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A wax-free way to share audio

So, how do you share music in this new world where everything seemingly has to be either out loud or kept just to yourself?

Apple’s solution is for everyone to use either AirPods or wireless Beats headphones with “pro” in the name, as they support wireless audio sharing. This works well if both you and your audio buddy have relatively recent headphones made by Apple and an iPhone 8 or newer – just sync the two pairs to the one phone and enjoy.

But that’s clearly problematic – Beats only recently started making truly excellent headphones, not everyone likes in-ear or ear bud-style AirPods, and not everyone uses an iPhone.

Enter TwelveSouth’s AirFly Pro. The nifty device plugs into any 3.5mm jack and can either send or receive audio. In receive mode, just plug it into an aux port and play music without having to tether your phone to the car, or leave it near the stereo at a party.

But when placed in a headphones port, you can connect two pairs of Bluetooth headphones, immediately opening all kinds of possibilities. Plug it into the 3.5mm jack on your TV, and you and your partner can enjoy personalised volumes without waking the kids (or, in my parents’ case, the dead).

It comes in handy when used for a single connection too. I recently used it on a flight and was able to watch trashy inflight movies on my wireless headphones without getting them tangled in my food or the flight attendants.

The AirFly Pro can connect with two Bluetooth devices at once.

The AirFly Pro can connect with two Bluetooth devices at once.

It’s also great at the gym where you can plug in to the TV on the treadmill without having to either keep your head at an unnatural angle so you don’t unplug it, or risk tripping on the entirely-too-long cord. Headphone cables seem to only come in two lengths – “separation anxiety” or “could probably be used as a lasso”.

It’s not a perfect solution – you’re going to need a dongle for many devices, as Apple killed the 3.5mm jack with the iPhone 7 in 2016, Samsung got rid of theirs last year on the Note 10 range, and most planes don’t use simple 3.5mm jacks at all. But I would still recommend going for the Pro model over the Lightning or USB-C AirFly options because it’s more versatile. You can plug it straight into a TV, stereo or plane adapter, and your phone should have come with a dongle to use. A USB-C or Lightning tip is just too limiting when it comes to an audio accessory that should outlast your current phone by years.

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