AudioEngine 2 speakers review (aka AudioEngine A2)

With the recent dearth of headphones for review I thought I’d post about my latest audio purchase – the AudioEngine 2/A2 desktop speakers. Yes I know this is a headphone blog, but we’re all music lovers, and speakers make it easier to share the music!

These speakers are really quite tiny, 15cm (6″) high, 14cm (6″) deep, 9cm (4″) wide. They’re small enough that I might just take them next time I go on an overseas holiday! They could easily be packed up in the included soft cases and taken to a bbq or a party (mains power required).

The left speaker has the inputs, the amplifier, the connection to the right speaker, and the power/volume switch on the back. The volume switch is right beside the 3.5mm input, it’s a pretty poor choice of location since the 3.5mm lead gets in the way, but you get used to it. It looks better to have everything on the rear as well. The bottom is a soft padded material so they don’t scratch your desk.

The sound that comes from these speakers isn’t small – for the size of the speakers it’s really quite remarkable. They’re surprisingly loud if you crank them up, louder than I will ever need. The bass is much better than you could reasonably expect for such small speakers, better than many headphones. It’s not room shaking, but it’s quite low and strong considering their size and price. There is a sweet spot for the bass, if you go way off center or into a different room it’s less impressive, but if you want room shaking bass you probably want  a different system. They do have a subwoofer that seems to have a wireless module, but their website is a little cryptic about how it all works.

The clarity of the mid range is impressive. Vocals are clear and understandable, but musical. They cope well with dance, jazz, and vocals. The highs are good, not super super sharp, but they’re there and well balanced. Well balanced describes the sound overall, along with musical, and enjoyable. I don’t think they’re enough for a home theater system, though their big brother the AudioEngine A5 may work ok for that.

Compared to my entry level Wharfdale Vardus home theatre 6.1 speaker system there’s really no comparison: the Wharfdale easily best them. Remember though the Vardus cost six times more, they have 18 or more cones compared with four, they’re about 20 times the size, and probably weight about 40 times more. The AudioEngine together are 1/2 the size of the Vardus center speaker, and the sound while not near as good is definitely a heck of a lot better than a TV could produce.

Overall I can highly recommend these little speakers as ideal for music for one or two people in small areas, at their desks in a home office, for portable use, or really anything else. They’re available on for US$199.

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