Audioengine B1 Review
In the HiFi industry, Audioengine is a non-mainstream brand. You can’t find those bulky floor-standing speakers or huge decoders, preamp, and power amplifier in their product line. Instead, they are all small and good-looking desktop products. However, with these HiFi products, Audioengine has entered the recommended list of professional audio media such as WhatHiFi and The Absolute Sound time and time again. Its active speaker A5+ has been recommended by WhatHiFi five-star. The smaller version of A2+ and decoder D3 were respectively recommended by TAS Editors’ Choice Awards and annual affordable DAC products. And in this post, I will introduce the Audioengine B1 DAC.
Under the aura of many awards, Audioengine has launched a Bluetooth receiver/decoder B1 for the entry market. The market position of Audioengine B1 Bluetooth music receiver is very accurate. The most commonly used wired DAC can only connect to signal sources such as computers and CD players for most audiophiles with headphones or desktop speaker systems.
Although the sound quality is guaranteed, it is convenient and flexible. The Audioengine B1 allows our smartphones, tablet computers, and other Bluetooth-enabled terminals to be connected to the home HiFi system anytime and anywhere to enjoy high-quality network online audio under the HiFi system and even high-definition soundtrack of the movie.
The audio quality of most Bluetooth products on the market is usually not so excellent, and the limited range of use is not satisfactory. Audioengine B1 is equipped with the latest Qualcomm apt-X HD Bluetooth audio lossless encoding technology.
The efficient and stable Bluetooth 5.0 transmission standard solves the problem of the poor sound quality of most Bluetooth devices. At the same time, the traditional wired desktop system can be completely upgraded to a lossless wireless music system.
Audioengine B1 DAC uses a unique circuit design and a precisely tuned external antenna to extend the wireless coverage of the signal, with a transmission distance of up to 30 meters and very low power consumption. B1 provides a more reliable signal transmission stability and ensures that there is no sound quality.
All accessories in the B1 package, including instructions, charger, RCA signal cable, and carrying bag. Audioengine B1 uses the most common Micro USB port for charging, which means it can be connected to a cigarette lighter in the car, or even a mobile power bank for outdoor use.
Different from traditional DACs, Audioengine B1 DAC is a portable Bluetooth audio decoder. Its size is tiny and can be held in one hand. And the weight is very light (only 500g), you can carry it with you. This product uses Audioengine’s classic aluminum shell, with a simple overall design, rigorous workmanship, and rich interfaces on the back.
Although not large, the B1 has relatively solid workmanship. The gray metal shell and plastic panel are low-key and professional. The metal shell helps maintain good electromagnetic shielding, but it also means that an external antenna becomes necessary.
The whole machine has only one button. Audioengine B1 Bluetooth DAC will automatically enter the waiting for pairing state after power on. The pair button is only needed when waking up from standby.
On the front of B1 is the power indicator/Bluetooth pairing key. Next to it is an external Bluetooth antenna, which can be moved horizontally forward and backward. The back of the device is equipped with an RCA analog stereo output interface. Next to it is a digital optical output and the Micro USB power supply interface.
You can use the RCA input to connect to a power amplifier or active speaker directly, or you can transmit digital signals to an external decoder for use as a Bluetooth interface. Micro USB is only used when charging.
DAC Decode Functions
In terms of technology, the Audioengine B1 uses the Bluetooth 5.0 chip and CSR aptX compression technology, which provides a stable transmission distance of up to 30 meters and a higher data bandwidth for audio data transmission. AptX technology supports up to 24bit, 352kbps audio signal, 20Hz~22kHz frequency response range, and up to 120dB dynamic range. It is the closest to CD sound quality among the current Bluetooth audio solutions.
The decoding part of B1 uses AKM’s AK4396 D/A chip, which can oversample the input of various digital signals to a depth of 24bit to obtain a higher signal-to-noise ratio and deliver a more delicate sense of hearing.
In addition, B1 can also act as a Bluetooth connector for wireless connection from the audio source device to other decoders or preamplifiers. You can use B1’s internal decoding by connecting the RCA output or use their decoder for decoding by connecting the fiber output.
The operation of B1 is also straightforward.
You can use the power adapter to connect to B1 to enter the pairing mode automatically. After that, you can connect Bluetooth-enabled audio source devices such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets to B1. After the Bluetooth connection is successful, you can connect the Audioengine B1 to the desktop active speaker or headphone through the RCA cable so that you can use the mobile phone to control the speaker and earphone to play music. That can easily turn the active speakers into Bluetooth speakers.
To better experience the DAC (decoder) function of Audioengine B1 DAC, I chose three different styles of songs as the audition tracks. “Hotel California” by the Eagles and “Beethoven No. 5” conducted by Carlos Kleiber, and the classic album “Coast to Coast” by the Westlife.
During the listening, I experienced the overall improvement in sound quality brought by the over-sampling rate and high signal-to-noise ratio of Audioengine B1. The sound performance is more delicate and clear. The low, medium, and high three frequencies are balanced, and the sense of hierarchy is powerful.
Take the song “Hotel California,” for example. The sound effects of guitar, bass, and tambourine are very realistic and close, with a stronger sense of the whole frequency range. In addition, the vocals are more natural and pure, with a slight lead vocal. The hoarse voice and slight nasal sounds are very realistic, and I feel the improvement in sound quality.
Audioengine B1 Bluetooth music receiver decoder is very compact, the size of a small router, and can be picked up with one hand. In terms of quality, this Bluetooth decoder is also very light and easy to carry around. Audioengine B1 can be said to create a precedent for portable Bluetooth DAC (decoder).
Audioengine B1 DAC has a stylish and compact shape, which is very easy to carry around. It is convenient to connect, no need to download and install any drivers. The use of plug-and-play is very convenient. B1 uses Bluetooth 4.0 chip, stable transmission and low power consumption, effective transmission range up to 30 M.
This device also has a DAC (decoder) function that can improve sound quality. It uses the AKM AK4396A DAC chipset and supports uncompressed wireless transmission of digital audio streams at a 24-bit super-sampling rate, thereby achieving a higher signal-to-noise ratio and comprehensive improve sound quality.
Audioengine B1 Specs
- Bluetooth receiver type: Bluetooth 5.0
- Supported Bluetooth codecs: aptX HD, aptX, AAC, SBC
- Supported Bluetooth profiles: A2DP, AVRCP
- Inputs: Bluetooth
- Outputs: Stereo analog RCA, Digital optical (SPDIF)
- Required power: 5V, 200mA
- Wireless operation range: Up to 100ft (30m) typical
- Full-scale output: 2.0V RMS
- Output impedance: 57 Ohms
- D/A converter: AKM AK4396
- Power filtering: 3-stage redundant regulation
- SNR: SNR (DC to 20 kHz) 100dB
- THD+N: (1 kHz FS 96 kS/s) <0.02% Frequency response: 10Hz – 20kHz (+/-0.5dB) Crosstalk: >-86dB
- Input bit depth: 24-bit (upsampled)
- Input data rate: Determined by Bluetooth
- Latency: ~30 milliseconds (ms)
- Product dimensions: 3.5 x 4.0 x 1u201d
- Shipping weight: 1.0lbs (0.5kg)