The name McIntosh Labs has been synonymous with outstanding audio quality for more than 60 years and its iconic MC275 tube amp certainly left its mark on me when I first encountered one many moons ago. Hot on the heels of the MX121 audio/video control center featuring Apple's AirPlay wireless technology released earlier this year, the company has launched the McAire free-standing personal music system that allows a new generation of discriminating consumers to stream audio from an iTunes library on a Mac or PC – or music from an iDevice – over an existing home network.

The unit is built with the same high end technology used in the McIntosh Reference System and benefits from a high gloss black finish, rather snazzy McIntosh blue output meters, glass faceplate and a knit cloth grille (also in black) with magnetic attachment. The integrated audio system includes two 4-inch woofers with dual acoustic porting, two 2-inch inverted dome midrange drivers and two 0.75-inch dome tweeters for the promise of room-filling sound.

Tipping the scales at 31 pounds (14 kg), the McAire is handcrafted in the U.S. and has 19.37 x 8 x 17-inch (49.2 x 20.3 x 43.2 cm) dimensions, including the antenna and connectors. It's factory configured to either 100, 110, 120, 220, 230 or 240-volts (50/60 Hz at 25 watts), has a frequency response of 60 Hz to 45 kHz and crossover frequency of 250 Hz and 4,500 Hz.

In addition to Ethernet (10/100 Base-T) wired or Wi-Fi network connectivity and Apple AirPlay technology, the system also features USB input for playing tunes from a physically-connected player or for charging of iDevices (1 amp), along with stereo RCA auxiliary inputs with 200 mVRMS nominal (max) input sensitivity and a maximum input signal of 2.2 VRMS.

The system is compatible with iPod touch (3rd and 4th gen) and iPhone (3GS, 4 and 4S) via AirPlay or USB, the iPad (first, second and third gen) over AirPlay only and USB only for the iPod Classic and nano (5th and 6th gen). And, should your budget allow, multiple McAire systems can be synced to a single source device for a multi-room continuous playback walk-through experience.

The McAire was launched last week and is available through authorized McIntosh dealers for a suggested retail price of US$3,000.

Product page: McAire