Review: AudioEngine A5+

AudioEngine makes audio products; speakers, DACs, wireless sound transmitters… Their flagship speaker system A5 has recently been updated to include higher specifications and better quality of build. But have they managed to make a good product even better?

I love my AudioEngine A5s. They have a nice, accurate sound, not too warm, not too much bass or treble, but not skimpy on these either. They aren’t audiophile speakers, they haven’t cost me an arm and a leg; in short, they are perfect for listening to my classical CD collection whilst I’m working on my Mac.

IT Enquirer rating

8.5/10
URL: audioengine.com

Pros
  • component quality
  • remote control
  • (slightly) better sound than A5s
Cons
  • cabinet finish slightly less than A5s
Price (approx.): €305.00

AudioEngine has released new A5s, the A5+. It’s the same type of speaker (active) but with improved specifications. The built-in power amplifiers now have a large aluminium heat sink that protrudes from the speaker’s back. The input interface is no longer a mini jack but proper stereo RCA connectors. The output (for a second system or for a subwoofer) is variable.

The speakers now have full-size 5-way binding posts, which is a relief because the binding posts on the earlier model were very difficult to use. The speaker cabinets themselves are a bit bigger too. The audio specs haven’t changed, but with the improvements the A5+ should sound better.

AudioEngine A5+ speakers
Backside of the A5+ with the large heatsink and industry-standard connectors.

While these aren’t true audiophile speakers, my first AudioEngine A5s have given me much pleasure but have also been very useful to me. These aren’t near field studio speakers but for monitoring video sound, vocal audio like interviews, etc., they are brilliant. When listening to classical music, an A5 may at times sound a bit muddy — all the more so when a music piece becomes complex with a lot of instruments playing loud simultaneously. Sometimes you do need a 3,000.00 Euros speaker-and-amplifier system…

I was very curious to how the AudioEngine A5+ would perform, both as a music listening device and a semi near field monitor. After a burn in period of 40 hours, I decided to put them to the test with my usual suspects: Mahler symphonies, Wagner’s Ring des Nibelungen, Bach Organ works…

The A5+ used as monitors perform just as well as the old ones. As the sound requirements for the sort of monitoring that I need these for aren’t hefty at all, I didn’t expect anything else.

Musical performance

The A5+ system is technically superior to the A5. Cabinets are a little bit bigger, the connections are more professional grade, the holes, turning knobs and controls are more luxurious — there is even a remote control.

But how does it all sound? I tested with the Apogee Duet (FireWire model) and with AudioEngine’s very own D1 DAC. The latter has its own review.

In terms of sound quality the A5+ performs slightly better than its predecessor. The A5+ has slightly more bass, but also sounds a little bit harsher in the highs than the A5. Having said that, the A5+ still is very good value for the money and an amazingly good performer. The improvements aren’t spectacular sound-wise, but the better quality of components does ensure a better user experience. One detail that I found a pity: the black cabinet finish was better on the A5 than it is on the A5+ which has a bit of a rougher texture.

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