HomePod 2 can't join in stereo pair with earlier models | Cult of Mac

HomePod 2 can’t join in stereo pair with earlier models

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Second-generation HomePods in a stereo pair with an Apple TV 4K and a giant TV screen showing Apple TV+ dinosaur documentary
The second-gen HomePods play nice with each other, and with Apple TV 4K, but not with Apple's previous smart speakers.
Photo: Apple

Don’t think you’re going to add a new HomePod 2 to your original HomePod to make a stereo pair. It’s not possible because pairs can only be made with two of the same model.

It’s not a new limitation – a first-generation HomePod can’t be in a stereo pair with a HomePod mini, either. But many people might be unaware of the restriction.

HomePod 2 and HomePod aren’t exactly the same

Stereo sound requires two speakers… duh. And two HomePods can be joined into a stereo pair. “In addition to separating the left and right channels, a stereo pair plays each channel in perfect harmony, creating a wider, more immersive soundstage,” promises Apple.

But that’s not the whole story. The just-launched HomePod 2 is not simply a rerelease of Apple’s original full-size smart speaker. The new model different enough that it can not be in a stereo pair with a first-gen unit. That’s not speculation.

“Creating a HomePod stereo pair requires two of the same model HomePod speakers, such as two HomePod mini, two HomePod (2nd generation), or two HomePod (1st generation),” notes Apple.

Apple HomePod 2 in white and midnight
A stereo pair of HomePods has to be from the same generation.
Photo: Apple

This is less arbitrary than it might seem at first glance. Apple’s full-size speakers are not identical. The new model has fewer tweeters, for one. It runs on an Apple S7 processor, not the A8 of its predecessor. And it only supports Wi-Fi 802.11n, not the newer 802.11ac that is in the older HomePod.

Still, it is bad news for anyone who has an original HomePod and was thinking of adding a new one to pair them. If that’s you, it might be time to shop around for a used HomePod 1. Another option is a new pair of HomePod 2 units, each of which is $299. A stereo pair of $99 HomePod minis is a cheaper option.

Whole-house audio is still available

The limits to communication between HomePod generations only affect stereo pairing. Any combination of Apple’s smart speakers can be used for whole-house audio, no matter the model.

And the speakers don’t even have to be HomePods for multiroom audio. They only have to be compatible with AirPlay 2.

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