Audioengine is an independent speaker company based on Austin, Texas, USA. Founded in 2005, their simple goal is to build products that sound great, easy to use, and make people want to listen to music every day. Their core products are powered speakers, all-in-one systems which lets you connect devices conveniently. Audioengine products like the A2+ and A5+ have won numerous awards and accolades over the past years. With my new vinyl hobby, I am re-assessing my audio configuration. When the Audioengine A1 was announced, I promptly asked AVOne for a loan to review it.
From the product images, I could not tell the size, so imagine my surprise when I unboxed it and realised how compact the speakers are. All the components are packed in the left speaker, with a pair of 16AWG cables linking to the right speaker to power it passively.
The speakers are constructed with similar custom components found in the A2+ speakers, using 0.75-inch ferrofluid-cooled silk dome tweeters with neodymium magnets and 2.75-inch aramid fibre woven glass composite woofers with rubber surrounds. The volume knob is at the rear, which is not very convenient to reach. To turn off the speaker, turn the volume counter-clockwise until it clicks. The cabinet has a matt finish and its base has a thick pad, all of which reduces the need for extreme care against hairline scratches.
The Audioengine A1 connects to the source using 3.5mm line-out cable as well as Bluetooth 5.0 supporting aptX, AAC and SBC audio codecs. There is also a LFE line-out to an optional subwoofer. You can play all input sources at the same time, there is no need to switch source before playback.
The speaker size is just right for my setup in my study table, although I might prefer them to be slightly bigger so that it can project more details at lower volume. Perhaps the A2+ might be better suited for my use. I typically listen to the A1 from about 60cm. At this distance, the audio balance is tipped towards the midrange. The bass delivers adequate levels of impact but is tame at the lower bass resonance. Listening to EDM tracks like Billie Eilish, the bass slaps hard without distortion but lacks the reverberations. I guess that’s where the additional subwoofer will offer that balance. The treble delivers good clarity and definition, but does not outshine. At quiet passages, the lower frequencies easily clouds over the upper frequencies. Overall, the A1 offers a warm tonality without the intense sub-bass output, while the treble performance is well-balanced.
Powered by Class D amplifier, there is no issue driving high volumes but if the arrangement is full of instruments, the sound can turn out very cluttered. Still, the speakers confidently fill up my study room and I can even hear the music from my living room.
For audio owners who are sensitive to electrical noise, my review unit suffers from low hum which can be heard when the volume is turned up with line-in cable plugged in. To be fair, my current powered speaker also suffered the same issue and was more audible than the A1. The consolation is that the noise is only noticeable when the volume is turned up really high.
The new A1 is the smallest A-series powered speakers from Audioengine designed for small spaces. Naturally, the audio cannot match the bigger brothers, but its presence in my room made me want to listen to music every day, precisely meeting their mission statement. Music sounds pleasant and warm, never too exciting, ideal for laid-back acoustical enjoyment, with occasional need for high-octane aural stimulation. They play best with acoustic tracks, instrumental genres, vocals, and pairs well with turntables bringing out the analogue essence. Retailing in Singapore at S$369, you can get it at Audioengine LazMall (lazada.sg/shop/audioengine), AV One (av1group.com.sg), Headphones.SG, Isetan Scotts L3, Isetan Tampines L2, Takashimaya L3, Stereo Electronics, Swee Lee, Tekkie Geek SG and Treoo.com.