Belkin plans AirPlay 2-enabled audio adapter

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 2021
Accessories maker Belkin is working on a wireless audio adapter that supports Apple's AirPlay 2 protocol, potentially offering a worthy successor to the defunct AirPort Express, according to a new leak.

Belkin SoundForm Connect


Protocol reporter Janko Roettgers in a tweet presented schematics of the supposed device taken from a Federal Communications Commission filing published earlier in February.

According to the document, Belkin's adapter will be marketed as "SoundForm Connect" and includes support for AirPlay 2. The unit will pipe incoming wireless audio to speakers and other devices via a 3.5mm jack or optical digital audio cable. A USB-C port likely powers the device, though it could also be used convert digital audio signals to analog.

"SoundForm Connect" could be worth a look for users lamenting the demise of Apple's AirPort Express base station, which offered AirPlay 2 streaming through an analog/digital output jack.

Introduced in 2018, AirPlay 2 enables iPhone, iPad, Mac and other devices to stream audio to multiple speakers in different rooms. The improvement over first-generation AirPlay also cuts down on audio lag, integrates Siri controls, enhances HomePod functionality and allows users to also sync output throughout a home.

HomeKit integration is a major AirPlay 2 feature that enables device access and control -- including scenes -- from the Home app.

The FCC listing does not mention a release date. Pricing could be around $120, according to retail listings uncovered by Roettgers.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    I’d really like to see hardwired Ethernet support. I have a good wireless network but wireless isn’t everything. I have lots of hubs and wireless protocols already going on in my networking closet where my whole whole amplifier is, I don’t want to have to rely on wireless, and don’t want to have to spend $600 on a Sonos amp or $450 on a Sonos port.
    brianm
  • Reply 2 of 11
    This looks great - better than streaming bluetooth, example on a boat, 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 11
    I was looking for something like this last year to hook up my older receiver to a pair of outdoor speakers. I eventually just settled on using an Apple TV, which worked out great. If this new device really is $120, an Apple TV may be a better buy.
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 11
    Hmmm. Just last week I was wondering if there was something I could use to play music from my Mac or iPhone on my hi-fi using AirPlay 2.
    I didn’t have much luck. Just links to the old Apple Airport Express. 

    I do have a couple of old Apple Airport Extremes kicking around. I wonder if they would work?
    I have an old generation 3 Apple TV somewhere, too.

    If this Belkin thing works, that would be great! 
    If only it had RCA jacks in addition to the typical 3.5mm headphone/AUX jack. Oh well.
    My NAIM pre-amp has XLR interconnects and no headphone jack. An RCA to 3.5mm adaptor would work. 
    Where’s Radio Shack when you need them? 
    edited February 2021 watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 11
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,985member
    xboxbotox said:
    I was looking for something like this last year to hook up my older receiver to a pair of outdoor speakers. I eventually just settled on using an Apple TV, which worked out great. If this new device really is $120, an Apple TV may be a better buy.

    Except an Apple TV has no optical or analog outputs. A lot of traditional or older audio gear will not have an HDMI input.
    boboliciouswatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 11
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 1,076member
    When I heard the last generation of Airport Express was going to support AirPlay 2, I snatched up multiple refurbished units for my home, so glad that I did, they are so helpful to transform old audio equipment (which sound fine) into streaming devices and to allow old non-wifi printers to be used on your network.

    It amazes me that no one has come up with a replacement.  This is good news.
    boboliciousegold44watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 11
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,283member
    mike1 said:
    xboxbotox said:
    I was looking for something like this last year to hook up my older receiver to a pair of outdoor speakers. I eventually just settled on using an Apple TV, which worked out great. If this new device really is $120, an Apple TV may be a better buy.

    Except an Apple TV has no optical or analog outputs. A lot of traditional or older audio gear will not have an HDMI input.
    Applet TV can airplay to the wireless audio adapter which is connected to the older gear via optical or 3.5mm jack connections. There is no need for HDMI from what I understand?

  • Reply 8 of 11
    badmonk said:
    When I heard the last generation of Airport Express was going to support AirPlay 2, I snatched up multiple refurbished units for my home, so glad that I did, they are so helpful to transform old audio equipment (which sound fine) into streaming devices and to allow old non-wifi printers to be used on your network.

    It amazes me that no one has come up with a replacement.  This is good news.
    I am disappointed Apple cancelled the Airport product line...

    I have both vintage audio and audiophile gear as old as the 80's that still works wonderfully and are arguably superior to the proprietary offerings that manufacturers seem to focus on of late, presumably as a profit strategy, and also have found wifi and bluetooth unfortunately inconsistent in terms of function, even within the Apple Airport Express ecosystem.

    Additionally all these proprietary offerings end up reliant on software and support, which is obviously problematic from any number of perspectives, as will be Belkin with what seems much more limited functionality at a higher price than Airport Express...
    edited February 2021 watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 11
    Great news! Throughout the house I've got four Yamaha stereo receivers and two Como Audio radios that are just waiting for these Belkin devices in order to stream to them from my iPhone and iPad via Airplay 2.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 11
    cleger said:
    I’d really like to see hardwired Ethernet support. I have a good wireless network but wireless isn’t everything. I have lots of hubs and wireless protocols already going on in my networking closet where my whole whole amplifier is, I don’t want to have to rely on wireless, and don’t want to have to spend $600 on a Sonos amp or $450 on a Sonos port.
    Completely agree, I have 3 Airport Express for Airplay I have wired.  As well as main stereo receiver wired. I do have one Airport Express setup for wireless - it only gets used for Halloween.  Wire everything that can be, more bandwidth then for things that can't be wired.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 11
    Hmmm. Just last week I was wondering if there was something I could use to play music from my Mac or iPhone on my hi-fi using AirPlay 2.
    I didn’t have much luck. Just links to the old Apple Airport Express. 

    I do have a couple of old Apple Airport Extremes kicking around. I wonder if they would work?
    I have an old generation 3 Apple TV somewhere, too.

    If this Belkin thing works, that would be great! 
    If only it had RCA jacks in addition to the typical 3.5mm headphone/AUX jack. Oh well.
    My NAIM pre-amp has XLR interconnects and no headphone jack. An RCA to 3.5mm adaptor would work. 
    Where’s Radio Shack when you need them? 
    I have three of the OLD old AirPort Express that look like the MacBook chargers (the second 'n' version) and still use those. It's not AirPlay 2, but they still work pretty well. Got 'em on eBay for like $20 each when I upgraded from the old 'b' models.
    watto_cobra
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