Audioengine 2 review

Audioengine 2 review

Resembling regular two-way hi-fi speakers – only scaled down to just 6in high – the Audioengine 2 speakers bear the proper build-quality hallmarks of serious audio components. See Group test: what's the best speaker set?

The left-hand loudspeaker box is a self-powered speaker with built-in 15W stereo amplifier, which feeds the right speaker through sturdy pairs of 4mm binding posts on the back of each cabinet.

You join the boxes together through a short length of supplied speaker cable.

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Inside the left speaker is a proper Class AB amplifier built around a single monolithic ST Microelectronics chip, complete with aluminium heatsink fixed internally to the rear metal panel.

Also on the back plate is a little volume control knob, alongside one pair of phono and one minijack line-level inputs.

Audioengine 2 rear

Audioengine 2 loudspeakers as viewed from the rear, with left speaker housing a simple Class AB amplifier module

These are certainly solid-feeling little boxes in lacquered MDF and weighing around 1.5kg each. Viewed from the front we can see the classic mid/bass driver and tweeter above arrangement, with rounded edges on all cabinet sides and in the baffle cutout for the main driver.

That mid/bass unit is Kevlar coned we’re told, a fabric pioneered for use in speaker drivers by Bowers & Wilkins in the 1970s. The tweeters have 25mm fabric silk domes.

To assist efficiency and bass extension, a very narrow slot has been let into the front as a bass-reflex port.

Additionally the main drivers have been magnetically shielded, even if the necessity for this died out with the passing of the CRT screen last decade.

Audioengine 2: Performance

Putting two small drivers close together in each Audioengine 2 cabinet certainly helps in stereo imaging. Setup on the desk about 60cm apart – on a couple of small boxes to lift them from the surface – we heard a richly detailed soundfield with good focus.

Tonally they played quite neutral, with no undue emphasis on the midband as you might expect of a limited bandwidth design. To the contrary, they had an almost BBC-like voicing with a level, even slightly recessed, midrange quality.

Bass is understandably limited but what you hear is clean and well-timed. Top end is smooth, thanks to fabric tweeters driven by a real linear amplifier.

Vocals were perhaps the speakers’ weakness, lacking the clarity and intelligibility we’d hope for from a compact system that should major on midband storytelling. Voices were left the collateral damage of that subdued voicing,

You may not get the visceral slam of full-size speakers but there is enough useful extension to lend the speakers some weight. You can make out bass lines clearly enough, and without the dreaded one-note bloom.

We clearly heard the growling Chapman stick bass line from Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledgehammer’, the fruity horns trumpeting along smoothly and without unwanted edge.

Stereo soundstage width was also a little below expectation, the Audioengine 2 speakers sounding somewhat box-bound.

There was plenty of depth of image behind the speaker plane, but less sense of width beyond the speaker boundaries. We tried the speakers face on and listening from a higher position, noting a small shift in response.

For best results, try to keep the speakers sited above just desk level, or at least pointing upward toward you.

Audioengine 2: Specs

  • Stereo desktop speakers
  • 2x 65mm Kevlar mid/bass drivers, 2x 20mm silk dome tweeters
  • stereo Class AB amplifier
  • 15W rms per channel
  • 65Hz–22kHz (±2.0db) specified frequency response
  • 1x stereo RCA phono, 1x 3.5mm stereo minijack
  • satin black or gloss white finish
  • magnetically shielded drivers
  • auto power off
  • external 17.5V/1.8A power supply
  • 105 x 158 x 138 mm
  • 3kg
  • Stereo desktop speakers
  • 2x 65mm Kevlar mid/bass drivers, 2x 20mm silk dome tweeters
  • stereo Class AB amplifier
  • 15W rms per channel
  • 65Hz–22kHz (±2.0db) specified frequency response
  • 1x stereo RCA phono, 1x 3.5mm stereo minijack
  • satin black or gloss white finish
  • magnetically shielded drivers
  • auto power off
  • external 17.5V/1.8A power supply
  • 105 x 158 x 138 mm
  • 3kg

OUR VERDICT

If we sound critical, it’s because the look – and the price – of these mini monitors so strongly recalls regular hi-fi speakers. They offer a neat physical presence, and some of the benefits of well-engineered hi-fi loudspeakers, although midband openness and stereo soundstaging didn’t quite match the speakers’ other virtues of tidy build and sonic solidity.

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