This week we’re testing the Audioengine B2 speaker, a Bluetooth apt-x model which has the specific characteristic of looking like a traditional hi-fi speaker, designed to be used with a laptop, smartphone or tablet or any stereo analog source. Audioengine specialises in the manufacturing of monitoring speakers, such as Audioengine 2+ and Audioengine 5+.
Acoustic design and finish
The Audioengine B2 is a 2-way speaker fitted with two 7 cm diameter bass/medium Kevlar cone drivers and two 1.9 cm silk dome tweeters. Each transducer is paired with a specific amplifier. Total amplification power (type AB) is 2×15 W RMS, which is adequate for drivers of this size. Bass drivers are held in a supplied air enclosure in accordance with bass-reflex technology with two front ports.
The ports are narrow, meaning that they can obtain a relatively low frequency without having to be too long.
The ports’ tuning frequency allows the speaker to deliver low frequencies down to 65 Hz, an ample value giving listeners the sense of an even tonal balance. Tweeters are placed at each end of the speaker to boost stereo sound.
The speaker is made from wood and features a real walnut veneer coating. As driver ports are flared, they are not veneer coated and the wood is stained. We were surprised to notice that this was particularly well done and that the wood staining matched the overall colour of the rest of the device. The Audioengine B2 is a charming speaker, very pleasant to the touch and easy to manipulate.
Ease of use
There are no controls on the front of the speaker. Volume is adjusted at the back. Is this inconvenient? Not really as the connected source often features a volume control button.
How to listen to music with the Audioengine B2
This little speaker is fitted with a line input, which with its 3.5 mm mini-jack stereo connector, lets you connect any smartphone, portable device, tablet, computer or CD player. We tested this speaker with both a Samsung smartphone and the excellent Sennheiser HDVD800 DAC. Although there are differences in listening quality, this type of speaker, regardless of the model, will not emphasize them. You can therefore experience the same listening quality with either your mobile phone or an external DAC. Why spend more when you don’t have to?
The second option is listening in Bluetooth. Pairing really isn’t that difficult. Simply press the button beside the aerial, located on the back of the device, then find it with your smartphone and select it. If you don’t have a Bluetooth aptX peripheral device, we listened to music with the A2DP codec. Given the minimal difference between the delivery of the same file in Bluetooth A2DP and via the line input, it’s highly unlikely that delivery will be superior with an aptX source.
With the on-board Texas Instruments Burr Brown PCM5102 DAC, sound delivery is accurate, regardless of the codec used.
The Audioengine B2 is totally convincing right from the start. The audio message is precise, balanced and in a word, impressive, whether you’re near the speaker or a few metres away.
The signature tone of a Kevlar cone and the softness of a well filtered silk dome tweeter are instantly recognisable.
Audioengine have made the right choice regarding Class AB traditional amplification as the B2 delivers a smooth yet incisive audio message. Out of the three ranges, we preferred the medium and acoustic music (jazz, classical) uses the medium driver to the full.
With its high quality finish, which is both aesthetically appealing yet classic, the Audioengine B2 Bluetooth speaker meets the requirements for close listening, thanks to high quality passive and active components. We were hard pushed to find any fault with this charming little wireless speaker.