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HomePod compatibility with Sonos system

  • 5 October 2017
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45 replies

@Kumar: Interesting -- thank you!

@Chris: True: Homepods will not stereo pair at launch, as Apple notes on apple.com/homepod/

I'm really happy with my Sonos: one stereo pair of Play:1's downstairs, a single Play:1 upstairs, and a Connect for the old-school stereo.

Like @craftytony, I'm totally sold on Apple...but I also do not want to just up and toss the Sonos investment. Sonos works really well (as if I need to convince anyone here) -- I would just like to control it with Siri.

(The Sonos iOS app drives me crazy, so mostly ditching that would be a huge plus.)
At its price, the HomePod will need to be significantly better than the One - it ought to be compared to the 5 for sound quality. But the thing also is that HomePod is a very different design based on its 360 degree tweeter array, meant to be placed more centrally in the room, whereas Sonos speaker design hews to a more traditional design/placement adjacent to a wall, firing into the entire room. In that way a single HomePod, by being centrally located in the room, will better address the problem of music from speakers placed in one part of the room, off to one side, having to be played too loud closer to them to be properly heard on the other side of the room.

What that will translate to in practice remains to be seen, and subjective assessments will necessarily be all that are available.

But it certainly sounds interesting. Pun not intended:-)
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I like apple products but as they have always been they keep within their ecosystem so much!

As with Homekit - which is essential to the usefulness of a home assistant. Your limited to homekit compatible devices.

I use my Alexa with my Smartthings hub and can utilize about every smart device made. It makes the voice part so much more useful. Just asking for songs and the weather gets a little old with smart assistants.

Homekit expansion to me is key to Homepod being successful. It's going to sound good. And if you like apple music your going to like the voice control abilities for music. But after that it need to be much more useful in a grand scale around the house.

You are certainly going to get a much tighter integration of voice control and music with homepod then about any other speaker (as long as you stay in the Apple Music ecosystem). And the processing power it will have provides a lot of future upside.
When I think about it, a direct comparison between Sonos or similar kit and HomePod is not going be easily done - because HomePods by their design seem to be meant to be placed somewhere in the middle of the space, addressing every one around it. While the front firing Sonos speakers are designed to be kept at the side of the room, firing into it, and in case of a stereo pair, into a smallish sweet spot for stereo in the room. Then add in another layer of what a second HomePod kept in the same space will do, when Apple releases the capability for it to be so added, and the comparison becomes even less of apples to apples.

I suspect that those that do not come from an experience of legacy kit that has accustomed them to its sound experience will find it easier to prefer HomePod; those that are accustomed to Bluetooth portables that are often designed for 360 degree sound, will find this even easier. And I doubt there can be an objective answer to the question of which is the better approach - sound from one side of the room firing into it, or from a centrally placed speaker with a 360 degree speaker array.
Thank you all for your information and perspectives! It's gonna be interesting.... 🆒
Confirmation on The Loop today (quoting 9 to 5 Mac) that the HomePod will not play music that you have imported in to iTunes, so that CD collection I have of hundreds of albums would be useless on a HomePod. Think I prefer the agnostic approach of Sonos.
From the original 9to5mac.com article: "If you add music to your home iTunes library that was not acquired through a purchase, HomePod will not be able to access it. It appears HomePod doesn’t have Home Sharing, which would enable that kind of feature."

Thanks for the heads-up, @Airgetlam! Bloody heck; THAT's frustrating. Definitely a version 1.0 product....

So...Sonos doesn't play some old Apple music purchases (because no "PLUS" DRM-free version is available), and HomePod doesn't play anything that HASN'T been purchased through Apple music, unless one springs for an Apple Music subscription. Ugh.

[time passes...]

From another 9to5mac.com article, dated 23 Jan:

https://9to5mac.com/2018/01/23/homepod-airplay/

"""
The good news is HomePod appears to still support peer-to-peer AirPlay 1 just like other Apple products which means playback control from iOS apps that support original AirPlay (i.e. nearly every audio app including Spotify and YouTube).

That’s based on this mention of peer-to-peer AirPlay on HomePod’s tech specs page:

Peer-to-peer AirPlay requires a Mac (2012 or later) with OS X Yosemite or later, or an iOS device (late 2012 or later) with iOS 8 or later.

This means you should still be able to target HomePod as an AirPlay speaker from your iPhone or iPad. As a bonus, iTunes on the Mac supports multi-room audio playback with traditional AirPlay so if peer-to-peer AirPlay works, it’s possible you could use your Mac to host whole home music playback anyway — just without iOS control and the new user interface in Control Center.
"""

So...by "HomePod will not be able to access [non-purchased] music", it sounds like *Siri* won't know anything about it. You can still PLAY the non-purchased music, albeit manually.
From the original 9to5mac.com article: "If you add music to your home iTunes library that was not acquired through a purchase, HomePod will not be able to access it. It appears HomePod doesn’t have Home Sharing, which would enable that kind of feature."

Thanks for the heads-up, @Airgetlam! Bloody heck; THAT's frustrating. Definitely a version 1.0 product....

So...Sonos doesn't play some old Apple music purchases (because no "PLUS" DRM-free version is available), and HomePod doesn't play anything that HASN'T been purchased through Apple music, unless one springs for an Apple Music subscription. Ugh.


That is surprising; does this mean that CDs ripped via iTunes to the iTunes library will not be played? But I am sure that music purchased on iTunes and downloaded to the iTunes library will be played, so that will address the needs of most of the target market to play such music.

