Apple released a second-generation HomePod somewhat out of the blue in January, six years on from the original HomePod and two years after it was discontinued in favor of HomePod mini.
For many people, it was welcome news – but even Apple’s own press release struggled to hype up a device that looked almost identical to its predecessor. With no visual overhaul and only minor technical tweaks to be seen in the specs, it begs the question: how does the new HomePod sound?
While its reviews were generally favorable, it was clear to see a theme: most testers claimed the audio quality was very similar to the original. HomePod has always boasted impressive sound for its size, so that’s no bad thing – but it’s a little surprising to see Apple happy to rest on its laurels instead of advancing the technology further.
One reviewer from MacWorld then took it upon himself to perform a direct comparison between the old and new units, and the results are… mixed. In a series of blind tests, David Price says he was able to tell the difference between the two, but there was no clear winner in terms of which was best. He noted that despite having more tweeters, the first-generation HomePod was actually more bass-heavy, while the newer one had better high-end audio. He felt that each was suited to different genres, with the six songs he tested resulting in three wins each for the HomePods. Price says that overall, he prefers the new model – but it’s a close thing.
“There are noticeable improvements here, and the newer model is a worthy (if bass-lighter) successor to what was already an excellent speaker.”
Obviously that’s a hugely subjective test from just one person, but to us, it draws two clear conclusions. One is that if you’re shopping for a HomePod, buying the new one ($299/£299) will probably give you the best overall experience, but searching out the old version on eBay will save you a few bucks and provide beefer bass. The other conclusion is that for those who already own one or more HomePods, this is not a big enough upgrade to warrant buying a new one. You might just barely notice the difference.