|Audioengine A5 Powered Bookshelf Speakers Review|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Bookshelf/Monitor Loudspeakers|
|Written by Todd Whitesel|
|Monday, 30 November 2009|
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When I first began reviewing audio equipment I took the approach that performance came first, price came second. It didn't matter if a piece of gear cost $50 or $5,000, if its performance and build justified the MSRP and could enhance my audio experience then it's value and worth was real. After all, how much pleasure do you get forking out for auto insurance – a necessity, sure – but over the course of my 27 years of driving, I estimate paying more than $12K to keep my Toyotas insured and myself liability-free. I could have used that money for serious investigation into high-end gear or spread out among the many bargain-priced but high-performing pieces that seem to find me. A few months ago, I had the opportunity to review Audioengine's P4s – passive bookshelf speakers that impressed me with their detailed midrange and bigger-than-expected soundstage. Soon after I received an e-mail from Audioengine's Brady Bargenquast asking if I'd like to hear the company's newest powered bookshelf speakers, the A5s. I was, particularly since it would be my first opportunity to audition a separate pair of powered speakers geared primarily for music listening.
The A5s come in three finishes – Satin Black, Hi-Gloss White and Caramel (Carbonized Solid Bamboo). The black and whites sell for $349 a pair, while the bamboo duo costs $449. The bamboo A5s represent the company's most eco-friendly option, featuring no stains or paints and a finish sealed with hand-rubbed water-based satin polyurethane. All Audioengine products, however, are 100 percent lead-free and the company is using environmentally friendly binders, resins and formaldehyde-free adhesives in its speaker cabinets and assembly.
Like other Audioengine products, the A5s are easy to setup and reflect the company's goal of “to get you to your music as simply as possible without all the 'gadget tinkering' that other products generally require. A supplied 14-page Setup Guide walks you through the basics. The first step is connecting speaker wires from the left to the right and then the power cord. At that point, the A5s are ready to play music – they just need a source, and the guide displays four different audio configurations:
1. For use with iPod Universal Dock
2. For use with Airport Express and iTunes
3. For use with iPod
4. All products with 1/8-inch or RCA outputs (CD player, DVD, TV, video game)
One of my biggest frustrations is receiving a product that requires additional wires, cables, batteries, etc., before you can start using it. Audioengine doesn't play that game and includes everything necessary to utilize the A5s out of the box. The speakers come bundled with a 2-meter min-jack audio cable, a pair of 8-inch mini-jack audio cables, a mini-jack to RCA “Y” cable, a 1-meter USB power extender cable and 2 meters of 16AWG speaker cable. You get everything needed (save an iPod dock) to facilitate the aforementioned configurations.