I did not realise that the HomePod mains cable had a plug

It took me a long time to realise that the HomePod’s mains cable was actually plugged into the HomePod – I thought it was a permanent part of the HomePod.

But this story – https://9to5mac.com/2018/02/10/remove-homepod-power-cable-video/ – debunked that belief, with a good YouTube video to boot!

Apple HomePod – a first weekend impression.

Our HomePod arrived in the first batch sent out by Apple – in other words on Saturday February 9th.

I will not bother you with unpacking details – but go straight to the first impressions :

– Siri now works very well, comparable to the Google Home (there is one of those in the house as well)

– The integration with Apple Music works flawlessly (almost)

– The setup procedure is extremely good

– The Homekit integration is not up to scratch.

– Airplay works,

– The sound quality is good for it’s size, but not to audiophile standards.


Siri works a lot better than I’ve ever seen it work on any other device. To be honest I’ve been unimpressed with Siri until I got the HomePod. I’ve quite possibly been spoiled by the Google Home speaker, where voice recognition works extremely well. I have to add that I have a reasonably strong Norwegian accent – enough to make working with various voice recognition systems (except for the Goole home) has been a bit of a hit-and-miss affair on occasions.

But as long as the HomePod is not hidden behind anything it works every time, even at quite a distance (12 foot) and even when playing music. Very impressive, especially seeing some of the artists I ask for songs by have weird and wonderful names.

Sound quality

I used to design and build professional sound studios and speakers for a few years – and have decent speakers at home (QUAD ESL and REL Sub). So iI have a fairly good idea of what makes a audiophile quality speaker.

And the HomePod is not bad, and even fairly good for it’s size. It beats most small speakers, and among these I count the Google Home speaker and the Amazon Alexa speaker. And it’s very dependent on positioning. Putting it in a corner makes it produce surprisingly good bass, but it then struggles with the midrange.

Make no mistake – it’s built for background musing around the home or office where the convenient access to your Apple Music library trumps HiFi listening, and it does this in spades.

It makes me listen to more music than I have for a long time (I’m not allowed my HiFi speakers in our living room (understandably) – but the HomePod can be used – as it looks good, and is smaller than you would guess from the pictures I have seen.

justBoom amplifier on a Raspberry Pi Zero – with music from iTunes on a Macintosh

We have a lot of speakers around the house, and have over the years had various solutions to let us centralise as much as possible of the storage into one place, and still be able to listen to all the music in different rooms and places.

We are predominantly a Apple household, so it is no surprise that we store all of our music in iTunes, and also use Apple Music quite a bit.

We now have a decent solution with the combination of

– iTunes running off one server

– Using a combination of AirPlay and Chromecast (courtesy of AirFoil) to send the music digitally around the house.

– And Airplay running through some Raspberry Pi zeros directly to attached speakers.

– Controlling it all from any of the Macs/iPads/iPhones

Our loudspeakers are among others:

– Quad Electrostatics running from a Analogue Amplifier (with a REL Subwoofer for extra bass) via a AppleTV as a DAC

– JBL monitors driven my JustBoom amplifier Phats on top of Raspberry Pi zeros

– Soundbars running off Apple TV’s

– Google Home speakers

– Headphones directly from IOS devices

– Speakers on our treadmill driven by a iPad

Airfoil and Airfoil satellite

Airfoil runs off a central server, with Airfoil satellite running on Mac’s and IOS devices, plus a open source version running off Raspberry Pi Zeros.

On the Mac it looks like this


This gives every Mac and IOS device the ability to control which devices are fed sound from the central server, and the volume.


The Raspberry pi zero has drivers from JustBoom installed, and a good controller (Alsamixer) controlling some of the basic parameters of the JustBoom amplifier through a rather neat terminal based interface (which means the RPI can run headless, and letting it be controlled from anywhere. Just by typing “alsamixer” on the command line of a terminal session.


The source for the Linux version of Airfoil satellite can be download directly from Rogue Amoebas website and run from the command line.

And the sound is not bad as long as it’s not driven too hard – and as long as a decent power supply is used, and connected directly to the PHAT board, ie. not using the 5V from the Usb interface.

Raspberry PI zero music distribution for the house

I have a new and small hobby project in music distribution for the house.

We have a “big” hifi in the library with 2 QUAD electrostatics and a REL sub – which we almost never fire up these days. But I still want to play music around the house. And in the living room we have 2 small JBL Control1’s (they are fairly unobtrusive and not too bad (you’d never know that I used to build recording studios for a living (-;)

So the current plan is to user Airfoil to distribute music to all our amplifiers/speakers/etc in the house. The master Airfoil will be on a server running iTunes/Apple Music, and the audio output will be through a combination of Apple Airports and AppleTV’s around the house. 

But for the JBL Control1’s i wanted to experiment and do it differently. The idea was to take a Raspberry Pi ZeroW (the tiny £9 wireless (and bluetooth) version of the Raspberry Pi and add a JustBoom Zero Amp to it. The fantastic thing is that there is a Airfoil Satellite for Linux and the Raspberry PI!

And I got it all working now.



This is a partial screenshot of the server in action – you can see the audio sources around the house on the left hand side of the screen, and behind everything iTune/Apple Music running, pumping out music to the tiny Raspberry Pi Zero, and using the JustBoom amp playing on the JBLs!

