I've been reviewing multifunction single-speaker iPod systems for a while now and have seen their evolution take shape over the years. The one trend they all seem to follow is hooking into a specific iPod functionality and boasting it as a highlight feature--whether it's the ability to display track information, play video off the device, or allow for wireless control. Now with the prevalence of iPads, AirPlay technology has caused manufacturers to shift their focus.
Only one other AirPlay device has graced my review desk, the JBL On Air Wireless, which by all accounts was an oddly designed, yet great-sounding device. Unfortunately for the JBL, it lost major points in my opinion because of its $350 MSRP, though I'm now seeing it online for as cheap as $230. Sure, the JBL flashed a bevy of features, but when all was said and done, it was a tough sell primarily in regards to its price.
With the Klipsch Gallery G-17 Air, we're introduced to another AirPlay-focused single-speaker system with some impressive functionality. The G-17 not only wirelessly streams audio from an iPad, but can also play nicely with any computer running iTunes, or an iPod Touch or iPhone. It accomplishes this via a very easy-to-use Web-based interface that uses your wireless home network. To boot, the G-17 sounds great and is surprisingly painless to set up. All these positives aside, its jaw-dropping $550 price tag seems extraordinarily high, reserving this luxury item for the few who aren't interested in cheaper DIY or wired alternatives.
Judging by looks alone, the G-17 seems like it's the center channel of a high-end 5.1 speaker system. A stretch-cloth grille covers the front face of the speaker, which is anchored by a steel rod around back.
The unit's outer casing is a polished black matte plastic. It's a heavy box, too, weighing in at almost 8 pounds. The G-17 comes with an optional stand as well which elevates the speaker about two inches off the surface. It's not required though, as the speaker can lie comfortably on its own.
The speaker itself packs in two 20-watt woofers and two 10-watt tweeters.
All of the G-17's interactive connectivity options are found around back and include an auxiliary-in and a USB port that can charge a device or be used to transform the G-17 into a wired speaker for a USB device. Unfortunately this only includes Apple products.
The included remote isn't anything to write home about. Its flimsy feel and appearance don't fall in line with a $550 product. The optional Klipsch app will only allow for initial setup, so once that's working there's really no reason to keep it around unless you change networks and need to run the setup again.