The Monitor Audio Airstream WS100 is a 2.0 wireless speaker system for PC and Mac. In fact, it's one of the best looking and easy to use wireless music set ups you're ever likely to encounter.
For £250 it's not exactly cheap, but the unbelievable ease with which this system can be set up and used is something to behold. A system like Sonos can baffle with its multitude of connections, devices, services and configurations. But the WS100 keeps things very simple indeed.
In the box you get the two deliciously premium satellite speakers, a USB dongle and an infrared remote. That's it. To get up and running you simply plug the speakers in, plug the USB dongle into your computer and you're away. It really is that simple. The dongle acts as a plug-and-play sound device which instantly starts streaming your audio to the speakers.
The WS100 uses SKAA wireless technology instead of traditional 2.4GHz Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connections in order to uphold sound quality and maintain a robust connection through walls and in areas bustling with busy wireless signals.
As a result, we didn't encounter any kind of interference at all. No clicks or crackling like you get with other wireless systems. No drop outs - you wouldn't know it's wireless which is impressive.
The two speakers are tethered by a 1m cable – the right speaker is the one with the receiver and volume dials on the side, and it also has a 3.5mm auxiliary input jack in case you want to plug in another device such as a smartphone or a tablet.
They come with a remote control which allows you to control volume, switch inputs and skip tracks in iTunes, Spotify or whatever music client you're using.
Expand your horizons
You can buy up to four sets of WS100 speakers and have them all synced up in separate rooms without any fuss. We tested with two sets and found that they all hook up without us having to do anything at all – just switch them on and that's it. If you have more than one dongle (a given if you've bought more than one set, though you can also purchase them separately) you can control your music from more than one PC or Mac.
That said, the system does have its limitations. When you change the volume with either the remote control or using the volume dials on the speakers themselves, the volume changes on every system. We found this very useful indeed, but there's no way to get one set playing louder than another which could be an issue with different sized rooms.
There's also no easy way to get the speakers playing different wireless music without using more than one transmitter. They're either in sync and hooked up to the same source, in aux mode, or off. The speakers do not contain their own transmitters, either, so if you plug something into the AUX socket in one speaker, it won't sync to a separate system.
There are still ways to create 'zones' like you can with Sonos by using a Spotify or iTunes remote app on your phone - but you'll need one PC or Mac with USB dongle per zone. Let's face it though, that's not what this product is about. The WS100 is about simplicity and quality, end of story.
The reassuringly weighty satellites are constructed from die-cast aluminium and each contains two C-CAM metal cone drivers, each with its own amplifier. The total system output is 60W which is more than enough for a system of this size to create a big, well-rounded sound without the top or bottom falling out.
Honestly, we can't imagine a set of 2.0 desktop speakers sounding better than this system. Performance is well rounded across the soundscape and on some tracks in particular we found ourselves marvelling at the sheer brilliance of the sound.
However, there is no doubt that a subwoofer would take sound quality to the next level. If you're after really punchy, vibrant, lively bass you might want to look at a different product. We're still huge fans of the ageing Acoustic Energy Aego M 2.1 system - but of course, it isn't wireless.
This is an excellent wireless 2.0 music system. The plug and play nature of the dongle is a true joy – especially if you've toiled with clunky wireless setups in the past as we have. Given the overall experience you get, the price is also agreeable though if you can do without wireless, there are 2.1 systems out there that offer better, wired sound, at a lower price.
If you're looking for a simple, no-fuss plug-and-play wireless music system, this is undoubtedly it.