How to set up Apple HomePod stereo and multi-room modes

A quick guide to getting the most from Apple's flagship AirPlay 2 smart speaker

Set up HomePod stereo and multi-room
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Apple recently let iOS 11.4 loose into the wild - further arming the Cupertino's audio assault. That's because the iPhone / iPad - along with some new HomePod 11.4 software - has brought AirPlay 2 to the masses... at last.

That means Apple has finally given users the ability to sync multiple Apple HomePod devices; creating stereo HomePod pairs and setting up multi-room audio. Before iOS 11.4 dropped, if you were the owner of more than one HomePod, you weren't able to sync them up, and the lack of multi-room audio also meant that you couldn't even shift your music from one room to the next.

AirPlay 2 not only allows for songs to transfer between rooms, it lets you play them in all rooms at the same time on any iOS device, Apple TV or HomePod - and it can all be powered by Siri as well. And, if you've got a pair of HomePods in the same room, it's also possible to create a left / right stereo speaker setup.

How to create a stereo HomePod pair

How to set up Apple HomePod stereo and multi-room modes

Music purists will tell you to ignore boasts of 360-degree sound and the like - for the ultimate music experience you need a proper stereo setup, with a left and right pair delivering the sounds artists (well, their producers) intended.

The good news, with a couple of HomePods, is that you won't need to be faffing around with speaker wire - AirPlay 2 takes care of everything wirelessly.

Before jumping into the steps below, make sure your iPhone or iPad is running iOS 11.4 or later and that your HomePods are also running their own version of 11.4 as well - you can check this by tapping their icon in the Home App.

  • If you're setting up a new HomePod, and you choose to add it to a room where a HomePod already lives, then you'll see a pop-up asking you if you want to create a stereo pair.
  • If you already have two HomePods in a room, open the Home app, press and hold the HomePod icon, then tap 'Details'.
  • Tap 'Create Stereo Pair...' and then select the HomePods to be included.
  • Configure the speaker which will be the left, and which one will be the right by carrying out a simple tone-test. Tap the orange button to switch them if they are the wrong way round.

That's it - you're all set, you've successfully created a pair of stereo speakers. The pair will essentially be treated as one HomePod speaker, so any music you ask Siri to play, or select on your iPhone's Control Center, will play through both in stereo mode.

You can't just play through one while they are paired, but you can unpair them by tapping the 'Ungroup accessory' option within the Home app.

How to set up HomePod multi-room speakers

How to set up Apple HomePod stereo and multi-room modes

You don't actually have to set up anything to make the most of the multi-room skills that AirPlay 2 has brought to the HomePod 2 party.

Once you've successfully set up a HomePod speaker, and it's showing up in your Home app (and running 11.4 software or later, of course) you can simply ask Siri to play music from a certain speaker (or room). Simply say something like, "Hey Siri - play Paul Weller in the kitchen," or "Hey Siri, play my 90s playlist in the dining room and the bedroom" and you'll be away.

You can even get super complex with Siri, setting up different songs in different rooms - at different volume levels. Something along the lines of, "Hey Siri, play Frightened Rabbit in the kitchen at 70% and my sad Scottish songs playlist in the office at 30%," will not cause Apple's digital assistant any bother.

You can, of course, group speakers and control playback using the AirPlay button on Apple Music or Control Center too - check out our guide to controlling your Apple HomePod using your iPhone for more details.

Apple TV HomePod stereo speakers

You can choose to create a stereo pair in your living room and have a HomePod either side of your TV - providing your Apple TV is running tvOS 11.4.

Ambient guide: Apple TV tips and tricks

However, Apple is being pretty clear on this, telling The Ambient that HomePod has been optimised for a great music listening experience, and although you can select a stereo pair as your TV audio output, they will not be specifically tuned for the wide range of audio in movies and TV and it is not a surround sound setup.

TAGGED    apple    speakers

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