From friend-of-the-blog David Emery:
Unboxing wasn’t quite up to Apple standards, because it wasn’t quite clear how to get the inside white box out of the (custom) brown shipping box. But once I ripped off the shipping box, it was back to the usual experience.
The power supply for this is interesting! On the HomePod Mini side, it’s a ‘fixed cable’ (no plug, cable is permanently connected). On the other side of that cable is a USB-C connector, and the power supply is the larger USB-C plug (the same one that comes with the recent iPads.)
Once I plugged it in, it made some noise, and then I read the 6 page manual, which says, “Hold your bluetooth enabled phone close to the Mini.” I did that, it grabbed network settings, joined the network. Then it said, “If you want to transfer music, etc, settings from your phone, hold the phone at the top of the Mini.” I did that (NFC?) It’s not clear at all what settings got transferred. One thing I was asked was “where is the HomePod Mini located?” This gave me a list of ’typical room names’, not sure if I could do a custom name. But “Basement” was a choice (“model RR room” was not a choice 🙂 🙂 )
Then I ran upstairs to my computer room, opened Music.app on the one Mac Mini that’s running Catalina (and that spools AirPlay to a bunch of AIrport Expresses and sometimes to an AirPlay enabled stereo receiver – that unit has been giving me problems.) After a quick call to Apple, I was able to verify what Music.app was connecting to. I asked “Can I control Music.app from Siri downstairs?” and the support person was not sure. But that’s OK, because I can control Music.app from the “Remote” app on my phone (which works most of the time….)
Now the HomePod Mini before I changed it to be a client of AirPlay thought it was playing music from some source. In typical Apple “we don’t really respect people who do albums” style, it was set up on ’track shuffle.’ Since 98% of my music is classical (and therefore Album oriented), Track Shuffle is really hostile. The one question I’d want to ask Tim Cook or any other Apple exec if you got him/her online for the PED3.0 sessions would be “What kind of music do you listen to? And why doesn’t Music.app, particularly on the iPhone/iPod, support Album Shuffle? Shouldn’t this have the same kinds of features Music.app and the former iTunes.app had?” sigh…
Right now I have no plans to use Siri, but I might play with it at some point. I’m just not convinced by voice response systems. I’ve never tried Siri on my phone.
One could argue “That’s a lot of money to spend for a remote AirPlay mono speaker” and that’s probably correct. On the other hand, there aren’t many choices for AirPlay remote speakers, let alone those with the signal processing capability of the Mini.
I’ll report back later on sound quality once I’ve had a chance to listen to this with a variety of inputs. (Right now doing renaissance vocal…)
First impressions on sound: It’s definitely better than what it’s replacing (a reasonably good quality portable Sony speaker from the iPod days.) The bass is good and in general the sound is quite clear (listening to Bach’s “Coffee Cantata” right now) although I haven’t put any of my bass test tracks on it (“1812 Overture with digital black powder cannons” or Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony 🙂 )
My take: Apple speakers tend to be bass-heavy, especially for classical. In your Music app, try turning down the bass or turning up treble.