Plus there may be something that HomePod will do that Sonos cannot - play music downloaded within the Apple Music app for offline listening. To me, if that is the case, it makes HomePods arguably more useful than Sonos and certainly so for the times when there is no internet connection for whatever reason.

And all the above said, if the target market for HomePods is Apple Music subscribers, that market won't care about this issue.
The approach that Apple may be taking is to first build as seamless and as slick an integration of HomePods with other Apple devices and Apple services like iTunes and Apple Music as possible. In doing that the part of the market that does not subscribe to that approach will have issues that Apple may have decided to ignore at this time. The iPod story repeated.
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But Homepod would send that offline music via Airplay 2 to the homepod. Exactly the same as you would send it to Sonos One.
Sure, Airplay 2 may well enable that, to the good of compatible Sonos and other system users; as it can be done today as well for any kit that has line in either via Airplay or via Bluetooth, so that won't be anything that is impossible today, just clunky to do. But overall the Apple thrust will likely be to first deliver the best experience to an all Apple environment, that is now a much large market than what Apple had at its command in 2000 when iPods were launched.
Other than for music surely this doesn't have much of a comparison to a Playbar as you can't hear your TV sound through it? You can only hear sound through movies/tv watch via an Apple TV?
That's my guess. And even with that, until Apple gets it working in a stereo pair config, I can't imagine it would be a good experience (as a Playbar) since it's a single, narrow, non-stereo box.
FWIW, Serenity Caldwell over at iMore has a review comparing the HomePod with the Sonos One (and a couple other also-rans). It's an interesting read. (She also notes the Sonos One bundle sale. So even if you're not an Apple fan, you've gotta like having competition. :))

https://www.imore.com/homepod-vs-amazon-echo-vs-google-home-max-vs-sonos-one-speaker-showdown#sonos
Interesting link, thank you. The HomePod certainly seem to be more than just another speaker with a smart interface. Interesting times ahead with more customer choice, which can only be good, if confusing.
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this is what im waiting for.....air play 2 makes it seem like we can have our sonos system and just add a homepod for our homekit needs and let it join in as just a kitchen speaker per say....im sold on all sonos everything but need a homekit hub....now if this hub can play music... answer questions and control my lights even better fingers crossed that apple allows others to play nicely with airplay 2
I am an apt guy who is currently in the design phase of building a home. I have Sonos EVERYWHERE at home and at work. I love it. Also, I am a die hard Apple user. However, if Apple can’t control my Sonos system and joint the party, I will not get a HomePod. I’m several thousand dollars into the Sonos system and won’t reinvent my wheel to stay brand specific. It doesn’t make good logistical or financial sense. So, when we hear that HomePod can control and integrate with Sonos, I’ll jump on board.
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Heard the HomePod today, it did sound better then the play one. It was pretty impressive for a speaker the size of the play one. It is up there with the play 3 and play 5 imho. But siri need a bit more work. Apple did not put all the siri function they should have from the iPhone. If falls behind the google home mini in abilities. But they will be a to be pair down the road. So you can have full stereo sound. At 700 dollars vs 2 play one at 350. But I pretty sure if you are completely into the Apple ecosphere, that AppleTV will be linked to the HomePod. Surround 5.1 might have to wait for homepod expansion.
I really want to know what Apple is going to do to incorporate televisions and 5.1 or higher. So far from all the reviews I’ve seen it’s a failure. Great if you have Apple TV. Out of luck otherwise.

Will they have different size speakers, mainly a sub in the future?

Will airplay2 allow Sonos to play nice with the HomePod and give me the ability to mix and match brands? Airplay has been hit and miss. I rarely use it because of issues with connectivity. It constantly drops or refuses to connect on most of my non Apple products like my Yamaha receiver.

Will Sonos reduce the price of the play5? I’ve been impressed that Sonos immediately reduced the price of the one’s. Hopefully they will continue to be aggressive. Apple has a history of being late to the party but shaking up whatever market they enter. If the HomePod is all they do I’m not that fazed but if this is the first of several products from Apple, they have my full attention.

Will the ability to pair in stereo and do multi room audio be as seemless and trouble free as Sonos over WiFi? Again airplay for me has not been great. Multi room music over WiFi is not easy.

I’m as embedded in the Apple ecosystem as anyone but I’m starting to break away. First wink, than Alexa and now Sonos. I’m not thrilled that the HomePod is even more closed than usual for Apple.

Still on the fence waiting to see what moves each company makes in the next few months.
I know this is a really old thread, but as someone with a complete HomePod system I'd like to answer at least two things here now that Airplay 2 is out (and supported by Sonos on various products). First, HomePod through Apple Music can play anything you have in iTunes, whether you bought it or not. Apple Music allows you to upload all your own collection -- if it's IN Apple Music it will replace it with a better copy (unless you tell it not to do so). If it's not it just adds it as an album like any other (I have a number of things that I recorded off vinyl that may never be released any other way, and they upload and play just fine). You can even tell Siri to play these things -- I say "Hey, Siri, Play Silver Apples of the Moon album" and she plays it even though it's not in the Apple Music catalog.

Also, you can play via Airplay 2 on Sonos speakers. I have Sonos Airplay 2 compatible ones in my bathroom (named "Bathroom" in my Apple Home setup) and can just say "Hey Siri, play some Beatles music in the bathroom" and that happens.

What I don't know right now is if the Amp will work in this manner -- I assume it will, but since I don't have one yet I don't know for sure. I'm planning on getting one to provide sound for my pool area (the amp will be indoors and the wiring going outside) but if it won't be controllable via Siri I'll return it. If anyone's interested by that time I'll report on my success (or failure :>).