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Apple HomePod II Review

Apple’s newly launched HomePod II has become the most talked about smart speaker product in the digital circle recently. First, because the previous generation product was released in 2017, Apple did not launch the second generation product until 2023. The second is that everyone found that the second generation of HomePod has been “reduced” in many aspects compared with the first generation, and the initial price has been reduced by US$70. They are worried that the experience will decline.

The specific situation is that the tweeter of the second generation of HomePod has been reduced from 7 to 5, the size of the woofer has been reduced from 4.5 inches to 4 inches, the number of microphones has also been reduced from 6 to 4, and the wireless module has changed from Wi-Fi 5 becomes the same Wi-Fi 4 as the HomePod mini, and no longer supports MIMO technology.

At first glance at the parameters, it seems that the hardware has indeed regressed. Some netizens even said that the second generation of HomePod is more like “HomePod mini Plus”. Is the actual experience really as the netizen said? Let’s find out together.

1 Unpacking the second generation of HomePod

The outer packaging is the familiar Apple style, a pure white square world box, the front is the product appearance picture, nothing else, very simple. This time I love the white model from Audio Network.

In addition, this time the dark color has been changed from the previous space gray to the same midnight color as the new iPhone (darker, black and blue). By the way, as a reminder, generally speaking, dark touchpads are prone to fingerprints. At the same time, after a long time of use, the surface area becomes more dirty, and the white color is relatively versatile, which can better integrate into the home environment. This is for your reference. .

The product name HomePod is printed on the side.

At the top is the Apple brand logo.

Product highlights are marked at the bottom: Powerful sound equipment with spatial awareness and beamforming can create immersive and amazing sound effects, enjoy multi-room audio, pair two HomePod speakers to listen to powerful stereo sound effects, and enjoy home theater audio experience with Apple TV 4K, Siri can Help you deal with big and small affairs, keep in touch with the radio, and control your smart home.

Take out all the contents of the package, there is HomePod, power cord and instruction manual. The appearance of the new model still continues the cylindrical shape of the previous generation. The body shell is covered by a seamless sound-transmitting mesh. The “waist circumference” has not changed, and the weight is 2.3 kg. Usually hardly noticeable.

Turning to the back, the close-up of the power interface is an oval opening.

The first generation power connector is circular.

The second-generation power cord is an 8-character line with “Apple” and “B16 2.5A 250V” printed on the head

The first generation is the socket terminal.

Connect the power cord, the effect is as shown in the figure.

The top features a backlit trackpad with a slightly recessed surface, also similar to the HomePod mini’s design.

The top trackpad of the first generation is basically flat with the body.

When it is on, the entire touchpad is the display area, and the visual effect is much better.

In one generation only the central area glows.

Finally, the foot pad is also changed to a flat plastic base with the Apple brand logo engraved in the middle.

The first generation is a hollow silicone base, which will perform better in terms of shock absorption, anti-slip and anti-scratch. The new design may be related to cost control.

In terms of appearance, a brief summary is: the overall shape is still a cylindrical body, the new 8-digit power cord is still detachable; the top touchpad sinks slightly, and the display area becomes larger; the hollow silicone base is changed to a flat plastic base, The overall change is still not big.

2 Hands-on experience of HomePod II

In terms of connection, the second-generation product still needs to use the iPhone to assist in network distribution when it is used for the first time, and it can be used after simple settings. At the beginning, it was mentioned that the wireless module of the second-generation HomePod only supports Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n), and does not support MIMO technology. Considering that the device relies heavily on WiFi connections when it works, it is indeed a point worthy of attention.

In our actual experience, the first connection was successful after several attempts. I don’t know if it is related to the wireless module. Users of new and old products are welcome to share their actual experience in the comment area for your reference.

Pull down the control center to quickly enter the HomePod settings page, including basic settings, automation, playback settings, Siri settings, etc., which are basically the same as the previous generation.

The difference is that the second-generation new temperature and humidity sensor is suitable for scenes with a temperature of about 15°C to 30°C and a relative humidity of about 30% to 70%. Values beyond this range may not be detected. Another point that you may not know is that the HomePod mini released before also supports the same function, but it was “hidden” by Apple before, and now you only need to wait for an OTA to unlock the new skill.

HomePod is the hub of the smart home, and the new temperature and humidity detection function can be used to link with other smart home appliances. For example, when the air humidity in the home is detected to be too low, the humidifier will be turned on automatically, or when the temperature in the home is high or lower than a certain value, Automatically turn on fans, air conditioners and other equipment. In addition, these two sensors are built into the device, which not only saves the cost of purchasing additional sensors, but also ensures compatibility.

Although the final applicability of the temperature and humidity detection function depends on the specific environment, the Matter protocol and voice recognition newly supported by the second generation are real upgrades. The former makes HomePod compatible with more smart home accessories, and the latter can recognize the sound of smoke/carbon monoxide alarms and send notifications to iPhones to improve security protection.

