If you've decided that the built-in speakers on your TV or monitor are no longer working, there are plenty of options to choose from. Of course, you can buy some cheap bookshelf speakers at your local big box store, but for those who value audio quality, do some research beforehand.
Today I'm going to take a look at Audioengine's newest product, the A5 + Wireless Powered Speakers. Audioengine has a long tradition of manufacturing high quality prosumer audio devices for those who want audiophile components at an affordable price.
We recommended the original A5 + speakers last year in our best of function in the studio speakers category. The A5 + Wireless is very similar to the A5 + and offers additional support for Bluetooth playback. This is thanks to the built-in D / A converter AKM AK4396, the same chip that supplies the independent B1 Bluetooth receiver from Audioengine with power. That being said, the two models use the same drivers and amplifiers.
Based on some basic specifications, the A5 + comes with 5 "Kevlar woofers and 3/4" silk tweeters. Due to its strength, Kevlar is used in high-end loudspeakers and keeps its shape when operated at high volume. The left unit contains the amplifier and all internal circuits, while the right unit is passive. Both units measure 10.75 "x 7" x 7.75 ", although the left unit extends about an inch further back due to the cables and heat sink. These speakers are also very heavy, with the left unit being 15.4 pounds and the right weighs 9.6 pounds.
The bottom of the speakers is padded with black foam. This reduces unwanted vibrations on any surface you place them on. In the middle there is a standard 1/4 "thread holder.
The speakers are made of 1/2 "thick MDF. In addition to the glossy white boxes we tested, the A5 + Wireless is also available in satin black and bamboo. The A5 + Wireless looks very normal without too much going on The left device has a volume control with tactile bumps between the levels. With one push these controls can also mute the speakers. On the left speaker there is an LED operating display and an IR receiver for the supplied remote control.
On the back we find all connectivity. From top to bottom, the A5 + Wireless has a Bluetooth antenna, a Bluetooth pairing button, a 3.5 mm input, a cinch input and output, binding posts for connecting the right speaker, a power switch, a voltage selector switch, a replaceable fuse and finally an AC power supply.
Although the A5 + has an internal DAC, it is only connected to the Bluetooth input. This means that the 3.5mm and RCA inputs use the DAC of your computer or phone. If you're looking for speakers of this caliber, consider using an external DAC to get the most out of them. The RCA output is intended for use with an external subwoofer.
In my tests, I found that the Bluetooth range is excellent. This is nothing more than the average short-range Bluetooth earphones we've seen so far. The A5 + Wireless produced clear audio from more than 50 feet away. In my house, the only way to break the connection was to put the speaker in the corner of the basement and go to the top floor in the opposite corner. In between there was little or no loss of quality.
In relation to the supplied cables, you will receive 4 m 16AWG speaker cables with pre-assembled connections, 2 m cinch cable and 2 m 3.5 mm cable. The supplied speaker cable and the clamps feel of very high quality. If you want a longer runtime or would prefer to use your own cable, this also works. On the back of the right speaker, we only need speaker cable inputs, since the amplification takes place in the left unit. Both speakers have a bass connector at the top to ensure proper airflow. This means that you should also be at least 6 inches away from the back of the speaker.
If we take a look at both units, starting with the right speaker, we only find a passive crossover. This collection of inductors, capacitors and resistors divides the incoming audio signal into a high frequency and a low frequency component.
With the A5 + Wireless I measured this point at around 2 kHz. The two separate outputs then drive the woofer and the tweeter. Splitting the audio in this way enables better playback than a speaker solution because each driver is tuned to a specific frequency. Given the strength of the external speaker cable, I was a little surprised at the thinness of the internal wiring. These are not extremely powerful speakers, so this is probably not a big deal. What is clearly visible, however, is the ample acoustic padding to prevent echo and internal vibrations.
If we go to the left speaker, we find all the interesting components. The massive toroidal transformer immediately stands out, giving the A5 + Wireless a peak output of 150 W. This type of transformer is more expensive than conventional "E" and "I" transformers, but emits less magnetic interference, which can reduce noise.
We also see a lot more use of acoustic padding around the wires and in the closet. The rather large printed circuit board inside also contains the amplifier, the Bluetooth receiver, the power management and the signal processing components. The internal wiring can also be easily disconnected from the speaker box if you need to service the device for any reason.
On to the sound quality … I used a variety of genres for my listening tests, including classical music, rock music, pop music and light instrumental music. I have tested in three common listening environments: a wide open room with few walls and high ceilings, a smaller family room and finally a basement with many walls and shorter ceilings.
If you've never heard really high quality speakers, you'll be happy. Good speakers make good recordings sound great and low quality recordings sound even worse. They bring out parts of the music that often go unnoticed on normal speakers. For example, instead of just hearing the rumble of a bass drum, you can hear the impact of the drumhead and the reverberation in the room in which it was recorded. When you hear a flute, you can hear the air flowing through the mouthpiece.
The size of the A5eng wireless audio engine speakers is an interesting point of conversation. I think they're a little big to put on a computer desk, but they seem a little too small to use in a home theater. Still, they get loud. Really loud.
When the speakers were turned all the way up, I found that a Windows desktop PC volume of only 12/100 was loud enough for normal listening. Setting it to around 50 was just on the edge of what I liked to hear. You can easily fill an entire room without breaking a sweat, yet still have plenty of reach to grow.
It is also important to create an accurate sound stage. With low-quality speakers, everything sounds as if it came from the center or the center of your head. With good speakers, you should be able to close your eyes and determine the position of an instrument or voice in the music. The A5 + Wireless does an excellent job here.
There is certainly room for improvement over the lower frequencies, but I am very impressed with the size and cost of these speakers. The speakers maintained the quality even at higher frequencies without getting hard. They were punchy down to the low to medium frequencies, but began to wash out easily with bass and subbass frequencies. The bass in a near-field listening experience was dense and strong enough to fill a small space.
However, if you want adequate bass reproduction in a larger room, you need a special subwoofer because the A5 + cannot sink as low.
You could easily spend 5 to 10 times more to get a top-class speaker set, but at that point you'll see a lot of falling returns. At $ 500 for the black and white models and $ 570 for the wood finish, these speakers are certainly not cheap. They are intended for listeners who know what they are doing and what they expect from an audio system.
You can also spend less money and get speakers of much lower quality, or spend more money and get slightly better speakers. All in all, listening to the Audioengine A5 + Wireless is a lot of fun and provides a rich, room-filling sound. If you are looking for great speakers on the market and can put them up for sale, I would definitely pick them up. If you have the budget, it's hard to go wrong with them.
Advantages: Great sound quality. Long range Bluetooth playback. Room-filling sound without distortion.
Disadvantage: Price. Analog inputs only.