|Audioengine AP4 BookShelf Speakers Review|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Bookshelf/Monitor Loudspeakers|
|Written by Todd Whitesel|
|Thursday, 24 September 2009|
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Imagine this scenario: You've just graduated top of your class from a well-known college of loudspeakers. You aced all your courses and now you're ready to set the audio world on fire with what could be akin to the next Klipschorn or LS3/5. Job offers pour in, and you accept one with an up-and-coming speaker manufacturer. You stride into work Monday morning ready to do anything, when the boss calls you into a meeting and asks if you'd like to take the lead on a.... before he can finish, you've already volunteered and have visions of greatness dancing in your head. Then the sentence is allowed to air. “I want you to design a 2-way passive speaker in a cabinet no larger than 9x6x6.” Your smile lessens. “It needs to work with a range of equipment, from the newer digital amps to receivers that could be 30 years old.” Again, the smile shortens. “The speaker must sound good, whether played alone or as part of a surround system. The speaker needs be small, but it also must be robustly built. It must last – if it can't handle three years of customer use, don't bother.” The smile curls ever downward. “Lastly, it needs to retail for under $250.” You ask to use the restroom.
Fortunately, the folks behind Audioengine have already accepted this mission and succeeded with their latest offering, the AP4, the newest of its compact speakers. Unlike previous Audioengine powered speakers, the AP4s are passive, giving consumers the flexibility to mate the speakers with his or her choice of amplifier or receiver. These cute little bookshelf speakers measure 9 inches high, 5.5 inches wide and 6 inches deep. Tiny, yes, but they still have some heft at 6 pounds apiece. Though small, the AP4s feature quality components you'd expect – and want – on any speakers: Gold-plated 5-way binding posts; hand-built cabinets available in two finishes wrapping 3/4-inch MDF walls (Satin Black and Hi-Gloss White) along with a Solid Carbonized Bamboo option, which ups the price $76 but is touted to provide acoustic advantages over the MDF.
A ferro-fluid cooled, 3/4-inch silk tweeter with neodymium magnets and 4-inch Kevlar cone woofer are responsible for the sound. Both are magnetically shielded, so there's no issue of placing the speakers too close to a monitor. With a nominal impedance of 4 to 8 Ohms, and rated for amplifiers delivering 10 to 125 watts per channel, the AP4s are suitable for a variety of uses, from bedroom or office to living room. Audioengine asserts the speakers are well-matched for digital hybrid amplifiers, surround-capable receivers as well as venerable 2-channel receivers, transistor and tube amplifiers.
The AP4s come ready for wall mounting via two 3/8-inch threaded inserts on the rear panel, and can be incorporated as high-performing satellites in a home theater system. An additional insert on the bottom of the speaker can accommodate a mount or bracket. If you want to place them directly on a stand, the AP4s come with foam isolation pads already attached to the speaker bottom, a nice little extra that protects the cabinets from scratching. According to Audioengine co-founder Brady Bargenquast, “We designed the AP4 to share a similar voicing and tuning with our active speakers so you’re assured a matched system no matter which speakers or our wireless products you add to your system.”
Out Of The Box
The AP4s come lovingly packaged, with each speaker swaddled in its own drawstring cloth speaker bag. They're padded with thick foam inserts and come double-boxed for protection. My speakers arrived without so much as a dust mark. Setup is a breeze, requiring about a minute of your time to connect speaker wire to the binding posts.