Review: Audioengine’s A2 speakers - Macenstein

Review: Audioengine’s A2 speakers

Big on sound, small on extras

Audioengine A2

Audioengine’s A5 speakers received one of our highest ratings ever (9.5 out of 10) when we had the pleasure of reviewing them last year, so we were understandably excited when Audioengine sent us a pair of their new A2 speakers to check out.

Available in both black and white, the ($199) A2’s are the little (and I mean little) brother to the ($349) A5’s, and the family resemblance is obvious. Despite being about a third as large, the speakers are heavy, and housed in a similarly sturdy cabinet to the A5’s. While the A5’s are meant to serve up big time audio for a large-sized living room/whole house, the A2’s are meant to be more of a desktop/bookshelf speaker system for a smaller room, such as a bedroom or office (although to be sure, the A2’s can be heard rooms away).

Audioengine A2
Above: You can see the A2’s (right) borrow much from the larger A5’s (left)


The A2’s offer little in the way of extras. Basically, there is a volume/power knob on the back, and a set of stereo and and 3.5 mm audio input jacks. That’s it. Given how competitve the speaker market has become, this makes the A2’s seem just a bit pricey. The A5’s actually sported one of our favorite Apple-specific features, a power outlet on the rear designed to hook an AirPort Express to wirelessly stream music from your computer to the speakers. Sadly, this add-on was lost during the shrinking process that created the A2’s.

Audioengine A2


The A2’s sound much as you’d expect a smaller version of the A5’s to sound. In general the A2’s do a very nice job handling most songs, although we noticed that they had a tendency to distort slightly at very high volumes with bass-heavy songs (and those very high volumes were not nearly as high as the A5’s). But there is only so much power you can cram into speakers this size, and as we mentioned earlier, these are meant for a more intimate listening experience. We doubt too many people will complain about the A2’s volume (people 3 rooms away will still be able to sing along with you).

In general, the bass was good with a flat EQ setting (coming off an iPod/Mac running iTunes), but some may find it necessary to play around with their computer/iPod’s EQ settings to find one that drops the midrange slightly. Again, given the size, you are not going to find any speaker with a better handle on the midrange, but for $200, you might be expecting more. That being said, the A2’s are plenty powerful, and their drivers pump out a gust of air strong enough to knock over a a house of cards from over 10 inches away (see below).

No need for air conditioning when the speakers can double as a fan!

Audioengine A2
Above: The A2’s ship in cute little velvet sacks to keep them looking their best when traveling.

Sibling Rivalry

A couple small issues hold back the A2 from making quite as big a splash as their big brother. First, while the A5’s volume/power knob and blue power indicator light would never win design awards, at least they were located on the front of the unit for easy access. The A2’s, however, have a light-less knob on the back that can be difficult to reach, depending on where you have them set up.

Second is the slight distortion at the maximum volume setting. We might be penalizing the A2’s a bit here due to their lineage, but Audioengine may have asked too much of the smaller speakers. The A5’s scaled in a way that the A2’s just can’t quite hit. We’d rather have seen the maximum limit set a little lower (which would still be plenty loud) and keep the unit sounding great at all volumes.

Lastly is the price. A few years back, speakers this good could easily cost $200 or more. Today, however, speaker technology has advanced to the point that $200 for bookshelf speakers is a little high, especially with no extra bells and whistles (iPod docks, remotes, etc.) to set them apart from the pack. Make no mistakes, if you need great sounding, space-saving speakers, the A2’s do kick butt, but there are now cheaper alternatives which can deliver nearly comparable performance.

Audioengine A2


The A2’s are a great choice for those looking for a space-saving home office/bedroom bookshelf system and who do not want to skimp on power. Unfortunately, due to the similarity in looks, the A2’s suffer a bit by the inevitable comparison between their larger siblings, the A5’s. However, coming in $150 cheaper, and at 1/3rd the size, the A2’s still deliver a near-unparalleled audio experiencing with very little EQ tweaking necessary out of the box, and few will be disappointed by the power these little guys can deliver. However, at $199, their price/performance ratio is being pushed to the limit.

Audioengine’s A2 speakers

Price: $199

Pros: Great sound, small size, available in both black and white

Cons: No extras, such as remote, iPod docks, etc. make these a bit pricey given the competitive speaker market

11 Responses to “Review: Audioengine’s A2 speakers”
  1. Jason says:

    That video is hysterical, I like how the fallen cards thump. Think they can blow out candles on a cake?

  2. The Hendry says:

    I love the A5’s. I wish I could hear these somewhere.

  3. If you’re in Brooklyn or NYC check them out at Digital Fix @ 135 Grand St, Brooklyn, NY 11211.

    We have them on display and they are as great as we had hoped. Maybe better.

  4. Josh says:

    Nice review, but could you recommend an alternative?

    It’s all very well saying that other speakers are comparable, but not very useful if you don’t give an example 😉

  5. Stinus says:

    I’m also interested in some alternatives, maybe the Edirol MA15D’s are comparable?

  6. Alex says:

    I think this review is complete bull when they talk about how the A2 isn’t a good value for money. Who cares about useless ipod docks or wireless streaming? At its price of $200 it’s impossible to find a speaker that can match its sound quality. Set them apart from the rest? How about unparalleled sound quality?

    I challenge someone to name a sub $200 speaker that can match the A2 when it comes to sound quality.

  7. Kenning says:

    Yeah I’m also kind of surprised they’re not sold on the value of these. You can find louder speakers, sure, but I’m not sure if you’ll find ones with this kind of fidelity- or accuracy- at this price…

    But hey, lots of people think that 128kbps MP3s sound great, too… so what do I know?…

  8. Lazzo says:

    I’m a big fan of AudioEngine. I bought the AudioEngine A5 for my PC at home and I love the way they sound. Plenty of bass, but with decent clarity in the trebles. Very audiophile!

  9. James Lemaire says:

    If you connect the mini-jack cable from the A2 to a Mac, use the headphone jack. The speaker connections on the Mac are already powered and will cause the extra hum through the A2 speakers.

    For optimal sound quality, I recommend using an outboard DAC with USB or Optical connections. Get the A2s up on stands! Setting them on a desk will kill their imaging.

    You can extend the treble output a bit (some say the A2 is too bass heavy) by lowering your A2 volume and ramping-up all the Mac volume controls.

  10. Phil says:

    This reviewer is clearly not an audiophile, nor someone who praises sound quality as a top priority. I challenge you to find another speaker at this price point that has as many sonic virtues as the Audioengine A2. The midrange in particular is among the best attributes of this speaker, delivering a sense of liquidity and resolution that even it’s bigger brother doesn’t get quite as right. Image specificity is also quite amazing for something at this price point, with images well defined and placed in clear locations in front of the listener (though small in scale).

    I’m at a loss for words though about the point about “speaker technology advancing to the point where $200 is a little high.” Haha, please let me know which speakers you would recommend for less than $200 that equals or betters my $3000 Totem Acoustics in terms of sound quality….

Leave A Comment


Click here to inquire about making a fortune by advertising your game, gadget, or site on Macenstein.