Alternatives to AirPlay streaming: How to turn your system wireless

While AirPlay speakers and systems are starting to come onto the market, the selection is still limited and the price can often be above what many of us can afford. There are however alternatives ways to enable AirPlay as well as other methods for wireless streaming from your device.

In this guide we explore some of the alternatives to full blown AirPlay enabled systems.

Airplay without getting a new Airplay enabled system

If you already have an iPod speaker dock that you are very happy with and don’t want to replace just for the sake of getting Airplay, then getting an Airport Express Base station adapter might be a solution for you.

With the AirPort Express from Apple you can connect to your home network, and by using the 3.5mm audio line available on the AirPort Express connect it to your current speaker dock/sound system. It might not be the ideal way to do it, but it is a work around that works.

Sonos have recently enabled AirPlay for Sonos Zoneplayer by a simple software upgrade combined with an AirPort Express adapter.

You can get an Apple AirPort Express adapter from amongst other Amazon UK at £72.

Bluetooth based adapters

There are several sound systems in the market already that are wireless enabled through some kind of bluetooth based adapter, including the very popular Arcam rCube. The issue with most of them are that adapters needed to enable the bluetooth streaming are unique to those system only, and not universal systems.

For those that want to bluetooth enable their current system, there are a few options, including the following:

iSkin Cerulean TX/RX

iSkin Cerulean bluetooth adapterConsists of two parts of which one is a dock adapter that you can used with your existing iPod speaker dock to enable bluetooth streaming from your bluetooth enabled device. The other part is an adapter for the your iPod, that you only really need to use if your iPod is not bluetooth enabled, which is the case for many older models.

I have personally used the Cerulean with my Focal XS system for over a year now and it works perfectly well with no significant different in audio compared to when iPhone is docked.

The Cerulean adapter can be a bit hard to come by, but is available from amongst other Amazon UK at £120.

Belkin Bluetooth music receiver

Belkin Bluetooth music receiverA cheaper alternative to the Cerulean, the Belkin Bluetooth receiver basically connects to your sound system using the 3.5mm audio cable and is compatible with A2DP enabled bluetooth devices.

Don’t expect the same quality of audio streaming as from some of the other alternatives, especially compared to Airplay. This is a low cost alternative for streaming, and it is available from amongst other Amazon UK at £19.

Now you might ask why pay for a bluetooth adapter when you can get an AirPort Express and enable AirPlay instead. If you are going to be using only your computer/iTunes or your iOS device to stream audio to your speakers/sound system, then you are better off getting the AirPort Express. But if you have other bluetooth devices that you also want to be able to stream from, then bluetooth is a more universal approach than Airplay. With more and more people owning smartphones these days, there are apps that can enable Airplay on an Android device for example.

iTunes remote app work around

If you are unfamiliar with the iTunes Remote App, it is basically an app that can be downloaded onto your iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad that you can use to control iTunes on your computer.

Say that you have a stationary computer/mac of some sort that you might have connected to your home entertainment system, as long as you have the computer/mac on and iTunes open you can control songs to play from your iOS device using the iTunes Remote App.

The downfall of this of course is that you have to have a computer/mac connected to your sound system, have it on, and iTunes running, and then in addition to your iOS device for music control also operate the remote control for your sound system. But it is an option, especially if you have a home entertainment set up that includes a computer/mac already.


Filed in: Apple AirPlay, how to guides

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