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.
A stereo pair of HomePods has to be from the same generation.Photo: Apple
That’s 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.