Audioengine HD6 Powered Speakers Review 
Home Theater Loudspeakers Bookshelf/Monitor Loudspeakers
Written by Andre Marc   
Thursday, 14 April 2016

Audioengine has left very tangible imprint on the high end and computer audio markets. Their products allow ordinary people, who aspire to better sound, to connect a source directly to a loudspeaker with the minimal cabling and boxes. Audioengine speakers are attractive, engineered with care, and ruggedly built.

Having heard a number of Audioengine speakers at shows and then reviewing their A2+ desktop speaker/DAC, it's safe to say I know a little bit about their products. The A2+ were one of the most enjoyable products I have spent time with. And, especially considering the bargain $250 price, they produce sound far bigger than their diminutive size would indicate, and are finished to very high standard.

Audioengine also design and manufacturer several DAC models, bluetooth wireless products, cables, and accessories, in addition their line of powered speakers. They also make a desktop amplifier and, what may get overlooked, passive speakers. One can assemble a complete system from the Audioengine product line, including a subwoofer!
Audioengine HD6

HD6 Powered Speakers

Audioengine's most ambitious product -- and new flagship speaker -- is the HD6, which sells for $749/pair. Available in black, cherry, and walnut finishes, it's a leap forward for Audioengine design and feature sets. So what key features the HD6 bring to the table (desktop?)?

-Built-in analog class A/B monoblock power amplifiers
-Dual audio inputs and full-range variable output
-Bluetooth® with aptX®,
-optical (SPDIF) input
-Custom 5.5” Kevlar woofers with die cast aluminum woofer baskets
-Custom 1” silk tweeters with neodymium magnets and ferrofluid-cooled voice coils
-Hand-built cabinets with furniture-grade finishes
-Detachable magnetic speaker grills
-Threaded inserts to secure speakers to stands
-Passive crossovers with upgraded components
-Solid aluminum remote control

Looking at that list, I would expect the HD6's price to be quite a bit higher. Unboxing them in person makes this feeling even stronger. Everything exuded quality, including packaging and documentation. Build quality and workmanship are really first rate too. In my opinion, they are also the best looking Audioengine speaker produced to date. My review samples arrived in Walnut.

Key Features

What do you get for $749? According to Audioengine:

-Audioengine designs and manufactures our own speaker drivers and other critical components. In other words, the HD6 is not a “box-built" system with off-the-shelf parts, but includes custom-designed components constructed to our specifications. What we do not fabricate directly inside our factories we have made to our specific designs - parts such as circuit boards, transformers, magnets, and wiring harnesses, for example.

-The speaker cabinets, drivers, innovative bass port designs, amplifiers, and passive crossovers are all critically tuned together for each Audioengine model. This, in turn, makes for a much more efficient system that requires less power than passive speakers.

-The amplifiers in powered Audioengine speakers are located in the left speaker and are a conservatively-rated class A/B analog monoblock design. This is a more traditional speaker/amplifier marriage which provides excellent quality audio and greater flexibility. All circuit boards for the power and preamp sections are vertically mounted for maximum mechanical shock protection.

-Audioengine uses audiophile-quality, ferrofluid-cooled silk dome tweeters with neodymium magnets. Silk tweeters hold up well under high power and the edge-driven design gives very smooth response. The woofers are Kevlar woven glass aramid composite with rubber surrounds. Kevlar is very strong, which means the woofer retains its shape when being driven at high levels. The HD6 woofers are housed in cast aluminum frames which provide high rigidity and increased heat dispersion.

-Power transformers are critical to to high-quality audio performance, especially in the low-end and no off-the-shelf parts are used. Audioengine uses gapless core toroidal transformers which have a tighter radiated magnetic field, translating to lower noise. They are lighter than standard, lower-cost "EI" transformers and also generate less heat
.

Audioengine HD6

Set Up


The first thing a new HD6 owner needs to do is choose a configuration and connect the system. Plug the master speaker into a power source, and then run speaker cable to the slave speaker. At this point you can connect a stereo pair of RCA interconnects, a 3.5mm mini jack source, an optical digital source, and/or a Bluetooth device. Choose between either the HD6 themselves or  your source for volume control (set the HD6 volume to the appropriate level and leave it untouched).

I love HD6's front panel volume knob. Most active speakers have real panel controls, which can be inconvenient depending on set up. The supplied remote control is a fantastic feature also -- solid aluminum and perfect if you are using the HD6 someplace other than your desktop or some other near field setting.

I used the HD6 in two configurations. First, in my bedroom, connected to an Olive ONE streamer, and then on my desktop, connected to a Mac Mini. With the Olive ONE, I used the the mini jack analog output for a brief period, then with an iFI Micro iDSD USB DAC, connected with a pair of Kimber interconnects into the HD6. In both cases, volume control was left to the HD6. With the Mac Mini, the Micro iDSD DAC was also used, but with volume control via the DAC. Desktop playback was via Audirvana, and other web sources.  A pair of Signal Cable Analog One interconnects were used.

