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You can't stereo pair HomePod with HomePod mini, but home theater support coming soon

Following up on Tuesday's HomePod mini announcement, The Loop's Jim Dalrymple answers a key question about pairing the device with its older and larger brother.

Like HomePod, the new HomePod mini is able to detect and pair with a second HomePod mini to create a stereo pair. What Apple didn't mention, however, is whether the pint-sized smart speaker can do the same with HomePod.

According to Dalrymple, users are unable to mix and match HomePod models when pairing. That means a HomePod mini and HomePod can't be combined to make a stereo pair.

That said, multiple HomePod mini and HomePod units can be linked to form a connected whole-house system. Users can ask Siri to play different songs in each room or play one song throughout the home, with sound synchronized across all speakers.

The limitation makes sense considering HomePod is a much more capable device and boasts a sound signature that is likely impossible to reproduce with the single-driver HomePod mini. The full-size version packs in seven horn-loaded tweeters, each with its own amplifier, for directional output, and a high-excursion woofer to create room-filling, high-fidelity sound. HomePod mini, on the other hand, features one driver and two passive radiators.

Apple claims the small speaker's design and smart computational audio afford the full sound of a much larger speaker, but algorithms can only go so far.

Dalrymple goes on to say that an upcoming update will deliver 5.1 surround, 7.1 surround, and Dolby Atmos support to HomePods connected to an Apple TV 4K. HomePod's directional audio is required for the simulated surround sound feature to work, so those looking to replace their home theater system will have to spring for the more expensive model. HomePod and HomePod mini can't be connected to an Apple TV at the same time, though two HomePod mini units can be paired to achieve stereo sound.

In addition, the update will bring today's announced intercom feature, Maps continuity, multiuser support for Podcasts, and support for third-party music services, the report said.

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