An Apple application filed in Denmark describes and illustrates how four HomePod speakers can be used for wireless surround sound. It was first discovered by Patently Apple. Many other inventions detailed in the 568-page patent have already been launched so why has it not happened yet?
Surround sound with HomePod
One of the first questions we had when Apple announced its HomePod speaker, was if it can be used together with Apple TV to deliver wireless surround sound, perhaps even some form of object-based surround sound (i.e. based on Dolby Atmos).
Sadly, the answer is no – at least for now. While it is possible to wirelessly output stereo sound via Airplay 2 to a pair of HomePods (left and right front), there is currently in no option in Airplay 2 to add discrete rear channels to the mix.
However, Apple has apparently been working on something along those lines for a while. The Apple patent application was filed in Denmark on May 29, 2017 and published on January 9, 2019. It is a hugely comprehensive 568-page document that describes almost everything relating to Airplay 2, HomePod, the new media control center on Apple TV and iOS, and more.
Many of the inventions and features described became available with the launch of HomePod and Airplay 2.
But not figure 10L and the concept described below.
- “FIG. 10L illustrates a group of devices comprised of device 1000, device 1020, device 1022, and device 1024. As described with reference to FIG. 10K, each device in the group can be configured to output a different audio channel signal (e.g., “rear left” signal on device 1022, “rear right” signal on device 1024, “front left” signal on device 1000, and “front right” signal on device 1020),” the patent said.
In such a setup the front two speakers would act as front left and front right, while the other two would act as rear left and rear right for a 4-channel surround sound system.
Apple has seemingly been working on this since at least 2017 – and possibly even longer – so why is it still not possible? Of course, we can only speculate as to why. Perhaps Apple needs more time, perhaps it did not work as intended, perhaps it will never happen. Still, with Airplay 2 being implemented in more and more speakers – and now even TVs – Apple must have a long-term plan in place.