There’s no doubt that single-box wireless speakers have their place. But for real stereo, you need two boxes. For example, the Audioengine A5+ Wireless speakers, which have recently launched in Australia.
Let’s get some terms clear first: the name of the product is Audioengine A5+ Wireless. That distinguishes them from the Audioengine A5+ powered speakers which are otherwise very similar. The ‘wireless’ aspect here means Bluetooth, not Wi-Fi. You can feed music from your phone or tablet or another Bluetooth-enabled device, not from your network.
But there are also two analogue inputs: one pair of RCA sockets and one 3.5mm stereo mini socket. So you can easily make these speakers work with your network just by plugging in a Chromecast Audio device ($59 from plenty of places). Or you can plug in a CD player or a turntable (so long as it has a built-in phono pre-amp). No need to be limited to your phone’s contents.
The form of the Audioengine A5+ Wireless speakers is that of smallish bookshelf loudspeakers. Each stands 270mm tall and has a 180mm wide by 23mm deep footprint. Underneath each is a soft rubber pad which ought to protect your furniture. They are available in a white, black or (at extra cost) bamboo finish.
They do not have a front grille, so you might want to keep the delicate 19mm silk dome tweeter out of reach of small children. Underneath that on both units is 130mm Kevlar cone woofer. The speakers are bass reflex loaded, with a slot port at the top rear.
Inside the speakers
The left speaker contains all the electronics. It connects to the right speaker via binding post outputs and matching inputs on the other speaker. Included in the box is a four-metre-long speaker cable. Banana plugs are at the cable ends, so it takes only seconds to connect the two speakers.
The front of the left speaker has a small volume control. You can press that to put the speaker into standby mode. Pressing it again or adjusting the volume switches it back on. A LED shows power status: solid when it’s on, pulsing when it’s not.
Audioengine rates the built-in amplifier of the Audioengine A5+ Wireless speakers at 50 watts per channel continuous. There’s plenty of power available. It also puts the frequency response of the speakers at 50 to 22,000 hertz ±1.5dB. That’s one very impressive specification.
The Bluetooth version is 5.0. The enclosures are made from 13mm MDF, not the chipboard used in many inexpensive speakers.
There are some surprising quality touches. For example, also in the carton is a decent quality 2-metre interconnect. Plus a decent quality 2-metre 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable. The bundle of cables come in a soft microfibre bag, as do each of the speakers.
And there’s also an infrared remote control. That is a small PC board fitted into a machined aluminium slab. It’s like the kind of thing you’d get with some famous-brand Danish product.
Setting up the Audioengine A5+ Wireless speakers
As I’ve suggested, connecting up the speakers was easy. I put both on the stands I normally use for smaller speakers and had them wired up in no time.
I like using a GooglePixel 2 XL phone for sending music to Bluetooth speakers. That’sbecause of an under-reported feature of that phone: it supports all theBluetooth audio codecs. That is not justSBC, but also AAC (preferred by Apple devices), aptX and aptX HD, and LDAC.That last is Sony’s own “high resolution” Bluetooth codec. In connecting tothese speakers, the phone confirmed thatit was using the aptX HD codec. But the speakers also work with standard aptX(available on many more Android phones) and AAC.
I also plugged a Chromecast Audio device into the Audioengine A5+ Wireless speakers to check out non-Bluetooth audio performance.
Ins and Outs
And that raises a question. There are three inputs – Bluetooth, stereo RCA and stereo 3.5mm – so how do you select between them? There’s no switch on the speakers, and the remote only has volume, mute and sleep buttons.