Many of the speaker reviews for this site have been multimedia speakers meant for a desktop computer. This time, we're going to be looking at a different class of speakers which are meant for a slightly different purpose. The Audioengine 5 is a speaker system meant for listening to music from an iPod music player. In this review, we will examine how well the speakers accommodate the use of the iPod with these speakers. And of course, we will examine the most basic concept in a speaker review...how well they sound.
A Closer Look
The Audioengine 5 are the size of bookshelf speakers. This particular set had a black finish that gives the speakers a shiny and clean look. These speakers also do come in a white finish. Although I personally think the black speakers look better, you may want to choose the set that matches with the color of your iPod. When placing these speakers on your bookshelf, I would advise giving the speakers plenty of room so that it isn't scratched by another object.
Each speaker has a 5 inch woofer and a 1 inch tweeter giving the speaker system a frequency response of 50Hz-20kHz which should be sufficient for most music listening. Although the speakers look and sound perfectly fine as is, the speakers do not have a grille. As a word of caution, again you should not put objects in front of the speakers. You wouldn't want an object to press against the center of the woofer or the tweeter.
At the back of the speaker, you can see these speakers are ported with the hole in the back. Again, from looking at the speaker, you can see the attention to detail with the high quality connects at the back.
The main speaker has a volume control know at the bottom right of the speaker to allow you to decrease or amplify the input sound.
At the back of one of the speakers is where all the connections are made. You do not need a receiver to use these speakers since you can plug them as is to an outlet with the provided cable. The reason is because there is a built in amplifier in the speaker just like multimedia speakers. There is an integrated power switch at the back of the speaker. In addition there are two connectors meant to connect to the other speaker. From the connectors, you can tell that normal audio wire is used.
If for some reason, the speakers don't satisfy your craving for deep bass, you do have the option to plug in an external subwoofer (Sub Out) to enhance the system. There are two composite connectors also integrated for this.
The two most important connectors that make this system unique are the Audio In and Charge port. The Audio In port is a 1/8th inch jack. This allows you to connect a wide variety of external sources to the speakers. For instance, you can play sound from a MP3 player, CD player, and other portable devices. If you have an iPod, you can connect it to the speakers without the iPod dock. You can just use the provided 1/8th inch audio cable. Then, if you want your iPod to charge as well, you plug the USB cable into the Charge port on top of the speaker as well. Since these ports are on the speaker, you will want to have the speaker with these two connectors to be accessible. This may or may not interfere a bit with the placement of these speakers since these are classified as 'bookshelf' speakers. A suggestion for audioengine would be to provide some form of a remote control pod to extend a certain distance from the speaker.
Something not explicitly stated on audioengine's website is that these speakers can be used as multimedia speakers for your computer. As a quick experiment, I attempted this. Some may not be able to fit these speakers on their desk to begin with, but even if you can, I found the speakers to be a bit overwhelming even when placed near my computer. This is probably because of the enormous sound pressure or waves being produced from the speakers. If you choose to use these as speakers for your computer, I would recommend placing them a bit further away.
The sound quality in general blew away my expectations. Having been used to multimedia speakers mostly, I was blown away by the good sound quality from these speakers. They were remarkably clear, even under low volumes. When listening to music, I was able to hear sound more distinctly and even faint sounds I have not noticed before. The tweeter definitely does a good job in reproducing the treble sounds. The treble sounds are a bit bright, but still have a clear even sound. Overall, the sound between the woofer and the tweeter sound balanced and even.
Most people with find the speakers to have room-filling sound and rich-sounding even though this speaker system cuts off at 50Hz. If you are the type of person who listens to music which emphasizes bass, you may find it not quite enough. In this case, you will need to buy a separate subwoofer to connect to this system to satisfy that need.
There are an abundant number of accessories that will allow you to make the connections that you need to make.
The speaker wire does extend to about 12.3 feet which may be either too long or two short depending on where the speakers are placed. Since these are bookshelf speakers, people may find the speaker wire a bit short. The audio cables which are used to connect from your input device to the speaker extend only to about 8 inches. The USB cable is a little over 3 feet. The rest of the wires are much shorter at only 8 inches.Again, this system does come with all the cables that you will need.
The Audioengine 5 speaker system is one of the most complete and best sounding speakers I have listened to date. The only concerns most people will have are either the size or the price. At the price of $349 for a pair, these speakers may be considered a bit expensive for intending to listen to music from your iPod. On the other hand, if you are looking for uncompromised sound and are looking for the best, the Audioengine 5 speakers will definitely fulfill that need.