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Add Your Home Stereo to Your HomeKit Setup

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Eve Play

Key Takeaways

  • The Eve Play is an AirPlay 2-enabled device designed to add HomeKit intelligence to older audio devices.
  • The device has a solid build, sleek design, and offers a variety of analog and digital outputs.
  • The Eve Play is a great solution for Apple users, particularly those who want to stream music from Apple Music, but it isn’t the best choice for listeners on multiple platforms.


Apple HomeKit is great for managing smart products, but if you’re looking to use it for whole-home audio, bringing in legacy audio receivers and stereo systems can be tricky. The Eve Play is an AirPlay 2-enabled device with the sole purpose of adding HomeKit intelligence to your older audio devices.

A brief look at the Eve Play shows it as a device aimed at audio enthusiasts, with all the analog and digital outputs you could possibly want. There’s even a wired ethernet port in case you don’t want to trust your music streaming needs to Wi-Fi.

Compared to some other similar audio streamers I’ve looked at, the Eve Play is more narrow in scope, as it focuses strictly on Apple compatibility. For the right person, this is a major plus, but for others, it’s simply a sign to choose another option.

Eve Play

The Eve Play is a simple and easy to bring CD quality wireless sound to older analog stereo components and bring them into your HomeKit rig, but it’s only for those who are all-in on Apple.
 

Dimensions
5.17 x  x 4.96 x 1.01in

Connective Technology
AirPlay 2

Brand
Eve Home

What’s Included
Eve Play, power adapter

Audio outputs
RCA out, coaxial digital out, optical digital out

Integrations
Apple HomeKit

Bluetooth codecs
Wi-Fi 2.4GHz / 5GHz

Wi-Fi
Yes

Ethernet
Yes

Buttons
None

Dials
None

Display
None

Pros

  • Adds wireless connectivity to your hi-fi setup
  • Plenty of digital and analog outputs
  • High-quality Texas Instruments DAC chip
  • Subtle but nice-looking design
Cons

  • No Bluetooth connectivity
  • Only for those heavily invested in Apple’s ecosystem

Solid Build and a Sleek Design

Eve logo on the Eve Play
Sergio Rodriguez / How-To Geek

Looking at the Eve Play without a direct comparison, it looks similar to an Apple TV. Up close, it’s wider and flatter than an Apple TV 4K, though not nearly as wide as a Mac mini. Regardless of where you plan to put it, the footprint shouldn’t prove to be much of an issue.

The device feels relatively solid, and certainly not flimsy. On the other hand, it’s lightweight enough that it’s easy to pick up and flip over. This is handy, as you’ll need to scan the QR code on the bottom of the Eve Play when it comes time to set it up and start using it.

While the Eve Play fits anywhere, you may want to be careful to put it somewhere out of easy reach. This isn’t because there are any controls to accidentally trigger—the Eve Play has no real onboard controls—but simply because it’s a fingerprint magnet.

Connectivity: Plenty of Outputs, but AirPlay Only

Cables plugged into the back of the Eve Play
Sergio Rodriguez / How-To Geek

When it comes time to add Eve Play to your network, you can choose Wi-Fi or Ethernet. Wi-Fi should be fine for most people, as it was what I used when reviewing the Play, but it’s nice to have an ethernet port on board in case you live in a building buzzing with Wi-Fi signals.

As for actually playing music through the Eve Play, it’s equipped with AirPlay 2, something you won’t find in many audio streamers on the market. That said, AirPlay is the only connectivity supported here, so you can’t even connect to the Play via Bluetooth and there is no wired input.

Fortunately, outputs are varied and plenty, available in both analog and digital varieties. Most people will likely use the pair of RCA outputs to plug into a stereo receiver or amplifier, but if you’d rather leave the digital-to-analog conversion to your stereo, you can output digital audio via optical or coaxial connections on the back.

Eve Software: Easy to Use, Once It’s Working

Front of the Eve Play
Sergio Rodriguez / How-To Geek

As there are no onboard controls, setting up the Eve Play takes place entirely within the Eve for Matter & HomeKit app, available for iPhone and iPad. Setup is supposed to be a simple process: plug the Eve Play in, launch the app, and follow the prompts. For me, this took a few tries but eventually worked.