I’m very pleased that the test seems to work!!!

How to use Google Home speaker from your Apple computer

As I a just trialling a Google Home Speaker at home – and as we use iTunes/Apple Music etc. I had to find a way to play all our music through the Google Home speaker.


Test 1

Moving all our music to Plex – and then it’s really easy, just select output from Plex


and the Google Home pops up. Easy.


Test 2

Use Airfoil – just start up Airfoil and


Select iTunes as source – and the Google Home speaker pops up in the destination list. It even works!

How peer-to-peer airplay is initiated

From : http://chambersdaily.com/bradleychambers/2014/9/19/technical-details-of-peer-to-peer-airplay


iOS 8 supports the ability to stream content from an iOS device to Apple TV even if the devices are on different networks or there’s no network available. The iOS device uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE) to begin the discovery process of available Apple TV devices and then establishes a connection directly to Apple TV using Wi-Fi.

In iOS 8, peer-to-peer AirPlay lets a user use AirPlay directly from a supported iOS device or Mac to an Apple TV without first connecting to the infrastructure network. Peer-to-peer AirPlay eliminates the need to join the right network or disclose Wi-Fi passwords, avoids reachability issues in complex network environments, and provides a direct path from the AirPlay sender to AirPlay receiver to optimize performance. Peer-to-peer AirPlay is enabled by default in iOS 8 and Mac OS X Yosemite v/10.10, and doesn’t require any user configuration.

Peer-to-peer AirPlay requires:

Apple TV (3rd generation rev A Model A1469 or later) with Apple TV software 7.0

iOS devices (2012 or later) with iOS 8

Mac computers (2012 or later) with OS X Yosemite version 10.10

To find the model number of an Apple TV, see the Apple Support article Identifying Apple TV models.

Peer-to-Peer discovery is initiated using Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE) when a user selects AirPlay on an iOS 8 or OS X Yosemite v/10.10 device. This causes the device and the Apple TV to visit Wi-Fi channel 149 in the 5 GHz band and Wi-Fi channel 6 in the 2.4 GHz band, where the discovery process continues. Once the user selects an Apple TV and AirPlay starts, the Wi-Fi radios timeshare between channel 149 and whichever infrastructure channel each device is currently using. If possible, the AirPlay sender roams to the same infrastructure channel the Apple TV is using. If neither device is currently using an infrastructure network, the devices will utilize Wi-Fi channel 149 only for AirPlay. Peer-to-peer mirroring adheres to 802.11 standards, sharing Wi-Fi bandwidth with other Wi-Fi devices.

When you deploy Apple TVs on a large enterprise Wi-Fi network, consider the following guidelines:

Connect Apple TVs to Ethernet whenever possible

Don’t use Wi-Fi Channel 149 or 153 for your infrastructure network

Don’t place or mount the Apple TV behind objects that could disrupt the Bluetooth Low Energy and Wi-Fi signals

Note: Bluetooth Low Energy discovery is a distinct subset of peer-to-peer AirPlay.

AirPlay discovery

iOS and Mac devices will continue to use the same discovery methods available today to find AirPlay receivers. AirPlay receivers can advertise themselves using Bonjour or Bluetooth. Discovery over Bluetooth requires iOS 7.1 or later on the following:

iPad Air

Apple TV (3rd generation or later) running software 6.1 or later

iPhone 4s or later

iPad 3rd generation or later

iPad mini 1st generation or later

iPod touch 5th generation or later

To find the model number of an Apple TV, see the Apple support article, Identifying Apple TV models.

Discovered AirPlay receivers appear in the AirPlay menu.


Infrastructure and peer-to-peer are the two supported modes of AirPlay connectivity. If both the AirPlay sender and receiver support peer-to-peer AirPlay, that’s the preferred data path regardless of infrastructure availability. Peer-to-peer AirPlay coexists with infrastructure connections, so the AirPlay client or AirPlay sender can maintain Internet connectivity simultaneously with the peer-to-peer connection. The 5GHz band is better for connecting over peer-to-peer AirPlay, because it provides a fast, direct connection between the AirPlay sender and AirPlay receiver.

Note: If peer-to-peer AirPlay isn’t supported on either the AirPlay sender or receiver, then the infrastructure connection is automatically used.


AirPlay uses AES encryption to ensure that content remains protected when mirroring or streaming from an iOS or Mac device to an Apple TV.

AirPlay access to an Apple TV can be restricted by setting an Onscreen Code or Password. Only users who enter the Onscreen Code (per AirPlay attempt) or Password on their iOS or Mac device can send AirPlay content to an Apple TV.

Enabling Require Device Verification (Requires an iOS device with iOS 7.1 or later or a Mac with OS X Mavericks v/10.9.2 or later.) requires the iOS or Mac device to authenticate on the initial AirPlay connection. Require Device Verification is useful when Apple TV is deployed on an open Wi-Fi network. To ensure iOS and Mac devices are securely paired, the user is prompted to enter in a one-time Onscreen code. Subsequent connections don’t require a code, unless Onscreen Code settings are enabled.

Peer-to-peer AirPlay is always secured with Require Device Authentication. This setting isn’t configurable by the user, and it prevents any nearby rogue users from accessing an Apple TV.

Note: For devices not on an infrastructure network, Bonjour advertisement of supported AppleTV devices (A1469 or later) is triggered by Bluetooth.