Home Sweet Home Monitors – Audioengine A5+ Wireless Speakers Review
Audioengine is a pretty old name in the audio industry, being quite well known for affordable, yet high quality home studio monitors. Today’s start, the A5+ /wireless is the successor to the highly acclaimed A5 series, and it is priced at around 500 USD. Given its price point, I will be doing comparisons with Edifier Luna, Edifier S1000DB, and with Aurender S5W Wireless.
Audioengine is not a new name, and is, in fact, one of the longest standing companies in audio, having been around for quite a while, especially when it comes to their main speaker line, and is one of the very few companies known to offer a listening period for their products, basically allowing for a 30 Days return period, which is higher than most audio companies offer (although this may be normal for some countries). Audioengine is known for high quality work, and their speakers are known to last years without issues, being one of the companies people trust the most. In case anything happens, their customer support is exemplary, and there’s very little to be concerned when it comes to purchasing one of their products.
It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with Audioengine, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. I’d like to thank Audioengine for providing the sample for this review. This review reflects my personal experience with Audioengine A5+ Wireless. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in Audioengine A5+ Wireless find their next music companion.
I talk very little about the packages of products lately, and this is because, most of them are just either packaged really well and do come with a number of accessories that are handy, or I do talk a lot when something really comes with a ton of extras, or when something is too bare in terms of packaging and requires you to get a lot of aftermarket extras.
When it comes to A5+ Wireless, they aren’t shy of having a large package, but of also having a nice amount of extras, all of them actually quite useful. Besides the things you can see in the photos, I want to comment Audioengine for the quality of the cables they include in the default package, and for the nice cloth bags that their speakers come in.
Furthermore, the 3.5mm line cable is of good quality, and allows for connecting the speakers with most sources, not to mention the little antennae that they come with, which enables the Bluetooth signal, which, as we’ll see in the build quality and functionality part of the review, offers a strong and reliable signal, as a home monitor speaker should have.
What to look in when purchasing a high-end In-Ear Monitor
Starting with the build quality, the bodies of A5+ Wireless are made of actual wood, and despite the glossy surface and very nice looking finish, they do include wood, which is included for the best sound possible. The drivers are slightly on the small size, with a ¾ Silk Tweeter and with a 5″ Aramid Woofer.
They have a replaceable external main fuse, and they consume under 4W while in sleep mode, being one of the more power efficient self powered speakers around. Self powered means that you won’t be needing an external amplifier to use them, and that the amplifier part of the setup is embedded in the speakers themselves.
Furthermore, they have bluetooth, meaning that once you set them up, you can play music to them from any corner of your home. The amplifier is a Dual AB Monolithic amplifier, and they have a maximum output of 150W, with 75W per channel. This is quite a lot of power, and you can get them very loud, but they don’t have a lot of sub bass, so you don’t have to worry about the bass waking up the neighbors. Even better, if you want a bit more bass, Audioengine also produces a subwoofer which you can pair with their speakers.
A5+ Wireless is not very sensitive to placement, and I noticed that there is a very minimal change in sonic quality when placing them in different corners of your room, especially compared to something like Edifier S1000DB, or Auredener S5W, both of which are very sentive to room placement.
The bass port is a slit at the top back of the speaker, which is very good at offering similar sound regardless of whether you’re using the speakers as close monitors, or place them as typical speakers, further away from your listening position.
The bluetooth signal is one of the best parts about using A5+ Wireless, as they have an extremely strong bluetooth signal, and will have no dropouts and no interference, even if you’re placing them right next to your wifi router. In fact, bluetooth, which also supports APT-X, is so well implemented that you can watch videos using them, and won’t notice a delay.
With an ease of placement, and a good sonic performance, the A5+ Wireless is built really nicely, offers a wide array of functionality, and with enough power to shine, even in a larger room, they are a very well rounded speaker.
The sound quality of A5+ Wireless is quite good, but if you’re used mostly to multimedia speakers, or to typical speakers which tend to be a bit more V-Shaped, then you’ll need a bit of time to get used to the monitor kind of sound that A5+ Wireless has. In terms of signature, A5+ Wireless can be said to have a very precise kind of sound, very clear and well defined, but also very flat, which means that for someone not used to them, the midrange will feel quite forward, compared to the very quick and precise bass and the silky treble. The sound isn’t interesting at first, and doesn’t pop nor impress, but after all, the intended purpose of A5+ is to serve as a studio monitor, to reveal and to enhance textures and show nuance, along with the details, not necessarily to impress with the most sparkly or deep of sounds.
In this sense, starting with the bass, we’re talking about an extremely fast and precise bass, the kind that is able to keep up with metal music, and with very aggressive electronic. There’s a good sense of depth as well, and the bass has a lot of detail, but if you’re looking for amount of rumble, you should know that the mini woofer of 5.5″ employed in A5+ is precise, but not overly deep, the bass reaching low in the 60Hz, but not lower. This means that if you’re looking for subwoofer kind of lows, you’ll most probably have to purchase an additional subwoofer, which Audioengine also makes, especially to pair with their A5 line.
