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Audioengine A2: The king of value powered monitors has no clothes?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

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.

post #2 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by SVO View Post

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.  

That's because they are not experienced at listening to speakers. LOL

But you are definitely right about the problem. And with that bass boost from their amp, can't even integrate in a sub properly.

Glad to hear you got a Topping and some passive speakers. Best value for a good sounding setup smily_headphones1.gif
post #3 of 13

Oh which Topping amp did you get i.e TA2020/2021 or TK2050? I've listened to TK2050 Toppings mated with Brit/US bookies and find these offering great value for money!

post #4 of 13

The love for the A2 stems from the hype train of the overrated A5 (original) and the decent A5+.

 

Individuals I know who own the A2 expressed similar dissatisfaction towards the bass response.

post #5 of 13

I'm glad I got off the A5 hype-train when my set had a faulty amp and I got it refunded. 

Been playing around with vintage separates since, which sounds better (in some ways) , cheaper and it's been more a lot more fun. 

post #6 of 13

Yeah there is definitely a bass hump.  In spite of that they are my favorite pair of smaller speakers because 1. the bass becomes a lot more balanced if you elevate them a foot and a half off the desk and 2. the bass is actually quite balanced at lower volume levels.  

 

If you have them on a desk at loud levels, the bass is boomy as hell.

 

Beautiful mids though.  Not the slightest hint of silibance.  Makes vintage recordings sound great.  Never heard Jimi Hendrix sound as good on any system, regardless of price.

post #7 of 13

(in regards to the title of the original post), These are as far from "monitors" as you can get!  They're sloppy rock 'n roll speakers all the way.  

post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by SVO View Post
 

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:

 

Quote:
 ~~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
post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzy View Post

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.

Actually, it does, because of the huge mid dip that it has.
Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzy View Post

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.

Yeah, but the centering point, the amount of the boost, and the Q of the boost could have been better applied to provide a smoother frequency response. They reason that they didn't is then the speakers wouldn't have that upper midbass hump to make them seem like they have good bass, and they would also roll off sooner. Audioengine brands itself as a hifi audio company, but this is not the frequency response one would hope for in a $200 speaker. Look at the budget passive Pioneer BS22s. This is much better:



So I can also understand the OPs disappointment since the A2s do get over hyped here on Head-Fi. I've heard many people talk about what great bass they have.
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzy View Post

 

 Guess what - though you seem to think you are, you're not Hi-Fi Jesus, after all.

ROFL

I have to remember that one. too funny.

post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 

Wow, talk about the pot and the kettle, Buzzy boy, your post was directly insulting, and I did not misrepresent anything to you, as Audioengine did to me.  You are clearly a relative novice so I will cut you some slack and not get into great detail about the many ways in which your post is seriously misguided.  The A2's are marketed as having Hi-Fi aspirations.  They have a huge amount of bass EQ applied that is neither defeatable nor documented in the product literature.  I heard it VERY CLEARLY and I am no golden ears, which means it's really obvious to even the casual enthusiast.  That EQ compromises the quality of the midbass and the overall sound.  The scale on that response curve plot is ridiculously huge.  Plots don't tell the whole story.  This site, as well as Stereophile magazine, are most certainly NOT for people who "don't actually want to mess around with this stuff."  I didn't post on AOL.

 

Oh, and did you know that manufacturers get to preview product reviews from Stereophile BEFORE they are hit-up with an opportunity to advertise in the same issue as the review?  No incentive there to glow about everything...

 

The wholeQuote:

Originally Posted by buzzy View Post
 

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:

 

 

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.

post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post


Actually, it does, because of the huge mid dip that it has.

Yeah, but the centering point, the amount of the boost, and the Q of the boost could have been better applied to provide a smoother frequency response. They reason that they didn't is then the speakers wouldn't have that upper midbass hump to make them seem like they have good bass, and they would also roll off sooner. Audioengine brands itself as a hifi audio company, but this is not the frequency response one would hope for in a $200 speaker. Look at the budget passive Pioneer BS22s. This is much better:


So I can also understand the OPs disappointment since the A2s do get over hyped here on Head-Fi. I've heard many people talk about what great bass they have.

 

But this isn't true, and I know I really don't have to explain it to you: "Actually, it does, because of the huge mid dip that it has."  What that shows is the interaction of the amp boost and the physical speaker (enclosure and driver).   So even though the amp is up 1-4 db at 400 hz to 1 kHz, the frequency response is down.   That's the point, you don't see a db for db boost; you see the interaction of the amp equalization and the speaker itself.

 

The dip in the mid bass is a legitimate criticism of the speaker, as that's focusing on the output - the frequency response would be perceived by a listener.

 

You're of course right that larger speakers perform better; and that you generally get more bang for your buck going with passive speakers and an amp.  I suggest as much above.  Something like the BS22 is a good example.  

 

But as you also know, there's a huge market out that that wants easy set up and small speakers; and doesn't know that small speakers limit performance.   And as you also know, even if you tell people that, they still go for the easy, small, "good enough" solution much of the time.

 

SVO, all I'll say is you only embarrass yourself more each time you post. So, thanks.  Finding people like you is one my favorite things about the internet.

post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzy View Post

But this isn't true, and I know I really don't have to explain it to you: "Actually, it does, because of the huge mid dip that it has."  What that shows is the interaction of the amp boost and the physical speaker (enclosure and driver).   So even though the amp is up 1-4 db at 400 hz to 1 kHz, the frequency response is down.   That's the point, you don't see a db for db boost; you see the interaction of the amp equalization and the speaker itself.

The dip in the mid bass is a legitimate criticism of the speaker, as that's focusing on the output - the frequency response would be perceived by a listener.

Yeah, well, the amplifier output chart on that review shows a center point of approximately 75hz with a 9db boost. If you took that away, the amount of bass boost from what the speaker would look like without it--how it would be perceived--could easily be 9db. Easy to see in that chart.
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