I think I’ve made it clear over the years that I love Audioengine products. I’ve reviewed many of the company’s speakers and have always been impressed. Honestly, I’m not sure why they aren’t a household name. Now they have released the Audioengine A5+ Wireless Speakers. An update to their impressive A5 speakers, their new offering once again impressed me.
Let’s run down a bit of my/our history with Audioengine. I reviewed their HD3 Wireless Music System in the fall of 2016. (Read the review.) These small desktop speakers pack an impressive punch. I reviewed the B2, a speaker system that packs stereo speakers into a small, wood cabinet. It looks great, is ideal for small spaces and sounds fantastic. (See the video review here.) I also reviewed the Audioengine HD6 Powered Bookshelf Speakers. These large speakers have a beautiful wood cabinet, have removable grills so those who enjoy seeing the speakers can do so and have pretty much any and every connection option you might want to be built into the back of the “parent” speaker. They get loud and sound fantastic. (Read the review.)
To a certain degree, the new A5+ Premium Wireless Speaker System takes its place between the HD3 and HD6 offerings. It is about the same size as the HD6, packs the same punch and has the same audio technology baked inside. The connectivity options are, however, more similar to those found in the HD3 than the HD6. More on that in a bit. The A5+ build upon the popular A5 Powered Speakers. They look similar but have a slightly updated aesthetics and now include the option to wireless connect to your music. (Previously, the A5 system required a physical connection to the audio source.) Audioengine makes clear that adding wireless to the system wasn’t merely about convenience. As they explain,
A5+ Wireless isn’t just a pair of powered stereo speakers, but a smart music system that works with Alexa, Siri, and all other voice-activated apps, speakers, and devices – as well as every music app on the planet.
Now, let’s be clear, a music system that can be described as being a “powerful audiophile-grade wireless speakers” doesn’t come cheap. These speakers have a price of $499-$569. That may sound steep but considering this is a quality home stereo system designed for those who are discerning when it comes to their music; I can’t help but see these as being a decent value. That is especially true because these speakers don’t simply take a digital signal and amplify it. Instead, these, like all Audioengine products, employ class A/B analog amplifiers that deliver an entirely different music experience than speakers with the digital amps found in many, if not most, mass-marketed speakers. (Also, when I think back to how much I spent on my first component stereo system when I was 15 this is downright inexpensive!)
The first thing you will notice when unboxing the new A5+ speaker system is the quality of the product. The speakers a rather heavy and the quality of the build is easy to see. The second thing you will notice is the fact that, as usual, Audioengine includes everything you could need to set up the system. Inside the box you will find:
- The left A5+ powered speaker
- The right A5+ passive speaker
- A remote control
- Speaker wire (16AWG), 3.75 meters (~12.3ft)
- Detachable power cord
- A mini-jack audio cable, 2 meters (~6.5ft)
- An RCA to RCA audio cable, 2 meters (~6.5ft)
- Cloth speaker and cable bags
- A Setup Guide
- A product line brochure
Once everything is out of the box, setup takes just a few minutes. The company wants it this way as they cutely note, “Life is complicated. Listening to your music shouldn’t be.” There are no apps to download and no network that needs to be accessed. If you are using a wired connection, you simply plug a cable into the speakers and connect it to the audio source. If you are connecting via Bluetooth, you simply go to the Bluetooth menu on your audio source and select it when it appears. (Don’t worry, this isn’t just any Bluetooth connection that compresses the hell out of your music.) The company goes on to explain their commitment to simplicity noting,
The A5+ Wireless eliminates the need for a stereo receiver or separate power amp. And setup takes just a few seconds with no apps to download and no wifi hassles. Tidal, Spotify, Pandora, and all your favorite streaming apps play instantly from your phone, tablet, and computer.
The HD6 speakers have a gorgeous wood cabinet and grills with acoustic material that magnetically connect to the speakers. If you want to see the speakers you can remove the grills but, fig you want a more refined look you can leave them in place. The same goes for the smaller HD3 system. The A5+ has an entirely different aesthetic. The cabinets are made form 1/2” thick MDF, and there are three color options from which to choose. The Black Satin and Hi-Gloss White have an MSRP of $499 while the Natural Bamboo is $569.
The Bamboo version looks a bit like the HD6 while the Black and White versions look a bit more industrial. Also, the A5+ lineup does not come with a grill which creates a more aggressive style than the company’s other speakers.
The speakers are 10.75” high and 7” wide. The Right speaker is 7.75” deep while the Left speaker, which houses the electronics and connectors, is 9” deep. The fact that one speaker is passive while the others house the electronics also impacts the weight. As a result, the Right speaker weighs 9.6 pounds while the Left speaker comes in at 15.4 pounds.
Because the right speaker is passive, its back simply has connectors for the speaker wire or included plug and play speaker cable.
The “magic” happens in the Left speaker.
There you will find a connection for attaching the included Bluetooth antenna, 3.5mm and RCA audio inputs, a Bluetooth pairing button, RCA variable line-out connections, connections for the speaker wire, a voltage selector, a power cord input, and a power toggle.
One difference between the HD6 and the A5+ is the HD6’s inclusion of an optical audio input. This is great if you want to, for example, use the speakers with your television, but I don’t think the lack of an optical port on the A5+ will be an issue for most people.
The front of the speaker has a power indicator light, a sensor that works with the remote.
It also has a physical volume control but, surprisingly, does not have the front 3.5mm headphone jack found on the HD3 system.
The speakers have a dual class A/B amplifier driving 5” Kevlar woofers with advanced voice coils and 3/4” silk dome tweeters with neodymium magnets. The result is 150W of peak power and excellent sound!
A few things are worth noting. First, Audioengine designs and manufactures its own tweeters, woofers, and other critical components. These aren’t speakers built by pulling components off the shelf and throwing them together. (You would be amazed how often that IS the case.) Instead, components are either designed and produced in-house or are made by others but the AudioEngine’s specifications. From there,
The cabinets, drivers, bass port designs, amplifiers, and crossovers are all painstakingly tuned together for each Audioengine model. This, in turn, makes for a much more efficient system that requires much less power than passive speakers and a separate integrated amplifier or similar A/V components.
The company was very careful in selecting the materials for their drivers. They opted for Silk tweeters because these “hold up well under high power and the edge-driven design gives a very smooth response.” They opted for Kevlar with rubber surrounds for the woofers because it is strong enough to retain its shape when driven at high levels. Also, the company explains that “the speaker materials and construction are robust enough to stand up to some serious thrashing, so speaker grills aren’t needed, and they will sound and look great after many years of use. Finally, the drivers are video shielded so they can be placed just a few inches of a video monitor. They note that the shielding also serves to protect hard-drive digital music players.
If you have not figured it out yet, Audioengine speakers are made for people who love their music.