Monitor Audio AirStream 10 review
The AirStream’s quirky looks are as much of a talking point as anything one of those tiresome radio “shock-jocks” could muster. The inverted Z-shape design means the unit can either lie flat or stand upright, with sound unaffected either way due to clever speaker placement. The telescopic aerial, which is neatly stowed in the main fascia, can be pivoted vertically so that it doesn’t poke out the eyes of passers-by. Monitor even provides an extra set of rubber feet in the box, to help prevent the device from tipping over when laid flat.
Everything about the AirStream 10 screams refinement, from the walnut finish to the perfectly weighted, backlit dial, not to mention the finest menu system we’ve seen on an internet radio. The screen, meanwhile, is the perfect blend of legibility and discretion, although it’s rather difficult to see if the radio is stood up on end.
The sound quality produced by the custom-made 3.5in subwoofer is astonishing. Rock music arrives with real verve and anger, without sacrificing delicacy. It even embarrasses our team by picking up the faint rustling of notes on the PC Pro podcast. The unit is such a solidly-constructed chunk of wood, metal and glass that ratcheting up the volume to ear-splitting levels doesn’t incur any nasty rattle or hum. Indeed, the only thing that can embarrass the AirStream on the audio quality front is the despicable bit-rates of many internet radio stations.
DAB, RDS FM and media streaming are all catered for, with the AirStream offering support for MP3, WMA, Real Audio (RA), and AAC formats. The omission of a remote control does seem needlessly tight-fisted, and the smattering of only four user-defined presets is barely sufficient for a device capable of receiving thousands of stations. Nevertheless, it’s the most desirable internet radio we’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. If you have the cash, it’s worth splashing out.