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If you’re a pro gamer or an audio enthusiast, you probably have a nice audio setup at home. You probably also have some great quality headphones like some of the Creative Sound Blaster headphones but if you want to fully enjoy their quality sound, you will definitely an equally great headphone amplifier.
Creative have built their Sound Blaster line from the first PC boards to the latest high-end external amplifiers that raise the bar of sound quality for computers and audio systems all over the world.
We did thorough research through a lot of Creative Sound Blaster headphone amplifier options and we have compiled a shortlist of the best options available.What are the best Creative Sound Blaster headphone amplifiers?
Compact and portable – 59.2 Grams
120 dB signal to noise ratio (SNR) that supports up to 24-bit/ 192kHz
Built-in NFC technology
Built-in dual microphones
2x 3.5 mm stereo headphones jacks
This small, 2 ounces box is a huge powerhouse for audio. Creative Sound Blaster E5 comes with an SB-Axx1 multi-core processor to increase the depth and spatial width of the audio when you either listen to music, watch movies, or play games.
The processor also saves all your audio EQ settings in the device itself so you will be able to enjoy your personalized sound wherever you go. The gadget can be controlled through the Sound Blaster Central app available on multiple platforms.
The pairing with any Android smartphone is performed seamlessly through NFC technology but you can also achieve the same results with a Bluetooth 4.1-compatible device.
The Creative Sound Blaster E5 portable headphone amp is all about the extremely low impedance of 2.2 ohms that will enhance the audio experience whether you have some mainstream headphone or a high-end, expensive pair.
As for the wired connections, E5 has the regular USB port but also optical in and out connectors for maximum quality sound. The amp has a whopping 3200 mAh battery that can hold for 8 hours of usage even with the Bluetooth connectivity.
Creative Sound Blaster E5 is extremely portable and powerful, and that’s why it’s in the top spot of our list.
24-BIT 192 kHz high-res audio
100W stereo amplifier
Burr-Brown PCM1794 127dB digital-to-analog converter
Dolby Digital decoder
5.1 channel playback in high resolution
Not so easy to set up
The Sound Blaster X7 features the SB-Axx1 multi-core Digital Signal Processor (DSP), the same as Sound Blaster E5 and it is also capable of voice processing, audio restoration, proprietary effects processing, and it is also has a certified Dolby Digital 5.1 decoder.
Moreover, the X7 features a headphone stand that will save you money while also eliminating the potential cable clutter on your desk.
The second most important piece of technology inside X7 alongside the processor is the Burr-Brown PCM1794 127dB digital-to-analog converter (DAC). That means that when you connect it to a PC or a Mac, you will experience high-resolution audio playback of up to 24-bit 192 kHz.
And the cherry on top is the Texas Instruments TPA6120A2 headphone amplifier chip capable of driving even high-end 600 ohms headphones for ultimate fidelity sound.
Hi-Res 130dB 32bit/384kHz gaming DAC
Xamp headphone amp
Dolby Digital 7.1 virtual surround sound
Sidetone/ speaker control for Xbox One, Nintendo and PS4
Slight problems with the software
Creative Sound BlasterX G6 is the ultimate gaming amplifier for gaming. A signifficant upgrade over the previous model, G5, Sound BlasterX G6 improves your audio tenfold compared to the one from your default motherboard audio or some regular USB Gaming DACs out there.
This amazing USB sound card works with gaming consoles like Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo Switch, PCs and laptops, and generates a virtual 7.1 32-bit/ 384kHz sound using a 130 dB USB Digital Audio Converter (DAC).
The Xamp discrete headphone amplifier offers very detailed audio for perfect localization of the sounds in any game. It also boasts Dolby Digital decoding, game-voice volume balancing, and other impressive sound enhancement technologies that you’re used to from Sound Blaster’s 30-year old legacy.
G6 features a wide array of connectivity options including optical, USB, and line-in so you will be covered will all kinds of sources.
