McIntosh doesn't make cheap stuff. Most of its turntables, amplifiers and other audio components cost at least $5,000 (and often a lot more), but not everything the American audio company makes is as out of reach. The RS150 ($1,200), for example, is its newest and most entry-level wireless speaker. It's still expensive for sure, but if you're somebody who values great sound quality and a truly gorgeous aesthetic, then the McIntosh RS150 is a dream of a wireless speaker. If you can stomach the still-steep cost.
The McIntosh RS150 is an all-in-one wireless speaker that, well, works very similar to other wireless speakers out there. You plug it, connect it to Wi-Fi and then you stream music to it via your laptop or smartphone. But what makes the RS150 different from, say, something like the Sonos Five (which is one of its closest competitors), is its style. And yes, its sound.
The RS150 is distinctly McIntosh. Everything about it — from the signature blue power meter to the green illuminated logo, the black glass front panel to the large tactile knobs — is in line with the hi-fi company's other high-end (and super expensive) audio products. Unlike other wireless speakers that are designed to blend into your home and hide, like a Sonos, the RS150 is designed to stand out, shown off and be admired.
Released in late 2021, the McIntosh RS150 is a new-and-improved version of the company's now discontinued RS100. The RS150 shares a similar design as its predecessor, but McIntosh gave it new guts, twice the power (now 120-watts) and support for every major streaming technology, including Spotify Connect, AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Tidal Connect and Roon. (It also supports Bluetooth, so your friends don't even have to connected Wi-Fi to quickly get the music going.) Basically, it'll work for you.
As far as sound, the RS150 is a beast. It supports lossless quality audio and if you're a Tidal HiFi subscriber, it's even compatible with its high-resolution tracks (up to 24-bit/192kHz with Kbps). The two-way speaker divvy ups its 120-watts of power between its tweeter (gets 30 watts) and and its 5.25" woofer (gets 90 watts) — and if you want it to shake your house, it can. (You can also quickly turn the bass down via the Settings.)
I'm not going to tell you that McIntosh RS150 is a night-and-day upgrade over something like Sonos's Five because, well, the Five is also excellent. And it has some features that the RS150 lacks, like self-tuning technology and a companion app that makes grouping your speakers really easy.
If you're familiar with Sonos speakers, you'll know that they are always on — you can open Spotify or Apple Music and stream music to them at time. However, the RS150 is little different. After an hour of inactivity, it goes into a sleep mode where it disconnects from Wi-Fi (it does this to meet energy standards) and the speaker is undiscoverable. It's an easy fix as you just have to go over to the speaker and just tap its power dial, but it could catch some people off guard. (Note: You are able to turn off sleep mode via the RS150's settings, which means it'll be always discoverable, just like Sonos, but it is something you'll have to adjust after you set up the speaker.)
The McInstosh RS150 is a wonderful wireless speaker that combines easy streaming and hi-fi sound, and it's all put together in a gorgeous package. But it comes at a price. Is its sound twice as good as the Sonos Five? No. But if you're a hi-fi enthusiast who wants a statement piece to show off and rock out, the McInstosh RS150 is top of my list.