HomePod 2: Does it sound better or worse than the original? | Cult of Mac

HomePod 2: Does it sound better or worse than the original?


Erfon Elijah comparing the new HomePod (left) to the original (right).
Erfon puts the new HomePod (left) head to head with the original (right). And I must say, I love the shirt.
Photo: Erfon Elijah

The CultCast host Erfon Elijah finally got our hands on the coveted HomePod 2 speakers. He put the 2023 model head-to-head with the 2018 model the way it’s meant to be enjoyed: in a stereo pair.

The new HomePod comes loaded with new features: smart home connectivity, a brighter top panel, a U1 chip, temperature and humidity sensors … but the big question is, how does it sound?

How does the new HomePod compare to the original?

CultCast host Erfon Elijah is a full-size HomePod snob connoisseur. He has put “thousands of hours” into his stereo pair of the 2018 speakers, using them for his TV sound system.

Listening to the same song, one after another, Erfon surprised himself. The original speakers “actually do sound just slightly better” to his ears. With that many wiggle words, you can tell he’s hesitant to say it out loud.

After a second test with a different song, this time reversing the order, Erfon stood by his first take. “I actually think the V1 HomePods sound better!” he says more confidently.

While the new models get louder, with a thumpier bass, he thinks the original model has “more sparkle” to the sound.

To clarify, it’s a small difference — only “5 to 10% better.” The new models still “sound terrific,” and he’s happy with the new speakers.

A surprising result, unless you totally saw this coming

HomePod (2nd gen) looks almost exactly like the first one, but it packs definite improvements.
HomePod (2nd gen) looks almost exactly like the first one, but it packs some improvements.
Photo: Apple

When Apple announced the upgraded HomePod — when we could see the specs but we could not hear its beautiful, thumping vibrations — Erfon speculated the new model would sound better than the original.

While it loses two tweeters from the overall package, it’s upgraded from an ancient A8 chip from 2014 to the S7 chip from 2020. Could that bump in CPU power wrangle better sound out of a simpler array?

The answer seems to be no. The new model doesn’t sound better than the old. But is it worth upgrading for the new smart features. Maybe. In terms of sound? Eh.

More to come, stay tuned

Erfon promises he will continue documenting his new HomePod saga. Follow the The CultCast podcast for updates.


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