As if the sound wasn’t accurate enough, this amp features a Scout Mode that enhances important in-game audio cues such as footsteps and weapon switching sounds so you can accurately pinpoint your opponents’ location before they can locate you.
We hope you liked our selection of the best Creative Sound Blaster headphone amplifiers.
To explore this idea further, don’t hesitate to check out some other useful buying guides surrounding the audio equipment subject,
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Removing audio from a video may sound like a complicated task, but it really isn’t. In fact, you can do it right from your phone in a few easy steps. In this post, we’ll walk you through three simple methods to remove sound from a video on your Android phone. So, without further ado, let’s get right to it.
1. Use Google Photos to Remove Sound From Video
Google Photos is arguably the best gallery app on Android. It’s jam-packed with various photo and video editing features. Among other options, it also lets you remove audio from a video with ease.
Here are the steps you can follow.
1. Open Google Photos on your phone and navigate to the video from which you want to remove the sound.
2. Tap the Edit option at the bottom to open your video in Google Photos’ video editor. Then, in the Video tab, tap the speaker icon to mute the audio.
3. Lastly, tap the Save copy button in the bottom right corner.
And that’s about it. Google Photos will save your video without audio as a separate file.
2. Use Samsung Gallery App to Remove Sound From Video
If you have a Samsung Galaxy phone, you may prefer using its default Gallery app instead of Google Photos. Luckily, Samsung’s Gallery app also includes a slew of video editing tools. Here’s how you can use it to remove audio from a video.
1. Open the Gallery app on your Samsung phone and navigate to your video.
2. Tap the pencil icon at the bottom to open your video in the video editor.
3. Tap the speaker icon in the bottom left corner and then use the slider to turn the Video volume all the way down.
Tip: One major benefit of using the Samsung Gallery app over Google Photos is that it also gives you the option to replace the audio in your video. To do so, tap the Add background music option and use any audio from your phone.
4. Lastly, tap on Save as copy in the top right corner, and your video will be saved as a separate file.
Apart from removing audio, the video editor on your Samsung phone also allows you to easily trim, crop, and rotate videos.
3. Use the Canva App to Remove Sound From Video
Canva has emerged as a popular design tool in recent times. Whether you want to create logos, eye-catching Instagram posts, or edit a video, Canva provides all the necessary options. So, in case you don’t want to use the built-in gallery app or just want more options, you can use the Canva app on your phone to remove audio from any video. Here’s how:
1. Download and install the Canva app on your Android. Sign in using your Google or Facebook account and allow all the necessary app permissions.
2. In your phone’s gallery, open the video from which you want to remove the sound. Tap the share icon at the bottom and select Canva from the share sheet.
3. Select your preferred size for the video and tap the right checkmark at the top. This will open your video in Canva’s video editor.
4. Tap on your video and you should see some options at the bottom. Scroll through them and tap on Volume.
5. Turn off the Volume toggle to mute your video. Alternatively, you can use the slider to decrease the volume level to your liking.
6. Tap the export icon in the top right corner and select Download from the menu that appears.
7. Use the drop-down menu under File type to select the suggested option and tap on Download.
Wait for a few moments and Canva will save your edited video.
Besides Android, you can use the Canva app to remove audio from videos on your iPhone or computer as well.
Silence Is Golden
Aside from the methods listed above, you can also use a dedicated video editing app like InShot to remove sound from a video on your Android. Alternatively, you can use a website like AudioRemover to do the same. However, that would require you to upload your video to that website’s server. If you ask us, it’s best to stick to the trustworthy options as much as possible.
Whole group, teacher-led instruction doesn’t work for all students. But with blended learning, adopted curriculum can offer differentiation, choice, and agency.
Think about the last time you used a recipe to cook a meal. Perhaps you were hosting friends for dinner and wanted to make lasagna for the first time. The recipe identifies the ingredients you need, the order in which you should combine them, and the time and temperature required to cook the dish to perfection. This guidance is useful when you’re learning to cook a dish—straightforward, easy to follow, and complete with photos, all of which inspire confidence.
