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Stereo-Like Sound With HomePods Coming Before Multi-Room Audio Feature [Updated]

Apple's technology that will enable a pair of HomePods to automatically detect and balance each other to create stereo-like sound is coming soon, according to Matthew Panzarino, while the HomePod's multi-room audio support via AirPlay 2 will be available at some point later this year.


Both features are currently listed as "coming later this year" on Apple's website, so it was assumed they would be released in tandem.

Emphasis should be placed on stereo-like, as HomePod reviews published today confirm that users won't be able to set one speaker as the right channel and another as the left channel. Instead, as Apple notes, HomePods will use advanced beamforming capabilities to create a more immersive soundstage.


HomePod launches this Friday in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia, and availability of the speaker is beginning to tighten ahead of time.

Update: An earlier version of this article referred to the more-than-one-HomePod-in-a-room balancing feature as "FullRoom," as mentioned in a few reports, but Apple says that is not the official name of the feature.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Neutral)


Top Rated Comments

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9 months ago

This thing was announced nearly nine months ago (and in development for who knows how long before the announcement) and they still decided to release it before it was fully baked.


Almost sounds like the baby my sister just popped out.
Rating: 19 Votes
9 months ago
So you'll have to shell out $700 + tax for a stereo-like experience? Lol, joke
Rating: 18 Votes
9 months ago
Too expensive for many average people and too cheap for many audiophiles.
Rating: 16 Votes
9 months ago
'At a later date'. Nice and vague there, Apple. I hope these things sit on store shelves for a while after the initial launch wave subsides. There certainly won't be any in my home, nor will I recommend it to anyone. This thing was announced nearly nine months ago (and in development for who knows how long before the announcement) and they still decided to release it before it was fully baked.
Rating: 11 Votes
9 months ago

Meanwhile APFS for Fusion drives is nowhere to be seen.


I don't get posts like this.

Are you so naive to think that the team working on a speaker is the same team working on a file system? Like really, think before posting.
Rating: 11 Votes
9 months ago
and WHY couldn't they have figured that out at the release???? come on apple, just sounds lazy.
Rating: 8 Votes
9 months ago

So it's not stereo, it's stereo like?


We've been repeatedly told on MR that a single unit was actually stereo. :eek:


Patience fellas. The audio engineer crowd will soon show up and make "full room" and "stereo-like" out to be far superior to actual stereo. They won't call Apple wrong but imply Apple is not quite wording their own marketing copy right (but still not actually write down that Apple is wrong about the copy either). And just ignore that Apple themselves went to the trouble of showing 2 HPs as an image (the editors didn't notice that either when they missed the "it takes 2" messaging). Basically, Apple will be right in everything they are saying but still holding back on revealing that this is far superior in every way to pretty much any other speaker sets.

And to that: I've spent a few hours reading all of these pre-release reviews and am yet to see any one of them reference how the beam-forming is creating better-than-stereo reproduction from a single HP along the lines of anything that was being spun in the last 10 days. One review even said that audio sounded better in some seating positions but worse in others and, at one point, sounded better behind the speaker than out front. Where's that magical left & right beaming off walls, including the speaker knowing where the listener happens to be sitting to adjust left & right AND somehow dynamically doing the same for 2 listeners, 3 listeners, etc?;)

Disclaimer: not really trying to get that debate going again (dead horse no?)... just taking a poke at the incredible armchair puffery slung around that went way beyond even what Apple themselves claimed about their own product. Now we have real(er), pre-release reviews all seeming to mostly ignore some of that amazing functionality implied so heavily. Maybe the reviewers as a group are just stupid for not noticing? ;)
Rating: 6 Votes
9 months ago
Buy four for quadrophonic sound!
/s
Rating: 6 Votes
9 months ago

Okay I’ll try one more time. There are multichannel recordings that were specifically produced to have certain sounds go the the right or left speaker. In some cases the sound travels from left to right like on some Yes albums. From what I understand so far, including your description, we will not hear these recordings as intended. Rather we’ll hear those sounds but all around us rather than traveling left to right or right to left.

For this discussion that’s how I’m interpreting stereo.

Thank you for this. This is indeed how people interpret stereo, as a 2D line from left to right, reproduced with two channels outputting sounds lower or higher through a speaker placed left or right. Makes sense yeah? We have two ears after all. Two receivers placed some distance from each other, able to perceive where sound is coming from. But when you stop to think about that, that’s an incredibly narrow view of representing recorded or produced music. What stereo is, is an illusion of how we experience sound in space.

Sound does not come from left to right, but any three dimensional distance around our head.

Perceiving direction and distance from where sounds are coming from has an obvious evolutionary advantage: it helps you gauge how close, how fast and from where a threat is approaching. Or if you are extra perceptive, pinpointing where your next meal is coming from.

For humans however, those functions are also how we perceive non-threatening sound. We enjoy certain sounds and how they make us feel. Which brings us to music. Music makes us, well, feel. We appreciate hearing combinations of rhythm, bass, notes and chords in a way we don’t appreciate random noise. I could go on in this direction for a long time, but for the purpose of the scope of the HomePod it applies to this:

How does listening to music on the HomePod feel? Is it going to be a pleasurable experience that’s both complimentary to the listener and the artist? Is it going to sound wide, multi-dimensional, deep, bass-y, and rhythmical? Is the bass going to shake your bones and the highs give you goosebumps? It might sound intangible and non-sciency, but good audio you can feel, not just hear. Same as how good cooking can give you involuntary food-gasms, or a smell can bring up a childhood memory; music can elevate your life - simply through experience.

Think of a good movie you watched in the theatre, rewatch it again on mute. See if it makes the same impact. I doubt it will. Audio is incredibly powerful - and the means to reproduce it in a way that feels right are now (semi) affordable.
Rating: 5 Votes
9 months ago
Maybe this explains the employee 50% discounts on HomePods..

"Buy two (for the price of one!). Oh, and if you get them working together, let us know how, please?"

;)
Rating: 5 Votes

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