Audioengine P4 and A5 Reviewed Alhambra CA
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Audioengine P4 and A5 Reviewed
December 11, 2009 By Geoffrey Morrison
To Power or Not to Power
Active, otherwise known as powered, speakers are a tiny sub-set of the speaker market. They offer pros and cons compared to traditional "passive" speakers.
Audioengine offers a look at two different sides of the active/passive argument. With the A5 and P4, the company claims to have voiced them similarly, which makes things very interesting.
On a whole, powered speakers are a pretty nifty idea. Any given amp is going to interact with different speakers in different ways. You could have an amp that sounds great with speaker A, but it may sound bland with speaker B. Having the company, in a way, pre-pick the amp to go with the speaker certainly guarantees the speaker sounds like the manufacturer intends in your room (well, as long as your room isn't messing it up...).
Then there's the convenience factor of not needing anything but the speakers to get audio in a room. Hook up your iPod directly, or your computer. Don't get me wrong, I love finding a great amp/speaker combo, but there is something to be said about simplicity.
The active A5 has a 0.79-inch, silk-dome tweeter and a 5-inch Kevlar woofer powered by 50-watts RMS of internal amplification per speaker. The amps are in the left speaker, so technically the right speaker is a passive speaker, but whatever.
On the top is a USB jack (for power only), along with a mini-jack for audio. If you don't want to give your speakers an unsightly cable quaff, there is an additional mini-jack on the back, along with stereo RCA outputs and a power jack. The latter makes it easy to hook up Audioengine's W2 wireless adapter or a wall wart so the A5s can more or less function as your audio hub and not just the speakers.
The A5's I received for this review were finished in bamboo (you can get them in white, seen below, and black). This isn't just a veneer or crafty paint trick; this is actual bamboo, and let me tell you, it's gorgeous. You can get the P4s in bamboo as well, and I recommend it. Fit and finish of these, as well as the P4s, were excellent.
In one of their potential uses, as computer speakers, the P5s benefit from the expected "desk bounce" with the bass, and perform larger than their 5-inch woofers would imply. With my setup, one speaker was also in a corner. This ended up being too much and sounded a little boomy.
Taking them out of the corner, with just the desk and rear wall boost gave the A5s a full sound with strong bass response. They went surprisingly deep, even playing low organ notes with impressive volume. Speaking of volume, in this setup, 50 watts was more than enough, as I got far more distortion-free volume out of them then I needed.
So they sound great on a desk, but what about on stands in a room? I installed them as my main speakers in my two-channel setup and was quite impressed. Imaging was razor sharp. There was a slight dip in the upper midrange, but it ...