The Belkin Soundform Connect could be just what you need to connect your speakers to Apple Music’s upcoming high-quality lossless audio. The wireless adapter allows iPhone and Mac users communicate with any speaker over AirPlay 2 using Wi-Fi rather than Bluetooth.
I ran some tests, and I’m impressed with the usefulness of this tiny accessory.
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Belkin Soundform Connect review
Audiophiles are salivating over the recent revelation that Apple Music subscribers will soon have the option to listen in lossless format. That raises the audio quality to at least 16 bit/44.1 kHz up to 24 bit/48 kHz. And there’s even a Hi-Resolution Lossless option that’s 24 bit/192 kHz.
As great as that is, many iPhone users connect to their speakers over Bluetooth, which doesn‘t have the bandwidth for really high-quality audio. That’s where the Belkin Soundform Connect comes in. It uses Apple’s AirPlay 2, and can stream music at CD quality because it doesn’t fool around with Bluetooth. It’s Wi-Fi.
And you can plug it into speakers you already have. You don’t need to invest in a HomePod. With its AirPlay 2 support, you can send audio to any powered speaker.
Hardware and design
This accessory is surprisingly small. It’s a mere 2.4 inches wide, 1.7 in. deep and 0.75 in. thick, so it takes up hardly any room on a shelf. The casing is black plastic with very curved corners — likely to match other stereo gear.
The Belkin Soundform Connect has both a 3.5mm analog audio jack and optical digital output. For me, that means I can connect my old-school speakers or my TV soundbar.
Please note that I said “or” — either the analog or digital port is available, not both. To me, that’s not a big deal. Run its output through an amplifier to add multiple speakers. Or many Soundbars have a 3.5mm audio-out jack.
Soundform Connect gets its power through a USB-C port. Belkin bundles the required wall power adapter and cable. The accessory needs a mere 5 watts.
Belkin Soundform Connect performance
Connect the AirPlay 2 adapter to your home Wi-Fi network through the Apple Home app that comes pre-installed on iPhone, Mac and iPad. Apple and Belkin make this relatively painless. You won‘t be hassled to type in passwords, for example.
Once you’re connected, you can send audio to the Soundform Connect from any of your Apple computers. Easily. It’s a built-in function of iOS, macOS and iPadOS — you don’t have to depend on an app from Belkin.
Music streaming to speakers can be controlled with Siri commands. And AirPlay 2 support means the adapter is integrated into Apple HomeKit smart homes. So legacy speakers can be part of scenes and automations.
The adapter offers CD-quality sound. That’s 16-bit/44.1 kHz, according to Belkin. Enough to play Apple Music’s upcoming lossless option. Admittedly, it’s the lowest audio quality that qualifies, but as someone who’s been listening to CDs for decades, I was completely satisfied.
If you get judgy, keep in mind that your speaker setup and environment have as much of an effect on what you hear as the streaming rate. Don’t expect top-quality from speakers you got as a Radio Shack special in 2003. Also (and I’m sorry Belkin) to get serious about audio quality you should probably give up the idea of wireless. Cables are your friends.
Plus, don’t get locked into the idea that Soundform Connect is only for music. Of course, I tested the capabilities with Apple Music…but I also tested it with Disney+, YouTube, VLC and others. I never ran into problems.
Belkin Soundform Connect final thoughts
Belkin picked the perfect time to launch Soundform Connect. It lets you listen to lossless audio from Apple Music on legacy speakers. And that’s just the start.
Personally, I’m happier that it lets me wirelessly connect some speakers I already had to my TV. And that’s the best aspect of this adapter: you don’t need to buy new speakers to take advantage of AirPlay 2.
Soundform Connect is available now on Belkin.com. It’s priced at $99.99. But, at the time of this review was written, it proved so popular that Belkin is temporarily sold out. You can put in a preorder for June 2021 delivery.
The same is true for Amazon — you can out in a preorder at $99.99 but the product won‘t be available until June 20, 2021.
Perhaps Belkin is having a hard time keeping Soundform Connect in stock because it doesn’t have much competition. There are a few rivals, but I found none from companies with as solid a reputation as Belkin.