A well-designed way to power your speakers for Airplay or Bluetooth
As we designed our new house, I had wires ran all through the walls and ceilings. When I told the low-voltage designer that I run a data center for a living, he replied, “Oh, now this makes more sense.”
A portion of the wire runs were in-ceiling speakers to patios, garage and master bathroom. I want to have good audio in these places. These were locations that we wouldn’t be watching video so I didn’t want to do a full receiver setup. I also didn’t want to mess with zones on the receivers in the television room. I had been looking for a simple way to power these speakers for Airplay. I was glad to find the Griffin Twenty.
The Twenty is a simple amplifier that can bring a pair of speakers to life. They can be in-ceiling or bookshelf speakers. The name comes from having 20 watts per channel.
I think the Twenty has a really nice design and it feels sturdy. For those who care about tactile interaction (me), the dial has a great feel to it.
The back of the amplifier has an optical input (more on that later), left and right channel connectors, and an RCA subwoofer connector. It’s refreshingly simple compared to the back of a full receiver.
The unit has built-in bluetooth and connects really easily and quickly. You can pair two different devices to it. Once paired, it’s always ready for you to push your audio via bluetooth. However, I was looking for an Airplay option. That’s where the Airport Express gets involved.
An Airport Express has a 3.5-mm audio minijack for optical digital sound. Conveniently, the Twenty comes with a TOSLINK connector and 3.5 mm adapter so you can go straight from your Airport Express to the amplifier.
Once you have it connected, you can name the speaker set in Airport Utility and then it shows up as an airplay option.
In the image to the left, you can see my Garage option, which I setup with the first Airport Express and Twenty. I’ve ordered a few more so that I can add the rest of the locations to the AirPlay list.
Overall, I highly recommend the Twenty. It’s given me a really clean and simple way to get these speakers powered up and sounding great. You can find the Twenty on Amazon for about $149 with free shipping on Amazon Prime. And of course the Airport Express is there as well, but who doesn’t have one of these little guys laying around already?