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.
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 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.