- Installation and Initial impressions
- Sound Quality
- Online Purchase Links
- View All
We have reviewed the Audioengine D3 DAC some time back and we came back impressed by the tiny dimensions, excellent build quality and good sound quality. So when the Audioengine A2+ also came for review I was more than a little excited to run them through their paces.
The Audioengine A2+ is not a completely new product perse and it’s largely based on their earlier Audioengine A2 which was already a fantastic product. So how do you improve on an already outstanding product without taking the pricing to a new level?. One way was to add more features to the product. So Audioengine added a DAC to the Audioengine A2 and made a few sonic tweaks too and the resulting product is the Audioengine A2+.
Now the Audioengine A2 is discontinued but it’s still available online for sale in a few places. So in case you already own a decent DAC and hence don’t require the services of the built-in DAC you might be able to score an Audioengine A2. The Audioengine A2 shaves off $50 on the price of the A2+, but is the inbuilt DAC of the A2+ is worth that $50 price difference if you lack a good DAC already. The Audioengine A2+ are available in black and while color options just like the earlier A2.
|Type||2.0 powered (active) multimedia desktop speaker system|
|Amplifier type||Dual class AB monolithic|
|Power output||60W peak power total (15W RMS / 30W peak per channel), AES|
|Drivers||2.75″ Kevlar woofers, 3/4” silk dome tweeters|
|Inputs||3.5mm stereo mini-jack, RCA, USB|
|Outputs||RCA variable line-out|
|Main voltages||110-240V 50/60Hz auto-switching|
|SNR||>95dB (typical A-weighted)|
|THD+N||<0.05% at all power settings|
|Freq. response||65Hz-22kHz ±2.0dB|
|Input impedance||10K ohms unbalanced|
|DAC||TI/Burr Brown PCM2704C|
|Input bit depth||up to 16 bits native|
|Input sample rate||up to 48KHz native|
|USB device class||type 1.1 or above|
|Protection||Output current limiting, thermal over-temperature, power on/off transient protection|
|Dimensions (each)||6”(H) x 4”(W) x 5.25”(D)|
|Weight (LEFT speaker)||1.6Kg/3.55lbs|
|Weight (RIGHT speaker)||1.4Kg/3.15lbs|
|Shipping weight||4.6kg/10lbs per pair|
|Shipping box dims||10.5” (H) x 15” (L) x 7” (W)|
|Materials and Construction||18mm thick MDF cabinets3/4″ silk dome tweeters with neodymium magnets2.75″ Kevlar woofers with advanced voice coils|
|Included Accessories||Speaker wire (16AWG), 2 meters (~6.5 feet)Power supply AC power cordMini-jack audio cable, 1.5 meters (~5 feet)USB cable, 1.5 meters (~5 feet)Microfiber speaker bags Microfiber power supply bag Microfiber cable bag Setup guide Product line brochure|
Phew ! Those are a lot of specifications!
Some of you may be intimidated by looking at that long list of specifications, but a lot of it isn’t terribly important to understand anyway since audio that measures better in specs may not actually sound better. However, some of the specifications do reveal a few aspects of the system and helps a customer make a decision.
First off the product is a 2.0 speaker system. That means no subwoofer for enhanced bass and conversely a much smaller footprint which makes it easier to install in a location. Secondly the lack of a subwoofer is shown in the frequency response. Now most manufacturers exaggerate the frequency specs of their speakers but Audioengine must be given credit of being more accurate in their frequency specs. First off the bass goes down to just 65 Hz which means sub bass may not be prominent.
Thirdly the DAC that Audioengine chose for their A2+ is a Texas Instruments/Burr Brown PCM2704C chip which is well respected DAC chip. Lastly, the built-in DAC is 16 bit and doesn’t support 24-bit music. However on this speaker system the benefits of 24 bit music will be hardly realized so its not a big issue here. Accessories wise the package comes with everything you will need to use the speaker setup and the included cables are of a high quality which is much appreciated.
