The Audioengine A2+ speakers are designed for everyday computer use, such as gaming, listening to music or watching a movie. The A2+ is an upgrade to the popular A2 model, which has been discontinued. Audioengine claims that the A2+ includes technology normally found in studio monitors, which are speakers used in professional audio reproduction. Does this result in a great audio performance on the A2+?
Key Features of the A2+
The Audioengine A2+ retains most of the features found in the original A2, with some improvements. For instance, the latest model can play digital audio through an input USB port. Digital audio does not suffer from signal degradation like an analog signal does. As a result, your music can be as accurate as the source. Other minor improvements include better speaker connectors and accessory cables. The power supply is also of higher quality than the one on the A2.
The A2+ also provides a better connectivity options as compared to the original A2. The variable RCA output port of the A2+ can connect to a sub-woofer for a powerful bass. It can also connect to the Audioengine W3 wireless adapter, which can transfer music to other speakers over a wireless signal.
Build and Hardware
The Audioengine A2+ shuns the popular “box built” approach, which means that the speaker is not assembled from readily available parts. Most of the critical speaker parts are built directly by the manufacturer. If the parts are built by an external company, they are built to Audioengine’s specifications. Since Audioengine has a direct control over the entire design process, they can tune the build and settings for a better audio quality.
One interesting feature is that the A2+ has the volume controls on the rear of the speaker. At first glance, this seems illogical. However, this change was necessary to keep the size of the speakers small. Unless you use your volume knob extensively, this should not be a problem. In most cases, you will set the volume control to a fixed setting and use the computer controls for volume adjustment.
The best way to use the speakers is to mount them on the DS1 stand, which is an Audioengine accessory. Since the A2+ speaker is small, the sound is not directed to your ears by default. The stand raises the height of the speakers and directs the tweeters in the direction of your ear. The speaker can also be wall mounted and a ¼” threaded insert is provided for this purpose. However, you must use a stand to support the weight of the speaker.
The Audioengine A2+ uses the same tweeter as in the Audioengine A5+. The dome type tweeter is made of silk and is powered by neodymium magnets. The kevlar woofer produces a stable, low frequency bass. Since kevlar is very strong, it retains its shape even at high volumes.
Since the speaker is built with tough materials, it does not need speaker grills for mechanical protection. Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) is used for building the enclosure. The port slots on the enclosure are tuned for an optimal audio performance. The A2+ casing uses special materials to reduce distortion and reflections. Since the drivers are magnetically shielded, they will not pick up electro-magnetic noise from the monitor or other computer equipment.
Performance and price of the Audioengine A2+
The speakers are optimized for a flat audio response across the entire audio frequency range. A flat audio response means that no frequencies are amplified or damped. Studio monitors need a flat audio response to accurately reproduce the music. This is not necessary for everyday computer speakers such as the A2+. Note that the A2+ is not a substitute for a studio monitor as its response is fairly flat, but not entirely.
The speaker produces detailed mids and highs, which means that sound and voice are clear. The lows produced by the woofers are good. However, you will need a separate sub-woofer for extremely low frequency sounds. The speakers can output a peak power of 60 watts which is sufficiently loud to hear across a room. The A2+ uses a class-AB amplifier for a low distortion of less than 0.05%. The speaker can achieve a signal-to-noise (SNR) of 95dB, which is good for computer speakers. However, the performance parameters fall short of audiophile standards.
A Texas Instruments PCM2704C integrated circuit converts the digital audio input into an analog signal. It supports a resolution of 16 bits at a 48 kilo-hertz sampling rate. The A2+ can use an external audio DAC, such as the Audioengine D1 or D3, to convert the digital audio. However, you will not be able to realize the full benefit of the external DAC as you will be limited by the speaker quality.
The Audioengine A2+ is a compact speaker for everyday computer use. It is placed at an interesting spot in the price-performance spectrum. At $249, it is expensive for everyday computer speakers. At the same time, it provide a reasonably flat audio response at a bargain price. The A2+ are not hardcore audiophile speakers. Users may consider shelling out a little more for true audiophile quality speakers.