Altec Lansing inAir 5000 £445
22nd May 2012 | 08:30
The inAir 5000 is stylish enough to look good in any room
Altec Lansing's inAir 5000 is a glorious set of AirPlay speakers. Setting it up is easy. Download a free app for iOS, plug it into the speaker and walk through the couple of steps it takes to name the device and connect it to your Wi-Fi network.
Alternatively, you can configure it by connecting to a network it creates temporarily through a browser on your computer, or using WPS on supported routers. You can then send music wirelessly straight from an iOS device running iOS 4.2 - which can only stream to one speaker at a time - or by streaming music to one or more speakers from iTunes on your PC or Mac.
What comes out of the inAir 5000 is gorgeous. At times, we worried that the rich low-end would overwhelm everything else, but the speakers usually proved us wrong.
At the start of Ben Folds' 'Adelaide', for example, the thumping bass that starts the track is awesome, but the spiky percussion pings in at the top end with wonderful clarity and the vocals float right on top of everything with tremendous presence. On clear, acoustic, lightly-produced tracks, you can close your eyes and imagine the singer is in the room with you.
But while the honeyed tones are deeply pleasing, they're not perfect for everything. You might prefer a sharper, more neutral overall tone, for example, or you may listen to music ripped from vinyl that already sounds soft - in which case the overall effect might sound muddied.
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There's no dock connector, but you can plug your iPhone, iPad or iPod into a USB port on the back. And there's a 3.5mm jack for any audio device with a headphone socket. The USB port can't charge an iPad, but it charges everything else, and there's a 'dim' mode in which the speaker is off but devices still charge. There's a headphone port too, so you can plug in and listen to music streamed to the inAir 5000 over AirPlay.
The Altec Lansing inAir 5000 is beautiful and well made, and we love its mellow, vinyl sound. If you can afford it, buy it.