Audioengine Interview: Plug ‘n’ Play Audio Systems

Interview with Audioengine at Axpona 2017 about Listening Sessions
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We recently stumbled on a quick video we made at last years Axpona show talking about the specific music Audioengine folks listen to when they are testing speakers, and as they are featured in our best wireless speakers for home use chart we figured that we shouldn't let the video gather more dust.

You can find the full interview and transcript below, but first here is some background on this neat USA Company.

As we get excited about our next visit to the upcoming April, 2018 Axpona Audiophile Show in Chicago it makes us remember all our favorite brands including Audioengine as we wonder; "what new gear might be in store for us at this years show?"

A Little of the Audioengine Back Story

Audioengine is one of the cleverest audiophile companies in our opinion. They’ve been around a mere decade - and today compete successfully with all the top innovators in audio and monster size companies (Google, Apple, Amazon) doing wireless home audio products.

Creating a hi-fi audio products for this century and not being a company from the last century has its advantages. Please, just ask the folks at Sonos. For Audioengine’s fresh start a decade ago the vision was not to design legacy stereo receivers or separate amps and speakers - but to build active and wireless stereo speaker setups that eliminated the need for lots of old school components.

Taking a different tack than their biggest competitors Audioengine created wireless and computer home audio products that would not require you to live inside a stereo systems software app or walled garden. You’ll find this walled garden approach with Sonos, Apple, Google products and these setups prefer (and even sometimes demand) you live inside their music app and your home wi-fi.

Audioengine A2+ Desktop Speakers Are Perfect For A Computer

Instead, with Audioengine speakers it’s built to stream and you can connect other components with regular audio and digital cables. No matter if its Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal or any of your favorite streaming services with an Audioengine speaker systems all you do is connect (wired or not) with your smartphone, tablet, laptop.

With some exceptions audiophile speaker companies also are not fully committed to offering this much flexibility with wireless speaker systems. And Audioengine lives and breathes these type of systems offering a comprehensive range of products and a refreshing approach to attaining high-end audio sound at home.

Audioengine HD6 and A5+ Speakerson Display at Axpona 2017

The Founders of Audioengine

The two founders had 36 years of collective experience as (OEM) loudspeaker manufacturers and designers at the time they founded Audioengine. For years their loudspeaker enclosure designs went into others name brand products like Apple and Harmon/Kardon.

When the day came to launch Audioengine they were flush with ideas about how to achieve great sound from the speakers and components they planned to create.

They wanted to focus on affordable self-powered speakers with long list of high-end traits: Like MDF cabinets, powerful Class A/B amps, shielded Kevlar woofers, and well designed silk dome tweeters. Also, these speakers and components would most likely be a companion to your PC, laptop, TV, digital player, touch device, or streaming service.

Products by Audioengine

This company’s sweet spot of products includes Speakers that are Wireless, Powered, Passive, and includes a Subwoofer for bass-heads. The Components include an Integrated Amplifier, Wired & Wireless Digital to Analog Converters, Wireless Adapters, and great matching Accessories that includes Desktop and Floor Speakers Stands.

Audioengine’s advantages for excellent home audio systems doesn’t stop with friendly pricing and good sound.

Let’s Start with Speakers..

Audioengine HD6 Wireless Speaker Rear Panel Connections

This is a range of small in stature high-end bookshelf speakers and components that do not compromise on sound quality. These speaker systems do some very nifty things like easily receive audio from your smartphone, computer, or other music source components like a turntable or CD player.

From the top of the range Audioengine HD6 Wireless Speakers (around $599), down to the diminutive A2+ Powered Speakers (around $249), and every speaker in between like the HD3 Active Wireless Speakers, you’ll wonder how their small speakers fill a room and deliver such distortion free sound.

Rear Panels of the Audioengine HD6 Wireless and A5+ Active Speakers

Something New

The newest and just announced wireless speaker from Audioengine is called the A5+ Premium wireless speaker. This wireless speaker has upgraded Bluetooth® aptX-HD, front panel controls, and offers new finishes and aesthetics (satin black, gloss white, and bamboo), a metal remote control, and a subwoofer connection.

This Audioengine speaker like its brethrens needs no network setup, no apps to download, and is just simply ready to go. Their open platform also works with Alexa, Siri, and any voice or music streaming apps.

