Learning Center
Plans & pricing Sign in
Sign Out

iProng iPod_ iTunes_ and Music News_ Commentary_ and Reviews


									iProng : iPod, iTunes, and Music : News, Commentary, and Reviews : Switch to iProng - Audioengine A5 Speaker System for iPod   09/11/2006 02:45 PM

                                        September 11th - Come see iProng this weekend at PodCamp Boston


                                                           By Bill Palmer

   Product purpose: The Audioengine A5 is an iPod speaker system compatible with the iPod
  Universal Dock and AirPort Express.

  Positives: Incredible sound quality for a small-sized system; even better sound quality than
  iPod Hi-Fi at same price. Acrylic white styling with black accents matches most iPod models
  stylistically. Includes USB port and audio-in port on top of left speaker for easily connecting your
  own iPod dock (for playing and charging iPod). Includes electrical outlet and audio-in port in
  backside for easily connecting AirPort Express (for playing iTunes music wirelessly via
  AirTunes). Can be connected directly to computer for wired iTunes output.

  Concerns: Non-portable. Must add your own iPod Dock and remote control (or AirPort
  Express) for true iPod/iTunes integration, and even then, the iPod integration is not as tight as
  with the iPod Hi-Fi.

  Pricing and availability: currently available from AudioEngine for $349.
  Company website:

  Works with: Any iPod or computer
  In detail:
  When we speculated a month ago that the launch of Apple's own iPod Hi-Fi might actually spark
  inspired competition from third party iPod speaker system manufacturers instead of snuffing
  them out, we didn't know it, but the Audioengine A5 was exactly what we had in mind. To the
  best of our knowledge, AudioengineUSA developed the A5 without any advance knowledge of
  the impending iPod Hi-Fi, but the concept behind the A5 can nonetheless be stated in terms of
  the following: what if you started with the Hi-Fi, tossed out any concept of portability, and
  instead put your efforts toward making it sound even better, while arriving at the same price
  point?                                                                                               Page 1 of 4
iProng : iPod, iTunes, and Music : News, Commentary, and Reviews : Switch to iProng - Audioengine A5 Speaker System for iPod   09/11/2006 02:45 PM

  As we stated in our Hi-Fi review, the biggest marvel about the Hi-Fi is that such good sound
  can come from something that you can pick and carry with you. But with the A5, Audioengine
  has discarded with battery compartments, handles, and the idea that the system has to be a
  single piece. Instead, the A5 is a pair of speakers connected via traditional speaker wires, each
  less than a foot tall and half a foot wide. They're designed with the iPod aesthetic in mind, with
  each speaker box an acrylic white rectangular object with black trim around the speakers
  themselves. Pushed together, the two A5 speakers don't take up much more room than the Hi-
  Fi. But the idea, of course, is to physically separate them in order to achieve the kind of stereo
  separation that you just can't get from a one-piece system.

  And once you do that, the result is rather stunning. As good as the Hi-Fi sounds, the A5 sounds
  even better. The bass is even deeper, without a hint of distortion, even at the kind of impossibly
  loud volumes that you would only listen at if you wanted to ensure that your neighbors got to
  listen in. All your neighbors.

  So what's the catch? Well, whether the A5 qualifies as iPod-specific depends on how strict your
  definition is. The top of the left speaker of the A5 sports a USB port and an audio-in port, but no
  iPod docking station. The idea is to connect your own iPod Universal Dock (if you have one) so
  that your iPod can feed its audio into the A5 while getting a battery charge. You then use your
  own Apple Remote (again, if you have one) to interact with the Universal Dock, giving you an
  interface that, while not quite as elegant as the simple built-in dock on the iPod Hi-Fi, gets the
  job done. The primary concern here is that if you don't have a Dock or remote, you'll need to
  give Apple $70 in order to acquire them, effectively pushing the price of the A5 up over four
  hundred dollars. Of course you can technically just plug the A5 straight into your iPod's
  headphone jack, but that will neither provide ideal sound quality nor charge your iPod's battery.

  The A5 has a trick up its sleeve that Apple would do well to consider borrowing for the next
  revision of the Hi-Fi. On the backside of the A5's left speaker is a two-prong electrical outlet,
  along with an audio-in port, which allows an AirPort Express to be attached directly to the
  backside of the A5, completely invisible from the front side. With the AirPort Express attached,
  you can then use iTunes on your wireless-enabled Mac or Windows PC to send music wirelessly                                                                                               Page 2 of 4
iProng : iPod, iTunes, and Music : News, Commentary, and Reviews : Switch to iProng - Audioengine A5 Speaker System for iPod    09/11/2006 02:45 PM

  to the A5 (no iPod required). Of course you can do the same thing with the Hi-Fi, but in that
  case you'll need to plug the AirPort Express into a wall socket, which isn't nearly as elegant. So
  while the Hi-Fi is more elegant with an iPod, the A5 is more elegant with AirTunes.

  If only the A5's left speaker had a built-in iPod docking slot built into its top, this would be a five
  star product. But as it is, it comes darn close (especially if you already own an iPod Dock and
  remote), as the argument can be made that since it's not a portable system anyway, having an
  external iPod dock sitting on top isn't a functional hindrance anyway. So among those willing to
  spend three hundred-plus dollars on incredible sound quality, who should buy the A5, and who
  should buy the Hi-Fi? If you're looking for a one-piece unit that you can pick up and carry
  around with you, run on batteries, and plop your iPod directly into, steer toward the Apple Hi-Fi.
  If you have no interest in portability and you don't mind having your iPod sitting in a separate
  dock, or if you're an AirTunes user, lean toward the Audioengine A5. As long as you pick the
  one that best suits your needs, you can't go wrong either way.

  Learn more:
                                                                                                         April 6, 5:43 AM EDT

    Happy Phantom                                                                        April 6, 2:46 PM EDT
    How does this compare in terms of listening quality to the Klipsh iFi? I should think that system would
    rattle your neighbors, too.

    me                                                                                   May 15, 2:45 AM EDT
    I tried the link to the iFi, but it says that they are back ordered. Does anyone know the price? I was
    looking at the audioengine speakers because I can use my Ipod or I can stream from my computer (with
    the airport express). Do you know if the iFi has an airport express port like audioengine?

 URL: (optional)            http://

 Email: (optional)
    Notify me by email of replies to this post                                                                                                Page 3 of 4

To top