But most people wouldn’t want to cook every meal using a recipe. At some point, directions become restrictive, limiting your creativity. Over time, you may want to make adjustments, removing garlic for a friend who is allergic or substituting mushrooms for meat if you’re cooking for a vegetarian. The freedom and flexibility to modify that recipe keeps cooking enjoyable.
The same is true for the adopted curriculum that many teachers use. At first, it’s helpful to have a clear path to implementation; however, as you gain confidence, you will want to be creative to ensure that you meet all students’ needs.
As a coach and professional learning facilitator, I work with teachers shifting from whole group, teacher-led instruction to student-centered instruction with blended learning models. Blended learning combines active, engaged learning online and offline to give students more control over the time, place, pace, and path of their learning. There are several models under the umbrella of blended learning: station rotation, whole group rotation, flipped classroom, and playlists, all of which position students at the center of their learning.
Adopted curriculum is often written for a whole group, teacher-led model; however, that isn’t the only way to use it. Teachers are architects of learning experiences. They deserve the flexibility and freedom to make the curriculum work for their students using various models, some of which we’ll explore below.
Station rotation frees the teacher to work with small groups, differentiating instruction, guiding discussion, and providing feedback.
This model comprises a series of learning experiences that students rotate through, including teacher-led, online, and offline stations. Teachers may struggle to conceptualize linear lessons in a circular rotation. I encourage them to ask: Which part of the lesson is most challenging for students and requires significant teacher support? Which activities benefit from variable time on task? Which activities will be enhanced from peer support?
The answer to question one will determine which activity the teacher might include in a teacher-led station. The answer to question two will determine which learning activities work best as self-paced tasks. The third will identify the learning activities that work best as small group or partner tasks.
AN ELA EXAMPLE
StudySync is an ELA curriculum that includes a library of digital texts paired with audio tracks, video models of various skills, a peer feedback tool, and automated scaffolds.
Let’s take a linear, whole group lesson from StudySync and reimagine it as a station rotation. I’ll use the eighth-grade First Read lesson for A Celebration of Grandfathers, by Rudolfo Anaya.
This StudySync lesson asks students to watch and discuss a video preview and build background knowledge; engage in reading activities; practice comprehension strategies; annotate and discuss the text; engage in grammar practice; and answer “think questions.”
If we reimagine the lesson as a station rotation, it might include a teacher-led station modeling a reading strategy using gradual release; an offline station for independent or paired grammar practice and self-assessment; an online or offline station where students make vocabulary predictions, read, and annotate the text; and an online station for collaborative research to build background.
Station rotation frees the teacher from the front of the room to work alongside students, allowing the teacher to make the lesson more accessible.
A MATH EXAMPLE
Math can be challenging to design because it is linear, with concepts building sequentially. Some students get content quickly, while others need more explanation and support. If we want learning to be equitable, with all students receiving the input they need to reach a particular output, we need to get creative.
During a recent blended learning training, a teacher was in tears. She knew her current approach wasn’t working for most students but wasn’t sure how to use blended learning with the Swun Math curriculum. Challenge accepted.
We brainstormed an approach that honored the basic methodology of Swun but incorporated stations to differentiate instruction.
Like most adopted curriculum, a Swun lesson has more than a teacher can cover in a class period: a problem of the day, vocabulary, the input model, structured guided practice, a final check for understanding, student practice, challenge problems, and an extension activity.
In a reimagined lesson, the teacher could allow for student control by beginning with the whole group using Problem of the Day and Vocabulary Building as warm-ups. Then, the teacher could use Swun’s Input Model to provide direct instruction introducing the day’s topic.
Instead of having the class move as a unit through the remaining lesson elements, since students require variable time on task, the teacher can transition them into skill-level groups. That frees the teacher to provide more support to the students in the lower-level group as they work on Final Check and move to Practice Problems.
Students in the midlevel group can watch the video of the input model if they need additional instruction while the teacher is working with the lower-level group. The teacher then transitions from the lower to the midlevel group to review and support work.
