We first tested the Audio Pro Allroom Air One in 2013, and it impressed us enough to earn an Award. But a year is a long time in the wireless speaker market, and many new rivals have popped up.
Time for a rematch, then: does the champ have what it takes to hold on to its title? In short, yes it does. It's an attractive package with a good set of features and excellent audio quality.
Despite its relative age, it easily holds its own against newcomers.
MORE: Awards 2013
They say first impressions are the strongest, but our second encounter with the Audio Pro has us falling in love all over again.
Wrapped in a choice of red, black or white leather, the speaker exudes quality.
Its impressive build quality and sophisticated finish are complemented by a high feature count and satisfying user experience. You can set up AirPlay a number of ways: there’s the Audio Pro app, and you can also go through your internet browser.
The quickest way, though, is to plug your Apple device into the USB socket on the rear of the Air One and when prompted, allow your handheld device to transfer its wi-fi settings to the speaker. This happens in a matter of seconds and it’s a feature absent from rival speakers.
If you don’t have your own wireless network, fear not. Press the Direct Link button on the remote control and the speaker creates its own network. Connect a computer or handheld device and as long as it’s DLNA enabled, you can stream straight to it.
Alternatively you can also use the Audio Pro’s USB socket to hard-wire (and charge) your iDevice and play it through the speaker.
A credit-card-sized remote control is supplied and, unlike those packaged with the B&W A5 and Cambridge Audio Minx Air 200 speakers, it’s easy to get to grips with. The buttons are a decent size and the speaker is quick to respond to your prodding.
The system is great to use – and things get even better when you start playing music through the Air One. It produces a wonderfully balanced, integrated sound, with refinement and finesse in spades. Hurts’ Somebody To Die sounds elegant and charming.
Vocals ooze quality as the speaker immerses the listener in the drive and emotion of the song. Strings sound dramatic and sharply defined but never bright or hard.
For a box this size, there’s a good sense of scale. You could easily fill a larger room, say, at a party.
There’s plenty of power, delivery is weighty, and dynamics are strong and far-reaching. Play Pharrell Williams’ Know Who You Are and there is funk aplenty.
Subtler moments are not ignored: there is refinement and nuance in spades, as well as ample texture throughout the frequency range. Timing is precise, too.
We found that placing the unit 30cm or so from a rear wall gave a good balance between weight and clarity.
Switching between AirPlay, Direct Link and the speaker’s USB socket we found subtle differences. The wired connection sounds a little more solid and composed, but the differences between the three aren’t huge.
The Air One also has an optical digital input – which means it can also double up as a soundbar. The speaker is quite tall though, so it could obstruct your screen if you don’t have a spare shelf to place it on. If you can accommodate it, your TV sound will be much improved.
We really like the Audio Pro Allroom Air One. Its combination of good looks, great sound and varied specification means it’s a complete package, and it demands an audition.