I moved my HomePod back into by bedroom earlier today so I could do some head-to-head comparisons with my stereo paired HomePod Minis. The results were fairly predictable, but actually a bit more lopsided than I expected. When it comes to pure sound quality, a single HomePod buries a pair of HomePod Minis convincingly.
Two isn’t always better than one
Whatever advantage the Minis have producing stereo sound, the HomePod makes up for and then some with far more volume, much richer, fuller sound, and bass that you can feel. While I was impressed with two HomePod Minis when paired, I would still recommend looking for a HomePod on sale if you want sound quality above other features. If you can get one within $50 of a pair of Minis, you might be happier with your purchase.
That said, a pair of HomePod Minis are still a good fit in a smaller room. I plan on keeping them in my bedroom for music and for pairing with our Apple TV. The portability of the Minis is also a good thing.
But three can be better than two
Playing with the HomePod along with the HomePods Minis today also gave me an opportunity to kick the tires on the multi-room features that are available when you have more than one HomePod. I know that AirPlay 2 and multi-room support have been around for over a year now, but like many HomePod owners, I’ve never had the ability to try them since I didn’t have more than one until recently.
While all of the basics of multi-room support worked as expected using both Siri and AirPlay, 2 I found myself more intrigued with the possibilities of combining my HomePods in a single room. Note that this isn’t the same as Apple’s new Home Theater Mode, which is only compatible with two full-size HomePods and the Apple TV 4K. What I am talking about will work with any grouping of HomePods and any currently supported Apple TV.
Using the same AirPlay 2 controls that allow multi-room support, you can pair up HomePods in the same room to bolster the sound.
As you can see above, my stereo paired HomePod Minis show up as a single speaker option here, along with my HomePod that normally lives in the Kitchen.
I can select the two that I want, which actually gives me three speakers in the same room, my paired Minis and my HomePod.
Once both are selected, they are combined as a single entry under AirPlay until something is changed.
While this doesn’t give you stereo surround, as the HomePod doesn’t synchronize in that way with the stereo-paired Minis, it definitely beefs up the sound when you are listening to dramatic music, something a bit more bass heavy, or watching action movies. You get the benefit of stereo separation from the Minis with the bigger bass impact of the HomePod.
With the HomePods spread out across the room, the sound quality is really good and the speakers stay in perfect sync (assuming the network connection is good). I found this setup to be a nice option that I hadn’t considered before today. I doubt it sounds as good as the new Home Theater Mode, but it’s also more flexible since it doesn’t require two HomePods or the latest version of the Apple TV.
Combined with the multi-room capabilities of Apple’s HomePods, this is another reason to consider owning more than one. It’s made me consider picking up another HomePod on sale and upgrading my Apple TV. However, based on rumors earlier this year that a new Apple TV 4K is coming next year, I might hold off on that until the next version comes out.