Audioengine A5 review

Audioengine A5 active desktop speakers are composed and staunchly musical. Just add an MP3 player – though they work best with stands – and you'll Tested at £260

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Every aspect of the A5s is enjoyable, especially the way they make your MP3 player sound. Now replaced by the Audioengine A5+


  • +

    Flexible spec

  • +

    smoothly built

  • +

    poised, persuasive sound


  • -

    Really need to be on speaker stands to hear them at their best

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Tested June 2010

Right from the off (November 2007's First Test) we've been big fans of the A5 speakers.

Just about compact enough to work on a desktop, though we'd recommend dedicated stands, they're a smoothly finished, glossy proposition.

The passive right-hand speaker, with just a reflex port and speaker binding-posts at the rear, is slaved to the left-hand speaker – which is where the action is.

This powered box houses 50 Watts of amplifier power per channel, two 3.5mm inputs (plus a USB output for charging your MP3 player), two subwoofer pre-outs for those who crave significant low-frequency action at their desk, speaker binding-posts for union to the left-hand speaker and an (EU) mains AC output for use with Airport Express.

Well-judged treble, timing and communication
The A5s come with a short 3.5mm-3.5mm connection, so any MP3 player will probably end up resting on top of the speaker – not ideal.

Nevertheless, with an iPod delivering a lossless file of The The's Gravitate To Me, the A5s sound stirring and subtle.

Stereo focus is good, and the top of the frequency range is judged equally well: treble sounds are crisp without tipping into hardness.

There's fine timing on offer, and a composed, unflappable quality to the midrange that makes a vocalist sound characterful and communicative.

There's a discernible shortage of dynamic potency available when push really comes to shove, mind you, and low frequencies can be a little soft and squashy. Still, your £225 is buying a really fine desktop sound.

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What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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