Stuff that works :: HomePod

by Volker Weber

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I am going full in on HomePod. Initially I wasn't too impressed by them, but I have used two of them in my living room and my studio in parallel to the existing Sonos infrastructure. At first, that was a hard fight for the small HomePods. But increasingly I have used HomePod more than Sonos. It's just a lot easier to call Siri to do something. Siri and I get along really well. More so than Google Assistant, which I run on a Sonos One, and Alexa on an Echo Show 2 in the kitchen.

HomePods are better AirPlay speakers than Sonos. They seem to have a larger buffer and don't get thrown off so easily. And I can tell them to play my podcasts or switch HomeKit scenes. Yes, they are limited to Apple Music, but that's what I use.

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And now there are four of them. Bath, bedroom, living room, studio. I have put all of Sonos subs and most of my speakers behind smart switches, so I can turn them on when needed. But most of the time, it's HomePod that fills the house with music.

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Having multiple HomePods gives you a Sonos-like experience. Not only can you send your iPhone audio to multiple rooms, but you can also let HomePods stream music all by themselves individually ("West Coast") or as a group ("Love Machine"). Having more than one Home Hub will let HomeKit fail over but it also helps with Bluetooth coverage. If a Bluetooth connected device cannot talk to the active Home Hub, it can use any of the other hubs on hot standby.

While this works quite well within the Apple ecosystem, you cannot play HomePods and Sonos speakers in sync, even if the Sonos players support AirPlay 2. There is a noticeable lag from HomePod to Sonos.

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Standby power consumption for Sonos went from 461 kWh to 26 kWh for the year. The only player that has to stay on is PlayBase which provides sound for TV. Everything else can be powered up on demand.

It took Sonos about two years to turn me away.

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I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.

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