We’ve been waiting for Altec Lansing AirPlay speakers for ages, but while the inAir 5000 looks good, it doesn’t live up to its full potential.
The streamlined design is elegant and eye-catching. We liked the inAir Guide app that helps connect the speakers to your Wi-Fi network, and there’s also an option for configuring the speakers via a web browser so you can stream music from a Mac or PC as well. Visit Group test: what's the best speaker set?
Other useful features include an aux input for connecting non-wireless devices, a headphone socket and a USB port for charging iOS devices. First impressions of the sound quality are also good – keep it at around 40 to 50 percent of full volume and it produces a warm, detailed sound with firm bass behind it. Stay at that level and it’ll be great for showing off to your friends over dinner and drinks. See also Philips Fidelio DS9/10 review.
Unfortunately, it’s the remaining 50 percent that causes problems. Higher frequencies start to get a bit harsh as you crank the volume up, and the bass can sound quite out of balance at times. Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass’ was almost overwhelmed by the thud of the bass, while even the acoustic warblings of Damien Rice suddenly seemed to gain a deep, reverberating boom.
Put a graphic equaliser into the inAir app and maybe you’d be able to fine-tune the sound more effectively, but without that option the bass simply seems out of control.
If you’re going to spend over £400 on a set of AirPlay speakers then the sound needs to justify the cash. However, the inAir 5000 lacks the finesse you’d expect in this price range and struggles to compete with rivals such as the B&W Zeppelin Air.