28 Audioengine 2+ cDesktop speakers are something of a poor relation in audio. Most are built to a price and in the bulk of cases that price is not very much. There’s size, too. You need a small footprint because there’s never enough room on a desk, and small speakers tend to sound thin. And wireless models mostly operate with basic Bluetooth, which means the music is as about as thrilling as morris dancing. If you’re into music I’d bet a dollar there’s a cable between your computer and your desk speakers, and I’d bet a further dollar it’s always getting in the way.

So it’s easy to fall in love with Audioengine’s wireless 2+ speakers, surprisingly compact at just 15 x 10 x 13 cm (HxWxD). Actually my affair with them started before they were even out of the box. They’re packed in soft cloth drawstring bags (as was the power supply and cables) and are reassuringly heavy because the cabinets are not plastic, they’re solid MDF. I suspect there are pretty generous magnets in there too. But what caught my heart was the quick start guide; it has been written by people who care about sound and want you to get the best possible.

28 Audioengine 2+ eIt tells you how to place the speakers, leaving at least 15 cm clearance between the rear of them and the wall, how to position the tweeters for best performance (with the speakers both at horizontal and vertical) and how to get the widest soundstage. It finally notes that they’ll need 40 to 50 hours of play before they perform at their best. This is stuff any audiophile knows about but is often new to people not experienced in the black arts.

The 2+ speakers receive their wireless signal by Bluetooth aptX, which gives near CD quality, and they sound good enough for this to matter. But they are not entirely wireless; the connection from left speaker to right is by a two-metre cable which is traced so you can avoid a problem with phase. This cable obediently fell down between my desk and the wall and didn’t get another thought, but it could prove a pain if you plan to move the speakers more than once or twice. There are additional inputs on the left speaker including a USB, RCAs and a 3.5mm auxiliary, and there’s an outlet for a subwoofer.

One caution: They get no speaker grilles, and while this looks cool it means the soft-dome tweeters get no protection at all, and soft-domes are just that, they deform at even a light touch. These ones bounce back but it’s not something I’d like to test too much. Take care with them.

28 Audioengine 2+ dAt turn-on (by the volume control at the rear of the left speaker) they go into pairing mode. Pairing disabled the volume control on my Walkman, but not my computer or phone.

The sound is nicely rounded. There’s good bass, certainly enough to reproduce music accurately, through to a nicely defined high end. They do an acceptable job with all styles of music; for their size and price it’s surprisingly good.

And they’re gutsy little things. They can go generously loud for their size and there’s not a lot of distortion up there, but if you’re picky there is a bit. They do a great job on a desk and will even fill the living area of a small to medium apartment as long as you use every centimetre of that two-metre connection cable.

They come in red, black and white and cost $399. Good value.

First published by smh.com.au August 2019.


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