You can't use two HomePod minis as stereo Mac speakers despite AirPlay and it's madness

Homepod Mini
Homepod Mini (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • HomePod mini might seem perfect for people who want to connect two of them to their Mac for stereo output.
  • Unfortunately, you can't actually do that.

Now that HomePod mini is here you might be thinking the same thing I was thinking – these would make great desktop speakers for connecting to a Mac. And they would if it wasn't for the fact that they won't actually work.

You heard that right.

Let's back up a minute. HomePod mini is a device that can be used in a stereo pair, just like the chonky boi HomePod. You can ask a HomePod mini to play music and once the two speakers are paired you can get stereo audio out of them. The same goes for AirPlaying to them via something like an iPhone, iPad, or even an Apple TV. It works fine. It's great. And you'd expect that you would be able to do it from a Mac, too.

And you can. So long as all you want to do is use Music, nee iTunes, or the TV app. You'll get glorious stereo audio and all will be right with the world – that's a lie. It's still 2020, after alll.

But if you try and select that stereo pair of HomePod minis from a Mac's menu bar you're going to be stuck because the audio will instead come from one HomePod mini or the other. No stereo. No fun. No sense as to why.

That means no system sounds in stereo. No YouTube in stereo. No Netflix in stereo. No games in stereo.

Apple HomePod

Apple HomePod (Image credit: iMore)

There is, however, a way around all this but it's got to be one of the most ridiculous ways to make something as simple as stereo sound work. The steps are over on MacRumors but there are drawbacks. Starting with the fact it'll use AirPlay 1, rather than AirPlay 2. The result? Audio drift and an irritating delay in reaction to pressing play, pause, or whatever on-screen.

Another option might be to use the excellent AirFoil but we shouldn't need to spend $35 to make macOS do things iOS can already do. tvOS can do it! But not macOS – the same system that can take x86 code, recompile it on the fly, and make it run faster than it would natively.

But stereo audio to a pair of speakers made by Apple? From its own computers? Who would want that?

The fact macOS still doesn't support AirPlay 2 is madness. If there's an Apple audio engineer reading this, I'd absolutely love to hear from you. I'm very easy to reach.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.