Audioengine A2 Desktop Speakers
At a Glance
If you're serious about music but you currently listen to tunes through a pair of tinny, cheapo PC speakers, check out Audioengine's $199 A2 speakers. They can fill a room with sound without taking up much physical space.
Powered by an integrated amp in one speaker, the A2s fit nicely on your desk and offer a big sound that belies their small size (4 by 5.25 by 6 inches, width by depth by height). Clearly geared toward accurate music reproduction, the speakers offered remarkable imaging and excellent transparency in my tests, which I performed after 30 hours of burn-in and using lossless FLAC files and a high-quality external DAC.
When I cued up Diana Krall's "Deed I Do" from her Live in Paris recording, I could easily locate each musician on the soundstage. The notes were clear, and Krall's voice was deep and appropriately sultry. Suffice it to say, the A2s reproduce music so well that you may find yourself stopping to listen instead of working.
When you're listening to music, the A2s produce a good amount of bass without a subwoofer. If you're seeking tooth-rattling bass for movies and games, however, this two-speaker package isn't for you, although Audioengine does offer a separate subwoofer for $399. The speakers supply plenty of volume, but controlling the levels can be a chore since the volume knob resides on the back of the left speaker. Admittedly this design makes for a clean, refined-looking speaker, whether in matte black (the A2B model I tested) or glossy white (A2W).
The Audioengine A2 speaker set should be on the short list of anyone who values good musical reproduction over chest-thumping bass. If you're not sure into which camp you fall, you can order directly from the company, audition the A2s for up to 30 days, and return them for a refund if you're dissatisfied.