The high-level group will need less teacher time and complete more lesson elements. When they finish Challenge Problems, they can decide how to use their time. They might move on to the next video lesson, complete the extension activity, or grab a “student tutor” lanyard and assist other students. Not only do students in the high-level group move at a pace that works for them, but they can choose to serve as valuable resources in the classroom.
Designing Adopted Curriculum Facilitates Tailored Learning Experiences
The purpose of an adopted curriculum is to provide a high-quality, standards-aligned learning experience for all students, but a one-size-fits-all approach rarely meets everyone’s needs. Just as a traditional meat-filled lasagna won’t work for a dinner party that includes vegetarians, a teacher-led whole group lesson won’t meet the wide spectrum of needs, abilities, and interests in a classroom.
Teachers must bring their creativity and knowledge of their student population into their work, designing and facilitating tailored learning experiences. Blended learning provides transferable instructional models that teachers can use to modify their curriculum to ensure that learning is designed to meet the needs of all students.
Every blogger wants one thing more than anything: more traffic
In order to increase your traffic and keep growing, you need to get creative and you need to leverage a lot of different platforms and channels. There is a lot of competition when it comes to content, so in order to stand out and reach your audience, you don’t just need quality, but also a strong promotional strategy.
In my latest Quick Win for Smart Insights, I show you how you can build such a strategy by listing all of the main methods of promoting a blog. You’ll get to learn:
The top free ways of promoting your blog, such as social media strategies and how to maximise your traffic from social media, search engine optimisation tips, and other effective free tactics
The best blogging communities to share your posts in and increase your social shares
How to build your own blog promotion checklist to help you make sure you are leveraging every channel possible
But in this blog post, I’m going to share some creative ways of promoting your blog post, to help you mix up your promotional strategy and generate more traffic:Mix up your social updates
It’s not enough to share your blog posts just one or twice on your social media – you’ll lose a lot of potential traffic, as social media updates generally disappear very quickly from your followers’ newsfeeds.
To maximise your reach and generate more traffic, share your blog posts multiple times; for example:
Once every 1-2 days on Twitter
Once a week on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+
Use different text updates; for example, some of the ways you can mix things up is to use a quote from your blog post as the text update, an interesting fact, or a controversial statement (all taken from the blog post). Or, you can change the call to action; for example, “discover how to (…)”, “learn the best ways to (…)”, and so on.
Promote the blog post using different media: use fun GIFs or create social media images – you can use tools like Canva, Crello, and Pablo by Buffer to help – to attach when sharing your blog post. For example, you can add text over your image, like before (a quote from your blog, a fact, a statement, etc.)Answer questions on Quora
If you’re not sure how to use Quora, it’s a Q&A platform, where anyone can answer any question they want, and anyone can respond.
There are questions about any topic you can think of, from questions about personal lives to specific niche topics about any industry.
As you start building up your profile on Quora and responding to questions regularly, it will help you build up your blog and website traffic and your influence as a thought leader in your niche.
To get started, complete your profile; don’t forget to include a link to your blog and make sure to write a compelling bio, as it will be seen every time you answer something.
Then, start answering questions; use the search bar to find relevant questions and to find topics to subscribe to.
You can include relevant links in your answers, but try not to promote just yours – include other helpful resources and links, as the more value you offer, the better.
You should also try to respond to new questions regularly to build up your followers and your traffic: check Quora regularly to see if there are any new questions (so yours can be the first answer!) and try to respond to a new question every day, or every few days.Repurpose your content
Your content doesn’t have to be used just once and discarded. In fact, there are all kinds of ways that you can repurpose your content to reach a wider audience and drive more traffic back to your blog.
First, check your blog analytics: what are your most popular blog posts? Which generated the most traffic and engagement?
These posts are the perfect ones to reuse as they’ve already demonstrated they drive results.
