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How to hook up your iPhone with Apple's vintage iPod Hi-Fi speaker

How to hook up your iPhone with Apple's vintage iPod Hi-Fi speaker


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Earlier this week, Apple announced HomePod, a new $350 speaker that’s designed to seamlessly work with all your Apple devices and Apple Music content. But HomePod doesn’t come out until December, which is a long time to wait.

Fortunately, we can cast our eyes back in time to the heady days of 2006, when Apple released the iPod Hi-Fi, a $350 speaker designed to work with all your Apple devices and iTunes content. The Hi-Fi was a huge, white plastic behemoth with a 30-pin iPod dock built into the top for charging and playback. And while it was considered by many to be pricey for what it offered (a comment that, coincidentally, may also apply to HomePod), I personally found it to be a great speaker with big sound.

Apple discontinued the Hi-Fi back in 2007, but you can still snag one used for around $100 to $150. Once you’ve got your hands on the finest speaker 2006 had to offer, here’s what you need to do to get it working with your 2017 iPhone:

Method 1: Use the 3.5mm aux port

As my colleague Sam Byford noted, you can simply plug in any number of modern accessories like an Amazon Echo Dot, Google Chromecast Audio, or Bluetooth adapter to add modern wireless functionality to the Hi-Fi.

This is the boring practical method — it should take all of 10 seconds to set up, and it’s a basically foolproof way to use a Hi-Fi today.

Method 2: The tower of dock adapters

But you’re not here for practical. You want to use the Hi-Fi as Steve Jobs intended: with a docked Apple device charging while playing back musical locally, controlled with a stubby plastic Apple Remote from across the room! Sure, you could use the aux port and a Lighting-to-3.5mm dongle, but this is a charging dock, and by god, we’re going to get this to charge something.

The problem is that there are a couple hurdles we need to get past to put this together. (As a note, my Hi-Fi was stolen a few years back so I haven’t been able to 100 percent verify that this works with current iPhones, but this method did definitely function as late as 2013 with an iPhone 5, and I can’t see why it wouldn’t be valid now.)

First up is the fact that the Hi-Fi is really old, technologically speaking. Not only does the speaker use Apple’s old, 30-pin iPod charger, but it’s so old that the connector only supports Firewire charging, instead of the later generations of iPods, which used a similar physical adapter but used USB. So, the first thing we need is an adapter, like this $14 Scosche one, which allows you to use later, USB charging-based iPod and iPhone devices with older Firewire docks. There are a bunch of adapters floating around out there for this, but since Hi-Fi harkens back to a time when Apple was pushing its Universal Dock system, I find the Scosche adapter works best, since it both clips right into the Hi-Fi, and in turn allows you to clip in more Universal Dock adapters. (Scosche used to make a white one that matched the entire color scheme much better, but it’s been sold out for years.)

So, that gets us to compatibility with any 30-pin iOS device. But we’re not there yet, because Apple discontinued that adapter in favor of the Lightning port in 2012. So we’ll need a 30-pin-to-Lightning adapter from Apple, which still (ridiculously) costs $29, which we’ll connect to the Scosche adapter.

That gets us a working Hi-Fi that can charge an iPhone and play back music. But there’s one last piece since, at this point, we have a fairly tall stack of adapters piled on top of our Hi-Fi here, which isn’t exactly a stable place to put an iPhone. So you’ll need something like the Flybridge, which is basically a $12 piece of plastic that clicks into Apple’s Universal Dock with a space designed to fit the Lightning adapter to support your phone. Click that into the Scosche dock, too, and you’ll be all set!