How to turn your old speakers into AirPlay speakers

The Griffin Twenty

January 31, 2013

SASKATOON, SK, Jan. 31, 2013/ Troy Media/ – If I told you that for less than a hundred bucks you could hook up your old Cerwin Vega or Bose non-powered speakers so you could play content from your iOS devices would you be interested?

I was, and the Griffin Twenty is the US$99.99 answer to that conundrum.

OK, maybe I wasn’t entirely right – to connect your old speakers to the Twenty and play them via AirPlay on your wireless network you’ll also need an Apple Airport Express. That costs another $100 or so, but if you already have one, then you’re listening to your music through those expensive, powerful speakers you though you’d never hear again.

Sure, there are other ways to accomplish the same thing, but the Griffin Twenty is surely the most elegant and simple way I’ve come across to date.

To set the Twenty up you only need to do a few things. Connect the right and left speaker to the Twenty via the terminals on the back, making sure they’re connected properly. Then plug the Airport Express into the top of the Twenty – you might need to reset your Airport Express – but I didn’t. Then plug the toslink (optical) cable into the back of the Twenty and the 3.5mm pin into the back of the Airport Express. Turn everything on and select some music on your iOS device, then select your Airport Express and Bob’s your uncle. Bob may not be your uncle, but you’ll be listening to music on your speakers!

Setting up with the new Airport Express works very much the same way, only you plug the power cord into a wall socket instead of the Twenty.

I’ve got a pair of outdoor Bose speakers that I love, but I haven’t used them since I got rid of my old amp. The Griffin Twenty and AirPlay now make these terrific speakers useful again and I couldn’t be happier.

The Griffin Twenty is available through the company’s online store. There are a number of retailers across Canada which carry Griffin products, but the Twenty isn’t necessarily available at all of them – you can check the retailers list (just mouse over Canada on the map to see Canadian retailers).

This is a great product. It opens up a whole new way of doing things like viewing movies on an iPad, for instance. Watch the movie on the iPad and listen to the audio on that great pair of non-powered speakers you had lying around.

Griffin says that the Twenty is designed to work with the original AirPort Express, but it also works with the new AirPort Express and ‘any digital audio source’. Frankly, I’m not 100 per cent sure what that exactly means, but I do know it works with both versions of the Airport Express because I tested it with both.


Amplifier: Class D Stereo Amplifier: TI PurePathâ„¢; Input: S/PDIF optical, TOSLINK connector (included); Sensitivity: 0.34 dBFS for 20 watts (volume control set to max)
Speaker Output: Power: 20 watts per channel into 8 ohms @ 0.08 per cent THD, both channels driven; Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz, +0, -0.34 dB; Signal-to-Noise ratio: 95 dB; Crosstalk: -71 dB
Subwoofer Output: Left + Right sub-bass audio; Autoswitching when powered subwoofer is detected; Power: Line-level output (2 V rms at 0 dBFS input); High-Pass Filter: 80 Hz 2nd order Linkwitz-Riley applied to L+R channels; Low-Pass Filter: 80 Hz 2nd order Linkwitz-Riley applied to subwoofer output; AC Power: 100 to 240 VAC @ 50/60 Hz.

PROS: Decent price (if you have the AirPort Express already); easy setup; revives old speakers.

CONS: You need an AirPort Express, so that doubles the price; not easily available in Canada yet.

TO SUM IT UP: The US$99.99 Griffin Twenty is a great bit of technology that resurrects old or even new non-powered speakers and lets you use AirPlay and your wireless network to listen to these speakers. Brilliant.

Troy Media columnist Murray Hill is lead tech writer at, a social media marketing agency. You can follow Murray on Twitter at @MurrayDHill

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