Here are some of the best ways to repurpose your content to maximise your results:
Turn a top-performing how-to post into a Slideshare presentation; the ones on the front page get hundreds of thousands of views, so if you can create an awesome presentation with a compelling headline and that provides a lot of value to the reader, you have the potential to reach a whole new audience. Make sure to also add your logo and branding (use your brand colours) and to include a call to action to get people to visit your blog/website
Turn a fact-heavy blog post into an infographic: infographics are still popular and can help you generate more traffic – you just need interesting facts and statistics and a compelling design. To help you make your infographic, you can try tools like Canva or Visme; once done, share your infographic on social media and on your blog to promote it and drive more traffic.Create round-up posts
One of the ways that you can effectively boost your social media shares and traffic, is to write a round-up post; for example, it can be about:
The best bloggers in your niche
The top curated content from your industry – the articles that provide the most value to the reader
The top infographics/videos/blog posts/resources/etc. from your niche
These types of curated posts can actually provide a lot of value to the reader – especially a blog where you curate the best blog posts and resources in your niche – which is a big bonus. But the way you’re going to boost your shares is by reaching out to all of the bloggers and influencers you’ve mentioned in your post to let them know about it and, of course, so they can share it.
You can reach out via email or social media: just send them a short message letting them know about it and asking them to share it with their audience if they like the post.Conclusion
Blog promotion is no easy feat. In order to drive traffic to your blog, you need to promote your blog on multiple channels and on a regular basis. That means not only using all of the classic channels of blog promotion – like SEO, social media, and email marketing – but you also need to get creative and try different methods.
If you want to learn more about all the different ways that you can promote your blog and generate more traffic, check out my Quick Win, where you’ll get to learn every top blog promotion method and other lesser-known ways that you can leverage.
We were impressed with the Creative Hitz WP380 wireless headphones, for sound quality, comfort and wireless freedom. Once you tried Bluetooth headphones going back to wired models seems rather primitive. Sound quality is great and these headphones are comfortable to wear and don’t leak much noise to the outside world.
The Creative Hitz WP380 are a solid but lightweight set of headphones that allow for both wireless and wired listening. We review the Creative Hitz WP380 for sound quality, Bluetooth connectivity and comfort.
Wireless speakers and headphones are becoming increasingly popular now that Bluetooth technology has developed to cope with high-quality audio. See also: Best speakers for iPhone, Galaxy, Nexus and Best earbuds and headphones for iPhone, iPad, Android
Were moving on from the days of Apple’s iconic white iPod earbud cables. Getting rid of such headphone cables has more benefits than just not snagging yourself on door handles or having to untangle miles of strangely knotty cable – can anyone explain just how headphone cables do get in such tangles? Read: How to add Bluetooth to an iPod classic.
With Near Field Communication (NFC) technology all you need to do is tap your NFC-enabled smartphone or music player to a compatible speaker or headphone and you’re connected within seconds. Sadly Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod can’t yet handle tap-to-pair with speakers or other accessories such as the Creative Hitz WP380 wireless on-ear headphones. But NFC comes in just about every Android and Windows Phone, so Apple users are missing out for the time being.
That’s not to say that the £89.99 WP380 headphones won’t work with iPhones or iPods – it’s only the tap-to-pair NFC feature that is denied them until Apple wakes up to the benefits.
Instead you hold down one area of the headphones through power up and a few seconds more to start pairing the WP380 and your iPhone/iPod.
With Bluetooth headphones such as these you can share your audio with another headphone user – no walking oddly tethered by a cable lead.
Creative calls this ShareMe. Sharing an audio source might seem like a gimmick but think of the possibilities: listening to music, a podcast or audiobook together, or watching a movie with friend during a commute or long-haul flight.
Pairing two sets of compatible headphones isn’t as easy as tapping NFC devices but it’s a relatively simple matter of both users pressing some of the headphone buttons.Creative Hitz WP380 wireless headphones review: Sound quality
We were pleasantly surprised how good the Creative Hitz WP380 does sound. To be sure we gave the wireless headphones to our resident audio nut, Technical Editor Andrew Harrison, to test.
