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For those about to rock, Altec Lansing’s inAir 5000 is a glorious set of AirPlay speakers. Setup is easy. Download a free app for your iOS device, plug that in to the speaker, and walk through the couple of steps it takes to name the device and connect it to your Wi-Fi network. You can also configure it by connecting to a network it creates temporarily through a browser on your computer, or using WPS on supported routers. You can then send music wirelessly straight from an iOS device running iOS 4.2—which can only stream to one speaker at a time—or by streaming music to one or more speakers from iTunes on your Mac or PC.
What comes out of the inAir 5000 is gorgeous. At times, we worried that the rich low-end would overwhelm everything else, but the speakers usually proved us wrong. At the start of Ben Folds’ “Adelaide,” for example, the thumping bass that starts the track is awesome, but the spiky percussion pings in at the top end with wonderful clarity, and the vocals float right on top of everything with tremendous presence.
On clear, acoustic, lightly produced tracks, you can close your eyes and imagine the singer is in the room with you.
But while the honeyed tones are deeply pleasing, they’re not perfect for everything. You might prefer a sharper, more neutral overall tone, for example, or you may listen to music ripped from vinyl that already sounds soft—in which case the overall effect might sound muddied.
There’s no dock connector, but you can plug your iOS device in to a USB port. The USB port can’t charge an iPad, but it charges everything else, and there’s a “dim” mode in which the speaker is off but devices still charge.
The 3.5mm audio-in jack lets you connect any audio device with a headphone port. And it’s got its own headphone jack too, so you can plug in and listen to music streamed to the inAir 5000 over AirPlay.
The bottom line. The inAir 5000 is beautiful and well made, and we love its mellow, vinyl sound. If you can afford it, buy it.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 4.2 or later, or Mac/PC with iTunes 10.1 or later; Wi-Fi network
Easy to set up. Excellent sound. USB charging port.