Apple isn't everyone's favorite tech company but they've made something special with the newest HomePod Mini. Not only is it a great speaker, but it also sports a whole host of amazing functions. Use it as a smart speaker, smart home control, and even connect it to your TV!
You can use an Apple HomePod Mini as a soundbar, but you have to use it with the new Apple TV 4K. Go through the setup process for the HomePod Mini. Then on the Apple TV 4K, hold the home button down on the remote to open the control center, select the AirPlay icon, then select the HomePod Mini. Audio will now play from the HomePod Mini instead of your TV's speakers.
Before you write off the HomePod as a suitable soundbar replacement, wait till you hear the sound quality. Sure, it might replace a surround sound system, but it does a great job of filling a room with clean, crisp sound. If you want to learn more about using a HomePod Mini as a soundbar, read on!
Before we jump into how to connect your Apple Homepod Mini to your TV, let’s talk about what makes these little devices so great. While you might take a quick glance at the small form factor and make assumptions about performance, there is a lot to love here. Not only are they packed with features, but they are sleek and beautiful to boot.
Let’s talk about some fairly standard smart speaker features first. The Apple Homepod Mini comes equipped with a number of features including a Siri-base assistant, smart home controls, in addition to privacy and security functions to keep your home and devices safe.
These features are fairly standard, and you can get them with competitive products like the Echo Dot (on Amazon). However, what sets the HomePod Mini apart is the stellar sound, computational sound experience, and beam sound functions.
On the topic of sound, that’s the first thing most people notice about the deceivingly small device. The device is jam-packed with audio innovation. It delivers a clear and crisp sound for the small form factor and, at just 3.3” tall, can fill a room with almost 360° sound. Not an easy feat for a speaker of this size.
It also supports computational audio, but more on that later. Another function that makes these little speakers so unique is the native support from other Apple devices like your Apple TV (from Amazon). This cross-functionality makes the Apple HomePod Mini a great replacement for a soundbar.
Alright, so you’ve got your new HomePod Mini, and you're ready to get everything connected to your TV. But wait. Before you proceed, do you have everything you need to get started. While some products might have cross-compatibility with other streaming devices, the HomePod needs an Apple TV for proper operation.
Without an Apple TV and AirPlay, you can’t make these speakers work in theatre mode. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, and hopefully you’ve got an Apple TV connected, let’s get to the instructions. How to connect your HomePod Mini to your Apple TV for use as a soundbar:
It’s as easy as that. While the process was a bit more time-consuming and difficult in the past, Apple has made some strides in simplifying the setup. They did so based on so many people using their HomePods as a speaker system for their TV. But if you have more than one HomePod, what should you do to connect them?
Before recent updates, connecting more than one HomePod was a bit difficult, and as we've explored in our dos and don'ts article, it's important to know what's going to work best for you rather than buying what's trendy. But Apple has taken some advice from all the feedback from users and made the process much easier. In fact, the setup looks almost identical to the process of setting up only one HomePod.
The only real difference is in placement and configuration. If you are using two devices, you’ll need to configure them in stereo mode in the Home app. From there, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the speakers placed in a way that you can maximize the stereo field.
While this might sound like a costly solution to a pretty easy problem, the price of the HomePod Mini makes this not true. While in the past, Apple has made their products a bit on the higher end of consumer electronics, two HomePods will only set you back a couple of hundred dollars. Compare that to full-featured soundbars with the same benefits, and you’ll see a similar price.
To make it simple, HomePod Minis are great as a soundbar option. But that really depends on the listener and if you want to add surround speakers (our guide on how to do this). If you are accustomed to high-end soundbars and other home audio equipment, you might balk at the sound from the HomePod. For most of us, though, the HomePod will deliver far and above what we are used to.
This all comes down to some unique features built into the HomePod. The first of which is computational audio processing. While Apple won’t spill the beans on how this technology actually works, we can hear the results. What computational audio does is process the audio signal and enhances, or makes subtle, parts of the audio stream.
For example, a common complaint with home theatre audio is loud action scenes and quiet dialog. The speakers will tame the score or action sounds with computational audio to let the actors' voices shine through. Pretty awesome when it comes time to watch a movie.
Unfortunately, the HomePod Mini doesn't get much functionality as a soundbar if you’re not pairing with an Apple TV. For this reason, it's only a good choice if you already own an Apple TV. Additionally, you’ll need a newer 4K version of the Apple TV for proper functionality.
But can you only use the HomePod if you are using your Apple TV? Say you want to play Xbox or Playstation, what do you do? Well, on this front, Apple has you covered, provided you’ve got a newer TV. For this application, you can use HDMI ARC or eARC to transfer audio signals from your TV to your Apple TV and then to your HomePod. Just make sure you have a TV that will support HDMI ARC, which most newer TVs will. To connect via HDMI ARC:
While you can connect some older HomePods as a soundbar, the experience is a bit shoddy. Some users can get connected, but most will tell tales of less than stellar audio. Unfortunately, this means fuzzy sounds and dropouts are regular.
Additionally, not all Apple TVs will support HomePods as soundbars. For the best results, make sure you have the latest version of both products. Apple is constantly rolling out updates for their electronics, but when a new one comes along, it means the old device is now history. To enjoy your HomePod as a soundbar, it’s best to have the newest model.