Thursday, August 9, 2007
Posted by Jason Dunn in "HARDWARE" @ 07:00 AM
So How Do They Sound?
One of the ways I judge speakers is if they can pick up extremely subtle sounds in the recording: there's a song by Jars of Clay called Wicker Baskets on a Taylor Guitars CD called Sounds of Wood & Steel 2. The song has lush acoustic guitars, but it was also recorded in such a way that all of the natural sounds of playing acoustic guitar are there: the sound of fingers moving to different positions, the sound of the pick (or fingernails) hitting the strings and pulling off again. The A5's excelled at delivering all of the details in this song, which isn't easy to do. Other songs sounded equally good: the dulcet tones of Michael Bublé singing "You Look Wonderful Tonight" were as smooth as clear as they should be, and the upright bass filled out the bottom end. Vocals absolutely shine trough the A5's: the a capella intro of Tim McGraw's "Last Dollar (Fly Away)" was so realistic it was eerie. I'm a big fan of college a capella music, and I've never heard it sound better than through the A5's. Delicious. And it goes without saying that classical music, based primarily on mid and high tones, sounds glorious.
When it comes to any music that relies on a thick bass line or kick drums, the A5's don't quite deliver - but this really depends on what you prefer as a music listener. Here's what I mean by this: some people feel that bass should be heard, and some feel it should be felt. When you listen to a rock song using the A5's, you'll hear the bass - it will come through clearly. You will not, however, feel it the same way you can feel the vibrations of a dedicated sub-woofer. I did some direct comparisons between my THX-certified Logitech 5.1 speakers and the Audioengine A5's, playing the same song on each set of speakers. I bounced back and forth, listening to the same part of the same song one right after the other. The A5's sounded crisper and clearer, but the Logitech speakers with the sub-woofer delivered more bottom end that I could hear and feel. I think the ultimate combination would be to attach a sub-woofer to the A5's, but unfortunately I didn't have access to one for testing. It would be nice for Audioengine to offer a bundle of the A5's with a sub-woofer.
A word about volume: the Audioengine A5's can go incredibly loud - louder than any other pair of speakers that I own. Using the Zune as an audio source, I cranked it up as high as it would go, then cranked up the A5's - that lasted about five seconds, because it was so loud it was painful. Volume sufficient to loudly fill a medium-sized room can be achieved with the A5's on 50% max volume and my Zune on 15 of 20 volume bars. The A5's have a lot of power and lack nothing in the volume department.
All in All....
The Audioengine A5 speakers are an impressive set of speakers, but how much you'll love them depends heavily on what kind of music you listen to. If you're into drum and bass techno, you're going to miss the sub-woofer: you'll hear the bass, but you won't feel it. It's worth pointing out that these speakers are so good you'll still hear your music in a whole new way, regardless of what genre you listen to.
Jason Dunn owns and operates Thoughts Media Inc., a company dedicated to creating the best in online communities. He enjoys mobile devices, digital media content creation/editing, and pretty much all technology. He lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with his lovely wife, and his sometimes obedient dog. Bring the bass!