Here’s the deal, folks; Bluetooth speakers are very convenient, but for the most part, they don’t sound very good. Don’t get me wrong, some Bluetooth speakers will impress in the sound quality department, but those models are few and far between. Audiophiles and other lovers of music will often instead opt for wired speakers and stereo receivers — convenience be damned.
Apple’s AirPlay 2 is far superior to Bluetooth, as it often provides better sound quality while operating over Wi-Fi. Yes, you can easily transmit to an AirPlay speaker as long as it is connected to the same network. The problem? AirPlay 2 speakers are rather rare. Thankfully, a new product from Belkin will transform your existing stereo receiver or speaker system into a makeshift AirPlay 2 device.
Called “SOUNDFORM Connect,” it is fabulously simple in its design. On the rear is a USB-C port for power. On the front is two audio outputs to connect to your stereo system. You can choose between a 3.5mm jack or an optical port. Once everything is set up, you will be able to send music from your Apple device to the SOUNDFORM Connect, which in turn, transmits the audio to the now-formerly “dumb” stereo.
“Engineered to give life to traditional home stereo speakers and sound systems, the SOUNDFORM Connect allows users to seamlessly stream audio without the hassle of pairing devices. Once the SOUNDFORM Connect is connected to any powered speaker or sound system with an optical or 3.5mm input, a user can simply tap the AirPlay icon on their compatible Apple device to start playing music or other audio,” says Belkin.
The company also says, “With AirPlay 2–enabled speakers, users can ask Siri via their iPhone to play their favorite music or podcasts throughout the house, ask what’s playing in each room, control the volume, and more. The adapter enables the speakers to be compatible with HomeKit, making it easy to assign them to different rooms and create scenes and automations in the Home app.”
Unfortunately, while the Belkin SOUNDFORM Connect looks to be a quality product, it is rather pricey. The audio adapter can be had from Amazon here for $99. This may not seem like much to an audiophile, but it is a big cost for the average consumer — especially when it needs to be paired with an existing speaker system. While Apple AirPlay 2 is superior to Bluetooth, the latter is typically much more affordable.