently the best way to do this either via an AV amp or soundbar that manages the inputs and feeds an ARC capable HDMI I/O on your TV. Sonos go their own way with their optical I/O which works for some I guess. Without this ability, it becomes a hassle to use the system, which is off-putting to me, let alone less tech-inclined users in my family. I don't see HomePod as being able to intermediate here in a useful, broad way anytime soon.

I also agree with another respondee about needing a dedicated subwoofer - essential for a home theatre IMHO. I have a Yamaha YSP2700. It is a fully integrated solution in terms of source management. It is small and unobtrusive. It sounds pretty good, albeit in my environment it doesn't really do surround, despite their claims. It is AirPlay capable. It is currently very good value and fully compatible with everything bar Dolby Atmos (including UHD/4K).

In summary, addressing your needs, I think my setup is unobtrusive, simple and sounds pretty good. Also doesn't form a roadblock to Apple ecosystem, unlike the partial one of a Sonos based system. Apple may well be looking at greater integration in future but I'd say it's a way off. Having said that a couple of HPs may suit some use cases if all you watch on your TV is ATV stuff.
I have decided I will probably hold off getting a HomePod for now in my living room, and instead I may get one in the future when it’s able to control the Apple TV via voice commands, which will hopefully happen as a feature at WWDC, As well as controlling my lights this is where it’ll be useful to me in this space. I would then use it in conjunction with either the setup I have, or a good soundbar with subwoofer. I still want one for my kitchen and look forward to it.

Simplicity with my AV gear is important to me, and with a receiver stuff just gets needlessly complicated. HDMI-CEC being unreliable as one example, which then means going into the receivers settings to change input.

We will see though, I do love my setup and it sounds great, but also takes over the entire lounge.
 

Emiljabo

macrumors member
Dec 16, 2013
40
12
If you were to place the HomePod directly under the TV, is it able to imitate stereo sound? Or does it just work like a 1 channel speaker?
I have not tried that yet as the Homepod will not really fit near my TV. I haven't had it long enough to test it, but I'm unsure how a standalone speaker could ever be produced in this day and age that does not compensate for stereo sound. Especially a high end speaker from Apple. I mean there are many records that utilize stereo for effects in the music. Sweeps from one side to the other etc, etc.

I just played the following via the youtube app on my Apple TV through the Homepod:


All of the parts are definitely noticable as being different from one another, but that being said the speaker array is so close together on a small unit it is difficult to work out if sound is only coming out of the left side of the speaker array or the right side. The left and right samples are however very different in sound to the centre sample and the wah, wah pedal effect does wobble. So the speakers are definetley doing something when stereo sound is played through them. Just not as noticable as if you had two speakers across the room from eachother and you played a track that utilized stereo sound through them.
 

Jamie0003

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Apr 17, 2009
719
91
Norfolk, UK
I have not tried that yet as the Homepod will not really fit near my TV. I haven't had it long enough to test it, but I'm unsure how a standalone speaker could ever be produced in this day and age that does not compensate for stereo sound. Especially a high end speaker from Apple. I mean there are many records that utilize stereo for effects in the music. Sweeps from one side to the other etc, etc.

I just played the following via the youtube app on my Apple TV through the Homepod:


All of the parts are definitely noticable as being different from one another, but that being said the speaker array is so close together on a small unit it is difficult to work out if sound is only coming out of the left side of the speaker array or the right side. The left and right samples are however very different in sound to the centre sample and the wah, wah pedal effect does wobble. So the speakers are definetley doing something when stereo sound is played through them. Just not as noticable as if you had two speakers across the room from eachother and you played a track that utilized stereo sound through them.
Ah thank you, this is interesting. The issue you’d have with two homepods though is due to the lack of a centre channel the dialog would sound weird, and the stereo feature doesn’t work with more than 2
 
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BlankStar

macrumors 6502a
Aug 13, 2004
713
601
Belgium
I have decided I will probably hold off getting a HomePod for now in my living room, and instead I may get one in the future when it’s able to control the Apple TV via voice commands, which will hopefully happen as a feature at WWDC,
Was able to pause, play, skip back and forward a movie playing on the Apple TV 4K by talking to the HomePod... Or do you mean full control as in: "Hey Siri, start Netflix on the Apple TV in the living room"?
 

viol8tion

macrumors newbie
Feb 14, 2018
4
0
This same question has been haunting me as well. I’ve come up with this idea...
Use an iPod with 11.3 and hook the headphone jack up with RCA cables to the LPE side of a powered subwoofer. Boom, you’ve got your sub.
Now I ABSOLUTELY HATE WIRES, so I’ve taken it a step further but am hitting a wall.
I want two HomePods up front next to my tv, but I want at least a 5.1 like setup. I’ve got the sound bar part figured out by using the homepods and the sub is handled as well but what about the back? Well I’ve come up with this... I said I hate wired, right? I don’t feel like tearing up baseboards or crawling through my attic. Altec Lansing makes a pretty damned decent little speaker that can be paired with another of the same model. They cost a little over $100. The batteries last 50 hours. And they do pair via Bluetooth but hear me out.... I don’t mind power cords, I just don’t like running two fifty foot speaker cables to each side of the back of my room.. so each one of the Altecs would be plugged into the wall. So how to get sound to them? I’m a car stereo enthusiast. There is a device called a speak line converter. You use them if you want to keep a factory car stereo but install an amplifier and better speakers to your ride. Basically you just hook them up to the speaker output of your stereo to a line converter and it converts the output to RCA jacks. OK, now what? I’ve got my sub and homepods figured out, and two Altecs paired to each other waiting for input. Well on my home theater receiver I have my rear surround speakers outputs hooked up to a line converter but I need to get a signal to the Altecs. Well, they make these little boxes that pair via WiFi. I’m thinking about hooking them up and crossing the gap between the receiver and the Altecs. I’ll let you know how it works once they arrive. The biggest hurdle I’m seeing is having the receiver, homepods, and iPod receiving sound at the same time since the receiver isn’t airplay2 compatible.
 

viol8tion

macrumors newbie
Feb 14, 2018
4
0
Don't you're ever going to make that stuff work in perfect sync...
Why not? The sub and HomePod would be synced with airplay 2. Are you saying the rear speakers would not sync because of the converter?
[doublepost=1518616330][/doublepost]
Why not? The sub and HomePod would be synced with airplay 2. Are you saying the rear speakers would not sync because of the converter?
I didn’t want to give Sonos $1k to get the job done. I’m an over educated technician that didn’t like math but my electrical theory is pretty strong.
 

viol8tion

macrumors newbie
Feb 14, 2018
4
0
I’ve looked at the Yamaha sound bar. Again the good one costs over $1k. I do have a Yamaha receiver and I love it. But I love to play as well.
 
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