In addition to smart home, the interactive experience has also been upgraded. The second generation adds a U1 sensor, which can realize relay playback with devices that also support this function. As long as the mobile phone is close to the speaker when in use, a pop-up window will pop up, and you can operate it with your fingers.

The relay function supports two-way transfer of the playback content, and the same operation is performed from the speaker to the mobile phone, just like the name of this function “relay”, allowing the devices on both sides to transfer the playback content in a relay race.

Beyond the obvious, there’s something else going on inside the second-generation HomePod. Its upgrade is equipped with the same S7 chip of the Apple Watch Seris 7. This chip is based on the A13 bionic chip in the iPhone 11 series. It is manufactured using TSMC’s 7nm process, which greatly improves the computing power and reduces power consumption. With the help of advanced chip computing power and feedback from new system-level sensors, the complex tuning model can be run in real time, the dynamic range can be preserved as much as possible, and the acoustic performance of the speaker can be greatly optimized.

The biggest controversy of this new product is that the number or size of the tweeter, woofer and pickup microphone on the HomePod 2 has shrunk. But Apple’s approach is not just a simple and rude “reduction” to settle it, but it is aimed at the scene of home use, and considering that most people place HomePod on the table, the position of the sound is very important for the listener. For a slightly lower situation, adjust the elevation angle of the tweeter and the pickup microphone so that they are arranged as upward as possible, combined with algorithm optimization, so that the sound can reach the position of the listener, and at the same time better pick up the sound when the user gives a voice command. Speech voice, to ensure high-frequency performance and sound pickup ability.

In addition to the adjustment of the hardware configuration, the HomePod has not fallen behind in terms of software. Through the indoor space sensing function, the microphone is used to detect the reflection of the sound, automatically sense the position of the speaker in the room, and automatically tune based on this, no matter where the speaker is placed. No matter where you are, you can get a satisfying listening experience.

Thanks to the indoor space sensing technology, the beamforming tweeter on the HomePod 2 will precisely focus the direct sound to the center of the room, such as the lead singer’s voice; at the same time, it will disperse the ambient sound to the wall and bounce back, such as the sound of the band accompaniment. This creates an immersive listening experience for users. In addition, the second generation of HomePod also supports spatial audio. Playing tracks that also support spatial audio will give you a more surround-sounding sound field experience.

Like other HomePod products, the second-generation HomePod still supports the pairing of two speakers. After pairing, you can get a wider sound field than traditional stereo and a more enveloping ambient sound effect. But I want to remind everyone that the first and second generation products cannot be mixed and matched to form a stereo, nor can they be used in combination with the HomePod mini. They can only be played simultaneously through AirPlay. This is probably the most incomprehensible point for the first generation of users.

But no matter how the software and hardware are adjusted, the final recipient is the ear, so the actual sense of hearing can best explain everything. After the audition, we think that the second generation of HomePod has a lot of changes in sound and tuning, and it is in obvious contrast with the first generation: the first generation has a deep low frequency dive, but it is slightly fat, which is likely to cause “booming” situations; The first generation is more restrained in the low frequency, the transient response is better, and the low frequency is more clean; in addition, the high frequency of the second generation is also more transparent, especially the vocal part, there is no such thing as a singer singing with a mask a feeling of.

A brief summary, the first generation is more suitable for listening to electronic music, dance music and other music with a more “sensible” bass. If you usually listen to this type of music more, or just like this kind of hearing, the second generation may let you listen to the music. I feel “no taste”, because the tuning of the second generation is relatively balanced. If you are a user of the first generation of products and feel that the low frequency is too much, you can also improve the sense of hearing by “reducing bass” in the settings.

3 Summary

As an iteration of Apple’s first smart speaker that has been updated many years later, the second-generation HomePod continues the classic design of the first generation in terms of appearance. A synchronization of the family design. Behind the seemingly “reduction of configuration and cost control” and “price reduction and promotion”, Apple has brought a lot of benefits under the premise that the hardware configuration has been significantly “shrunk” by upgrading the computing power of the chip, adjusting the acoustic structure, and optimizing the tuning. The sound performance of “not falling but rising” allows us to let go of our concerns about the decline in sound quality, and it also shows that Apple has taken another step on the road to computing audio. In other aspects, the newly added temperature and humidity detection, voice recognition and compatibility with the Matter protocol make the HomePod 2nd generation better able to meet the needs of the smart home hub.

However, problems such as not being able to mix and match different products, not being able to play via Bluetooth connection, and high latency easily caused by WiFi connection still exist, which always plague new and old users, as well as potential users. magnified these shortcomings. If you are or will be using Apple mobile phones and other products and plan to buy another smart speaker, the second generation of HomePod is better in terms of sound quality performance and smart home. But for the first generation of HomePod users, the upgrade of the new product is not great, but to get a relatively close experience with a lower threshold, HomePod mini is also a good choice. So how the market performance of the new HomePod will be, we have to leave it to time to answer.

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