Paired HomePod Doesn’t Do Stereo

Hello all,

I have a pair of HomePod’s and use them as a pair, sending audio from my MacBook Air. The pair are positioned on a window sill about 3 feet apart.

Over the weeks I began to puzzle over where the stereo sound stage was, it seemed to be mainly in the centre. I did some searching online and found this blog post about the Beatles track “I saw her standing there”. The key point being that the original mix puts Paul McCartney on the right speaker and most of the instruments in the left speaker – it’s very clear if you list on any other device.

I decided to run a couple of tests:

  • Send the above track to the paid HomePods: Paul sat in the middle of the speakers, along with most of the other sounds. There is a sort of stereo spread but mainly mono.
  • Unpair the homepods (which now become individual speakers)
  • Download and run AirFoil (https://rogueamoeba.com/airfoil/mac/)
    • You run AirFoil twice, and send the left channel using the balance slide to the left HomePod
    • Use the second instance using the balance slider for the right HomePod
  • Low and behold the original production and stereo mix has returned with Paul on the right and the instruments on the left
  • I then paired the HomePods again and sent the same track from my iPhone, and Paul went back to his place in the middle, no stereo

Overall this is the most annoying thing Apple has done for quite a while – and it affects all tracks, I now see why I was doubting my own ears when other music didn’t seem to spread between the speakers.

Is this by design? Is it some sort of cleverness by the speakers? Who knows?

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