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Updating from Audioengine A2's - $150-200 budget

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

Hi All - I'm a noob looking for advice on updating my home music setup, which for the time being has to be running music primarily from Spotify and film audio from DVD's, from a Macbook Air and a Macbook Pro; occasionally I'll also play music from an iphone, connected via minijack.


I'm coming from a pair of Audioengine A2's, which I've been pretty happy with for the past 3 years (there seems to be a lot of differing opinions on the forum about the A2's: a lot of owners like me who are happy, but a lot of critics who dislike the bass and seem to think the price is too high for the output). A2's served me well when listening on my own or with a few friends. My only trouble was when hosting parties: I'm not sure if the A2's could fully bring the sound for a group of 15+ (likely drunk) people in a space that's about 15x20. When I cranked up the volume, it's led to damage over time to the speakers, which is necessitating the update.


My budget is $150-200 USD, I'm on the east coast in the US.


My first (obvious) consideration is the new A2+'s. I could add a sub here, I wonder if that would alleviate the bass concerns of the A2's and potentially give me louder sound for those few parties with larger groups. Would the built-in DAC help there? To-date most listening has gone through Audioengine's original Wireless Audio Sender: USB dongle in the Macbook, uses bluetooth to connect to the other dongle, which connect via mini-jack to the left A2's minijack input. So, how does the DAC (and potentially a sub) affect my loudness issue?


Are there any other 2.0 possibilities, under $400, with a similar physical footprint to the A2's? The small size really is wonderful for my setup.


And if I go larger in size (height max would be 11"), would you suggest another top option? Swans makes a few 2.0 multimedias that seem to have good followings here. Also the BX5a's - any thoughts on these, and could I get them for this budget? 


Would welcome thoughts, your experience with any of these options or others that I'm not aware of.






DAC: If I go somewhere other than the A2+ option, will I need to get an external DAC? If so what is recommended? It would be nice to have this wireless as well but that's not critical.


STANDING AREA: I've heard several people struggle with placing the A2's right on your desk surface, wherein the energy flows into the desk (and presumably creates vibration etc). I don't think this has been a problem for me: on each of my desk I have a large heavy wooden filing cabinet, 2 inches below the desk height. I've always had the A2's directly on top of each filing cabinet's wood surface top . I have not bought the separate stands. Any thoughts on this? This makes the height of the A2's about shoulder height when seated or waist height when standing in the room.


SPACING: I have the A2's spaced about 8 feet apart, with the desk and computer monitor in between. About 6" from the wall behind them. Facing directly out into the middle of the room, flat on the filing cabinet tops, and flush against the wall of bookcases that flank the filing cabinets: the front of the speakers placed back at a depth of about 5" behind the front edge of these bookcases.


EQUALIZING ETC: I've never messed with this, as many have said the A2's come out of the box well-tuned. Any suggestions on this? Again, playing almost exclusively through Macbooks, with occasional playing through an iPhone connected via minijack.

post #2 of 3
So is your budget $400? Or $150 to $200? The A2s are generally considered a pretty good speaker for the price. I don't know how you would plan to spend the same amount of money and "upgrade." I have not heard them, but I doubt that the A2+s are going to be a significant upgrade that satisfies your needs.

Small speaker=small sound. There's only so much a speaker designer can do with a 2.75" driver. I'd look for a speaker with at least a 4" driver given your needs of filling a 15x20 space.
post #3 of 3

Well, now you know that 15W RMS / channel is not going to cut the mustard in terms of power output. A sub might help if you insert the crossover between the speakers and the Macbook, but as cel said, you need bigger drivers and more power. If you want to stay with powered speakers, you might try the A5+. It's less than $400 (if you buy in black or white). It will play louder, hopefully loud enough for a party.


Or you could get a cheap receiver / integrated amp and some passive monitors. At least if you wreck the speakers, you won't have to pay for a new amp.

Edited by yage - 12/18/13 at 12:03pm
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