Due to circumstances best left unmentioned, ‘gorgeous' has become something of a taboo word in the TrustedReviews office. And that's annoying, because it is perhaps the best word I can think of to describe the Monitor Audio AirStream10. At the risk of sounding cliche; photographs really don't do it justice.
For a start there's the unusual ‘lightning bolt' shape. Stood upright it looks pretty neat, but as the majority of the AirStream10's weight is in the left section, the system can also be laid flat (so to speak) putting the controls at the front, rather than the top. I think that the controls-at-the-front orientation looks notably better; and on, say, a bedside table it's clearly preferable. Unless you like the idea of sitting up every time you want to use the controls, of course.
The system is built from aluminium, although only on the front (or top) is this left exposed. The majority of the rest of the AirStream10 has a rubberised coating - ThinkPad style - which I'm a big fan of and the wood veneer on the far left finishes everything off nicely. It's a much more ‘grown up' aesthetic than that of the Pure Evoke Flow, for example, and it's not like you could call that system unattractive.
Best of all, unlike a certain other slightly controversial product I looked at recently (hello, MacBook Air), you'd be hard pushed to accuse the AirStream10 of lacking in substance to match its style. The oh-so-stylish device will happily play radio of the FM, DAB and Internet variety, audio files from any UPnP network source and its speaker can be used for anything you care to hook up via its 3.5mm jack.
While the right edge houses an Ethernet port (alongside the 3.5mm input, line-out and headphone jacks) for hooking up the AirStream10 to a router, using a cable rather spoils the aesthetic appeal. Built-in wireless means that shouldn't become an issue, though. If I was Monitor Audio, however, I would have put all the inputs at the back, sacrificing the choice of an upright orientation in the process.