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Monitor Audio Airstream10 review

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Monitor Audio Airstream10

Summary

Our Score:

9

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.

nanite2000

September 12, 2009, 9:59 am

That's great and all, but what is it? At first I thought it was a portable speaker, until page 3 of the review said that this device would take internet and DAB streams. So I guessed it was a some kind of audio streaming device, but the aerial in the photos seem to suggest it is able to pick up airwaves all by itself. So I have deduced that it is a radio that can accept other audio inputs - am I right? Where do I claim my prize? Oh, and any chance you can tell us these details on the first page?

Old Pedantry

September 12, 2009, 1:29 pm

Format support is an issue for anyone wanting a core library in a lossless format as those are typically the least well supported. Mine is FLAC and I have a Squeezebox setup. I'd like a "tabletop radio" like this sometime soon but the fact that I'd have to create and maintain an mp3 copy of the flac library in full just for this is a dealbreaker, I'm not adding even more complexity. It's bad enough mucking around with enough mp3s on a separate portable hard disk to feed my iPod (once I'd discovered iTunes wouldn't transfer from the server to the iPod if the server ran Twonky, or without an enormous amount of faff or a 24-hour discovery session every time I added a CD if simply added as a folder).

Andy Vandervell

September 12, 2009, 2:51 pm

@nanite2000: I think you missed this bit on page 1:





"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."

Ed

September 12, 2009, 2:52 pm

@nanite2000: I guess you didn't read the whole of page 1 then?

MrGodfrey

September 12, 2009, 3:01 pm

Nice... if only it had USB input.





Still, looking like that, I may have to buy it anyway. Thanks for the review.

nanite2000

September 12, 2009, 4:53 pm

Ah, fair enough. I must have read over that part. Sorry.





Even so (and I don't want to dictate how you guys do your job), is there any reason why this information was tucked away towards the end of the page? I realise that most devices are self explanatory, but when the device function is obscure (as in the case here) you usually say what the device does at the start of the review, not half way through. For example, when you have PCI cards (which can all look very similar), you at least say in the title or the opening paragraph whether it's a graphics card, sound card, etc...





It reminded me of a fake advert I saw in Viz once for a "Black Box With Knobs On" which didn't actually do anything, and was only designed to make your stacked HiFi look more impressive.





:-D

Martin Daler

September 12, 2009, 7:13 pm

I'm with nanite here - having to read halfway through the third paragraph near the end of the first page before we are graced with the subject of the review might be some off-the wall technique they teach in journo-school (or not?) but it is rather tedious for the reader.


It was good to read about how the controls worked, especially the mix of touch-sensitive (ugh!) and real buttons.


I am left to wonder how the internet side of things works (which portal, any scope for favourites, BBC "listen-again" etc?). No mention of such crucial bed-side functionality as alarms and display adjustment. And my bete-noire - can it display the clock whilst there is sound coming from the speaker? Seriously, many of these boxes which seek to usurp the humble clock-radio would have you press the snooze button before you can see whether you have any snooze time available.


Overall I am left with my curiosity piqued, but not satisfied.

Kanu

September 12, 2009, 8:53 pm

Well I am glad somebody else pointed it out. When I complain about low standards of journalism on this website they claim I have a beef or something.

Jon Williamson

September 14, 2009, 10:09 pm

You say tht it does not support lossless formats, but that it does support WMA - does it support WMA lossless? I can't work it out from Monitor Audio's site!

Martin Daler

February 5, 2010, 3:41 pm

The Roberts 83i won't top the beauty parade, but is does do FLAC and talks Twonky and has a USB input - I think those are the three things people wanted here?


Oh, by the way, The Roberts 83i is an Alarm Clock Radio with DAB, FM, Internet Radio and media player functions :)


http://www.robertsradio.co.uk/...


Any chance of a review?

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