Page 2 - Physical Look - Hardware
Like the original Audioengine A2+ I reviewed nearly six years ago, the A2+ Wireless takes design cues from its original by retaining the exact same look. So to spice things up a bit, I picked one up in Hi-Gloss Red, which is, as its name suggests, in high gloss red. I am actually quite impressed by this finish. The paint looks especially sharp and of great quality, but if you are not careful with it, you may pick up some paint swirls or scratches along the way like your car. Meanwhile, the 6” high, 4” wide, and 5.25” deep cabinet is exactly what its dimensions suggest; true to its predecessor, it looks like it was designed by someone using only a ruler. Given this is an update to a classic Audioengine product, we know even as simplistic as it looks, we can never judge its acoustics by this metric.
From the front, both the left and right speakers look identical. At the bottom is a 2.75" Kevlar woven glass aramid composite woofer with rubber surrounds, and at the top is a 0.75” ferro fluid-cooled silk dome tweeter with neodymium magnets. A bass reflex port opening slit can be seen along the bottom. Together, their frequency response is rated at 65Hz to 22kHz ±2.0dB, but despite its studio monitor looks, do not expect flat response all the way down to 65Hz. We will talk about that in our evaluation on the next page. The use of high end materials for construction allows reduced distortion at high volumes, and Audioengine says it alleviates the need for speaker grilles as well. That said, it will still be wise to keep your three year old kid away from your $270 speakers in my opinion, haha. Signal to noise ratio is specified at >95dB, THD+N at <0.05%, and -50dB stereo crosstalk. Like the original A2+, Audioengine did not include any front audio controls on the A2+ Wireless. The volume control knob is at the back, which is quite unintuitive. I agree it makes the speakers compact, good looking, and symmetrical, but you will have to sacrifice some functionality for that. If you want front audio controls, you will need to step up to the HD3.
Here is a shot at the back of the Audioengine A2+ Wireless powered desktop speakers. By "powered", it means it comes with an internal amplifier. What we have here is a dual class AB monolithic amplifier located inside the left speaker -- shown on the right, as you can see in our photo above -- that provides 15W RMS and 30W peak per channel. As such, the left speaker weighs almost half a pound more than the right; where Audioengine specifies a weight of 3.55lbs and 3.15lbs, respectively. Power is supplied by an external brick.
As you can see in our photo above, Audioengine offers a generous array of input and output connectors on the A2+ Wireless. On the input side, we have a 3.5mm stereo mini-jack, RCA, and Micro USB. I would like to see USB Type-C instead, given it is 2020. Also, if multiple sources are active, the Audioengine A2+ Wireless will simply mix the signals together and output both like most powered computer speakers with multiple inputs I have used in the past. It would have been better if inputs are separated in my opinion. That said, multiple digital inputs will not mix. In this case, it will switch automatically between Bluetooth and USB. The Audioengine A2+ Wireless also features stereo line level output via a pair of RCA jacks. This allows you to send audio to other speakers using an optional wireless adapter. For most people, it will probably be used for a subwoofer, which I have done so in my setup.
The volume control knob is located at the top right corner when viewed from the back. The speakers will turn off at the click when turned all the way down. The knob is not placed in a particularly poor location, since it is close to an edge and it is near the top. Unfortunately, it is at the back of the speaker, which is quite inconvenient. While it is possible to simply leave your speakers on at a constant volume setting at all times and adjust the volume from the source, as it will go into standby automatically when no signal is detected, it is just not the same thing. For example, my Motorola DCX3200 cable box does not have volume control, which will require volume adjustment at the output. The way I see it, it is just better to have an easily accessible volume control in front. I understand it is a packaging compromise, but I think most people will prefer a front volume control even if it means a slight increase in enclosure size.
On the wireless side, Bluetooth 5.0 operation depends on an internal antenna, which is an improvement from the HD3. To start, simply hit the white LED button labeled "Pair" at the back. Protocols supported over Bluetooth 5.0 include aptX low latency, aptX, AAC, and SBC. SBC, or Subband Coding, is the default Bluetooth audio codec with reasonably good audio quality and low processing power requirements. aptX is a time domain ADPCM compression algorithm that promises "CD like quality" according to the people promoting it. aptX low latency ensures your video and audio are in-sync when connected over Bluetooth. In case you are asking, Apple devices does not support aptX, but many Android devices do. Fortunately, for Apple users, the A2+ Wireless supports AAC as well, which communicates at about 250kbps from the source.
Inside, you will find a Qualcomm CSR8670 Bluetooth Audio system-on-a-chip that can sample at up to 16-bit, 48kHz in application, despite the SoC has support for 24-bit, 192kHz sampling rate. With all its digital input options -- namely, Bluetooth 5.0 and USB -- a quality DAC is the key to success. The CSR8670 is a decent chip given the A2+ Wireless was not designed to be Audioengine's flagship speakers.
The Audioengine A2+ Wireless is built with 18mm thick, high resin reinforced MDF cabinets. Internal sound dampening material is implemented to reduce undesired internal sound reflections. The speakers are also magnetically shielded; while non-magnetically shielded speakers will definitely not fry your hard drives anytime soon -- if you are still using hard drives in 2020 -- it is something nice to have, especially being computer speakers. For your interest, if you ever want to damage any hard drives using magnets, you will need pretty much military grade stuff. Audioengine claims each pair of speakers are tuned and tested together when sold together.
The speaker connectors should not be new to you if you are familiar with home theater equipment. In fact, the Audioengine A2+ Wireless uses standard 16 AWG speaker wires with open ends to connect the left and right unit together. The included cable is two meters long, which should be more than enough for most people. I would have preferred the better looking black cable with banana jacks like the one included with the HD3 and HD6. It may cost more money, but I could do away with less microfiber drawstring bags instead.
Our photo above shows the bottom of the A2+ Wireless, which has a thin layer of foam to dampen it from the surface it resides on. This is most likely your wooden or glass desk, which can be very useful. The 1/4" insert found on the original A2+ is no longer present, so you cannot wall mount them. Meanwhile, an accessory DS1 wedge can be purchased from the manufacturer to tilt the speakers up slightly. This will further dampen vibrations between your desk and the speakers, and bring the tweeters closer to ear level for improved soundstaging. Too bad they are not included out of the box.
With all this in mind, it is now time to put the Audioengine A2+ Wireless through APH Networks' infamous subjective audio tests.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis