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M-Audio BX5a vs Audioengine A5 short review

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

When I was looking to buy these speakers awhile ago, I looked through a lot of threads without any good comparisons between the two. People simply recommended whatever they owned, without necessarily owning both for some period of time. I'm not going to do a very deep comparison, just a quick one.

I'm not going to go too deep into the sound but if I were to describe the BX5a, they sound more like grados and the A5 sounds more like my UM3x (except soundstage) in how the bass, smooth midrange and treble is presented. Keep in mind the BX5a is a monitor and the A5 is not, hence the frequency response is quite different . Note that I have the BX5a non-deluxe and the deluxe supposedly improves the bass and treble in some way.

First I'm going to compare the bass. This is instantly noticeable between the two. The A5 hands down has more bass, and I can see why someone would be fine without a subwoofer. The BX5a's bass is very light and I definitely recommend a subwoofer to pair with it. From 150hz-60hz, the A5 just has more impact and quantity that the BX5a cannot touch.

Soundstage: The A5 has a tad more depth, but the width is about the same as the BX5a. Nobody will really be missing much soundstage wise when choosing between the two, the difference here is very small.

Midrange/Treble: The A5 presents voices in a more realistic manner with weight where the BX5a sounds light. The A5 is very nice with vocals, very smooth and sibilance free. A5 is never harsh on my ears, for the BX5a it really depends if the recording was horrible or great. The BX5a sounds better with guitars, sounds more exciting and lively. Drums sound more snappy on the BX5a. I find the A5 more forgiving on lower bitrate files, where the BX5a can become edgy or sound a tad harsh but I believe it's simply because the BX5a is more revealing. High quality bitrate files sound excellent on both speaker sets of course. The A5 in general sounds more laid back compared to the BX5a. The tweeter on the BX5a is noticeably more detailed, and has more sparkle. Each time I switch from A5 to BX5a, everything just sounds more transparent and crisp, the only thing missing is the bass and sometimes notes sound light and body-less (almost sounds the same as me switching from my UM3X straight to Grados, so for those who have heard both of these headphones will know what I'm talking about). A5 sounds mellow in comparison while BX5a is more analytical. The BX5a is on the border of being shrill at times where the A5 never does. I didn't really hear anything in the mids on BX5a, that I didn't hear with the A5 but the BX5a makes it more noticeable in the way its presented forwardly. Instrument separation on both are quite equal, both do well.

Conclusion: I think both speaker sets are great, and are quite competitive with one another. It really depends what sort of sound signature interests the buyer. The A5 is probably less fatiguing listening to for a long period of time though I have no problems with the BX5a. I'll be keeping both around for awhile, relieved I wasn't disappointed with the A5 . A5 focuses on bass, BX5a focuses on treble would be the way to sum things up.

The BX5a really needs a subwoofer, can't stress this enough. I'm still going to be using a subwoofer with the A5 however, but not absolutely necessary.

I would gladly answer any questions. By the way does anyone know what would be the next step up from these speakers?

 

 

Added November 13th,2010.

 

I also want to note that if I were to put the sound signature of these speakers with a comparable headphone now that I've heard more headphones, it would be

BX5a = K701

A5 = HD650


Edited by kite7 - 11/13/10 at 3:17pm
post #2 of 27
As soft as the BX5a's sound to you the original BX5's were even softer in the bass. The originals while having good image width were horrible for soundstage depth. I mean thier soundstage was like paper thin. 0 depth at all. The originals however did seem to have a little smoother but earlier roll off on the bass making them a little easier to meld with a subwoofer.

The BX5a the port contrbution was more noticable to me than on the BX5's whereas the BX5's sounded more like a low Q tuned acoustic suspension more than a ported speaker. Q of more like .5 with .7 being flat. The BX5a's sound more like they have a Q of near .7 but at the expense of a sag in the response before the slight bump caused by the port contribution bringing it back closer to being flat at the very bottom of it's frequency range.

Overall though I think the BX5a's are an improvement over the stock BX5's but the modified BX5's which I modified sounds better than the BX5a's especiall if used with a good sub. I have a Tannoy TS10 sub which is a very good sub.

