After much research and deliberating, bought a pair of A2's today. Unfortunately there really doesn't seem to be anywhere I can go demo a decent range of speakers in one place here in Melbourne (cue a flurry of corrections), so I went somewhat blindly into the purchase.
What swung my decision was the wealth of good reviews, the compact size, the minimalist look and the fact they have front facing bass ports.
I purchased the A2's together with the Audioengine D1 DAC and the rubber speaker stands. I couldn't wait to get these things home today and try them out!
After a week of speculating and salivating over reviews, I have to tell you that MY HEART SANK when I heard these. I could not believe I was listening to the speakers I'd read so much about.
First go, I tried them into the onboard soundcard. They sounded way too bass heavy and muffled. I've been listening to music via the onboard soundcard through a pair of AudioTechnica ATH M50 headphones and it sounds pretty good (enough to convince me I might not need a DAC at all, but I got one anyway, for good measure). However, through the A2's the sounds had extremely poor definition - absent mid/highs and a low end that is just MUD.
I did try messing with the EQ settings on the Windows mixer control and have to say I was able to reproduce something a lot more crisper sounding, by boosting higher frequencies and cutting lower ones. At this point, I convinced myself that the onboard sound was the devil at play here, so unboxed the D1 DAC.
You can probably guess what's coming here, but after the D1 in there was little or NO improvement to the sound. In actual fact, there is a significant problem that is introduced at this point, as the DAC removes the ability to EQ the sound in the mixer. You get the DAC default sound and you're stuck with it. Big problem, given that my A2's do not sound good with their 'stock sound'.
I'm definitely NOT an audiophile. I have been DJ'ing for 17years and producing dance music as a hobbyist for about 12 though (although not particularly great at either, I should note ;-) ), but I cannot understand why people are having WILDLY different experiences with these. I can only conclude that either...
- There are different models going about, or variances in the quality of units
- Sound is even more subjective than I thought
- My ears are more refined than many of the people impressed by these
- My ears are less refined and I'm wrong
Burn in times, placement, EQ settings. Yeah sure, they'll all make a difference. But I refuse to accept that they will cure the sound of these things.
I'm going to give myself the weekend to at least test them repeatedly and make sure (and I will freely admit if wrong!), but the likelihood is that these are going back on Monday (if the supplier will take them back... dear God I hope so)
P.S. For anyone considering the D1 DAC for use with headphones, I'd say it DID improve the sound from the onboard sound, but it wasn't what you'd call an epiphany. It makes the sound quality smoother, a bit less bright and digital. As stated, the cans are ATH M50's and worked fine with it, though they are not the best match in terms of OHMS..