Perfect For iPhone Streamers
Is Audioengine’s A5+ Wireless the Best Bookshelf Speaker Under $500?
For years, Audioengine’s A5+ powered speakers have been regarded as some of the best desktop and bookshelf speakers you can buy. Audioengine designs and manufactures everything in the speaker from the ground up — it’s a bonafide audiophile-grade speaker. Recently, in 2018, Audioengine released the A5+ Wireless speakers, which are essentially identical to the Audioengine A5+ speakers, just with built-in Bluetooth so you can stream music. No need to wire the speakers up to a computer, CD player or turntable to play music, although you still can.
The Audioengine A5+ Wireless powered speakers are available in three finishes. Black (tested) or white finishes cost $499; if you prefer the Bamboo finish, that’ll cost you an extra $70.|
The Good: The A5+ Wireless speakers produce the same excellent sound quality of the A5+, but with built-in Bluetooth receiver and 24-bit DAC, it’s extremely easy to stream Spotify or Tidal from your smartphone. The speakers support high-res streaming: Bluetooth aptX, SBC and AAC. The speakers have numerous inputs and connectivity options, so if you don’t want to stream music you can connect the stereo pair to a turntable, stereo receiver or desktop. Audioengine offers a 30-day “audition period,” allowing you to get a free refund if you don’t like them (but you will).
Who They’re For: Anybody looking for versatile high-quality bookshelf speakers that aren’t super expensive. If streaming is your thing, it’s as simple as flicking a switch on the speakers and connecting via your smartphone’s or computer’s Bluetooth settings — it’s that simple. It’s easy enough to connect them to other stereo components, too. Also, they can be paired with a subwoofer.
Watch Out For: Sometimes the volume of the speakers and your smartphone speakers gets a bit mixed up; if the volume of the smartphone is really low, can be basically impossible to turn the volume up straight from the speaker. Also, the “knob feel” of the volume knob on the right speaker isn’t the best we’ve felt. It’s not a multiroom speaker and there’s built-in virtual assistant.
Alternatives: If you don’t plan on streaming music, you can pick up Audioengine’s several-year-old A5+ powered speakers and get the same audio quality for $100 less on Amazon.
Review: The A5+ Wireless speakers are nearly indistinguishable from the A5+ powered speakers you fell in love with years ago. Aesthetically, the only real change, aside from the Bluetooth antennae, is that the tweeter of each speaker is now centralized, instead of skewed to one side like on the A5+. But they produce fantastic stereo sound and more versatile than ever. However you choose to listen to them, frankly, they’re going to sound fantastic.
I spent the majority of my time with the A5+ Wireless streaming music (Spotify) to them, as that’s really what’s new and neat about these speakers. As good as they are, there are some things to consider before buying the A5+ Wireless speakers. They’re near-field speakers, so for optimal listening, you want to position the speakers so that they are both slightly angled towards you, not straight on.
The A5+ Wireless speakers handle midrange and highs very well, which is especially noticeable on tracks like Enya’s “Orinoco Flow,” and even the bass stands up on tracks like Kendrick Lamar’s “All The Stars.” Although, if you want to add a subwoofer to the stereo pair, that’s easy enough. In truth, these speakers handle the gamut of songs really well, especially in a near-field setup, and they do sound really good at high volumes. So crank it.
Verdict: At the $500 range, the A5+ Wireless are really the cream of the crop when it comes to wireless bookshelf speakers. It’s easy to stream hi-res audio from your smartphone, tablet or computer, or you can connect them to any of your existing hi-fi components. They’re versatile, sound good with or without a subwoofer, and would look good in any living room or office.
What Others Are Saying:
• “While the Bluetooth connectivity is a great feature, it doesn’t sound as good as the wired connection. This is no surprise, as we’ve never heard a wireless connection that sounds better than wired. Overall, though, it sounds very good for Bluetooth and in many cases, such as parties, the convenience factor is really what you’re looking for. When you’re ready to sit down with some friends for a critical listening session, the A5+ Wireless excels there too.” — Staff, Audio Advice
• “The Audioengine A5+ Wireless bring vibrant and lifelike sound to small and medium-sized rooms, adding the convenience of a wireless connection while maintaining the same outstanding audio performance we’ve loved for over a decade.” — Parker Hall, Digital Trends
• “Audioengine’s A5+ Wireless system delivers a high-quality Bluetooth stream in a bookshelf-style form factor that offers stereo separation and avoids dynamics-crushing DSP. Some listeners might want to beef up the audio with a subwoofer, but the system sounds great without it.” — Tim Gideon, PCMAG
Type: 2.0 powered (active) bookshelf-style speaker system
Output: 150-watt peak power total
Input: 3.5mm stereo mini-jack, RCA
Drivers: five-inch Kevlar woofers, 3/4-inch silk dome tweeters
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0; supports aptX, AAC and SBC
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