“The Audioengine A5+ are the perfect bookshelf speakers for the jackless generation.”
- Superb treble definition
- Punchy bass
- Wide stereo image
- Excellent wireless performance
- No input switch between Bluetooth and RCA
It’s been a shade over a decade since Dave Evans and Brady Bargenquast launched the game-changing Audioengine brand with the A5 bookshelf speakers. Originally conceived as a take-home version of the powered studio monitors the pair had previously been designing, the original A5 offered musical lightning in a compact bottle — at a working-class price. They were also among the first in a wave of superb powered bookshelf speakers we’ve seen in the years since.
Much has changed since we first paired an iPod color and AirPort Express with the original A5 speakers in late-2006, from the Digital Trends logo to the way we all get our music, but we’re happy to report that Audioengine’s new wireless iteration of its A5+ doesn’t mess with a good thing. With nearly identical looks, aptX Bluetooth integration, and the same massive stereo image we first heard in the pre-Spotify era, the A5+ Wireless are among the finest bookshelf speakers in their price class, and are well worth pairing with your jackless phone and preferred streaming subscription.
Out of the box
The Audioengine A5+ Wireless come with everything you’ll need to blast your favorite tunes in no time. Inside the box, you’ll find the two speakers wrapped in plush carrying bags, along with a cloth bag that includes a power cable, a weighty, brushed-aluminum remote, and some speaker wire to send signal from left to right. The company also includes both an RCA cable and a 3.5 mm cable, so you can immediately plug in any wired outboard gear you have, should you want to use a CD player, wired cell phone, or even that old iPod color you still have laying around. Heck, so long as you have a phono preamp, you can even plug in your record player.
Features and design
Save a slightly re-hashed tweeter design (the tweeters on the A5+ wireless now sit centered in the speaker, rather than slightly askew), the new A5+ Wireless look identical to A5+ speakers the company has been selling for over five years. That means elegant, rectangular cabinets with woven Kevlar woofers, smooth edges, and no outward branding to speak of for a classy, studio-style aesthetic.
Elegant, rectangular cabinets with woven Kevlar woofers, smooth edges, and no outward branding to speak of.
Our review units came in black with grey accents, but the speakers also come in white and — if you’re willing to pony up a few extra bucks — even a gorgeous bamboo veneer. On the back, both speakers have a wide bass port that looks like the CD slot on a car stereo, but the gap is big enough to fit two or three CDs stacked together. On the base are soft foam pads so the speakers won’t scratch your bookshelf or stands, along with threaded mounting screws should you want to put them on the wall.
The left speaker is where all the magic happens. It’s the side with the 75-watt class A/B amplifier built-in, and also where you’ll find all the inputs and outputs. At the back is a sizeable metal heatsink to keep the amp cool, as well as RCA and 3.5 mm inputs (and one RCA output), speaker cable outputs to attach the right speaker, and a big antenna for solid Bluetooth connectivity. There’s also an LED pairing button for quick setup.
The front of the left speaker has power and Bluetooth indicator lights, as well as a volume knob for quick adjustments, but you can also use the small included remote to change or mute volume, or to put the speakers in sleep mode between uses.
Once you wire everything up and flick on the power switch located on the rear of the left speaker, simply press the pairing button until it flashes and select “Audioengine 5+” in your device’s Bluetooth pairing menu. From there, you’re good to go. Got more phones/devices to connect? Repeat the steps above; the speakers can only connect to one device at a time, but will remember up to six.
Every speaker system has its quirks, and one odd thing about the Audioengine A5+ is that there is no input selection switch, which means you can stream Bluetooth audio and play wired audio via a 3.5 mm or RCA cable simultaneously. In the vast majority of cases this will pose no problem at all, but we did have a disconnected 3.5 mm cable that was unplugged create some fairly annoying buzzing because it was resting on a metal surface when we were testing the speakers, causing us to think we had a much more serious issue. Those with wired devices be warned: If you’re not going to leave it plugged in, find a place where the cable won’t cause any buzzing.
We’ve seen the overall quality of small speakers skyrocket over the past decade, with newcomers like the unpowered Elac Uni-Fi UB5, KEF Q150, and powered options like the KEF Egg and iLoud Micro Monitor manifesting audiophile-level audio quality at shockingly low price points. Through all the evolutions in amplification, surround design, and various other technological changes, Audioengine’s excellent bookshelf speakers have remained near the top of the curve, and that is especially evident with the A5+ Wireless.
We were floored by the wide stereo image and transparent response.
With aptX-enabled Bluetooth and its ability to upsample audio to 24-bit, these are among the very few speakers we’ve tested in which wireless audio was virtually indistinguishable from wired. When listening to Tidal or Spotify in high quality over Bluetooth, we were floored by the wide stereo image and transparent response that came from such a small package.
Crisp acoustic guitar tones on songs like Forth Wanderers’ Nevermine were matched by thumpy low-end on songs like Snail Mail’s Heat Wave, and met in the middle by a tasteful midrange scoop. These aren’t as revealing as equivalently sized studio monitors like the Yamaha HS5, but they’re designed to be much more fun to listen to.
We loved everything on the A5+ wireless, from the classic organ jazz of Jimmy Smith to the chilled out faux-country of Jimmy Buffett. The speakers became a favorite among the slew of speakers that steadily flow through our review room. If you want to enjoy your favorite songs without any hassles or big outboard gear, there’s no better way to get this many musical smiles-per-capita.
They can also function as much more than just a great set of Bluetooth speakers. When testing, we used the speakers as more of a musical hub than a separate Bluetooth solution, plugging our RCA cable into an affordable turntable with a built-in phono preamp, and occasionally plugging in a laptop for wired listening. These are key features that make the new Audioengine speaker very usable as a full-on home audio replacement, rather than a product tailored exclusively to the wireless niche. If that’s what you’re after — or even if you’re the kind of person who might want outfit the speakers with a CD player, cassette deck (they’re coming back, believe it or not!), or turntable — that makes them a formidable option.
All Audioengine products come with a three-year warranty on parts and labor, and the warranty is transferable from the date of purchase even if you’ve bought a used product.
The Audioengine A5+ Wireless bring vibrant and lifelike sound to small and medium sized rooms, adding the convenience of wireless connection while maintaining the same outstanding audio performance we’ve loved for over a decade.
Is there a better alternative?
There are a few other excellent powered speakers at or below this price point, but the competitor that leapt most immediately to mind was the iLoud Micro Monitor, largely because they also have a studio-style pedigree. The iLoud offer nearly identical features and performance at a lower price point, but we still give the edge to the Audioengine A5+ Wireless, which have a wider stereo image, and significantly better looks.
How long will it last?
The original Audioengine A5 speakers remain killer powered bookshelf options after over a decade, and we have no reason to believe this wireless follow-up will be any different.
Should you buy it?
Yes. The Audioengine A5+ Wireless are spectacular powered bookshelf speakers that provide truly vibrant sound without the hassles of an outboard amplifier or a cable. If you want something fantastic to fill up your office or living room, these are well worth the cost.
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