Belkin Soundform Connect brings AirPlay 2 to any speaker

Posted:
in General Discussion
Belkin's newly announced Soundform Connect will make any traditional speaker an AirPlay 2 target.

Belkin Soundform Connect brings AirPlay to legacy speakers
Belkin Soundform Connect brings AirPlay to legacy speakers


Apple promised whole-home audio via AirPlay 2, but customers with existing speaker systems were left out. Speakers with AirPlay act as wireless audio receivers for devices like the iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV, and even HomePod mini.

Belkin's Soundform Connect will transform any speaker with 3.5mm or optical input into an AirPlay 2 device. It is a small device that can easily be hidden behind a bookshelf speaker or sound system.

Once the Soundform Connect is attached to a speaker, it will show up as a targetable AirPlay device for Apple products. Users need only add the speaker to the Home app to control playback and name the speaker.

Users will be able to control the speaker from the AirPlay menu found across media apps and players and even group the speaker with others for a whole-home audio experience.

The Soundform Connect is available through Belkin's website for $99.99.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    uktechieuktechie Posts: 63member
    I’ve been buying second hand Airport Express devices to use for Airplay 2. They work really well and can work as an extra WiFi hotspot too to extend the WiFi range around a big house. 
    tokyojimugregoriusmegold44boboliciouswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 11
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 850member
    Strangely complete and yet also limited info on the Belkin page.

    Do you have to connect it to your WiFi, or does it just show up in your AirPlay list as some unprotected Airplay devices do - and do you have to enter a PIN or can anybody play?

    16-bit, 44,100 Hz (44.1 kHz) resolution. Is that better or the same as the Airport Express?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 11
    mknelson said:

    16-bit, 44,100 Hz (44.1 kHz) resolution. Is that better or the same as the Airport Express?

    APE  supposedly will support 24 bit/44.1K.  Internal APE DAC is 16 bit/44.1K however.
    Question is if you use an external DAC via the optical output will it play at the higher resolution?
    If yes that would open up deliver of lossless with (slightly) better than CD quality. 

    While an APE replacement is needed in the marketplace I think Belkin may have missed a real opportunity by not proving a device that would support the upcoming Music Lossless/HD update. Also would be nice if it had an ethernet connector. 

    edited May 20 watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 11
    Eric_WVGGEric_WVGG Posts: 937member
    uktechie said:
    I’ve been buying second hand Airport Express devices to use for Airplay 2. They work really well and can work as an extra WiFi hotspot too to extend the WiFi range around a big house. 
    I've been doing the same, but tbh really looking forward to retiring it.

    Unlike modern mesh wifi, when you extend with an Airport Express, the wifi throughput gets cut drastically (I believe as much as by half, but don't quote me on that). I've got my Express wifi turned off and am just using Ethernet. In the era of Chromecasts and Amazon Fire sticks, it feels just ridiculous to be using this block for simply pumping audio.

    And when I start playback, there seems to be a delay of a couple seconds while it's handshaking or whatever… maybe it's the nature of the protocol (someone with a Homepod could probably inform us), but it sure seems like a symptom of 10+ year-old hardware. (on the other hand, the Belkin thing doesn't have Ethernet, so maybe it won't connect more quickly at all?)

    Finally, it'a just weird to advise people to go on eBay and look for discontinued hardware as the best solution to enabling a nice home stereo system… this Belkin thing is long overdue, glad to see it hitting the market.
    edited May 20 egold44StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 11
    DoctorQDoctorQ Posts: 28member
    If you have a Raspberry Pi laying around, you can diy one with Shairport Sync for free. AND you get a Ethernet port.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 11
    Eric_WVGG said:
    uktechie said:
    I’ve been buying second hand Airport Express devices to use for Airplay 2. They work really well and can work as an extra WiFi hotspot too to extend the WiFi range around a big house. 
    I've been doing the same, but tbh really looking forward to retiring it.

    Unlike modern mesh wifi, when you extend with an Airport Express, the wifi throughput gets cut drastically (I believe as much as by half, but don't quote me on that). I've got my Express wifi turned off and am just using Ethernet. In the era of Chromecasts and Amazon Fire sticks, it feels just ridiculous to be using this block for simply pumping audio.

