AirPlay is one of the most useful features on iPhones, iPads, and Macs, but unless you own Apple’s expensive smart speaker or TV hardware, you’ve probably never used it. Now, Belkin is opening pre-orders for the SOUNDFORM Connect, an audio adapter that lets you add AirPlay functionality your existing speakers. The only drawback is that it costs $100.
Like an AirPlay-enabled smart speaker, Belkin’s SOUNDFORM adapter connects to your home internet to receive commands from your Apple devices. Pressing the AirPlay button in Apple Music will send a song or podcast to the SOUNDFORM adapter, for example, which then gets funneled into your stereo system or speakers via 3.5mm or Optical cable.
You can also use Siri to control the SOUNDFORM Connect, although you’ll have to talk to her through your phone or another Apple product. Belkin’s adapter doesn’t have a built-in microphone, and it doesn’t turn your stereo system into a giant HomePod. It’s just an AirPlay receiver for regular old speakers.
At $100, the Belkin SOUNDFORM Connect is kind of a hard sell. But it’s the only device of its kind, and because it streams music over Wi-Fi, it results in higher quality sound than Bluetooth (which you can add to any stereo system using a cheap adapter). Belkin’s inclusion of a Optical cable shows that the company is aiming for a market that’s interested in good sound, although the 3.5mm output will work fine for most people.
I should also throw out that, if you’re crafty, you can make your own AirPlay adapter with a Raspberry Pi. Most models of Raspberry Pi will work, so this workaround could save you a lot of money.