Review: Audioengine HD6

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Test Audioengine HD6

This week we tested the Audioengine HD6 active loudspeakers. In addition to being equipped with a Bluetooth receiver, these wireless bookshelf speakers feature both analog and digital inputs.

Audioengine HD6: an active loudspeaker?

By their very definition, active speakers are necessarily fitted with an integrated amplifier. This means that there is no need to pair them up with an external amp or home cinema amplifier: they are self-sufficient and can thus be discreetly integrated into any living room decor. In practice, only one of the two Audioengine HD6 bookshelf speakers incorporates an amplifier. This AB class stereo amplifier delivers 2×50 W RMS of round and warm sound. The second speaker is connected to the first by approximately 4 meters of preassembled cable. Nothing prevents you, however, from choosing to replace this with a longer cable featuring different characteristics, as the screw terminals on both speakers accept cables with a 4 mm² cross-section.

Test Audioengine HD6
A rear-firing bass reflex port is positioned at the top of the Audioengine HD6?s back panel.

Audioengine HD6: Bluetooth receiver

Without a doubt, the main asset offered by the Audioengine HD6 is its wireless Bluetooth receiver with corresponding antenna. As soon as the amplifier is powered up, the Bluetooth receiver is activated and, for several minutes, can be synced with any smartphone, tablet or portable computer. Beyond this timeframe, pressing a button located on the rear panel of the speaker?s cabinet launches the syncing process. Three audio transmission modes are supported: SBC, AAC and apt-X, which are among the most common formats available. The SBC codec is universally supported, while the AAC format is mainly used by Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, etc.). For its part, the apt-X codec is supported by Samsung smartphones, while specific USB transmitters make it possible to stream files stored on computers as well. The apt-X codec offers the highest sound quality of the three modes.

Test Audioengine HD6
Audioengine provides a pair of preassembled speaker cables with banana plugs: very practical.

Audioengine HD6: 24-bit/192 kHz DAC

The Bluetooth controller is paired with an Asahi Kasei AK4396 digital-to-analog converter. This DAC is also used by the Audioengine HD6?s digital optical audio input to ensure compatibility with high-resolution audio files up to 24 bits/192 kHz. This optimizes the Audioengine HD6?s performance when connected to a CD player, television or HD network audio player. Important: the Audioengine HD6 does not feature a source selector and a prioritization scheme therefore serves to manage incoming audio stream. The Bluetooth receiver is first in line, followed by the optical input and, subsequently, the analog input (RCA or mini-jack).

Test Audioengine HD6
The Audioengine HD6?s remote control is composed of aluminum. Compact yet heavy and durable.

Audioengine HD6: acoustic formula

The Audioengine HD6 is a 2-way model featuring 2 drivers placed in a bass-reflex enclosure and is fitted with a rear-firing port. The medium/low driver features a carbon fiber cone and is paired with a 1? silk dome tweeter. Audioengine announces a frequency response ranging from 50 Hz to 22 kHz, with variations of more or less 1,5 dB. In other words, the Audioengine HD6?s frequency response is rather linear. Its cabinet is composed of MDF with a natural wood finish (cherrywood for the model we tested).

Test Audioengine HD6
The carbon fiber cone of the Audioengine H6 medium/low driver

Audioengine HD6: test conditions

We listened to the Audioengine HD6 bookshelf loudspeakers via their Bluetooth receiver and analog inputs, and our sources included a Meizu m2 Note smartphone and the Audioquest DragonFly Red USB DAC (paired with a Raspberry Pi 2 running Volumio). We listened to FLAC files and used the cable provided with the Audioengine HD6.

Test Audioengine HD6
The Audioengine H6?s silk dome tweeter

Audioengine HD6: listening impressions

The Audioengine HD6 offers a rather dry and precise sound while taking an economical approach to the management of high frequencies. The low register is dry and discreet, providing the sound with a solid foundation. The mid-range, on the other hand, is thoroughly explored and distinguished by its lively emphasis on string and wind instruments. The highs is reproduced with a certain restraint, which serves to bring a suitable amount of depth to the listening experience.

Test Audioengine HD6
The Audioengine H6?s volume control.

Audioengine HD6: conclusions

What we liked

  • The easy-to-use design
  • The nature and quality of the finish
  • The neutral sound
  • The aluminum remote control

What we would have liked

  • Clearer highs
  • A source selector

The Audioengine HD6 bookshelf speakers are likely to interest those looking for a stereo audio solution for listening to dematerialized audio files without having to first acquire an amplifier and set up a domestic network. The model’s apt-X Bluetooth receiver is its greatest asset.

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