The midrange is the highlight of the A5 series, and A5+ Wireless makes no exception, presenting the listener, with a very clear and crisp midrange, which is also slightly warm, but which bears excellent timing. This is one of the interesting parts, because for a studio monitor, you’d want a speaker that is mostly midrange oriented, you want this kind of precision and introspect to your music. A5+ sounds like an Etymotic of the Speaker world, they bring detail, reveal finer nuance and also textures. Male voices are sweet, and so are female voices, and you can hear the speakers playing with great speed, in fact the combination of the hard and snappy aramid woofer and the silky silk tweeter resulting in a very balanced overall presentation for a studio monitor.
The treble, is as silky and smooth as you’d imagine coming from a bookshelf featuring a silk dome tweeter. You never get tired of A5+, and you’re always ready to listen some more. The treble doesn’t roll off early in terms of absolute extension, but most of the treble energy stops quite early, with most of the treble and the upper treble being represented by silky reflections and fine touches. This is positive, because most studio monitors will help you find issues in the midrange, and will help you with the mastering process in the midrange, but this also means that A5+ is friendly with older recordings and that with them you won’t hear any sibilance or any harshness.
The soundsage created by A5+ is very fair, being one of the more natural sized soundstages, and for a 500 USD speaker set, it is actually quite amazing. The important thing to note about the soundstage is that it is well rounded, pretty equal in depth and width, and that they have good instrument separation. On another bright note, A5+ also has very consistent soundstage even if they are positioned in a close to the listener setup, and even if they are positioned close together. You don’t need to arrange them very far apart to get the best of them, and you don’t need to think a lot about how you’re going to redecorate your room to enjoy them.
Desktop Usage and Monitoring / Multimedia Usage
I will only mention special setup and usage scenarios where they apply, so don’t worry if only some reviews have those, they just don’t apply to every single review, and where those aren’t mentioned, you have to simply assume that the product isn’t meant for that usage scenario, nor it works as such.
When it comes to A5+ Wireless, the fact that they are wireless, and that they work well in both a near field and a normal setup means that you can literally place them anywhere you want, and still get a very consistent performance out of them. The way the bass ports are designed on the back, they don’t require you to position the speakers far away from the wall behind for them to sound great, and the way the sound, I was able to get pretty much the same performance when having them placed wide apart, on stands, as well as when they were by the sides of my display. I enjoy the fact that they are so much hassle-free, and that I don’t have to worry about positioning them, plus, the fact that they are wireless, and have that sweet support for bluetooth means that you can use your smartphone to stream some music and use A5+ wireless as a party speaker setup.
In fact, this is an important aspect, as many many people have been wondering whether A5+ is the right choice for them, and whether those speakers will work as well as a multimedia speaker setup, as they work as a monitoring setup, which was their main intended purpose.
In a few words, as monitoring speakers, they are quite excellent, with really good resolution, detail and low levels of coloration leading to a very acceptable monitoring speaker. As multimedia speakers, though, you have to live with low levels of bass, you have to accept the more prominent midrange, and the silky treble, all of which could be said to be an acquired taste. This kind of precise sound won’t fit everyone, and you may be looking for a bit more excitement in the treble, or a bit more bass, and while you can get the Audioengine S8 subwoofer to complete the bass part, you can’t squeeze much more treble out of At+.
Overall, A5+ makes an excellent monitoring setup, is easy to position and easy to use, and as a desktop / bookshelf speaker, is pretty much excellent.
The main competitors I’m placing the A5+ Wireless against are Edifier S1000DB, Edifier Luna, Aurender S5W. Those are all very different devices built for different purposes, and I’m quite aware of it, but since A5+ itself is such a dual-purpose speaker, I had a feeling you’d like to know how it compares to other speakers that I reviewed in the past, all of which are also quite unique in nature. There won’t be a pairing part because A5+ Wireless is mainly a bluetooth upgrade from the A5+, so it pairs in bluetooth mode, and pairing it with multiple DACs in wired mode resulted in a slightly lower than expected response, meaning that they don’t need a very expensive DAC to shine, and that they are optimised to work with budget DACs, although something like a FiiO K5 PRO would make them sound much better than any on-board soundcard.
