Straight out of the box, the first thing that strikes you about the Airstream S150 Bluetooth speaker from top-notch-tech types Monitor Audio is how cool it looks.
Sleek, smooth-curved and subtly sexy, even without streaming one of your favourite tunes to it and listening to what it gives you back you’re thinking: “I want one!” And then: “Hmm, I might have to sell a few of my vinyl collectibles, and my vintage denim jacket with all the sew-on patches, and maybe even that signed photo of Chrissie Hynde with the lipstick kiss on it…” And then you clock the price and realise you don’t have to put that stuff on eBay after all.
With Bluetooth, portability is of course one of the big advantages over wired speakers. And weighing in at a very reasonable 2.26kg (5lb in old money) the S150 can be tucked under your arm and carried into another room without putting your back out. Another big advantage is the ability to play music from a whole range of devices, and stream it to the speaker rather than having to mess around with wires. Streaming audio from a laptop, tablet, mobile phone or any other Bluetooth-enabled device is wonderfully simple.
Like mobile phones, burgers and guitar solos, though, Bluetooth speakers come in all shapes and sizes and not all of them are tasty. The S150 certainly is. For £150 you get up to 40 watts of terrific high end stereo audio and a sound that some will find surprisingly powerful and punchy from a unit of its size. That all comes from a one-inch tweeter and a pair of metal-cone bass drivers, augmented by a rear-firing auxiliary bass radiator.
Other things you should know are that it has a USB output for charging, a 3.5mm auxiliary input jack for TV, radio or other devices and a threaded insert for wall mounting if you want to keep it away from pets that enjoy chewing and scratching things and children who like to pull things apart. It’s also dead easy to set up and fire up.
The only thing you really need to know is that the S150 Bluetooth (4.0, in case you’re interested)speaker is up there among the best (that’s your geek-types talking) for both style and function, and that you won’t be disappointed.
£150. More information at monitoraudio.co.uk
GOLD STANDARD: Nothing glitters quite like a Les Paul Goldtop
The Monitor S150 also comes in grey, but surely the model that glitters most, speaking even metaphorically, is the gold-finished one.
And it’s the same with guitars. Take the most famous gold guitar: the Gibson Les Paul. It’s more than 60 years since the introduction of the Les Paul Standard, and despite the appeal of, for example the fabled late-1950s sunburst Les Pauls Standards, for many players the one with the most allure is the original Standard – the Goldtop. Down the years it has been a treasured possession of a long list of guitar stars that includes Freddie King, Duane Allman, Steve Hackett, Joe Bonamassa, Tom Scholz and Neil Young (pictured), whose faithful ‘Old Black’ Les Paul was originally a 1953 Goldtop before, for reasons best known to him, he had it repainted and heavily customised.