The modification brings out the soundstage depth in a very big way without otherwise affecting the the frequence response. Everthing is clearer but with the same body as the stock BX5's.
post #3 of 27
hi there and thanks for the review, i was in the same boat awhile back deciding between the two. i ended up getting bx5a deluxe b/c it was more reasonably price over here.

i've had it a couple months now and i guess you reaffirmed my feelings, the bass is pretty weak on the bx5a and the tweeter is very bright. i suppose it'd look like a rising slope on the frequency spectrum? in any case i'm still quite happy with a bit of eq since it was still the cheapest option @ 279 CAD and very much an upgrade over my old logitech

the sad thing is i slept right through boxing day and missed out on some subwoofers deals so i contemplated getting m-audios complementary sub but its 400+ cad, which is kind of weird since both have the same price on the us pricing page.

so i'm just a noob that wants more low end oomph, do you have any recommendations for any other good value sub to pair with that i can find in toronto? nothing to shake the house, just for a small bedroom. and do the subs have to have 1/4 connectors? i found a lot of the home theatre ish subs only used speaker level inputs.

oh and the next lines are their cx, dsm, and ex it seems, i guess they name abcde

M-AUDIO - Reference Monitors
post #4 of 27
Thread Starter 
I would just go with any subwoofer with RCA line in you can find on craigslist for around $100, that's how I got my home theatre subwoofer. It's not boomy and I have it at a decent volume level that it blends in well with the BX5a. I really can't justify spending $500 on the M-Audio SBX10 subwoofer and I'm satisfied with the subwoofer I have.

germanium,
What modification did you do exactly? I guess it requires changing parts inside?
post #5 of 27
I felt the BX5A paper tweeters were way better then the tweeters on the A5. Way smoother and extended then the A5 :P
post #6 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jinp6301 View Post
I felt the BX5A paper tweeters were way better then the tweeters on the A5. Way smoother and extended then the A5 :P
True, the tweeters on the BX5a are quite something compared to the A5 tweeters.

I'm still amazed how different these two speaker sets sound when I switch back and forth between them
post #7 of 27
Thanks for posting this. The BX5a and A5's were my final two choices when it came time to replace my 'computer' speakers. I actually have a topic on the subject in here somewhere. I think I made the right choice with the A5's but I would have enjoyed the luxury of auditioning both sets at home.
post #8 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by kite7 View Post
I would just go with any subwoofer with RCA line in you can find on craigslist for around $100, that's how I got my home theatre subwoofer. It's not boomy and I have it at a decent volume level that it blends in well with the BX5a. I really can't justify spending $500 on the M-Audio SBX10 subwoofer and I'm satisfied with the subwoofer I have.

germanium,
What modification did you do exactly? I guess it requires changing parts inside?
Removed all electrolytic coupling capacitors & replaced with wire. Removed all the electrolytic capacitors from the negative feedback bleed circuits that control the gain of the amps & replaced those with wire, this essentially makes them D.C. amplifiers & except for the crossovers they would in fact amplify D.C.. There are several of these caps & all low grade in the original BX5's. The depth revealed in the recordings is astonishing some sound as much as 50-75 feet back & yet other recordings that are not recorded with captruring depth can be right in your face sounding. A far cry from the originals that revealed no depth at all in anything.

Only parts changes replacing caps with wire. Care must be taken though as several of the electrolytic caps belong to the powersupply. You must be able to trace a signal though a circuit to be able to see which caps are ok to get rid of as if you get one of the powersupply caps the amps will be toast as soon as you fire it up & fuses may not save it if it is one of the small opamps.
post #9 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by kite7 View Post
I didn't really hear anything in the mids on BX5a, that I didn't hear with the A5 but the BX5a makes it more noticeable in the way its presented forwardly. Instrument separation on both are quite equal, both do well.
I bet if both were measured the M-Audios would measure flat in comparison to the A5s. Consumer speakers often dip the midrange and sometimes boost the top and bottom end either through crossover design or tunning.

I was going to ask if you thought the M-Audio's sounded more "forward" but then I saw you mentioned it towards the bottom . In my experience flat or neutral tends to sound "forward" when it's not what you are used to hearing. If the M-Audios sound a bit harsh it's most likely due to driver distortion, neutral response and driver distortion = harshness. A dip in the midrange would probably make them more forgivable but then they would be less of a monitor. These are budget monitors after and a compromise has to be made somewhere.