He was impressed that there’s none of the background hiss and crackle he has heard on many Bluetooth audio devices.
Connected by aptX (data reduction technology) to a MacBook, it’s close to having a regular wired connection.
The overall tone of the headphones are good – warm bass without being overblown, tight and controlled for the most part too; level midband, inoffensive treble if with a little metallic hint audible in classical strings, for instance.
There is a nice stereo spread between the ears, and usefully wide sound with good image focus.
In layman’s terms… the Creative Hitz WP380 is a pair of great-sounding wireless headphones.
The Creative Hitz WP380 headphones feature the Apt-X codec, which is a neat audio compression technology (codec) that optimizes audio streaming through Bluetooth in an attempt to transmit CD level audio quality wirelessly. Both the headphones and the device you’re streaming from have to support aptX. Just as with NFC Apple doesn’t yet support Apt-X with its mobile devices but plenty of Android smartphones do. Check out a list of Apt-X– compatible devices here.Creative Hitz WP380 wireless headphones review: Comfort
The headphones are a bit clampy on the head but are secure with it, and we found noise leakage to be mininmal – so you won’t annoy people near you with your music.
Andrew did detect some slight mechanical noise from the headband if he waggled his head or jaw, but we don’t think this is going to put many people off these quality headphones.
You control On/Off power, volume and Forward/Back track selection from the right ear pad.
There are no heavy batteries to constantly replace or weigh you down as charging is done through the supplied Micro USB cable. A nice touch is that the headphones come with a flat, tangle-free audio cable (2.5mm jack for the headphones and 3.5mm for the audio player) in case the battery power runs out.
Creative claims that you’ll get up to 12 hours of playback and talk time with a single charge.Creative Hitz WP380 wireless headphones review: Built-in mic
The headphones boats a built-in, HD-ready speech microphone with the ClearSpeech Engine that Creative claims actively suppresses external noises and digitally enhances speech clarity to keep conversations loud and clear.
Will iPhone 5 HD Voice work in the UK?Specs Creative Hitz WP380 wireless headphones: Specs
Weight 150g (5.3oz)
Main Features: Volume Control, aptX, Near Field Communication (NFC)
Driver Size: 34mm (1.33 inches) Neodymium magnet
Frequency Response 18Hz ~ 22kHz
Optional cable Length 1.2m / 3.9ft
Small and inconspicuous
Siri is getting smarterCons
Not as smart as other speakers
Only compatible with Apple devices
No Bluetooth connectivityOur Verdict
The HomePod Mini excels in the audio department despite its small stature, but it falls over in terms of connectivity – not just the smart devices it can control, but the smartphones and services it’s compatible with.Best Prices Today: Apple HomePod mini
Apple is in the midst of a mini revolution, launching not only the iPhone 12 Mini but the HomePod Mini at its ‘Hi, Speed’ event in October 2023. Though the HomePod Mini is spectacularly small at just 84mm tall, it’s just as smart as its bigger sibling, and the sound quality is incredible considering its small form factor.
But, as we all know, Siri isn’t quite up to competing with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, so is the HomePod Mini really worth investing in? I’ve spent a few weeks using the HomePod Mini, and although it’s not the perfect option for everyone, there’s certainly a lot to love if you’re already heavily embedded in the Apple ecosystem.Design and build
The HomePod Mini certainly lives up to the Mini moniker, standing at just 84.3mm tall with a diameter of 97.9mm. It’s a dramatic difference to recent smart speakers we’ve seen from the likes of Amazon, with the similarly priced and similarly shaped fourth-gen Amazon Echo measuring in at 133mm tall with a diameter of 144mm.
Apple’s option, then, is much more conspicuous than the competition, allowing it to disappear into the environment it’s sat in until it’s needed.
But even with all that being said, it’s still a shock just how small the speaker is when you see it in real life – especially when you consider the impressive audio chops, but I’ll get to that a little later.
