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Earlier this yr, I purchased a HomePod mini largely out of curiosity. I’d reviewed the unique HomePod when it first got here out and, like many, thought it had implausible sound however was overpriced. The mini is a smaller model with surprisingly good sound for such a tiny speaker, and is an inexpensive value. For $99, I snatched one up and was fairly impressed with what I heard.
Common readers know that I not too long ago shopped for and purchased a brand new 4K TV. I didn’t, nevertheless, change the older LG soundbar I had been utilizing with my earlier HD TV, and I knew the Sony Bravia X90J I’d purchased might do higher, audio-wise. And the 2021 Apple TV 4K, which I exploit most with my TV, helps Dolby Atmos spatial audio, so lengthy the speaker system connected to it does as properly. Sadly, first rate soundbars will be expensive – actually good ones strategy the $1,000 mark, and first rate low cost fashions run properly over $200.
As an experiment, I linked the HomePod mini to the Apple TV 4K and watched a number of exhibits and a film. Whereas the one-speaker sound was restricted in scope, it sounded fairly good. I used to be impressed to spring for a second mini, and have been utilizing the pair because the Apple TV’s main speaker system for a few week.
Organising the second mini was as straightforward as the primary. After plugging it into an influence outlet and holding an iPhone subsequent to it, a collection of onscreen prompts walks you thru the method. If one other HomePod mini is current, you’ll see a display that asks if you wish to create a stereo pair (for this situation, you do!). The method asks you to call the room the place the pair resides; they’ll have to be in the identical room with the intention to act as stereo audio system.
The one annoying a part of the method includes making audio play by way of the Apple TV to the HomePod mini pair. Whereas a pair of the now-discontinued, full-sized HomePods will be arrange because the default audio system, a pair of minis have to be manually designated because the lively audio system every time you fireplace up the Apple TV. That is getting mounted within the subsequent variations of the tvOS and HomePodOS software program. Model 15 is in beta testing now, and needs to be out this fall.
As soon as the configuration is about up, although, a HomePod mini pair makes for an honest soundbar substitute. In comparison with my LG, voices are clearer, extra distinct. Bass is spectacular for a audio system the scale of an apple (pun supposed), however don’t count on a rumblefest – bass from an audio system with a separate subwoofer would sound a lot beefier whereas watching, say, “Avengers: Endgame” than through the minis. Highs sound good, however midrange is the place the minis wrestle most. A HomePod mini pair additionally isn’t as loud as some might like – if you wish to blast the soundtracks for exhibits and films, you might be dissatisfied. We hold the amount at about 90% and that’s comfy for us.
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Not surprisingly, streaming music sounds even higher than film/TV audio, however it additionally has will get loads louder. The minis clearly work nice with Apple Music, and now works with different streaming providers, together with Spotify. And you’ll management playback by both telling Siri together with your voice which songs, albums, genres or playlists to stream, or by beginning the method in your iPhone and shifting the handset close to one of many minis for a handoff.
And in addition coming with the subsequent model of Apple’s software program: The power to play lossless music by way of the minis. There’s no signal thus far of Dolby Atmos assist, sadly.
After all, this setup would sound loads higher with the full-sized, authentic HomePods, which make for a implausible home-theater expertise. Since being discontinued, these are arduous to search out, they usually nonetheless value far more than the minis. However for just below $200, it’s resolution for our family at an excellent value.