Nice review. Kinda how you would think a "consumer" speaker would compare to a "pro monitor", its nice when the world actually works they way you think it should.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kite7
By the way does anyone know what would be the next step up from these speakers?
I would say build your own unless you have really deep pockets, even then your money will always go further DIY. There are several designs in the $200+ (parts) that are using better quality components and non-compromised designs. Personally I know I won't be "buying" anymore speakers.
post #10 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by kite7 View Post
I would just go with any subwoofer with RCA line in you can find on craigslist for around $100, that's how I got my home theatre subwoofer. It's not boomy and I have it at a decent volume level that it blends in well with the BX5a. I really can't justify spending $500 on the M-Audio SBX10 subwoofer and I'm satisfied with the subwoofer I have.
would the sub have to have rca line out as well? i.e. so i can plug my bx5a into the sub and theb plug the sub into the computer soundcard.
post #11 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duperman View Post
would the sub have to have rca line out as well? i.e. so i can plug my bx5a into the sub and theb plug the sub into the computer soundcard.
That all depends on how you plan to hook up the sub.

Home theater subs are intended to be hooked up to the LFE (Low Frequency Effects) output from the sound card or your home theater receiver. The sub isn't responsible for crossover duties. The sound card or home theater receiver is doing the crossover duties and sending the lows to the sub and the rest to the main speakers.

For music listening and studio style subs the sub gets the responsibilities for the crossover. You send a stereo signal to the sub. Then you connect the left and right main speakers to the back of the sub. The sub does the crossover and sends the non-sub frequencies to the main speakers. There will be a knob on the back of the sub to adjust the crossover point. Some subs take a speaker level signal input and output. Some subs take a line level input and output. Some subs can do either. "Studio" style subs that would match with the BX5a and similar are going to have a line level input and output, and will be able to do either balanced or unbalanced inputs and outputs.
post #12 of 27
Thread Starter 
I wouldn't see much point in getting an expensive music subwoofer that has crossover for the BX5a. The BX5a is bass light and rolls off enough such that it can be paired with a HT subwoofer nicely. A5 would be different story on the other hand since it's much more prominent in the bass department than BX5a. When I had a sound card , what I use to do was just get a 3.5mm Y splitter to hook both BX5a and subwoofer to.
post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by kite7 View Post
I wouldn't see much point in getting an expensive music subwoofer that has crossover for the BX5a. The BX5a is bass light and rolls off enough such that it can be paired with a HT subwoofer nicely.
Just because they don't have a lot of bass output doesn't mean they won't benefit from being properly crossed over to a sub. The mid range will be noticeably cleaner when the woofer is relived from the work load of the bottom registers.

Besides any good subwoofer is going to have a built in crossover. If it dosn't it's probably not worth looking at.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Duperman
would the sub have to have rca line out as well? i.e. so i can plug my bx5a into the sub and theb plug the sub into the computer soundcard.
You listed it kinda of backwards but yeah that would be the proper way to do it.
post #14 of 27
hi there, I am currently hunting for a speaker setup now. there;s a few questions I am quite confused...

the AE A5 and BX5a, just how "good" are they if we are to compare them to the true hifi (lowend setup) like a passive speakers with an integrated amp (which cost about 500USD, for example)? my source would be an ipod line out.

thank you.
post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by nders View Post
hi there, I am currently hunting for a speaker setup now. there;s a few questions I am quite confused...

the AE A5 and BX5a, just how "good" are they if we are to compare them to the true hifi (lowend setup) like a passive speakers with an integrated amp (which cost about 500USD, for example)? my source would be an ipod line out.

thank you.
Just referring to the a5 here cos i haven't had experience with the bx5a.

You'll find a ton of people who haven't heard an entry level passive + int amp setup tell you it'll blow the a5 out of the water. For 500USD and buying first hand, most probably not.

I know someone off another forum who is pretty knee deep into hifi and has heard plenty of setups both at the low and high end. He thinks a5 hold their own very well at their usd349 retail price level. For a passive + int amp combo, if we're talking about second hand prices here, you'll probably need closer to 700-800usd at the very bare minimum for a setup that i would consider a true upgrade from the a5.
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