Size aside, the HomePod Mini is a largely circular smart speaker with the same textured covering found on the regular HomePod, bringing a nice level of synchronicity to the system if you’ve already invested in a HomePod or two.
One area where the two speakers differ is on top; while the standard HomePod features a small display for displaying colours and media controls, the HomePod Mini features a plastic top surface with an embedded pulsing white LED to indicate music playback and Siri functionality.
It’s technically a downgrade, but one that I haven’t found to be bothersome in day-to-day use – even though the materials used are different, it functions in the same way, using touch input to pause or play music and adjust the volume.
The HomePod Mini was initially available in black and white, but the company expanded the collection and announced three new colours – yellow, orange and blue – at its October 2023 event.
Although it looks like it’d be a great portable speaker, it requires a power supply to function. At least there’s a power brick in the box, something that can’t be said of much of Apple’s current offering!Smart features and connectivity
It’s no secret that Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri, isn’t quite as capable as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant on the smart speaker front, but the tide is changing – albeit slower than some Apple fans might like.
Siri is now better equipped to handle general knowledge requests as well as the ability to control any Apple Home-enabled smart accessories. It’ll be able to answer those random burning questions at 2am, send texts from your iPhone, handle music requests and if you ask Siri to show you a photo of something (a bit of an odd request given the HomePod Mini doesn’t have a display), it’ll send it to your iPhone.
Like with most smart home tech, it doesn’t always work, but it was fairly consistent with its smart functionality.
The Home compatibility isn’t quite as wide-reaching as Google and Amazon’s options, but if you’ve got a bunch of accessories that you already use with the Home app on your iPhone, chances are you’ll enjoy being able to control your smart accessories with your voice.
It offers support for user-created Shortcuts too, making it easier to control entire groups of smart devices at once. The ability to say “Hey Siri, goodnight” and have my TV and lights turn off and the sound of rain come through my speaker is a novelty I won’t be getting over, that’s for sure.
Whether summoning Siri or making an announcement, the beamforming microphone technology is reliable, always triggering at the correct time – even with music playing. There’s no need to pause between saying the wake word and your request either, you can simply say “Hey Siri turn on the lights” at once and it’ll wake and run the command simultaneously.
The voice recognition tech seems to be accurate for my voice/accent, but as with all voice recognition tech, that’ll vary from person to person.
The main focus for the HomePod Mini, much like the regular HomePod, is music playback. That’s best experienced with an Apple Music subscription, with you able to request specific playlists or tracks from your library using Siri and keep them ‘loaded’ for playback later on.
If you’ve got a compatible iPhone, you can even hold an iPhone playing music via Apple Music next to the HomePod Mini to pass playback to the speaker, and it works vice-versa too. It’s a bit gimmicky, for sure, but there are times in the past few weeks when I’ve done exactly that when entering the room while listening to music on my iPhone.
The Apple Music integration does make it much easier to listen to music on the fly, and the integration with iOS is as tight as you might imagine, but that makes it all the worse that it isn’t compatible with other popular streaming services like Spotify and YouTube Music.
It does look like times are changing though; Apple announced integrated Pandora support for the HomePod range and the door is open for other developers to add support, so that could change soon. I really hope it does, because although I can still play music from Spotify using AirPlay, it’s nowhere near as convenient as built-in integration.
It’s at this point that I should point out that Wi-Fi-connected AirPlay is the only way to connect to the HomePod Mini if you’re not planning on listening to music via Apple Music – there’s no 3.5mm input or Bluetooth connectivity on offer. For those unfamiliar, AirPlay is technology only supported by Apple products.
Compound that with the fact you need an iPhone or iPad to set up the HomePod Mini, it’s safe to say that the HomePod Mini is a bad choice for Android users. That’s a bit of a shame considering the great audio quality and design on offer, but it’s not exactly a new concept from Apple is it?Sound quality
There’s a level of clarity on offer that is unmatched by similar-sized speakers, and that’s evident in just about every track played. Whether I’m listening to classic tracks like The Animals’ House of the Rising Sun or classical tracks like Jessica Curry’s All the Earth, the mids and high-end are crisp and clean, producing detail easily lost with cheaper speakers.
