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How to set HomePods as default speakers for your TV via Apple TV 4K

01 Feb 2023 | Rasmus Larsen |

As an alternative to a soundbar, a pair of HomePods can take over from your TV speakers with support for up to Dolby Atmos. Here's how if you own a 2nd or 3rd generation Apple TV 4K. 

The original HomePods gained Apple TV 4K integration through a software update shortly before they were discontinued, but with the launch of the new HomePod (2nd Gen) Apple is highlighting it as a key feature. HomePod mini is also supported but we recommend a pair of the larger HomePods for proper TV audio.

Apple HomePod review

HomePod (1st Gen) paired wirelessly to Apple TV 4K. Photo: FlatpanelsHD

A pair of HomePods is an alternative to a mid-range soundbar and in our testing two HomePods (1st Gen) deliver markedly better TV sound than, for example, Sonos Beam, with overall fuller and more detailed sound, better bass, a wider stereo perspective, and better room calibration. They also very effectively create a phantom center speaker where your TV screen is. In our experience, the wireless connection is rock solid. The downside is that only two HomePods can be used as separate channels, so no dedicated rear speakers at this time. HomePods can be set as the default speakers for Apple TV 4K (2017), meaning that all app and game audio play wirelessly through the HomePods at all times. With Apple TV 4K (2021) and Apple TV 4K (2022) you can additionally enable HDMI eARC / ARC to set HomePods as the audio system for all devices connected to the TV, including PlayStation, Xbox etc. Also read: Review: Apple TV 4K (2022) A pair of HomePods (1st and 2nd Gen) support up to Dolby Atmos meaning that they use the object-based audio to try and virtualize a room-filling sound stage. It works well but there are not many overhead or rear effects.

Apple TV eARC

Apple TV 4K (2021) and Apple TV 4K (2022) support HDMI eARC & ARC. Screenshot: FlatpanelsHD

How to do it

  1. Pair your two HomePods as a stereo pair from the Home app on iPhone/iPad/Mac.
  2. Make sure that your HomePod and Apple TV 4K are on the same Wi-Fi network. In addition, HomePods and Apple TV 4K must be set to the same room in the Home app on iPhone/iPad/Mac.
  3. On your Apple TV 4K, go to Settings > Video and Audio > Audio Output. Select your pair of HomePods as the default speakers. HomePods cannot be set as the default speakers for Apple TV HD.
  4. With Apple TV 4K (2021) and Apple TV 4K (2022) you can enable 'Play Television Audio' to also get audio from your TV (tuners, apps etc) and its HDMI inputs.
  5. On your TV change the audio output to HDMI ARC / eARC. It works best if your TV supports eARC. For audio/video sync to work correctly make sure to set your TV's eARC is set to 'Passthrough'. In addition, your HDMI devices should be set to output PCM audio (not bitstream). PS: The ARC / eARC feature works only with HomePods, not AirPods.
  6. If you are still experiencing audio/video sync issues run 'Wireless Audio Sync' under settings on Apple TV 4K for each relevant video output mode (60Hz, 50Hz, 24Hz). We refer to this guide for more information. You should also turn off your TV's motion smoothing system separately in SDR mode and each HDR mode.
That's it. Every time you turn on your TV, PS5, Xbox or whatever, audio will play wirelessly through your HomePods. You can control the volume via the TV's remote, Apple's remote, Apple's remote app on iPhone/iPad and through Siri voice commands. Also read: AirPlay 2 speakers may soon function as default Apple TV speakers Next, Apple should launch more powerful TV-optimized HomePods and expand its wireless audio platform to support more surround speakers.

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