The HomePod Mini has been on the market for about a month … so it's been a month since it replaced my Logitech speakers. Or rather that they replaced them. Because in the end, the adage of not lying: solo is fun, but two is better.
Before continuing, put it in context. Your humble servant listens to music all the time. Between 6:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., Spotify doesn't stop once.
I listen to a lot of music, therefore, and I had so far entrusted my esgourdes to a 2.1 kit from Logitech. A very good kit, which had cost me quite a lot at the time.
But now, the years have passed, relentless, and I had a desire for elsewhere, a desire for something else. I wanted speakers that were prettier, more discreet, smarter and, above all, that didn't hurt my ears.
So I thought for a while to go for HomePods. But their price put me off a bit. And that's when Apple introduced the HomePod Mini, a small speaker that's much more accessible, but also more compact. What made me a little afraid in the audio field.
But as we will see, she finally rather surprised me. In the correct meaning of the term.
Design & Ergonomics
At first, what surprises most about the HomePod Mini are its dimensions.
The speaker doesn't completely turn its back on HomePod. It actually looks a lot like its big brother, especially with this beautiful mesh texture that covers it entirely.
The comparison ends there, however. The HomePod Mini is indeed a third the size of the HomePod and it takes the shape of a ball. A ball that easily gets to be forgotten and which is neutral enough to match all setups.
In this regard, it should also be noted that Apple leaves the choice of color. The speaker is in fact available in white or space gray. As you can see, my choice fell on the second.
The connection is limited to the strict minimum, and therefore to a cable that starts from the back of the speaker and ends on a USB Type-C connector. Fun fact, HomePod Mini all come with a charger unit capable of delivering 20W of power.
The controls are placed on top. Apple has not opted for physical buttons, but for touch areas. A "+" and a "-" have been engraved in the plastic plate and it will be enough to press on one side or the other to increase or decrease the volume – of course, you can also do this by voice .
Color LEDs have been placed under the plastic plate. They will come to life as soon as you interact with HomePod Mini. They'll turn white when you connect to the speaker, and they'll turn multicolored when you trim the fat with Siri.
More generally, the construction is solid and the HomePod Mini has a little cheesy side that is not unpleasant for sound. But above all, it easily gets to be forgotten, which is rather an advantage.
But of course, when it comes to a speaker, design or ergonomics are only a tiny part of the problem. Or the equation. Like you want. And the most important, ultimately, is the audio.
So obviously, when you see the dimensions of the enclosure, it is difficult not to doubt. We are still talking about a product that is less than 10 centimeters high. Product in which there is little physical space.
Apple did it right, though. The speaker, for starters, is able to broadcast 360 ° sound. It's also equipped with a wideband transducer and neodymium magnet capable, according to the brand, of delivering deep bass and crystal-clear highs. Sound, on the other hand, is directed downward and that is precisely what allows the HomePod Mini to play sound all around it.
But it is not finished.
The HomePod Mini is also equipped with an Apple S5 chip, a chip that will be able to analyze sound in real time. It will work in concert with algorithms in order to produce the most balanced and the most qualitative possible.
And let's be clear, it works well. Obviously, given its small dimensions, the HomePod Mini is not able to offer bass as deep as a subwoofer. But the integrated passive force-canceling radiators still allow it to reach a nice depth.
But what struck me the most, ultimately, was the balance of the sound produced. The highs, mids and bass manage to coexist and none of them comes to crush the others.
The speaker alone is therefore very effective, but it's really when you pair two HomePod Minis that you really enjoy your music.
Like many speakers now, HomePod Mini emphasizes multiroom. Concretely, this means that you can install several HomePod Mini around your apartment or your house and ask Siri to play music on all your speakers.
But there is a little subtlety. When you place two HomePod Minis in the same room, on a desk, or even on the TV cabinet, then they will be able to recognize each other. And they will then broadcast the sound on two channels: one for the left, another for the right.
And there, really, we achieve a sound equivalent to that of a good 2.1 kit. Working together, the HomePod Mini will have no trouble filling a room, especially since they don't lack a trunk. And the best part about it is that you can push them hard enough without ending up with totally overdriven sound.
But when we talk about audio, we also have to talk about microphones. The HomePod Mini has four of them and, according to Apple, they are supposed to work in the busiest sound environments. A point that was verified during this month of testing, Siri has not let me down once, and even pushing the song hard.
Functions & Distribution
And here we are at the last part of this test. And for this last part, we will focus on two important points: the functions, and the diffusion.
Regarding functions, be aware that everything that is enabled by Siri will work on the HomePod Mini. It will be possible, by pronouncing the key phrase, to question his assistant and to ask him all the usual questions.
But that's not all. The HomePod Mini will also allow you to control your connected equipment, at least those compatible with HomeKit. So you can turn on your Philips Hue lights, control your connected sockets, change the room temperature, close the blinds and much more.
The HomePod Mini can also be used as a telephone and it will therefore be possible to ask Siri to call a friend … or to broadcast your voice to another HomePod Mini installed in another room of the house thanks to the Intercom Announcement function, a function also supported by other Apple devices.
So far, it's almost flawless, but there is still an important limitation to report, a limitation being on the side of the music services supported.
There, unfortunately, we will lack choice and we will therefore have to be content with Apple Music. Spotify is not supported and neither is Deezer and the others. Apple announced an opening of its platform earlier this year, but so far it has not materialized.
Which obviously doesn't mean you won't be able to stream music from these services to your HomePod Mini. A nice transition to introduce questions relating to broadcasting.
And there, clearly, you are spoiled for choice. If you're using an iPhone, for example, all you have to do is play music on it, even on Spotify, and then bring your phone closer to the speaker to stream music to it. Be careful, however, because you will have to keep your phone stationary for two or three seconds for it to work. And if you have set up two HomePod Mini in the same room, then the sound will automatically be played on both speakers.
If you don't want to move, then you can also go for the option in the application, via AirPlay. HomePod Mini will automatically appear in the list of streaming devices and a simple tap is enough to initiate the operation.
What about a Mac, then?
Once again, relying on AirPlay, you'll be able to stream music directly from your Spotify to your HomePod Mini, without needing to configure anything in your Bluetooth settings.
However, there is another limitation to take into account. Currently, macOS Big Sur is not able to stream music to a HomePod Mini duo.
I admit that it surprised me a lot, especially when you know the love that Apple has for its ecosystem.
Now, after doing a lot of digging, I found an alternative. It consists of going through a specialized software: Airfoil . So first of all, know that it is paid and that the free version is limited to 15 minutes of listening. Now it's not very expensive and it cost me about thirty dollars.
On the other hand, be careful, because there are latencies in the connection and it usually takes between one and two seconds for a change made on your Mac to be reflected on the HomePod Mini.
I'll be frank, I had a lot of prejudices about the HomePod Mini. Obviously, when someone sells you a speaker for 99 €, you tell yourself that there may be many concessions, especially on audio quality.
But in the end, she is doing pretty well this speaker. It can produce sound with nice balance and it has enough trunk to fill a large room. But it is especially when used with a second HomePod Mini that it reveals any flavor.
Especially that behind, we find beautiful functions and a beautiful interconnection with the other products of the brand. So if you're looking for new desktop speakers, you know what you have to do.
- The size, reduced
- The look, very nice
- Siri, always present
- Audio quality, especially for two
- The price, attractive
- The absence of Spotify, Deezer, etc.
- The inability to stream to 2 HomePod Mini from a Mac