And Wireless Adapter, DAC’s, and Amplifiers...

Audioengine Range of Wireless Adapters

Audioengine knew providing wireless sound should be more than just offering self contained wireless speakers. Wanting to bridge the computer music and home hi-fi gap Audioengine Wireless Adapters take any existing system and convert it so you can transmit and receive to a smartphone, computer, stereo receiver, or even a turntable.

Audioengine on Listening Sessions: Interview Axpona 2017

 

We began our talk about how everyone at Audioengine enjoys all types of live and recorded music. How this translates back to the extended speaker listening sessions that helps tweak the most out of these speaker systems. We then talked about the how the best songs to test speakers are ones you know inside and out.

[Paul] Rate Your Sound is here at Axpona and we're talking with Audioengine about their line of active wireless bookshelf speakers. Our question is a pretty easy one.. We'd like to know if the HD6 the HD3 would be one of the easiest ways to get into Bluetooth and or wireless audio?

[Audioengine] Yeah, these are fantastic speakers. I mean sometimes when people think of wireless sound they think maybe smaller is a less quality sounding wireless speakers. Instead, these are absolutely fantastic high-performing speakers; and it's really easy to connect to them with your phone thanks to the Bluetooth connectivity.

Impressive Wood Enclosures of the AudioEngine Active Speakers

[Paul] Talking about Bluetooth, why did Audioengine select Bluetooth?

[Audioengine] Bluetooth is really easy to connect. Any device that you carry around will connect with bluetooth. Whereas with Wi-Fi it takes a lot of steps to get it going. The downside to Bluetooth usually is the distance, the ability to stream over great distances. The spec is is only ten meters so about 30 feet but with Audioengine you have a good three times that thanks to the antenna technology that we build to the system. So you've got both long range. Plus we up sample everything to 24 bits support the AAC and the Aptx (Bluetooth) codec gets a really high-quality sound over Bluetooth.

[Paul] wanted to ask you about tuning the sound your speaker systems. I read a lot about long listening sessions to tune the sound of the HD6 speakers.

[Audioengine] Yes, listener fatigue is something we have to to worry about. Will your brain get tired of listening to music when say, you've got a veiled top end and not getting a really crisp sound on the high frequencies you tend to tune out and you get fatigued listening to it.

So tuning the system becomes really important when our engineers are actually building the speakers they're listening to them over long periods of time in long listening sessions to make sure that the sound not only sounds good when we first listen to it but over time you want to continue to listen.

Audioengine speaker products in the listening room at Axpona 2017

[Paul] What source material?

[AudioEngine] You know and there are a lot of different source material that you can use but you you want to go through a wide variety of sound. Yeah, So it's not just vocals and jazz.. we want to listen to metal.. we want to listen to rock.. we want to listen to orchestra. We want to listen to absolutely everything and tune a system so that it works really well in any listening environments.

[Paul] Well, we think the HD6 is the best wireless home audio system Born in the USA.

[Audioengine] Thank you. We love it too.

5 Tracks and Albums to Test your Speakers

Among thousands of songs available, everyone has favorite tracks, and here are a few of ours..

"Walk on the Wild Side" (Album) Transformer, by Lou Reed - Note the deep bass line, wide soundstage, and girls singing dead center “Doot, di-doot, di-doot..” and emerge as if walking to the microphones.

“Utopia” (Album) by Björk - Note lots of gritty beats, wind instruments, chorals, and sounds from the forest. You should hear harmonies reverberate and soaring vocals cleanly.

“Nothing but Time” (Album) Running on Empty, by Jackson Browne - Recorded on a bus in 1977 the ambiance should be amazing as the bus’s engines is audible in the background and the drivers downshifts and acceleration can be heard clearly during the bridge.

“Bellbottoms”, by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (Album) Baby Driver Soundtrack - Turn it up and it should fill the room with a wide soundstage, lots of colorations and a big midrange sound.

“All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix (Album) The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Lots of The left and right extremes in the soundstage and the song shows off huge high and low frequencies.

AudioEngine HD6 Flagship Speaker - Review [Video]

AudioEngine HD6 Flagship Speaker - REVIEW

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Audioengine produce excellent wireless speaker products and it was great to speak with them!

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