Page 2 - Physical Look - Hardware
The Audioengine 512 is an all-new product from the company, and it looks like it was designed from the ground up. The last portable speaker we reviewed from Audioengine was the B2 in 2015, and being essentially two A2+ glued together with no built-in battery, it can hardly be considered a real portable speaker. The 512, however, at 3” tall, 7.75” wide, 3” deep, and tipping the scales at 2.5 lbs with a built-in battery, is a true portable speaker. It is quite a bit heavier than the 710g V-MODA Remix, but the difference between them did not feel significant when holding them side-by-side. Its form factor makes it a great traveling companion. Unfortunately, it is not waterproof or dustproof as the company claim it will compromise sound quality, so keep it away from the beach when you are surfing.
The Audioengine 512's design is also unlike anything else from their portfolio. As you can see in our photo above, everything is round; you will not find a single straight edge on this product. Holding it reminded me of a small Vietnamese sub due to its shape and size. You know, like the sandwich, haha. The enclosure is made out of high impact polycarbonate cabinet. Our particular unit is Forest Green, but you can also get it in plain old black. Behind the front perforated metal speaker grille are two 2" drivers with "advance voice coils" powered by a Class D amplifier for a power output of 10W RMS per channel, while a 3" by 1.75" passive radiator sits behind the rear perforated metal speaker grille. The rated frequency response of the 512 is 60 to 20,000 Hz, 90dB signal-to-noise ratio, and THD+N of <0.5% @ 50%. We will evaluate its performance in detail on the next page. Unfortunately, there is no built-in microphone, so you cannot use the Audioengine 512 to take calls or summon your voice assistant.
Behind the attached rubber cap on the left is a 3.5mm audio input and a Micro-USB input for charging the battery. In my opinion, a USB Type-C port would be better, given it is the new standard and this is a new product designed from the ground up. The battery life is rated at 12 hours on normal listening levels and can be charged in 5 hours. From my experience, at moderate volumes, this estimate is pretty accurate.
Here is a shot at the back of the Audioengine 512. The perforated metal speaker grille protects the 3" by 1.75" bass reflex port as aforementioned. A quick glance at the top shows logically laid out six buttons each with its own icon reflecting its function. From the left, we have play/pause, aux, volume down, volume up, Bluetooth, and power. They do exactly what the icons suggest. The LEDs on the power and aux buttons glow white normally when active. The power button's LED will flash red and the speaker will chime when charging is needed. To turn on the device, simply press and hold the power button. A sound will indicate it has been powered on and the speaker will say "connected" when there is an active connection. To power it off, press and hold the power button again. If you want to enable Bluetooth pairing, hold the Bluetooth button until the voice says "pairing". The Bluetooth button's LED will flash when the 512 is in pairing mode and glow blue when it is paired.
A hook on the left allows you to attach a lanyard. An array of three white LEDs can be found to the right of the power button to indicate battery charge status. If you have an Apple iOS device, battery level information is available via the widget too. On the wireless side of things, the Audioengine 512 communicates wirelessly over Bluetooth 5.0 with a rated range of 10m indoors and 30m outdoors, but advertises no aptX support. It only accepts the standard subband coding, or SBC, codec.
With all this in mind, it is now time to put the Audioengine 512 through APH Networks' infamous subjective audio tests.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis