The RP6s are excellent – warm sound with great separation. Bass is tight and punchy, mids are warm with realistic sounding vocals. The highs sing. They fill large rooms comfortably without sounding strained. The speakers are massive though, and pretty ugly.
The A5+s are much better looking, and are smaller and therefore more discreet. However, their sound doesn’t match the quality of the RP6s. The low mids are boomy and overpowering, and bass sounds muddled. This clouds the music. I do like the warmth of the sound. Vocals are nice and the highs are pleasant but overall I think these are somewhat overrated and overpriced.
I’m a long time reader of Head-Fi and have skirted under the radar for many years basing my audio purchases on the collective opinions of this forum. I’m not a true audiophile – I don’t have the budget unfortunately! But I try and buy the best within my means, and I’m attuned to the performance of my purchases.
Recently, my ever reliable Altec Lansing MX5021 2.1 speaker system gave in, giving me an excellent excuse to go hunting for a new system. I bought the MXes 5 years ago as a student and the £75 I spent then was very much at the upper end of my budget. I was incredibly happy with my purchase – for the price I really think you couldn’t get better. Now a working man, I figured it was time to expand my budget somewhat – I was looking to spend in the region of £400 for a system which would blow me away all over again.
I hate clutter. I therefore store all media on my laptop – this applies to everything: books, documents and of course music and movies. My new sound system would therefore need to sound good connected to my laptop. I have a fairly eclectic musical taste meaning I would test with a range of modern music (electro, hip hop, rock, alternative etc). My music is either FLAC or failing this, 320kbps MP3s. I wanted a 2.0 active system as I didn’t want to have to spend money on a separate amp and woofer, and have the pain of all that additional cabling. Finally, this setup would be used in my 8x6 meter living room and I wanted a system which would fill the room with sound.
I read reviews here and elsewhere to inform my search, and paid particular attention to the following:
I decided to test the Audioengine A5+s (£300 for B-grades with damage only to external packaging) alongside the KRK Rokit RP6 G3s (£360 including two TRS cables and speaker stands).
Laptop: Dell XPS LP521X
DAC: Fiio E10 (picked up second-hand for £46)
Laptop to DAC: USB
DAC to speakers, and between speakers: For the A5+s I used the supplied 3.5mm jack to connect my DAC to the speaker input, and connected the speakers together using supplied speaker wire. For the RP6s I used a 3.5mm to RCA split cable to connect the DAC to each speaker.
I kept the RP6s and I’m sending the A5+s back. The RP6s are excellent. They fill the room comfortably, and the bass is controlled and punchy. It can be big when required, I was surprised at the power – the floor of my living room was vibrating at times. The highs don’t quite sparkle but they really do sing. The mids are warm and controlled, and vocals sound incredibly realistic. As monitors, they do not colour the music. However, they still provide some warmth. I really love them. I think they cope well with the range of music I listen to – presenting a wide soundstage with great separation irrespective of genre. They are however massive, I really can’t see these sitting on a desk. They are also pretty ugly – they will sit in my fairly minimalist living room, and those yellow cones draw attention away from the rest of the room. I’ve decided to put up with this as I love the sound, but I can’t help but think KRK are missing a trick here. By using a black cone, I think they could open themselves up to a wider market outside the production industry.
The A5+s are overrated in my opinion. They have a nice warmth, but I found the sound was slightly muffled throughout the spectrum, and the lower end was not tight enough for my liking. The low mids are consistently boomy, and lows become muddled with very little separation. The bass sounds strained. Vocals sound pleasant and realistic though. The highs are nice and realistic, they can be almost sparkly but are overpowered by those boomy low mids. These speakers really struggle to fill a room and become strained at higher volumes. I think they are still much better than your typical 2.0 speakers, but just don’t justify their price tag. They are certainly more aesthetically pleasing than the KRKs though, and being considerably smaller, blend better into any room. I feel like this may be one reason why these are so highly recommended – most people probably couldn’t look at the KRKs everyday!
Well, that's my first attempt at a review. Hope you enjoyed it! I've taken some pics of the two sets of speakers side by side, but don't have the permissions yet. I'll upload when I do.