Use HomePod minis as Default Speakers
Last year’s HomePod 14.2 update added the ability to use Apple’s since-discontinued full-sized HomePods as default audio outputs for your Apple TV in a new Home Theatre Audio mode, but even though Apple had just introduced the HomePod mini only weeks before, it wasn’t part of the deal.
Part of this may have simply been because Apple was pushing the “Home Theatre” aspect of the feature, and the larger HomePods are capable of producing Dolby Atmos sound thanks to their more sophisticated acoustic engineering and Spatial Audio features. This is something that the smaller HomePod mini couldn’t pull off.
Apple even inscrutably continued to add new features to the 2021 Apple TV 4K that were specific to the full-sized HomePod speakers, going so far as to even highlight the original HomePod on the packaging months after the speaker had already been discontinued. Granted, it helped Apple sell off its stock of original HomePods, but it still seemed like an odd decision.
However, this all made it safe to assume that Apple was going to eventually invite the HomePod mini to the party, and that’s precisely what tvOS 15 and HomePod 15 are doing. Just like the feature on the full-sized HomePod, you’ll be able to link up one or two HomePod minis to become default audio outputs for your Apple TV 4K.
This can be either a single HomePod mini, or two of them configured as a stereo pair. While you’ve always been able to send audio to a HomePod mini over AirPlay 2, this goes a step beyond by ensuring that your HomePod minis are always used as the audio output and providing better sound with no delays.
Just keep in mind that you’re not going to get the Dolby Atmos soundstage that the full-sized HomePods deliver, as the smaller HomePod mini just isn’t capable of that. Instead, Apple promises “rich room-filling sound and clear dialogue.” From our testing of this feature, the sound quality is certainly much better than using the HomePod mini over AirPlay 2, so there’s definitely some special audio processing magic that Apple is employing here. Sadly, it still isn’t as good as Apple’s full-sized HomePods.