Under such conditions the sound is fairly clear, though not quite as neutral or punchy as the best Tivoli and Vita Audio radios can offer.
On the other hand, there's a decent amount of power on hand and the lack of rattles within the unit makes it a good choice for playing loud. The mono loudspeaker is not such a huge drawback as the stereo of most one-box units is nothing to get excited about and headphone and auxiliary outputs are stereo.
With the speaker facing downwards, the most obvious drawback is in the reduced comprehensibility of the spoken voice. Music is a little dulled, but one still gets the gist. It's tempting to compare FM, DAB and Internet versions of the same station.
FM performance is a bit so-so, tending to sound rather grainy, however meticulously one fiddles with the antenna, but Internet radio is catching up fast with DAB – in some cases sounding noticeably better.
Interestingly, the AirStream's display tells you what bitrate and codec is in use for each station. Internet radio is still in its infancy, but has taken off like a rocket.
Dedicated hardware like this lags a little, but we look forward to more appearing. The attraction of Internet listening without needing a computer to be switched on is obvious and this product fills the need well.
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