AudioEngine A2+ Review
These speakers are small.
Here you can see the details of the tweeter, as well as the painted finish for the cabinet which looks pretty good. Note that the photo was taken off axis, and that the tweeter is properly centered.
The woofer is a tiny 2.75 inch kevlar unit that looks more like carbon fiber. It does not have much in the way of surround, and I'm not sure how it's going to perform as physics is definitely working against it.
The slot port is about the size of a credit card. It's on the front of the speaker allowing placement close to back walls.
This is what happens when I try to take pictures with my phone. Ignoring the shit quality of the photo, we can kind of make out that the amp has a couple of input options. We are looking at a 1/8 inch jack for portable sources, and a pair of RCA's for your more standard sources such as a cd player or turntable if you are a hipster. The star of the show is a USB input, which will take digital directly from your computer and handle all of the conversions inside of the speaker before amplifying the sound.
Cracking this little speaker open we can see the mess of poly fill.
Looks to be a pretty good sized heatsink on the 15 watts per channel amp. The plate that the amp is attached is actually pretty thick aluminum and while using the speaker the back plate will get a little warm as the plate acts as a heat sink as well.
I don't know much about the design of this board, but I can spot a Texas Instruments PCM2704 chip on there which appears to be the DAC chip.
Getting the poly fill out of the way we can see that there is in fact a passive crossover attached to a tiny little brace..The crossover has 2 coils, 2 caps, and one resistor. I'm guessing that it's a second order crossover for both the tweeter and woofer with some level matching via the resistor.
To give these guys the best shot of performing I ponied up the extra $30 for a pair of branded AudioEngine desktop stands. These are made out of something like neoprene and angle the little speakers up toward the listener.
Here you can see the thin walled construction. I could crush it in my hand, but it would probably bounce back into roughly the same shape. Someone over there at AudioEngine is sitting on a pile of money made off of these things.
No grills. Even AudioEngine knows that grills are for pussies.
Setup was as easy as plugging in the usb connector and power. I propped the AudioEngine A2+ up onto of my Micca club subs to bring them up to ear level for initial impressions, but quickly found them lacking. After moving a truckload of stuff off of my desk I went with the stands they were designed to use and things improved.
The A2+ has bass response that is impressive for any desktop speaker, and to hear sound this full come from a speaker this size is surprising.
I can tell that these speakers were designed for the desktop. Unlike the small bookshelf speakers that I usually test these would not work anywhere else.
These sound like computer speakers. Pretty well balanced computer speakers, but definitely not audiophile quality.
Female vocals are recessed, and male vocals are smothered by a midbass hump
The treble is not bad, but it is a little over detailed and ever so slightly harsh.
Guitar, like female vocals is hidden behind the "v" shaped frequency response.
Clarity is excellent, no audible distortion at relaxed listening levels.
Angel by Massive attack sounds punchy and kind of deep. Raising the volume levels and the bass starts honking.
I can hear distortion either from the port, or the woofer voice coil bottoming out. Port turbulence is like sitting in a car with the A/C on blowing in your face.
Above a polite whisper these sounds like noise, the music is gone.
The dip from 4-6k is where the guitar and female vocals went. The hump in the mid bass is evident even with my shitty room showing it's ass in the measurement.
Flattened out the treble and the midrange, and worked a lot on the bass response. To avoid the speaker bottoming out I put a 20dB cut below 40Hz, which actually freed up a little room to enhance the bass response with a little bump around 70Hz. The biggest change is flattening out the mid bass, which got a 6dB cut, and sounds worlds better.
Yep, this is a pretty good response now.
Corrected Listening Notes:
Twice as much air as before, not from the tweeters, from the ports. I've got shit fly off of the desk from the port turbulence.
Woofer is finally not bottoming out unless I really push the whole speaker to the edge of distortion.
The treble sounds worlds better.
Listening off axis vertically, slightly above the speakers is rolling off the highs.
Nothing Happens in June by Ulrich Schnauss sound good.
Guitar and Sax are smoking, drums and bass are put into their place.
Imaging is way off with the speakers on the desktop stands, but this is a compromise for the added bass extension.
They get louder, sound clearer, and play deeper.
Plenty loud for a desktop, but listening further away in any room above flea size they will not be very impressive.
DSP Corrected headroom test netted pretty good results. This shows the bass response from the real time analyzer with the mic at the listening position along with my SPL meter in hand while playing a bass heavy section of Faces by Polymath.
This is a computer speaker that sounds pretty good, but it's not great. I'm a picky bastard, so I would classify the stock sound as hideous. With the over enthusiastic "look at me" midbass being a deal breaker.
Outside of the bass response the treble is pretty clean, but hides information with a dip in the response. I've heard plenty worse, but only a few for this much money.
The verdict after the DSP correction is pretty good. They don't play really loud, they don't image very well, but they are at least tonally neutral and play into the 48Hz range when positioned in a corner.
These speakers cost a good bit for what they are, and should only be considered if you have absolutely no room for anything even slightly larger on your desk.
Check out the system finder to see what I recommend.
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