Eight... AirPlay speakers
Tunes from the wireless
Product round-up Apple’s AirPlay wireless streaming protocol can be used to play music from an iPod touch, iPhone, iPad, or from iTunes on a Mac or PC, directly to a compatible speaker. AirPlay uses Wi-Fi rather than Bluetooth and so audio is not compressed in order to send it to a speaker. The good news is that some of the biggest names in hi-fi, like Bowers and Wilkins, JBL, and Klipsch have jumped aboard and produced AirPlay speakers. Prices vary widely, as do features and audio fidelity. So I rounded up eight of the best to put them through their paces.
Altec Lansing InAir 5000
The Altec Lansing is a big beastie and that comes across when you listen to its output. Although this version wasn’t as heavy on the bass as earlier models – due to a firmware tweak – it’s still over-powering. Detail in the mid-range is good, however, and the treble is bright but not shrill. Set-up was easier than any of the other speakers, thanks to an iOS app which finds the InAir 5000 and connects automatically. It also has a WPS button. And there’s a USB port to charge your iOS device. A decent performer, but not my favourite of the bunch.
Reg Rating 65%
More info Altec Lansing
Audyssey Audio Dock Air
Previously known as the Lower East Side, here's proof that you don’t need a speaker the size of an Eighties boombox to produce top notch high-volume tunes. Indeed, the Audio Dock Air is the most compact unit on test. Roughly the size of a hefty hardback book, it delivers plenty of bass but doesn’t overdo it. Treble and mid-ranges are well represented and crisp for the most part, although there were times during The Jam’s Down in the Tube Station where things got a little muddy. There’s no app, so set-up is more complicated than it could be. At this price, though it’s a winner.
Reg Rating 95%
More info Audyssey
Next page: Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin Air
But if you want a proper airplay solution, surely a nice set of small Monitor Audio speakers, even a basic Cambridge Audio amp and an Airport Express as the Airplay device would sound 1000% better than any of these one box solutions on test, and potentially cost around the same?
Re: Looks nice
That's what I did, sort off.
I got some fag packet sized D-class amps (Sure electronics, 15w) from fleabay for 35 quid and my old Tannoy 607 and 603 speakers and some Linn ceiling speakers for the bathroom. These and some airports, either N's or G's (turned the wireless off on the G's) and Bobs your aunty.
They sound great to me and plenty loud enough which is probably all that most people would want/need. Indeed, when I needed some more amps I had to order another 6 for other people.
Not as cool as the ones in article but massive geek satisfaction value.
These all see rather overpriced .....
The Teac *does* sound abysmal. We tested it against a similair styled Sony and the Sony sounded a million times better.
But why no Denon Ceol / Marantz 603(?) / Sony G2 series? Have auditioned these all recently for myself and ended up with the G2BNIP (ie DAB and AirPlay/Wifi) as the Marantz and Denon both took the best part of a week to start playing from an iPhone once it was plugged in.
Please be objective
There are some excellent objective and measurable criteria when evaluating a speaker:
It all comes down to parameters that can be measured and quantified in a frequency-response curce, rather than fuzzy adjectives like 'warmth' and 'ambience'.
If you insist on testing analogue peripherals, such as speakers and displays, please set up a lab with proper equipment to actually measure the results!