There was one other surprise. When you start the setup process, the app offers to automatically determine latency to make playing music in multiple rooms seamless. The app uses a series of beeps to do this but doesn’t slowly ramp up the volume as other apps do, so I was shocked when loud beeps started blaring from my stereo system.

I noticed some other curiosities with the software as well. Instead of Apple Music, I typically use my own library of music and a Plex Media Server that I listen to via PlexAmp. I was able to listen to music just fine, but in the Eve software, the Eve Play always showed as paused. When I listened via Apple Music, everything worked as expected.

Great Sound, But Manage Your Expectations

Ports on the back of the Eve Play
Sergio Rodriguez / How-To Geek

The Eve Play doesn’t do much except deliver music streams to the audio device of your choice, whether it’s a headphone amp, stereo, or even a pair of powered speakers. That said, the digital-to-analog converter (DAC) is an important component in this respect, and Eve has used a high-quality Texas Instruments DAC chip.

To start listening, play music on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, then select the Eve Play as an output device as you would AirPods or another device. By selecting multiple output devices, you can get music playing in multiple rooms, and the Eve software will keep everything synced up.

For most of my testing, I used the Eve Play plugged into my living room stereo system. That said, I also plugged the digital output into my Schiit Modi DAC to test against the Texas Instruments chip. While I’m sure better ears than mine can pick up massive differences, I didn’t notice any differences worth mentioning.

For the first test, I played Sun Ra’s “That’s How I Feel,” a CD-quality recording, and it sounded great. Compared to listening to the song on my Sony NW-A35 Walkman plugged into the same input on the stereo, the DAC in the Eve Play seems nice, as there was an ever-so-slight difference in the amount of high-end detail.

Listening to Music Band’s “Keep Living,” my CD-quality digital copy of the album sounded great. As I mentioned above, I wasn’t able to point out noticeable differences between the Texas Instruments DAC and the Schiit Modi DAC I use in my headphone setup.

I chose CD-quality albums for a reason: this is all that AirPlay supports. You can play hi-res files over the Eve Play, but they’ll be down-sampled to 44.1kHz regardless of their quality. If you’re streaming from Apple Music, you may actually get slightly better quality as it uses an Apple-optimized codec, so the Play is a great choice for Apple Music users.

Price and Availability

Box for the Eve Play
Sergio Rodriguez / How-To Geek

The Eve Play retails for $150 and is only available in the single-color variety. In case you’re not familiar, Eve Home, the company behind the Play, also makes several other smart home products, including lighting, indoor and outdoor cameras, and weather measurement devices.

Looking at the competition, the WiiM Pro I reviewed in 2023 is a very similar type of device that also sells for $150. The difference is that, unlike the Eve Home, the WiiM Pro also features Bluetooth, analog inputs, and true 24-bit/192kHz streaming.

Most people aren’t likely to notice the differences in sonic character between the two, so it comes down to the ecosystems. The WiiM Pro may take a little more setup, but it works with many more devices and components. The Eve Play is simple and streamlined, but only available to Apple users.

Should You Buy the Eve Play?

The Eve Play is a fantastic solution if all you’re looking to do is play music to AirPlay-enabled devices, especially since it makes whole-home audio so simple. If you’re an Apple Music user, this is the perfect piece of gear to bring easy music streaming to your beloved hi-fi system.

If you’re a heavy HomeKit user, or you already own other products from Eve Home, Eve Play is an even better idea. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more platform-agnostic solution, the Eve Play is about as effective as a similarly shaped rock. It all comes down to what you use daily.

If the Eve Play fits as the solution to a problem you have, it’s tough to beat as an AirPlay streamer. That said, while they may not be as simple or as aesthetically pleasing, competitors like the WiiM Pro are more effective one-size-fits-all solutions.

Eve Play

Eve Play

The Eve Play is a simple and easy to bring CD quality wireless sound to older analog stereo components and bring them into your HomeKit rig, but it’s only for those who are all-in on Apple.
 

Dimensions
5.17 x  x 4.96 x 1.01in

Connective Technology
AirPlay 2

Brand
Eve Home

What’s Included
Eve Play, power adapter

Audio outputs
RCA out, coaxial digital out, optical digital out

Integrations
Apple HomeKit

Bluetooth codecs
Wi-Fi 2.4GHz / 5GHz

Wi-Fi
Yes

Ethernet
Yes

Buttons
None

Dials
None

Display
None

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