Listening

The HD6 sounded delightful right out of the box, improving noticeably as the drivers loosened up. My initial impressions were that the speakers were accurate, balanced, punchy in the bass, and very smooth on top. This early assessment did not change in the months I had the HD6 powered speakers.

During my time with the HD6, I purposely avoided rock or pop music, instead challenging the speakers with more progressive and off the beaten path musical genres. Not only is this more fun, but allows a more complete picture of transducer performance, as most rock and pop music generally “U” shaped in the frequency spectrum, which can make pretty much any speaker sound decent.



I streamed almost the entire sublime Dead Can Dance discography, quite a bit of world music, ambient, and some classical. DCD’s Aion, Into The Labyrinth, Towards The Within, and others are very special recordings; the HD6 created excellent atmosphere and nuance. “In Power We Entrust the Love Advocated” from the duo’s self titled 1984 debut floated into space with excellent texture and depth. “The Carnival Is Over” from Into The Labyrinth, framed Brendan Perry’s voice wonderfully, and the atmospherics in the mix were easy to place, as was the reverb trails around his vocal.

I recently discovered Revolutionary Army of Infant Jesus, kindred spirits of Dead Can Dance, who make some of the most haunting ambient music I have heard. Their most recent recording, Beauty Will Save The World, in 24/96 FLAC, was captivating via the HD6, which got all the spatial cues right, and preserved the flow of the subtle rhythmic shifts and melodies. The sophisticated presentation was what I would expect from more expensive amplifiers and speaker combinations.

For something more dynamic and percussive, I cued up Ritual Beating System, by Bahia Black, a classic world music album based on native Brazilian drumming. The HD6 rendered the syncopation and chants wonderfully, and it was easy to get drawn into the hypnotic beats. Bass heavy drums had excellent weight and clarity. 

Bluetooth

Exceptionally easy to use and sonically very satisfying. It's a snap to pair an iPad Air, an iPhone 6, and a Macbook Pro with the HD6 over Bluetooth. The process literally takes 30 seconds. From that point local files can be played back, or any streaming app, like Spotify or Pandora can be used. What a great feature this is. If you are still on the fence about Bluetooth, don’t be, it offers very good fidelity, and the aptX codec, which Audioengine has used for quite some time now, is the real deal.

I was unfortunately not able to test the optical input for the simple reason I don’t currently have any optical digital sources.  I must say I would have liked to have seen a  24/192 capable USB input on the HD6, but I am not sure if this would have added to the cost. Other than that, I literally have nothing to complain about. I loved the remote control capability, and the really convenient volume knob on the front of the master speaker, which had tons of usable volume range.

Audioengine HD6

Conclusion

Audioengine HD6 Powered Speakers are a wonderful achievement. They are feature-rich, a snap to set up and dial in, and lookers to boot. At $749 you have a turn key solution with only a line level source needed to get rocking. Link up any Bluetooth capable device and enjoy high fidelity.

On a desktop or on stands, the HD6 are a marvelous value. By the way, the speakers come equipped with everything you need to get started right in the box, so unless you had the cable upgrade itch, no need for additional outlay. If you are shopping for premium active speakers that deliver the goods, Audioengine HD6 Powered Speakers are Highly Recommended.

Amazon Buy Now


Specifications



Audioengine HD6 Powered Speakers: $749
www.audioengineusa.com

Speaker type
2.0 powered bookshelf-style speaker system featuring wireless and digital optical inputs

Power output
150W peak power total (50W RMS, 75W peak per channel)

Inputs
3.5mm mini-jack, RCA L/R, digital optical (SPDIF,) Bluetooth aptX

Outputs
Variable line-out w/2.0V RMS max output, 47ohm output impedance

Input voltages
115/240V, 50/60Hz manually-switchable

Amplifier type
Analog dual-class A/B monolithic

Drivers
5.5" Kevlar woofers, 1" silk dome tweeters

Left speaker (powered)
Dimensions: 11.75” (30cm) x 7.25” (18.5cm) x 10” (25cm)-17.5 lbs

Right speaker (passive)
Dimensions: 11.75” (30cm) x 7.25” (18.5cm) x 10”-12.5 lbs

Review System 1


DAC: Simaudio 280D
Tape Deck: Revox A77, Revox B77
Server: Bryston BDP-2
Preamp: Rogue Audio RP-5, Aric Audio Unlimited
Amplifier: Audio Research VS55, Simaudio 760A, Rotel RB-1590
Speaker:  Bryston Mini T
Cables: Stager Sound, Acoustic Zen, Element Cable, DH Labs, iFi, SVS
Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks and Svelte Shelves, Shakti Stone, Bryston BIT-15, Salamander rack

Review System 2


Music Server: SOtM sMS-100 w/ Battery XPS
Preamp: Aric Audio Expression, Belles Soloist 3
DAC/Streamer: Simaudio 280D w MiND
Power Amplifier: Onkyo M5000R
Tape Deck: Sony TC-350
Speaker: Magnepan MMG, Spendor S35R
Cables: Stager Sound, Transparent,  DH Labs, SVS
Accessories: Cable Pro Noisetrapper, iFi iPower, Audience aR6

 






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