Audioengine A2+ Powered Speakers – ($249 on iHi-Fi.com.)

A2+B Front.jpg

Key Features

I dubbed this gear the Ultimate Computer Speakers because its extreme value made audio industry history when Audioengine upgraded the A2 Speakers. They integrated a 16-bit/48 KHz Burr-Brown PCM2704C DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) inside along with the high quality 2-channel monolithic amplifier.  This design provides a complete, CD quality personal Hi-Fi you can simply plug into any computer or device with USB or Line Out or even a headphone jack and play up to 16-bit music files in many popular formats.  Higher resolution files downsample to 16-bit.

Applications

This is a perfect entry-level component for starting into computer and digital audio.  The A2+ Powered Speakers deliver plenty of power – enough to drive a medium-sized room, with fairly decent bass volume – yet in near-field (desktop) listening it also excels.  Connect the A2+ to your computer via USB or to your iDevices via Line Out to create a personal stereo with a smartphone, tablet, or music player.

There is a variable RCA subwoofer output you can use to drive other powered speakers.  With the W3 Audio Adapter, expand the system to include other  speakers wirelessly, such as the S8 Powered Subwoofer.  You could actually implement a wireless multi-channel A/V audio setup with these speakers and still listen to 2-channel stereo music with one pair when not watching video.

Performance

The A2+ musical performance is slightly superior to the A2, which astounded a Stereophile Magazine reviewer with their abilities.  I carry a set of A2’s around to social events and play DJ.  When friends invite me over I usually show up and plug them into my laptop and portable DAC.  I fire up MOG.com via Wi-Fi and ask folks what kind of music they want to hear.

There is always a selection that satisfies among MOG’s 16 million tracks.  Then, all through cocktails and dinner I see people randomly lower and shake their heads and hear them spontaneously comment, usually something like “Wow, those speakers are amazing.”  This is at 16-bit CD quality performance, which comes through audibly.

Value

For the price, it’s very hard to beat these “bolt-on computer audio” speakers for musical fidelity and versatility in a compact size with a high quality, handsome build.  Even so, they leave plenty of room for other iHi-Fi products to out-perform them at higher price points.

Upgrade Path

There’s no headphone connection to the A2+ internal amp. You could use the D1 24-bit Desktop DAC and hear better fidelity as you also gain a headphone jack.  Or the D3 24-bit Portable DAC when you want private listening.  Any of the 24-bit DAC choices are compatible. 

Make these speakers wireless or set up multiple audio zones with either the W3 16-Bit Audio Adapter or the 24-bit D2 Wireless DAC.

Full Specs are available in the iHi-Fi Catalog HERE.