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How to Use an AirPlay Adapter to Add Wireless Features to Your Speaker System

Updated on April 20, 2016
AirPlay Adapter Review
AirPlay Adapter Review

Have you spent way too much money on your high-end sound dock or Hi-Fi speakers? Were you a formerly proud owner of speakers that were once equipped with a 30-Pin Dock connector for your iPhone, iPod or iPad? In turn, do you now hate Apple for introducing the non-compatible Lightning port?

An AirPlay adapter solution can ease your pain:

  • It lets you get rid of the cable chaos, and turns your 30-pin equipped speakers or sound dock into a high end AirPlay streaming device.
  • Virtually any sound system or powered speakers with optical or analog audio input can be turned into an Airplay receiver.

Here's how to do it:

The High-End Solution: AirPort Express Base Station

Apple's AirPort Express Base station, a little white box around the same size as an Apple TV, is a wireless network router with full AirPlay support.

With AirPort Express, you can either extend your existing Wi-Fi network or set up a new wireless network with AirPlay functionality. The AirPort Express Base station will serve as an AirPlay receiver and output the audio signal over an audio jack (digital or analog) to your speakers.

How it works:

Done! You can now wirelessly stream uncompressed music to your beloved sound dock.

Pros:

  • Compatible with virtually any sound system with audio-in connectors
  • Superb sound quality through optical audio jack and uncompressed Wi-Fi
  • Great signal range, much higher than Bluetooth
  • Could also be used as a Wi-Fi range extender
  • Multiple users (up to 50) can connect to AirPort Express at the same time

Cons:

  • The set-up is more complex compared to the Dolry Hi-Fi Stone (Wi-Fi configuration, audio cable to speakers)
  • Pricey -- $99

Price
Audio Quality
Recommended for
$99
Excellent
Audiophile Hi-Fi enthusiasts with speakers missing a 30-pin connector

The Budget Solution: Bluetooth Adapter

Do you like the idea of having a wireless music system, except $90 is a bit too steep for your budget? In this case, a Bluetooth Audio Adapter could be a good alternative for you.

With this Bluetooth gadget, you can also have wireless speakers for your iPhone or any other Bluetooth enabled device. While the sound is compressed, most users won't likely hear a difference to the high priced uncompressed Wi-Fi solutions like AirPort Express.

Note: In order to get satisfying results, your Bluetooth audio source must support the Bluetooth Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP). Every modern hardware bought in the last 2-3 years normally should support it.

How it works:

  • Plug the Bluetooth adapter into virtually any powered speakers using a standard RCA or 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Plug in the power adapter.
  • Switch on Bluetooth on your device and connect your device to the Bluetooth adapter

Done! You can now wirelessly stream music to your speakers system.

Pros:

  • Cheap -- only $39
  • Small and compact design
  • Good audio quality
  • Maximum range of 30 feet, which should be enough for most users

Cons:

  • Initial Bluetooth set-up needed
  • Compressed audio
  • Only one device at a time. If you need to switch between devices, you'll need to manually disconnect and connect again every time.

Price
Audio Quality
Recommended for
$39
Average
Music lovers looking for money value
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Bluetooth Adapter Turns Sound Dock into Wireless SpeakersBluetooth Adapter Turns Sound Dock into Wireless SpeakersBluetooth Adapter Turns Sound Dock into Wireless Speakers
Bluetooth Adapter Turns Sound Dock into Wireless Speakers
Bluetooth Adapter Turns Sound Dock into Wireless Speakers
Bluetooth Adapter Turns Sound Dock into Wireless Speakers
Bluetooth Adapter Turns Sound Dock into Wireless Speakers
Bluetooth Adapter Turns Sound Dock into Wireless Speakers
Bluetooth Adapter Turns Sound Dock into Wireless Speakers

Bottom Line: AirPlay Adapter For Every Need

The best AirPlay adapter for audiophile users is the AirPort Express base station. It will work with practically any speakers system. Although this solution is rather expensive, it's the only way that delivers truly uncompressed music over Wi-Fi and will perfectly integrate into an existing audio set-up.

Users with less expectations with regards to sound quality are better off with the Bluetooth audio adapter. It's the cheapest way to revive a 30-pin sound dock for newer iPhones. Or, you can add wireless streaming features to any powered speakers. However, only one device at at time can be connected to the adapter. If you need to switch between multiple devices, the AirPort Express solution might still be more convenient and ideal.

Comparison: AirPort Express vs. Bluetooth Adapter

 
AirPort Express
Bluetooth Adapter
Audio Quality
Excellent
Average
Range
65 feet
30 feet
Set up
10 mins
10 mins
Extra Features
Range extender, Wireless Printing
none
Price
$99
$39

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    • profile image

      Olivier 2 years ago from Belgium

      Great idea, but I have another issue, I have a Samsung Smart TV ue48h6200 & Sony Airplay Speakers Sony RDP-X700IP & SA-N310 and wish to stream audio from TV to these speakers. Possible ?

    • Technogala profile image

      Technogala 3 years ago

      really a nice one

    • profile image

      topledtvs 4 years ago

      This is such an amazing hub! Thanks for the idea. I'm going to do it. Voted up!