Audioengine A5+ 150W Wireless Powered new Media Speakers are the best desktop speakers you can buy right now.
Previously known as the Lower East Side Media Speakers — Audioengine A5+ 150W Wireless Poweredwisely dropped the geographic NYC naming scheme — this pair of speakers fulfills nearly all of the criteria for a great computer system. They’re small, they produce big, dynamic sound for nearfield listening, and they hit the pricing sweet spot for a pair of quality desktop speakers.
The Media Speakers have a few major advantages over our previous favorite, the Audioengine A5+ 150W Wireless Powered. First, they come with their own built-in, tilt-back stand, a necessary evil if you want ideal sound out of any desktop system. Audioengine offers its own angled, vibration dampening stands, but charges an extra for them.
1.Audioengine A5+ 150W Wireless Powered
- Accurate audio performance with rich lows and pristine highs. Attractive design. Can be used with a subwoofer for increased bass depth (not included). 24-bit DAC
- Not for booming bass fanatics. Always-active input design is not ideal.
2.Edifier R1280T Powered Bookshelf Speakers 2023
- Can be pushed to distortion at absolute top volumes. No wireless capabilities.
- Edifier’s R1280T speakers deliver rich, balanced audio with adjustable EQ in a handsome design for an affordable price.
3.Creative Pebble 2.0 USB-Powered
- Very solid audio for the low price.
- Hardwired cables create a messy desktop.
4.Fluance Ai60 High Performance
5.JBL LSR305 5
6.Klipsch R-41PM Review
7.M-Audio BX5 Carbon
8.Razer Leviathan: Dolby 5.1
9.Razer Nommo Pro
The Media Speakers are also one of the only desktop models to offer an optical digital input. To date, we haven’t found any other models that do this. This means you can easily hook them up to an AppleTV, HDTV or Blu-ray player should you wish to use them as real multimedia speakers.
The big advantage with these Media Speakers resides in their formidable lower end. CNET’s Steve Guttenberg says the $250 Audyssey speakers can generate considerably more bass punch than he’s ever heard from any speaker of this size and price. That’s mainly thanks to some fancy DSP going on behind the scenes. Not surprising, considering that Audyssey is best known for its MultEQ auto-calibration/room-equalization feature and other licensed technologies like Dynamic Volume and DSX enhanced surround in AV receivers. ”Audioengine’s A2 speakers ($199 a pair) are about the same size, but the [Media] speakers have more bass energy and they’re more dynamically alive,” Guttenberg says. “Again, the bass punch is remarkable for a small speaker, so unless you really crave bass you won’t need to add a subwoofer.”
Sound and Vision’s Daniel Kumin also recommends the Audysseys. In a recent round-up review of powered desktop speakers, he said that the Media Speakers, “playing behind a veil, would be impossible to distinguish from ‘big’ speakers — they’re just that impressive.” Like Guttenberg, he notes that bass extends far beyond the level he’d expect from typical mini-speakers of this size, and is “impressively tight and un-flabby.”
Hate the Power Save mode on these speakers?
I’m into saving energy and I’m into not having to manually shut off my speakers. I’m also not into beeping and booping of emails and push notifications all night long. So I like how these speakers shut off after 15 minutes without a signal. But I understand many people do not, and that is fine. You should try the $200 A2s from last year (more below) or the Step up Model, the $350 $350 Emotiva airmotiv4 above.
Wrapping it Up
In the end, the Audyssey Media Speaker offers tremendous value and more well-rounded performance than other systems. There are always going to be trade-offs with smaller speakers. It’s just that the folks at Audyssey, working within the constraints of a desktop, have figured out how to make fewer of them.
Last Year’s Model: My pick for last year’s model, the Audioengine A2, remains a great option for a desktop speaker. The price hasn’t changed since these speakers came out. It remains $200. As I noted, the A2 and the Media Speakers have very different sound signatures. The A2 is much more laid back and neutral, making it a better choice if you listen to a lot of acoustic music or jazz. But if you’re just going to be playing the digital music living on your laptop or desktop, the Media Speaker are better for general purpose listening. And they’ve got that digital input.