What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Mon, 25 Jan 2010, 10:00am

Audioengine P4

Tested at £183
80100
4

The AP4s have plenty to recommend them. Put them on your shortlist

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For

  • Usefully small
  • exemplary finish at the money
  • sweetly articulate midrange
  • good integration

Against

  • Fractionally bright at the top end, slightly inflexible at the bottom

We've listened to and enjoyed a couple of powered Audioengine speaker ranges in the past, but this is our first encounter with any of the company's passive designs.

The AP4s are extremely compact (less than 23cm high), front-ported two-way speakers – the tweeter is a 20mm silk-dome affair, with a 100mm Kevlar driver below.

Our review pair is finished in satin black, but glossy white and something called ‘solid carbonised bamboo' are available too. We definitely want bamboo ones next time.

Sound bigger than they are
In the meantime, though, our satin black examples do very good work. Julian Cope's version of Roky Erickson's I Have Always Been Here Before impresses from the off: thanks to the frankly unlikely scale and presence of its delivery, the AP4s do a creditable impression of far larger speakers.

Midrange communication and detail are a match for any price-comparable competitor, and the handover from the tweeter to driver is silky-smooth.

Tonally the AP4s are on the polite side – far preferable to the rowdier presentation some similarly sized rivals favour in an attempt to overcome their physical limitations.

It's at either end of the frequency range that potential problems lurk. Treble sounds are absolutely as bright and shiny as is acceptable, so some care should be taken to ensure partnering electronics don't share that trait.

Thick bottom end
At the bottom end there's a thickness, a slightly fat-tongued lack of eloquence, to the AP4s' bass delivery – and the closer to a nearby back wall the Audioengines are positioned, the more pronounced this becomes.

These speakers certainly deserve to be auditioned. The price, their dimensions and the quality of materials in their construction make them worthy of investigation – the sound they make just confirms it.

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