Monitor Audio Airstream S150 Bluetooth speaker review
As we’re fast approaching May I thought I’d take a few moments to write about a Bluetooth speaker that I now own.
Back at the run up to Christmas I went along to Techmas, a gathering of the tech glitterati – and me.
At this bash I was fortunate enough to have teamed up with Chris of Movies Games and Tech fame. Fortunate, because we only went to win the quiz. We split our spoils and I came away with a gold S150, amongst other swag.
Monitor Audio Airstream S150 design
I like the design. The kicked back top reminds me of angled guitar cabs produced by Marshall.
Unfortunately, someone told me that it reminded them of a loaf of bread that’s been shoved in to the corner of a freezer.
Take from that what you will. Personally, I dig its subtle curve and the two-tone, two-texture finish.
The front is covered by a black cloth grille. Like larger speakers, you can remove the grille if you want to show off the drivers. If you plan on being mobile with the S150 I would suggest you replace the grille before moving it though. We don’t want dented domes or torn cones now, do we?
On top you’ll find a glass panel with a sparkly finish underneath. I was wondering if this was a touch control panel or something – apparently it’s just fancy.
Below the top power button, there’s an LED that lights up blue when pairing or connected over Bluetooth. It shows green when you’ve set it to the 3.5mm auxiliary wired connection.
The S150 can retain five Bluetooth devices in its memory, but it won’t swap over to the 3.5mm input automatically when it detects a signal as some other speakers do. You have to get involved and press the source switcher button on the side.
When you want to return to wireless, there’s another button here to set it back to Bluetooth.
You have probably noticed that that’s pretty much it for controls. No pause or skip buttons here. All of that is done directly from your connected source.
On the back, alongside the 3.5mm input, there’s a USB port that can be used for charging devices.
With its upright design and compact dimensions, the S150 has a small footprint, making it easy to place on a shelf or mantelpiece. But if you’d rather wall-mount it – the S150 sports a ¼-inch UNC threaded insert for Monitor Audio’s universal wall bracket.
Monitor Audio Airstream S150 performance
The S150’s driver array includes a 1-inch gold C-CAM dome tweeter, two 3-inch C-CAM bass drivers, 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.
Upon removing the grille you will notice that the bass drivers are actually mounted on angled baffles.
This is obviously to help disperse the sound which extends the sweet spot across a much broader area than you’d otherwise expect from a solitary tower speaker.
The S150’s frequency response is quoted as being 80Hz – 25kHz. Don’t worry about that low-end though.
The mids and trebles come through clearly and there is a lovely weight and musicality to the low range.
Somehow the S150 manages to retain the clarity I was expecting from a Monitor Audio speaker but adds that excitement that a ‘lifestyle’ product often is tuned to.
Firstly, playing the ‘Bach Trios’ album from Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer really shone through the Airstream S150.
Next, testing out the bass with some contemporary tracks. I am pleased to report that Highasakite’s ‘5 Million Miles’ really pounds.
Keeping it Nordic, ‘White Noise’ by Cajsa Siik demonstrates how nimble the S150 is. Snare rolls, female vocals, keyboards and low bass all find their own area.
The sludgy, sleazy sounds of Big Sexy Noise and ‘Collision Course’ slinks and oozes through the Airstream just as it should.
‘Weak and Powerless’ by A Perfect Circle is projected cohesively with clearly defined instruments and vocals with enough air around them so as not to be congested.
Volume isn’t an issue either. Indoors the Airstream S150 can easily fill a room without distorting or muddying the reproduction.
No matter the volume the S150 remained controlled.
Monitor Audio Airstream S150 conclusion
There are Bluetooth speakers that have more toys. You can buy louder Bluetooth speakers. There are also certainly more expensive ones too.
What I love about the Airstream S150 is that it focuses on what’s most important overall: sound quality.
It might not have AirPlay or DLNA, but I doubt you’ll miss those because its Bluetooth chops are solid.
Furthermore, the S150’s looks are quirky enough to be interesting but can still sit elegantly in any room.
In conclusion, should you not have the readies for a £300 Dali Katch, I suggest you test the Airstream S150 for half the price 😉
Monitor Audio Airstream S150 price and availability
You can buy the Airstream S150 now in Black, White or Gold (as reviewed).
Since you can currently grab the Gold Special Edition version for £119 on Amazon there is really no downside!