Installation was fairly straightforward. The DAC works as a plug and play. Windows/Mac automatically detects the drivers and then you need to set the default sound card as the Audioengine A2+ There are no additional drivers or software to install. So if you wish to tweak the sound further you will require a 3rd party equalizer or other similar software.
Power is provided via the bundled switching power supply. The power supply seems to be of a fairly decent quality and much better than what you get from many Chinese manufacturers. There is a gold plated USB connector to attach the speakers to your PC or laptop which is a nice touch. One minor issue which I didn’t like is that there is no ON indicator. So if you are troubleshooting why the speakers aren’t working there is no reliable way to tell if the speakers are receiving any power. A small LED indicator would go a long way in help in troubleshooting.
Connectivity options are sparse, but you don’t really require much with powered speakers. You can now pass through signals unamplified to another unit like a powered subwoofer if you so wish. Such a feature was absent in the earlier Audioengine A2. You can also receive audio directly from say another DAC if you so wish. A recommended accessory to purchase are the Audioengine DS1 stands that can angle the speakers towards your ears which improve the sound as these speakers should best when positioned directly towards your ears.
I tested the Audioengine A2+ using the built-in DAC. I also tried my other DACs, but the sound quality differences were very difficult to perceive on these speakers. Suffice to say the built-in DAC is of a good quality and a separate DAC won’t really improve the sound quality further. Using onboard sound however showed affected the sound quality and was noticeable. So those who are on onboard sound and are thinking of picking up the A2 instead of the A2+ should get the A2+ instead.
The sound changes appreciably depending on the placement of the speakers. The best experience is when they are pointed directly towards your ears. The USP of these speakers is their neutrality. They handle almost any music genre well.
Bass performance is probably the weak point though. Because of the relatively small driver size sub bass is mostly missing. To compensate, Audioengine have tweaked the A2+ to produce more mid bass which adds a bit of thump but on tracks with heavy sub bass the speakers are unable to produce the low notes which is noticeable. However, for a majority of music the speakers produce enough bass. Its only in electronic music with artificial bass where you might really notice the lack of low end.
Mid range is very nice and both male and female vocals are portrayed nicely. There are no real weaknesses in the midrange region and honestly the mid range I feel is one the best you can get in this price range. Treble is also smooth, has a reasonable extension and is clear. While its not the last word in treble there is little to complain about. There is no harshness or sibilance portrayed unless the track you are playing has sibilance in the recording. I tried a few tracks with sibilance and the sibilance was smoothed out.
Lastly, the soundstage was something exceptional. While the small size of the speakers meant the total size of the soundstage was limited, the imaging was exceptional ! And this was true for even speakers priced much higher.
I have no qualms in recommending the Audioengine A2+ to anyone needing a small pair of speakers.
Of course, there are caveats. For one, there is no option to get the speaker set without a built-in DAC. So if you already have an existing DAC and wish to save a few bucks you will have to scrounge the internet to search for the discontinued Audioengine A2 speakers. Lastly for those looking at playing electronic music they may find the sub-bass to be inadequate. However, there is a provision to add a powered sub woofer if you so wish.
That said the built-in DAC is pretty good, the speakers are well built, sounds great and they come with everything necessary to use them right out of the box.
The price may seem to be a bit high considering lower-priced alternatives from Creative, Logitech and others, but the Audioengine A2+ are in a different league altogether and can’t be compared.
For those looking at better bass the bigger brother the AE5+ is also available which has bigger drivers which should solve the sub bass problem, but they come in a much bigger size.
All in all the, Audioengine A2+ gets a hearty recommendation from me and a silver award!
The Audioengine A2+ have no real competition in India as there are hardly any brands offering powered 2.0 speaker systems at this price range.
For the price the Audioengine A2+ offer excellent build quality, very good sound quality in very small package.
For the price they are easy to recommend.