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Audioengine A5+ vs KRK Rokit RP6 G3

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Summary/TL;DR:

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.

 

Intro:

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.

 

Aim:

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:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/564898/audioengine-a5-vs-krk-rokit-rp6-g2-nice

 

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).

 

Setup:

Laptop: Dell XPS LP521X

DAC: Fiio E10 (picked up second-hand for £46)

 

Connections:

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.

 

Findings:

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.

post #2 of 12

I also tried the A5+'s and returned them. I went to guitar center and tried the BX5, KRK 5's and 6's, Mackie 5's, HS5's, LSR305's, etc.. I actually liked the LSR305 out of all of them. I even purchased some Vanatoo T1's to compare to the LSR305's. I returned the Vanatoo's after a week. 

post #3 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by pk805 View Post

The A5+s are overrated in my opinion.

Among many home audio enthusiasts I know who are into passive speakers, Audioengines are similarly thought of as overrated. Audioengine are the ATH-M50s of speakers. They aren't a bad choice. But it's highly likely one can find another speaker that better suits one's listening tastes.

BTW: I like the Rokkits, too smily_headphones1.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheneric View Post

I also tried the A5+'s and returned them. I went to guitar center and tried the BX5, KRK 5's and 6's, Mackie 5's, HS5's, LSR305's, etc.. I actually liked the LSR305 out of all of them. I even purchased some Vanatoo T1's to compare to the LSR305's. I returned the Vanatoo's after a week. 

Can I ask what made the LSR305s standout from the Vanatoos?
post #4 of 12

The e10 is good for headphones but not for speakers, the line output jack impendance is too high and its below the 2vrms redbook standard its probley holding the speakers back a bit.

post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Among many home audio enthusiasts I know who are into passive speakers, Audioengines are similarly thought of as overrated. Audioengine are the ATH-M50s of speakers. They aren't a bad choice. But it's highly likely one can find another speaker that better suits one's listening tastes.

BTW: I like the Rokkits, too smily_headphones1.gif
Can I ask what made the LSR305s standout from the Vanatoos?

The biggest difference is just how much more alive the jbls sound. I mean if flat is what you're looking for, vanatoos are the one. the jbls had a more 3d sound to it and the vanatoo's were 2d.
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 

Interesting! Do you use them as studio monitors, or general speakers? How do the jbls sound from a distance? Are they directional, or can you be sat anywhere in the room? In my search, I did a really quick search for active speakers in my budget, saw lots of articles on the RP6s and A5+s, and took the leap and only auditioned those two. Maybe should have looked a bit harder... Still massively happy with the KRKs!

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JRG1990 View Post
 

The e10 is good for headphones but not for speakers, the line output jack impendance is too high and its below the 2vrms redbook standard its probley holding the speakers back a bit.

Ahh didn't know about that - do you know of anywhere which explains this in detail? Can't say I know much about audio tech details. Any suggestions on a more suitable reasonably priced DAC for speakers? 

 

I bought the E10 pretty much blindly based on reviews I read saying that the E10 would be better than a typical laptop soundcard. I found it is, but only marginally. 

 

In terms of my comparison though, as I used the same DAC on both sets of speakers, wouldn't they both be affected in the same way (in terms of being held back)? 

post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheneric View Post

The biggest difference is just how much more alive the jbls sound. I mean if flat is what you're looking for, vanatoos are the one. the jbls had a more 3d sound to it and the vanatoo's were 2d.

Thanks! That's good to know. smily_headphones1.gif
post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by pk805 View Post

Ahh didn't know about that - do you know of anywhere which explains this in detail? Can't say I know much about audio tech details. Any suggestions on a more suitable reasonably priced DAC for speakers? 

I bought the E10 pretty much blindly based on reviews I read saying that the E10 would be better than a typical laptop soundcard. I found it is, but only marginally. 

In terms of my comparison though, as I used the same DAC on both sets of speakers, wouldn't they both be affected in the same way (in terms of being held back)? 

To borrow JRG1990's words, something is always holding something else back in audio setup. As soon as you have more money to spend, you can always improve. I think you are on track with looking at speakers. I wouldn't worry about the E10 until you are willing to spend a LOT more on a headphone amp/dac. It could be some powered speakers will be a little more susceptible to noise with it, but you should still be able to see how the speakers sound. Also, probably best not run the cable from it a very long distance. It's still probably better than the headphone jack on your computer, right?
post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by pk805 View Post
 

Interesting! Do you use them as studio monitors, or general speakers? How do the jbls sound from a distance? Are they directional, or can you be sat anywhere in the room? In my search, I did a really quick search for active speakers in my budget, saw lots of articles on the RP6s and A5+s, and took the leap and only auditioned those two. Maybe should have looked a bit harder... Still massively happy with the KRKs!

What's great about the JBL's is that they're less directional than any other studio monitor because of their wave guide design. The sweet spot is a lot larger. I use these pretty close to me and I have a small room, so I wouldn't know how they would do at a distance. I can tell you they get loud though. I'm using them for general listening. I actually just ordered the bottlehead crack headphone amp and I'm going to experiment with it. See if I can get a tubey sound out of my JBL's.

 

post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheneric View Post
 

What's great about the JBL's is that they're less directional than any other studio monitor because of their wave guide design. The sweet spot is a lot larger. I use these pretty close to me and I have a small room, so I wouldn't know how they would do at a distance. I can tell you they get loud though. I'm using them for general listening. I actually just ordered the bottlehead crack headphone amp and I'm going to experiment with it. See if I can get a tubey sound out of my JBL's.

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post


To borrow JRG1990's words, something is always holding something else back in audio setup. As soon as you have more money to spend, you can always improve. I think you are on track with looking at speakers. I wouldn't worry about the E10 until you are willing to spend a LOT more on a headphone amp/dac. It could be some powered speakers will be a little more susceptible to noise with it, but you should still be able to see how the speakers sound. Also, probably best not run the cable from it a very long distance. It's still probably better than the headphone jack on your computer, right?

Yup, definitely an improvement. I just tried using the headphone jack again, and the sound quality was shocking! Hadn't realised how much of an improvement the DAC was when I was experimenting previously!

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheneric View Post
 

What's great about the JBL's is that they're less directional than any other studio monitor because of their wave guide design. The sweet spot is a lot larger. I use these pretty close to me and I have a small room, so I wouldn't know how they would do at a distance. I can tell you they get loud though. I'm using them for general listening. I actually just ordered the bottlehead crack headphone amp and I'm going to experiment with it. See if I can get a tubey sound out of my JBL's.

 

Nice! Post back and let us know how it goes.

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