Audioengine A5+ Wireless vs Edifier S1000 DB – I thought about starting with a classic, as I’ve reviewed and talked about S1000DB quie extensively, and I’ve also been in between getting A5+ Wireless or the S1000DB. I’ll be honest with you, at that point, I wasn’t quite sure what to get, and right now, I think that there were a few things that would have came in handy to know at that point as well. Starting with the package, you can tell from the start that S1000DB is a much cheaper speaker, as all aspects of the package indicate a cheaper product, despite the fact that they are almost as expensive as A5+ Wireless. Furthermore, the difference in price can be felt when looking at the build quality as well, with A5+ being made much better, with better drivers, and better amplification, while S1000DB has an amplifier that has hiss and noise when you turn the volume all the way up, and no music is playing, and with S1000DB having a bass port that failed me a while ago, with Edifier having done literally nothing and ignoring my mails and requests for a solution, where A5+ shown no such issues and have been going like a champ for a few months now. Now, when each works, the sound is extremely different. Edifier is thicker, much more boomy, and although having more bass in quantity, it is a slower kind of bass, the kind you’d expect from slow and lazy drivers, where you can tell that A5+ as a more snappy driver with more technical ability than Edifier. Furthermore, the treble is much more sparkly on Edifier, but it is also hot and a bit harsh, where it is much cleaner and mor edetailed, although lacking energy and impact on A5+. A5+ feels like it is considerably midrange forward / flat in tuning, where Edifier feels like they are V-shaped and the midrange sounds recessed. For a strong multumedia experience, Edifier provides a bit more rumble, but A5+ is easier to connect to a subwoofer, where S1000DB doesn’t have an easy way to pair with a sub.
Audioengine A5+ Wireless vs Edifier Luna – It is funny when you think about it, but Edifier Luna is actually better than S1000DB in terms of build quality, with Luna being actually quite well made. Now, you can tell that Luna from Edifier is a fully plastic speaker, but still, it is interesting to see that they also have products that are better made. In terms of sound, Luna has much less detail than A5+, which feels like an entirely new world when placed against luna. Luna is also very sensitive to placement in comparison to A5+, which you can place alost anywhere and still get decent results out of. I didn’t talk about this when comparing S1000DB and A5+, because they have similar maximum volume output, but when comparing Luna to A5+, you can notice that Luna is much quieter and doesn’t deliver almost any impact, with its multitude of 3.5″ woofers being unable to deliver any bass or impact, and with the entire speaker rolling off too early to call it a complete sound, regardless of your tastes. This being said, Luna is quite good for their price point, and if you’re looking for a cheap solution, Luna is much cheaper than A5+ wireless.
Audioengine A5+ Wireless vs Aurender S5W Wireless Speaker – Now, why in the world would I compare two wireless speakers that are in pretty much entirely different price categories to being with? Well, both are wireless, and they are similar in size, so you may be curious what more money gets you with the Aurender S5W, compared to the Audioengine A5+. Starting with the build quality, you can immediately tell that S5W is more expensive and better made, but to be fair, S5W is made of metal, and they are heavier, so you could expect slightly different workmaship. Furthermore, the package and work principle of S5W is different, with those being fully wireless, as in, they aren’t bluetooth enabled, but they are enabled by a little USB wifi transmitter, and they are paired by little antenae between them, with the antenae being user replaceable, if you wanted a much longer range between them, or between them and the little USB dongle. There’s also the fact that S5W has batteries and can output music even without a power outlet nearby, where A5+ cannot. The sound of S5W is much more detailed, with better soundstage, better instrument separation, more detail and better clarity, and with S5W just being better made for music listening. On the less bright side, S5W needs very precise room placement and is sensitive to placement, where A5+ is not, and S5W cannot get quite as loud as A5+, being limited by the size of their drivers. More money will get you a more solid product, and a better sonic performance, but you’ll have to be careful when placing S5W. In terms of overall tunung, they are similar, but S5W has more treble bite and treble extension, you can hear a much higher dynamic range, and better overall impact, than with A5+, which feels like it has been tuned for precision instead of an impressive sound.
Value and Conclusion
Audioengine A5+ Wireless surely has a good value, being priced at just 500 USD, and having a top notch craftsmanship, detail and clarity levels, and coming with a lot of useful extras, all of which are of good quality. The price is very good for a bookshelf that has the amplification part built in, and which can be positioned virtually anywhere, including in a near-field listening setup, with minimal loss in actual sonic performance.
When we talk about Audioengine A5+ Wireless, we talk about a midrange to high-end monitoring speaker made to last, and we talk first and foremost about the package, which impressed me. High quality cables and interconnects, a nice remote, and the speakers themselves being ressed in two little bags of a soft velvety material to keep them safe are all welcoming sights when opening the package.
Then we get to the build quality and the two high-quality drivers, paired with the AB Monolithic internal power amplifier, also paired with the fact that A5+ Wireless supports bluetooth, and we get a very high quality speaker that feels and looks well made. The version I have is on glossy white, but there are other color options available as well.
The sound is pretty much exactly what you’d expect of a monitoring speaker, with good clarity and detail textures, and with a linear bass and with a silky smooth treble. This is the kind of sound that won’t impress you right away, but which reveals all the fine details and nuance in music that could otherwise be hidden by a more sparkly and impressive tuning.
At the end of the day, if you’re looking for good quality, reliable bookshelf speakers which are self powered, and if you don’t want to fiddle too much with positioning or acoustic room treatments, then A5+ Wireless is a safe introduction in the speaker world, and in the monitoring speaker world, and even if you get them for multimedia, they are totally worth checking out, especially as there’s a subwoofer made by audioengine, named S8, which pairs with A5+ Wireless perfectly, if you’re in need of more bass.
Full Playlist used for this review