When the Alexa-packing Sonos One speaker landed last year, Apple AirPlay 2 compatibility was a big part of the promise.
While we wait for AirPlay 2 to arrive – as well as official multi-room and stereo support for the new Apple HomePod – there is a way to get your Sonos system and Apple's smart speakers in sync already.
All you need is an existing Sonos TV speaker, a Mac, an Apple TV and a shiny new HomePod.
Integrating Apple HomePod to your Sonos setup
While it's true that AirPlay 2 will enhance Apple's multi-room support by bringing multi-speaker output to AirPlay apps on iOS, you can already tap into some AirPlay multiroom action using a Mac and iTunes. From the AirPlay logo on iTunes you can select multiple speakers and have them all playing in harmony.
You can also add an Apple TV in this multi-output arrangement and this is the magic ingredient for getting your HomePod playing in tandem with your Sonos speakers…
1) Open up iTunes and choose some music to play, whether that's from your iTunes library or via Apple Music.
2) Click the AirPlay logo and check the boxes for your HomePod speaker and your Apple TV – making sure that your Apple TV's sound output is a Sonos speaker; it will need to be a Playbase or a Playbar connected via your TV by optical audio cable (the same TV your Apple TV has its HDMI-output to).
3) You'll now have your music playing from your Mac, your Apple TV (with sound from your Sonos Playbar or Playbase) and your HomePod. At this point it should all be perfectly in sync – during our testing we've had no issues. You can uncheck the Mac ('Computer') option at this point to stop playback, although you do need to keep your Mac and iTunes open.
4) Next up, we want to add in some more Sonos speakers, in different rooms, for the ultimate HomePod / Sonos party setup. For this you need to fire up the Sonos app and group those additional speakers to your Playbar / Playbase's group, which will show its current playback souce as 'TV' – i.e. your Apple TV's sound.
Boom, you're done – it's a HomePod / Sonos multi-room-bonanza. Now, as with sharing any TV audio around a Sonos system (essentially uncompressed audio), you'll need a strong signal between speakers to avoid choppiness. We've tested it out on a Boost setup and not really experienced any major issues save for the odd, very infrequent, drop out.
Syncing isn't 100% perfect either, more like 99% – so no good really for two speakers in very close proximity, but it's more than acceptable for a party spread across a few rooms, or if you just like having your music playing all around your house as you lounge around.
So, while the initial steps are a bit fiddly, and you'll have to use two different apps – and also have both your TV and your Mac powered on – it's still awesome that your HomePod can become part of your existing Sonos setup.
Let's hope Apple and Sonos come up with something more official (and less faffy) soon…