Under The Microscope

The AirPort Express & USB Speakers. Oh, and Airfoil too.

On the Airfoil features page, we make passing note of the fact that you can use USB speakers with the AirPort Express. Every so often, someone asks us if this is really possible, so I thought I’d write up a quick post on it. So, in the form of a Q & A:

Q: Can you plug in USB speakers to the AirPort Express?

A: In brief, yes.

The full answer is a bit more complex though. Apple has a FAQ which would seem to indicate that you can’t do this. So what’s up?

What Apple means is that you can’t use digital USB speakers, where the audio signal travels over USB. However, there exist speakers that are simply powered by USB, while the audio signal travels over an analog cable. USB-powered speakers simply plug in to the USB port for power and the analog output port to receive the audio signal.

On the Airfoil page, we specifically mention the Benwin FX 2.0 speakers. Benwin has several styles of 2.0 USB powered speakers – just be sure to select the USB-P model, not USB-D. With speakers like these, you can plug in your AirPort Express anywhere and get audio. Couple that with Airfoil and you can send any audio, anywhere you like!

We have no affiliation with Benwin – I simply found these speakers a couple years back, and I’ve been happily using them ever since. Perhaps you too will find them, or a similar style, useful. Enjoy!

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