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Altec Lansing inAir 5000 AirPlay Speaker Review

An AirPlay speaker with plenty of power - can the inAir 5000 live up to our expectations?

RRP: £429.99/$499.99

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Key Features: • AirPlay Enabled • Companion App • Remote Control

People harbouring any doubts over the benefits of Apple’s AirPlay should try this speaker, as they will be dispelled within seconds of using the inAir 5000. Not only does it look incredibly cool but it’s so easy to operate that users will quickly find themselves giving it the same look of adoration usually reserved for their Macs, iPads and iPhones. Having taken it out of the box, plugged it into the mains and attached an Ethernet cable into the back, we unlocked our iPhone, opened the Music app, hit play and selected the speaker from the AirPlay icon. Within half a second we were positively rocked by wireless music pounding through typically dynamic Altec Lansing speakers.

If you can’t get to an Ethernet cable, fear not, as totally wireless setup is made super- simple thanks to a companion app, which you can download for free. The application connects the device to the network using your password and even gives you the chance to rename the speaker so it’s easier to find on a network. It’s a perfect solution.

Aside from the ease with which this piece of luscious audio tech operates, there are some great speakers tucked behind the grilles too. The top and middle of the frequency scale are handled with aplomb by neodymium tweeters and Kevlar mid-range drivers, while a long-throw subwoofer fires downwards delivering powerful low-range audio which will cause most to turn their heads.

The speaker’s simplicity is highlighted by the lack of buttons on both the unit and the remote control. You only really need to control the device sending the signal, be that your iPad, iPhone or Mac (and yes, iTunes will detect t
he inAir 5000).

Sadly the thing that makes this speaker limited is the lack of system-wide Mac support for AirPlay, which rendered Spotify ineffectual. This isn’t a fault of Altec Lansing, but highlights how useful the speaker could be should Apple increase the breadth of AirPlay integration on the Mac. Having an Apple-related problem as the biggest niggle when it comes to this speaker is a glowing recommendation for the sheer quality the inAir offers. It’s by far the best wireless speaker we’ve tested and that’s across the board: sound, setup and looks all get a well-deserved five stars. A great product, if you don’t mind paying the large price tag.