Finally, what belongs together comes together: The HomePod unites AirPlay and HomeKit are two key technologies that Apple wants to use to define smart living: AirPlay wirelessly streams music and video within the home network. With iOS 11, AirPlay now also integrates with HomeKit for smart home furnishings. And since the HomePod ultimately relies on a simplified iOS, Apple’s Siri speakers also integrate existing AirPlay 2 devices into your smart home environment.
This synergy could change the way you interact with yours Audio devices interact. In the future, buy loudspeakers that support the AirPlay 2 protocol, you can control them directly with Apple’s home app on the iPhone and iPad – regardless of whether this is the spring finally available in Germany HomePod or a Device of another manufacturer acts. More importantly, AirPlay 2 is designed to control the distribution of music across different speakers in different rooms – multiroom audio is finally becoming a reality!
Of course, multiroom technology is not Invention of Apples. Manufacturers like Sonos, Bose and Libratone have been supplying the market with similar approaches for years. The Problem: All these systems use their own closed network protocol to interconnect their components. What constitutes an almost optimal scenario for customer loyalty on the Apple model is rather annoying for consumers: If they are fooled with a third-party device, this is probably not compatible with their previous equipment.
This exclusivity continues seamlessly with the apps used. Often hi-fi companies are contracting to certain streaming providers for sonicating their speakers – and while Spotify (and sometimes tidal as a high-quality alternative) sits here as a standard in the saddle, Apple Music lags far behind in terms of integration often. Ergo: You also have to make your hardware purchase dependent on the music streaming service you favor.
With the expected spread of AirPlay 2, the tide may turn further towards Apple. Because every receiving device that supports Apple’s network protocol, you may then address the home app as a common software solution. So if you use Bang & Olufsen’s A9 system in your living room, you can finally connect to the Riva Festival Box in the guest room and the Libratone Zipp Mini in the bathroom in a shared app. And with the help of the connected HomePod in the bedroom, you control the light and the heating in the house from the bed.
AirPlay 2 moved
Soon it will finally be in this country so far: “In the spring,” the HomePod according to Apple finally conquer Germany and France. Not on board: Version 2 of the AirPlay protocol for the long-awaited multiroom support. The synchronous playing of music in different rooms wants to make the iPhone manufacturer possible thus only with a software update, which is to appear this year – date unknown. Until then, HomePod users are also denied the ability to combine two devices into a stereo pair. So Apple misses the chance to catch up with Amazon, Google and Sonos. Almost fatal: Other manufacturers continue to wait for the AirPlay-2 specifications. Apple should not let too much time pass in order to keep it amused.
Speaking of apps: Using the home app, you can also elegantly avoid the proliferation of the often inelegant manufacturer programs on the iPhone and iPad and can concentrate entirely on the Apple solution as a common control center for Apple Music .
What is the A8 processor?
Apple originally developed its A8 chip for the iPhone 6. The two-core processor contains two billion transistors operating at a speed of 1.1 GHz. In the HomePod, the A8 finely adjusts the sound to suit spatial conditions and evaluates voice commands to Siri.
Can I Reuse My Old AirPlay Speakers?
Some manufacturers have already announced software updates for existing AirPlay speakers, to keep them compatible with AirPlay 2. But even without an update, old speakers should not cause any problems.
AirPlay upgrade without AirPort Express
Your old active speakers sound great? Then you can integrate them into your AirPlay network for little money. This is made possible by the “Music Everywhere” audio adapter from D-Link. As a WLAN amplifier, he also stuffs dead spots in the apartment – and all for a street price of just under 35 €. However, the DCH-M225 dominates so far only the old AirPlay protocol and not AirPlay 2.
Apple TV and Smart Home
If You If you already own an Apple TV and just want to turn your lights on and off, you may be able to save on investing in a HomePod. Because Apple TV already supports the smart home technology HomeKit. The fourth generation of the set-top box is also prepared for multiroom operation with AirPlay 2.
Granted, speakers with AirPlay support usually cost more than their pure ones Bluetooth competitors. However, this also applies to solutions with integrated Google Chromecast or Spotify Connect protocol. However, it rewards a much higher sound quality for additional investment. So you should consider including at least one AirPlay 2 device in your hi-fi system. After all, you can add it later depending on your mood (and purse) to other components from other manufacturers.
The acquisition does not even have to be too expensive. The box selection starts at 199 euros for a Libratone Zipp Mini. The big brother Zipp costs a hundred more. In between is the Riva Arena (269 euros). Who wants an even fuller sound, may reach for the Riva Festival for 549 euros. Visually striking on the HomePod reminiscent of the Beoplay M5 for 599 euros. Design gourmets refine their living room visually and acoustically with the Zeppelin Wireless by Bowers & Wilkins (699 Euro). The real sound giant, on the other hand, is the devialet phantom, which looks like a robot from “Star Wars” and with its output power of 4,500 watts would probably bring the Death Star to the earthquake.
One has already reached the HomePod: Interest in AirPlay 2-enabled devices has increased since its announcement by Apple. Established manufacturers are therefore already planning to upgrade their existing AirPlay speakers. In the most favorable case – as with the mentioned Libratone speakers – a simple software update is enough to get the device into the current AirPlay generation.
Apple’s AirPlay technology, like Bluetooth, wirelessly transmits data, albeit in higher quality. AirPlay uses the Wi-Fi network to stream digital music, for example, so it can access much better bandwidth and reach.
5 editorial recommendations
Riva Audio Arena
The Arena looks like the Sonos One and shines with three ADX Trillium drivers and passive emitters each with an output power of 50 watts. Particularly convincing is the precise bass reproduction even at low volume.
Price: 270 Euro
RIVA Arena – Streaming Client with Built-in Speaker WHITE
B & O BeoPlay M5
B & O BeoPlay M5
The Danish manufacturer Bang & Olufsen has already announced that many of its loudspeaker models will be upgraded to AirPlay 2. Until then, the Beoplay M5 is booming with two bass woofers and provides 130 watts in the output.
Price: 600 Euro
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay M5 Multiroom Speaker (AirPlay, Chromecast, Spotify Connect) Black
B & W Zeppelin Wireless
The elegant Zeppelin was probably the first AirPlay speaker on the market – and it is still one of the best. For technical reasons, an update to AirPlay 2 will probably not be possible – but Bowers & Wilkins is planning a successor.
Price: 700 Euro
Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless Wireless Music System with Apple AirPlay, Bluetooth aptX and Spotify Connect Black
Libratone Zipp Mini
With a starting price of just under 200 euros, the Zipp series is currently the cheapest entry into the AirPlay class. Libratone has already announced a software update of all models to the upcoming AirPlay 2 generation.
Price: 200 Euro
Libratone ZIPP MINI Wireless Multiroom Speaker (360 ° Sound, WiFi, AirPlay 2, Bluetooth, 10h Rechargeable Battery) Graphite Gray
D-Link Music Everywhere
This small adapter is a real all-rounder: with its 3.5-millimeter connector, it makes virtually every active speaker AirPlay-capable. By the way, the DCH-M225 also amplifies the in-house WLAN signal.
Price: 50 Euro