A long while ago I described my experience comparing some low-end powered audio monitors for use around the home and office. We have had a mix of things in use since then, although in every case there’s a Logitech Squeezebox feeding a pair of powered monitors.
In the post-holiday exhale I’ve taken an opportunity to add a pair of M-Audio BX5 D2 5″ Active 2-Way Studio Monitor Speakers. These were offered on Amazon for $288. That’s a bargain price given the performance of the product.
I’ve had a pair of the earlier BX-5a’s for some time. Over time I’ve come to appreciate them above almost everything else on-site. Thus the decision to buy the updated version was very easy to make.
Just a few days later Mashable posted an article offering “6 Laptop Speakers for Astute Audiophiles.” That article starts with the Audio Engine A5+ as their top-of-the-line offering. At $400 for the pair they’re a fine product, but I think that my BX5’s deliver equally well for less money.
In fact, it’s worth comparing the specs of the two directly.
|Product:||Audio Engine A5+||M-Audio BX5 D2|
Rear ported enclosure
Rear ported enclosure
|Woofer:||5” Kevlar cone||5” Kevlar cone|
|Tweeter:||3/4” silk dome||1” silk dome|
|Amplifier Power:||50 watts rms||40+30 watts rms|
|Frequency Response:||50 Hz – 22 KHz +/- 1.5 db||56 Hz – 22 KHz +/- 1.5 db|
|Input configuration:||– 10 dbm unbalanced RCA type x 2, 3.5 mm mini jack||+4 dbm balanced XLR + 1/4” balanced TRS|
The Audio Engine offering has a couple of nice conveniences, like a USB port for powering and iPod as a signal source, and a corresponding 3.5mm input for using such a source. It places the amplifier electronics in one speaker, requiring a speaker lead to the other which is otherwise passive.
The M-Audio speakers are identical, each requiring AC power and an input connection. The inputs use the professional, balanced signals via 1/4” and XLR type connectors. That implies using an adaptor to connector something like an iPod or Squeezebox. In practice such adapters are cheap and easily found.
The bi-amplified M-Audio speakers are considerably more powerful than the AE offering. The fact that Audio Engine quotes 75 watts “peak” power as well as 50 watts RMS power is a bit disappointing. I had thought that peak output measurements, once a common way to confuse the consumer, were frowned upon by the FTC.
The A5+ are a little more convenient in that the connectivity is tailored for a laptop or mobile device. The inclusion of a front-mounted volume control make that setting source independent, which may also be convenient.
In the end, I still think that professional powered monitors from the likes of Avid’s M-Audio, Behringer, KRK, Mackie and Yamaha offer superior performance for similar prices to some of the more costly PC audio solutions. When you can find such gear at a discount it becomes the obvious better choice.