McIntosh RS100 review

McIntosh is known for premium audio, but is its latest speaker a worthy addition or the black sheep?

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Our Verdict

This is a superb speaker. Its design won’t appeal to all, but the sound will. A slice of McIntosh for under a grand? Sold!

For

  • Sublime tone and power
  • Easy to use
  • Multi-room and stereo-pairing features

Against

  • Design is an acquired taste
  • Streaming via DTS Play-Fi app only

The name McIntosh may not mean much to those outside the States, but for audio aficionados this brand is synonymous with legendary sound. After all, this is the company that powered The Grateful Dead’s ‘Wall of Sound’.

With the RS100, premium sound quality doesn’t necessarily come with a premium price. Mercifully, this wireless loudspeaker slips into the realms of affordability while still packing tech found in the upper echelons of the McIntosh line-up.

Finished in high-gloss black and set on a square silver plinth, the RS100 is a parallelogram shape that sits back at a slightly raked angle. A removable magnetic cloth grille covers the woofer and tweeter, with an overall aesthetic and standard of finish that oozes craftsmanship. The Gothic McIntosh logo glows in a ghostly green on the speaker’s front, and above it lies a McIntosh power meter displaying the speaker’s sound output in cubic inches. If the glowing distracts you, turn it off.

Unlike most wireless speakers the RS100 eschews Bluetooth and Apple Airplay in favour of Play-Fi, which is a relatively new wireless protocol from DTS. The advantage of using DTS Play-Fi is that it can handle Hi-Res music files. You can add up to 16 speakers, or eight stereo pairs, to your wireless network.

Also at the front of the RS100 are two large knobs: one controls the volume and the other is a Network button for initiating connection to your home router. To the rear there’s a reflex port for pumping out lower frequencies. There’s also a single phono input for wired signals, as well as a subwoofer output for bass. Finally, there’s a USB port to house a USB-to-Ethernet adaptor.

Setting up the RS100 is easy. Connect your iOS or Android device to the speaker’s wireless signal, fire up the Play-Fi app and you’ll be prompted to connect the RS100 to your home wireless network. Enter your router password and that’s it.

Via the DTS Play-Fi app you can stream music files stored on your phone or tablet. You can also stream from any NAS servers sitting on your network. The RS1000 can handle lossless playback up to 16-bit/48kHz files, as well as High-Res Audio files up to 24-bit/192kHz. The Play-Fi app also enables you to stream Amazon Music, Tidal and more. Almost every base is covered, except for the BBC iPlayer Radio app, which makes listening on demand a tad difficult.

As far as sound goes, the RS100 is a class act. The power is immense yet open and controlled. The clarity is spot-on. The level of bass is where it ought to be, and the balance between the top frequencies and the bottom is unbelievably sweet.

Despite the relatively small driver sizes, the tracks we played through the RS100 sounded open, with solid bass that didn’t boom or encroach on the rest of the music. In fact, the tone is so well-balanced we reckon the RS100 will play nice with almost any genre of music. Ultimately, this is a no-brainer for McIntosh fans.

Price: £1,000 | Buy McIntosh RS100