    And when I start playback, there seems to be a delay of a couple seconds while it's handshaking or whatever… maybe it's the nature of the protocol (someone with a Homepod could probably inform us), but it sure seems like a symptom of 10+ year-old hardware. (on the other hand, the Belkin thing doesn't have Ethernet, so maybe it won't connect more quickly at all?)

    Finally, it'a just weird to advise people to go on eBay and look for discontinued hardware as the best solution to enabling a nice home stereo system… this Belkin thing is long overdue, glad to see it hitting the market.
    I as well have got 4 AEs rigged up to various analogue audiophile setups and really like them when it all works. I use one as a dedicated range extender, along with a 2nd guest network. One trick I understand for speed is to use the last Airport/Time Capsule as the main hub, and make sure the first connection is 5GHz. Non 5GHz has longer range at slower speed for less critical applications, however if the first connection I understand that can slow things down. I then use Apple Remote from iPhone to play lossless throughout my space. One downside has been intermittent connectivity which I can only resolve some times by rebooting. It seems to relate to the remote app. So many iOS updates it is easy to understand. The other benefits include analogue audio for vintage gear and the potential for enet and usb. I keep hoping Apple will bring this back along ATMOS support for less proprietary audio connections. It does seem to carry regular Dolby having used it with an older analogue Rx which decoded from Apple TV 4K. I had little desire to replace my Klipsch with a HomePod to get the fuller WiFi decoding... Has it all become needlessly complex and hyper dependent on ephemeral software support ?  It seems every time I turn on my Apple TV I have a wait for some new bug fix. I'd be upset too if I had just bought a HomePod and found out it had been discontinued. My vintage amps and speakers just keep on working...
    mobirdwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 11
    bsimpsenbsimpsen Posts: 357member
    DoctorQ said:
    If you have a Raspberry Pi laying around, you can diy one with Shairport Sync for free. AND you get a Ethernet port.

    Shairport does not support AirPlay 2.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 11
    FlytrapFlytrap Posts: 56member
    DoctorQ said:
    If you have a Raspberry Pi laying around, you can diy one with Shairport Sync for free. AND you get a Ethernet port.
    As far as I am aware shairport-sync does not support AirPlay 2... which means that it will be very limited as an Airplay receiver. I have a few of those $39 Airplay receivers from Amazon. They are great as point solutions in a single room where you have powered speakers (and cost a whole lot less than a Raspberry Pi with case and power supply). But once you start to get some Airplay 2 devices into the house and start to enjoy some of those great features, the isolation of the Airplay devices becomes very frustrating - it is not possible for Airplay devices to be part of your whole home audio setup like Airplay 2 devices. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 11
    dtidmoredtidmore Posts: 144member
    Just received the Soundform Connect.  I had been using an older Airport Express and it worked well other than AppleTV randomly loosing the connection to the AE, requiring a reboot to rediscover.  The new Connect out of the box would NOT automagically trigger my iPhone 12+ Max iPhone.  I did a reset on the Connect and it immediately appeared on my iPhone ready for setup.  Simply enough to setup with the iPhone handling all the setup once the device was discovered.  I am using the toslink connection for the audio output and it works flawlessly.  I chose the Connect in the Video&Audio section of the AppleTV (newest 4K version) and it found it instantly.  As for sound quality, it is at least on par with the AE.  My expectations are that using Airplay2 rather then the original Airplay protocol will be more robust.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 11
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 999member
    I quickly bought five secondhand Airport Express when I heard they were going to be updated to AP2.  Love those things.  Glad to see a new alternative for other people.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 11
    OctoMonkeyOctoMonkey Posts: 227member
    Do any of you Airport Express users also use a HomePod?

    I have both and after (foolishly) upgrading the HomePod firmware last year have had never ending issues with the HomePod while running both devices concurrently...  to the point where I ended up purchasing a Sonos unit to replace my HomePod.

    I looked into this Belkin device, but without a wired ethernet port I will take a pass and stick with the Airport Express (purely as an ethernet to audio device - WiFi is disabled) & Griffin Twenty combination.
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