The Airstream S150 is the Bluetooth-only version of Monitor Audio’s brilliant S200 compact wireless speaker, which loses the S200’s Wi-Fi, AirPlay and multiroom streaming but sells for £50 less.
With only Bluetooth to worry about, the S150 is a simpler way of streaming tunes from mobile devices – but since it’s equipped with the same audio tech as the S200, there should be no compromise on sound quality.
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Monitor Audio doesn’t do ugly, and true to form the S150 is a gorgeous-looking speaker. Available in white or black, the enclosure oozes sophistication with its subtle curves and eye-catching details. The way the cabinet slopes back towards the top is delightful, giving the S150 its distinctive shape.
The robust cabinet is built from mineral-filled polymer, which provides rigidity and damping, while the front is covered by a light-grey cloth grille; this can be removed if you want a peek at the drivers. On top you’ll find a glass panel with a sparkly finish underneath – a superficial but charming visual flourish. This superb build quality makes a mockery of the £150 asking price.
Buttons are kept to a minimum. A power button and pill-shaped LED adorn the front, while volume, Bluetooth and auxiliary input buttons are found on the side. The LED glows blue when Bluetooth is selected and blinks in pairing mode, while green denotes that the aux input is selected.
With its upright design and compact dimensions, the S150 has a small footprint, making it easy to place on a shelf or mantelpiece next to your picture frames and candles. But if you’d rather wall-mount it, no problem – the S150 sports a ¼-inch UNC threaded insert for Monitor Audio’s universal wall bracket.
On the rear are a 3.5mm mini-jack input, a USB charging port and a Bluetooth unpairing/factory reset button. The S150 also supports Bluetooth 4.0 with apt-X, which offers CD-like quality from compatible devices.
The S150’s driver array includes a 1-inch gold C-CAM dome tweeter, two 3-inch C-CAM bass drivers mounted on angled baffles, and a rear-mounted "racetrack profile" auxiliary bass radiator.
The drivers are directly powered by dedicated Class D amplifiers that muster 40W in total – that’s 15W to each bass driver and 10W to the tweeter. They’re fed by a high-resolution DAC and the sound is optimised by intelligent digital processing.
Monitor Audio’s Wi-Fi speakers can be a pain to setup, but the Bluetooth-only S150 is extremely easy. After you’ve plugged it in and powered it up, just hold down the Bluetooth button to begin the pairing process and find the S150 on your device.
Once paired, your Bluetooth device is the controller. There’s no remote, which means you have to approach the unit to adjust the master volume or switch inputs, but track skipping, pausing and volume can be controlled from your phone or tablet.
The S150 is a fabulous performer, sounding every bit as good as its step-up sibling. All the usual Monitor Audio hallmarks are present – spine-tingling clarity, refinement and effortless musicality – but a sparky tone and punchy bass ensure there’s plenty of fun and excitement too.
Its most impressive talent is detail reproduction – the C-CAM tweeter unearths high-frequency nuance and texture that slips under the radar of some speakers at this price. Starting at a languid pace with "Munich" by Corinne Bailey Rae, you can hear fingers plucking and brushing the acoustic guitar strings, while the details in Rae’s breathy voice are laid bare.
Increase the tempo with "Under Control" by The Internet and the S150 reveals its more dynamic side, attacking the kicks, snares and rimshots with gusto and locking them tightly to the groovy bassline. It’s a fast, precise sound that will have you nodding your head like the Churchill dog.
Also impressive is how much power the S150 musters. It fills the room without even trying, creating a big soundstage with weighty bass and spacious treble. It’s hard to believe that such a compact speaker can make such a racket, but here’s the proof.
It’s cohesive but not congested – instruments are clearly defined and I never struggled to distinguish vocals. Crank up the volume and the S150 remains composed and intelligible. High frequencies don’t strain or harden, vocals remain human-sounding and basslines refuse to boom.
Sonically there really isn’t anything to moan about – this is hands-down one of the best-sounding Bluetooth speakers I’ve heard. Its sound is so effortless and enjoyable; you can just let it play and lose yourself in the music.
Silly question. The stunning S150 delivers audiophile sound quality for a reasonable price, making it one of the best Bluetooth speakers on the market. It’s also beautifully built and achingly stylish. If you don’t need features such as AirPlay and DLNA, I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Music sounds polished and powerful, with plenty of detail and solid, agile bass. It has no trouble filling the room and keeps its composure at loud volumes. The fact that this incredible sound is coming from such a compact speaker makes it all the more irresistible.
This fantastic Bluetooth speaker delivers outstanding design and sound quality at a reasonable price.