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Audioengine HD3 Powered Speakers & DAC Review Print E-mail
Monday, 06 February 2017
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Audioengine HD3 Powered Speakers & DAC Review

Next up I used my Mac Book Pro via USB. After selecting the HD3 as an output device, you just play your tunes, from iTunes, Audirvana, or whatever source you choose. Using the USB connection simplifies everything in that no external DAC or additional analog cables are required.  And this is how most people will use them on a desktop. The front panel volume knob is all you need to adjust. I am not sure if you can get more satisfying sound at this price point.

I then moved on to Bluetooth, connecting numerous devices including an iPhone 7 Plus, iPad Air, and an iPad 3.  The connection took exactly ten seconds and worked flawlessly. Audioengine has worked hard on their aptX Bluetooth implementation and it a joy to use. Whatever audio resides on your device will be played back in very good fidelity, or you can stream music or audio from any service. In our case, it was Amazon Prime Music and Spotify, and locally stored files on the device.

This is where it gets interesting. I purchased a second-generation Amazon Echo Dot to use with the HD3 and it became my favorite pairing. I used the analog output of the Echo Dot, but Bluetooth is also an option.  Via voice command, you can ask it to play back music from Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Prime, etc. For example, simply requesting “play Adele from Spotify” starts tunes playing in seconds. You can request specific songs, albums, or a playlist.  File this under “instant access”. 

To cover all bases, I also tested out the front panel headphone jack and, according to Audioengine, it uses the same circuit as their stand alone D1 DAC, which they say can drive most headphones with no issues. I used my Grado SR60 and indeed the sound was engaging, balanced, and loads of fun.

In use, I found nothing to complain about with the HD3. it worked flawlessly with every source and connection type. I am hard pressed to find fault with these speakers for desktop, bedroom, or workspace use. Of course, they won’t fill up a big room; for that, you will want the HD6 or equivalent. But in the proper environment, with all the connection options, the HD3 are about as fun as it gets.


Audioengine has done a smart job of scaling down the HD6, and including a USB input. I love these little speakers, and they will be my desktop reference for under $500 speakers. The HD6 will continue to me my easy recommendation for those with larger spaces and bigger budgets. 
You get everything you need to get started with the HD3 in the box, and an in-home, risk-free trial. With engaging sound, built in DAC, versatility, nice build quality, and choice of three finishes, I can’t imagine there are too many better options.


Audioengine HD3 Active Monitors/DAC: $399

Review System 1

Server: Bryston BDP-2
DAC: Bryston BDA-3
Tape Deck: Revox A77
Turntable: Rega Planar 3
Phono Preamp: Lounge Audio LCR MKIII, Lehmann Cube SE
Preamp: Schiit Audio Freya
Amplifier: Audio Research VS55, Simaudio 760A
Speaker:  Bryston Mini T
Cables:, Wireworld, iFi, Transparent, Black Rhodium
Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks and Svelte Shelves, Shakti Stone, Bryston BIT-15, Salamander rack

Review System 2

Music Server: Sonore microRendu
Turntable: Project Debut Carbon DC
Phono Preamp: Graham Slee SE
Preamp: Schiit Audio Saga
DAC/Streamer: Simaudio 280D
Power Amplifier: Onkyo M5000R
Speaker: Magnepan MMG, Spendor S35R
Cables: Wireworld
Accessories: Cable Pro Noisetrapper, iFi iPower, Audience aR

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