Apple’s New HomePod Speaker Is Finally Out — and Our Tech Expert Says It’s the Best He’s Ever Heard

It’s changed the way I listen to music and makes movies come to life.

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Apple Homepod Review

Travel + Leisure / Tyler Roeland

From smart (and dumb) speakers and soundbars, there are an overwhelming number of ways to listen to music at home. As a tech editor, I’ve spent 25 years listening to hundreds of hi-fis, from smart speakers from Google and Amazon to dedicated systems costing tens of thousands of dollars. For the past few days, I’ve been testing Apple’s new smart speaker — and I’ve been blown away by how good it sounds, and how easy it is to use.

Apple’s HomePod (2nd Generation) is firmly at the luxury end of the market, coming in at $299 — but wow, it’s good. What the Homepod excels at is filling a room with great sound. A lot of smart speakers sound a little lacking and tinny, but not this one. 

Smart speakers can do an awful lot, from control your home to answer quick queries or send messages. But when listening to music, many of them sound pretty bad. Apple’s newly launched Homepod changes that — it’s by far the best sounding smart speaker I’ve heard, and it rivals far more expensive non-smart speakers.

Keep scrolling for everything you need to know about Apple’s latest speaker, from design to setup to sound quality, from Travel + Leisure’s resident tech expert.

Apple Homepod Review


To buy:, $299


For starters, the HomePod is gorgeous, covered in a mesh fabric and rounded so that it doesn’t feel like a piece of electronics, but rather something that looks at home in a living room or bedroom. On top is a circular screen, although not a screen in the traditional sense, with only volume controls and a colorful pattern when Siri is activated. And it comes in neutral black or white so that it seamlessly fits into any space and home aesthetic.

Apple Homepod Review

Travel + Leisure / Mark Prigg


If you’re intimidated by smart home devices, don’t be. Setup is ridiculously easy; you just hold your iPhone near the HomePod, and with a couple of clicks, it’ll walk you through the process on your phone screen. Apple’s much-improved Home app lets you choose which room it’s in, and then you’re good to go.

There’s also a temperature and humidity sensor for your room built in, which I found incredibly useful since I can just ask Siri how hot or cold the room is to gauge the humidity. Plus, later this year Apple said it will add the ability to listen for an alarm or breaking glass. This means that it can notify its owner when an alarm (like a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm) is detected in the home via your phone, that way you always have peace of mind, even when you’re at work or traveling. 

Apple Homepod Review


Sound Quality

I’ve listened to (and bought!) an awful lot of speakers, both smart and not, and the Homepod is hugely impressive. As a single speaker, it does a great job of filling a bedroom, for example, with clear audio everywhere, and thanks to its internal smarts, the music is tuned to the room. The bottom line: Wherever you place it, it’ll sound incredible. 

Internally, a bass speaker at the top and five smaller speakers (known as tweeters) create sound in every direction. The same chip found in Apple’s latest watch helps process this, customizing the audio to your room. This is a huge leap forward for a speaker that will rarely be in the optimal place in a room. You can even put it in a corner against a wall, and it’ll still sound good (although do try and put it somewhere more central, where it’ll sound even better).

Apple Homepod Review


Listening to acoustic tracks, such as Sigrid’s brilliant “Burning Bridges,” vocals and instruments are super clear and precise, with the voice appearing exactly where you’d expect. For a relatively small speaker, the HomePod also does a fantastic job with more bass driven music, really filling the room and immersing you in the sound.

Apple has also recorded a lot of tracks with what it calls spatial audio, which is essentially 360-degree surround sound. It places each voice or instrument around you, and this works really well. Even after just a few days with the speakers, I found myself relistening to a lot of my favourite tracks in their new ‘3D’ versions. (Hot tip: Harry Styles is highly recommended for showing off this feature!) This also works if you’re using the HomePod as a TV speaker, with virtual surround sound — although you’ll need two speakers to really make that work (more on that in a bit).


The HomePod relies on Siri for communication, although you can also use the apps on your phone to control it, such as Apple’s Music app. The Siri integration is excellent, as you’d hope, and particularly impressive is how even with music blasting, it can hear you, which is a problem with far too many other smart speakers. You can use Airplay to play Spotify and other music services, but to get the best out of the HomePod, Apple Music is the streaming service to use, unsurprisingly. Its absolute killer feature is its ability to learn what you listen to and create playlists for you, and I’ve found over the last few months I tend to use ‘Hey Siri, play some music I’ll like’ as the primary way I listen to music. It’s a personalised station that always seems to hit the mark.

Double Trouble

One HomePod sounds great, but its party trick is to double up with a second speaker to form a stereo pair, and this is where the HomePod is pretty jaw dropping. Suddenly music takes on a whole new dimension, and stereo effects are remarkable. 

Apple Homepod Review

Travel + Leisure / Mark Prigg

Additionally, hook it up to an Apple TV box, and it becomes a really great home cinema setup, even using that natty software to deliver Dolby Atmos surround sound effects which, even though I’m usually cynical of ‘virtual’ surround sound, really do sound great. You can even use it to play the sound from your TV and other connected devices like a games console, although it did seem to struggle a little providing surround sound for an Xbox in my testing, this worked perfectly with apps on my TV and a cable TV box.

However, overall, and with TV apps on the Apple TV, it’s a wonderful experience, and two HomePods will give any soundbar on the market a run for its money, even without all the other smart features you’re getting.


One of the concerns about having a smart speaker can be privacy, and of all the smart speaker makers, Apple is by far the most transparent about its privacy. In fact, it’s the only smart speaker I have in my own home for just this reason.

Is the Apple HomePod Worth It?

While it’s not cheap, if you’re serious about music, the HomePod is a superb way to hear it in the best way possible, in this tech expert’s opinion. And with two HomePods linked to your TV, you’ll really change the way you listen to music and movies. 

And if you’re in the market for a speaker but are on the hunt for a more compact and portable option, consider the Apple HomePod Mini, which comes with all the same features as the full-size version, including the temperature and humidity sensors, although be warned the spatial audio, although there, is less impressive. However, this small but mighty speaker that comes in five cool colors is perfect for jamming out to playlists and watching Netflix at home or while on a trip. 

HomePod mini


To buy:, $99

Why Trust Travel and Leisure

Mark is a VP of commerce at Travel and Leisure, and has over 25 years of experience using and reviewing tech and audio products, having worked as Science and Technology Editor at The Sunday Times, London Evening Standard and He’s also written for dozens of magazines from Business Traveller to T3, and has appeared on TV and radio as a tech expert.

At the time of publishing, the price started at $299. 

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