Originally Posted by SVO
When I moved offices and could no longer use my Magnepan MMG-W I went looking for an affordable conventional replacement. I accepted the fact that what I ended up with would likely fall short of the Maggies. The Audioengine A2 was well admired so I bought a pair. The sound was good and the physical quality of system was far beyond the price point but the midrange sound was very obviously muddied, in a big way, by a large upper-bass lump. I tried various positions, I plugged the port, I used in-line crossovers and finally went searching fir a system EQ that could cure this. I found it (Soundflower+AU Lab), but it proved awfully unstable and I had to dump it.
By this time I was convinced that the problem was in the speakers, not my particular set-up. Why the heck was this speaker so loved if it had such a significant obvious flaw? I went to the Audioengine website and read the Strereophile review of the A2 and lo and behold, there in an addendum was a graph of the amplifier frequency response:
The A2 has EQ applied that boosts bass as much as 9 dB. I'm not crazy! Called Audioengine. First they I told me I was wrong. Then when I brought-up the Stereophile review an eginineer responded that I was right but I was being silly because "ALL powered speakers and monitors have EQ applied". Really? My B.S. meter went off so I checked a few. Sure enough, it is not the case. Mid-fi stuff like Bose does (of course), while most speakers with hi-fi intent do NOT have a huge bump at the upper bass to try to make them sound bigger than they are, at least for the casual listener.
So, I'm still dumbfounded how so many people, experienced listeners supposedly, on this site and others, could not identify this very obvious flaw. I run a small sub in conjunction with my desktop speakers, as any experienced listener would know is necessary to get good bass. In high fidelity, errors of omission are essentially always preferred to those of commission. WHile EQ'd, the A2's were great. Without it, they belong just a bit above Bose- hardly great. The EQ is not defeatable. The engineer could not help me.
I have moved on to a nice pair of Boston unpowered mini monitors with a Topping amp and am quite pleased. The A2s sit behind the family Mac in the kitchen.
Sorry, but your snide tone is really not called for, given the lack of understanding you display. Another guy on the internet who discovered something everyone missed, eh? Smarter than the engineers who designed it? Right. Guess what - though you seem to think you are, you're not Hi-Fi Jesus, after all.
The chart you show is, as you note, the amplifier power (that's why it's so smooth). But that's done to get a flatter frequency response out of the speakers, to account for their physical limitations. The Stereophile review notes the pros and cons accurately:
~~Without equalization, this speaker would produce very little low-frequency output. ...
~~the 9dB boost will result in highish low-frequency distortion when the speaker is played at high levels.
The chart that's relevant is this one, the same frequency response chart you see for all speakers - the black line is the sum. As Stereophile notes, pretty good given their targeted design.
Note that this isn't true: "The A2 has EQ applied that boosts bass as much as 9 dB." It boosts the amp power, but due to the speaker it's powering, it doesn't have that effect on the output.
BTW, "The EQ is not defeatable?" Just EQ the signal going in. If EQ seems some kind of act against nature - well, there's no place for purists in this type of speaker. Save that for a speaker that can handle it.
By the way, many or perhaps most smaller and/or modestly priced powered speaker and HTIB systems do have similar EQ applied. In a way, it would be stupid not to; that's part of the point of having amplifiers designed for the speakers they're working with.
Clearly, these are not "speakers with hi-fi intent," as no one with hi-fi intent would use speakers and enclosures this small. And yeah, of course, with larger cabinets, you can do more. That's not what this product is. If you go in thinking they're going to be the best $200ish speaker/amp combo, yes they will be a disappointment. But really, they're trying to be the best $200ish MSRP, very small, powered speakers. They've obviously proved they're a contender. You seemed to have unrealistic expectations.
Whether the AudioEngine A2 are right for any specific person - that's a different question.
But there's no question they are well designed to meet the needs of many users, who want are willing to trade off audio quality to get smaller and less expensive speakers. By all accounts, they do a good job of making those tradeoffs.
To put it another way - they might not be what you'd buy for yourself (unless you really needed tiny speakers), but they are a good fit for a lot of people you know, who don't actually want to mess around with this stuff.
Edited by buzzy - 4/19/14 at 4:17pm