There is a noticeable level of bass to go along with those rich, warm vocals, but it’s not the same thundering bass presence that you’ll find on the regular HomePod. The rounded bass tones are prominent enough for casual listening, but it’s only when you switch back to a regular HomePod that you realise just how much more bassy playback could’ve been.
That’s not to say the HomePod Mini sounds flat or tinny though – quite the opposite. It does the most it can with the bass presence available, it’s just that it wouldn’t be my first choice of a speaker to use to play Dubstep at a house party for example – whenever those become a thing again, anyway…
The HomePod Mini generates an impressively wide soundscape, throwing audio in every direction, although it doesn’t have the ability to automatically adjust the EQ depending on where it’s placed – that’s exclusive to the more expensive HomePod for now.
Still, even without the smart tech, the wide soundscape and impressive overall volume mean that it’s more than enough for a casual listening experience when working, playing games or reading a book.
That experience is elevated even further when pairing two HomePod Minis for stereo playback.
Doubling up not only allows the pair to handle left and right channels independently, creating a more immersive experience when properly placed, but it provides true room-filling audio too. I’d go as far as to argue that the stereo performance is reason enough to ditch your existing Mac speaker setup and using two HomePod Minis in its place – as long as you’re happy to use AirPlay, anyway.
If you’re looking for a small, good-looking speaker setup that produces much better sounding audio than it should be able to, the HomePod Mini is a solid option.Pricing and availability
The HomePod Mini originally cost £99/$99, but it saw a £10 price drop in the UK in late 2023, bringing the price down to £89. That’s in line with the fourth-gen Amazon Echo, and I don’t think I’m alone in admitting that I expected it to cost a little more when it was first revealed in October 2023. Apple does tend to add a premium onto its products after all, but it’s clear with the HomePod Mini that Apple simply wants to get this into the homes of as many Apple users as possible.
The HomePod Mini is worth the price if you’ve got an iPhone, an Apple Music subscription and plenty of Homekit-supported accessories, but it does lose a bit of its magic if you primarily use Spotify and use smart home tech that isn’t compatible with Apple Home, of which there is admittedly a lot.
If it is up your street, you can grab the HomePod Mini directly from Apple alongside retailers like John Lewis in the UK and Best Buy in the US. For more smart speaker inspiration, take a look at our pick of the best smart speakers.Verdict
The HomePod Mini may be small in stature, but it’s big in sound. Despite its small dimensions, the HomePod Mini has impressive audio chops that easily beat similarly priced speakers from Google and Amazon with crisp, clear mids and highs and decent bass presence, albeit not quite as powerful as its larger, premium sibling. That effect is only improved by pairing two HomePod Minis together, producing room-filling audio with no hint of distortion at any volume.
There’s an obvious focus on audio performance with the HomePod Mini because, like the regular HomePod, Siri isn’t quite as capable as Google Assistant and Alexa. Apple has made strides with wider support for smart home accessories, better general knowledge query handling and the introduction of an announcement feature to send a message to all HomePods and Apple devices in the home, but it’s still lacking in some areas.
The most limiting factor of the HomePod Mini, aside from the fact you need an Apple Music or Pandora subscription to get the easiest listening experience possible, is that it only offers AirPlay connectivity – a feature exclusive to Apple devices.
This makes the HomePod Mini essentially useless if you’ve got an Android, as you’ll need an iPhone or iPad to complete the initial setup at the bare minimum. It’s great for Apple fans, then, but Android users should probably consider something from Amazon or Google for a better smart speaker experience.Specs Apple HomePod mini: Specs
84.3mm (H) x 97.9mm (W), 345g, full-range driver and dual passive radiators, Four-microphone design for far-field Siri, Multiroom audio with AirPlay 2, Stereo pair capable, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Direct guest access4, Bluetooth 5.0, Ultra Wideband chip for device proximity, Siri control, Touch Control panel
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