I don’t know about you, but in my experience, going to the cinema has become an absolute rarity since COVID-19 became a part of our lives. Not only did a visit to the movies become a health risk at certain points during the pandemic, our new reality – that became very much centred on staying at home – meant that I stopped even thinking about going to the cinema.
Instead, I’ve grown to love the experience of settling in for a movie at home. And with no shortage of streaming services to do that with, I don’t imagine that habit is going to change anytime soon.
If we’re going to be watching more films from the comfort of our couches, however, you want to ensure you’re making the whole show as immersive as possible. So, why not create a little surround sound experience?
If you’ve got almost any smart speaker variety on hand, you’ll be able to set up a home cinema of sorts quite easily. But for the sake of this article, we’re looking at HomePods, specifically.
The process is going to work best for those of you who are true Apple-obsessives as like with most of their products, the HomePod and HomePod minis are designed to run with Apple programs (it’s limiting, I know). Anyway, that is what will give you the most seamless experience here – so keep that in mind.
How to use your HomePods for a home cinema experience
Option one: Create a Stereo Pair with HomePod and HomePod mini
Apple shares that “for a wider, more immersive sound stage, you can join two HomePod speakers or two HomePod mini speakers as a stereo pair”.
You can create the pairing when you first set up your HomePods, or you can return to it later via the Home app.
Here’s how (instructions via Apple):
— In the Home app, select one of the HomePod/minis and hold down. — Scroll down, then tap the Settings icon. — Tap ‘Create Stereo Pair’ and follow the onscreen instructions to select which speaker will play left and right channel audio.
Once you have your Stereo Pair ready to go, you can pair them with your Apple TV, iPhone or iPad. If you head to the Home app you can also swap the left and right audio allocation if you have a preference around that. Just click on the Stereo Pair, select the Settings symbol and in Audio Settings you can switch the combo around.
— To set up with your Apple TV remote, hold down the Home button (right button on the remote) until the Control Centre appears on the screen. — Select the AirPlay logo and then select the HomePod minis. Audio will now play to your HomePod minis.
If you do not have an Apple TV, you can still use the HomePods when watching from your iPhone or iPad. To do this, select AirPlay while watching and send the audio to your HomePods.
Option two: Set up a Home Theatre with HomePod and Apple TV 4K
This is a nifty little trick that has come with the recent iOS 14 software update. You can now pair your HomePod speaker to your Apple TV 4K to deliver stereo, 5.1, 7.1 surround and Dolby Atmos.
It’s said to be able to give you a seriously impressive sound experience when watching movies or gaming.
To set this up, Apple advises:
— Using your Apple TV remote control, select Settings > Video and Audio > Default Audio Output. — Select the HomePod or stereo pair that you want to use for home cinema audio.
Will a HomePod mini be loud enough?
Obviously, this will depend on your space and the kind of experience you’re after. From my experience of the HomePod mini, it has incredibly impressive sound for a smaller smart speaker – and using two as a pair effectively filled my space with rich sound. But people have different needs and different expectations when it comes to their home cinema so check out the speaker’s details here.
If you want more advice on creating a home cinema take a peek at our guide, here.