Audioengine B2 Review
In recent years, the momentum of Bluetooth speakers can be said to be getting stronger and stronger, and major well-known audio manufacturers have also introduced different styles of Bluetooth speakers. To comprehensively improve the sound quality of Bluetooth speakers, Audioengine B2 especially adopts aptX audio decoding technology, which is a digital audio compression algorithm.
In the field of Bluetooth audio transmission, aptX is featured by a short delay, low power consumption, and sampling rate, supporting high-resolution audio up to 24bit/96kHz. Although the true lossless sound quality is still not available, it is much better than the sound quality of the many other Bluetooth speakers on the market at the same price range. In other words, using aptX decoding technology in Bluetooth speakers, the sound quality can be improved to a level close to lossless.
From the perspective of electroacoustics, due to the wireless transmission of Bluetooth, the loss of audio signals is naturally more than that of wired ones, so it is difficult for the sound quality to reach the level of traditional 2.0 high-fidelity speakers. However, because of wireless Bluetooth transmission’s convenience and practicality, Bluetooth speakers have a broader market demand. But it cannot be denied that the essential thing for Bluetooth speakers is still the sound quality issue.
So far, how has the Bluetooth speaker improved in terms of sound quality? I got this Audioengine B2 desktop high-end Bluetooth speaker. This Bluetooth speaker is a desktop HiFi audio product launched by Audioengine. It is equipped with a new Bluetooth audio decoding technology to make the sound quality even better.
Audioengine is an American company founded in 2002, but its core design team has 36 years of history. It developed and manufactured professional audio equipment and related electronic products for Esccient, Harman/Kardon, Gibson, Apple, and other companies. At present, many products under Audioengine have received a five-star recommendation from the authoritative magazine “What HI-FI?” in the audio industry. Their strength cannot be underestimated in the industry.
Currently, Audioengine focuses on desktop products, mostly miniaturized products, such as 2.0 active speakers with built-in decoding functions, portable decoders, and Bluetooth speakers. The current model of Audioengine is not a top Hi-Fi product but is aimed at the “Hi-Fi” user group, looking for a balance in sound quality, price, and portability.
In order to comprehensively improve the sound quality of Bluetooth speakers, Audioengine B2 speaker mainly adopts aptX audio decoding technology, supporting high-resolution audio up to 24bit/96kHz specifications. Although the true lossless sound quality is still not available, it is much better than the sound quality of many Bluetooth speakers on the market at the same price range. In other words, using aptX decoding technology in Bluetooth speakers, the sound quality can be improved to a level close to lossless.
After a brief understanding of aptX decoding technology, let’s look at this speaker’s appearance. Audioengine B2 uses wood as the outer shell. The cabinet is relatively large, weighty in hand, and has a texture when placed on the desktop.
The cabinet is made of an 18mm thick MDF wall and is available in several handsome finishes, including walnut and zebrawood veneers and satin black paint, offering a wide choice for complementing room furnishings. It feels like touching real solid wood, with concavities and convexities, and very textured. In addition, the baffle on the front of the box has a magnet, which can be removed with a bit of force.
The stylish and simple design makes this speaker a good decoration for your home. It is suitable for PC or as a bedside/bookshelf speaker. B2 is suitable for those who are more affectionate and pursuing a quality life.
After removing the front baffle, you can see that the Audioengine B2 uses two Kevlar mid-low units, using non-woven glass aramid composite materials and rubber edges. The workmanship is outstanding.
In addition, the two silk dome tweeters of Audioengine B2 wireless Bluetooth Speaker use neodymium magnets, which can provide excellent resolution and make the sound details richer. The two openings in the middle of the box are waveguide holes. You can feel the impact of the airflow at a medium volume. The official introduction to these two guide holes is that the respective front bass holes on both sides of the box improve the bass energy.
The design on the back of the Audioengine B2 box is relatively simple. In addition to the power switch and power supply interface, a volume adjustment knob, AUX-IN audio input interface, and Bluetooth pairing button, power indicator light are designed. In addition, the gold-plated interface marked “Antenna” is the interface for the Bluetooth antenna. That is different from the design of many Bluetooth speakers on the market. Audioengine B2 has a foldable antenna in its accessories. It is used to expand the Bluetooth signal reception range.
Many Bluetooth speakers on the market have a signal transmission range of fewer than 10 meters, and the ability to penetrate walls is not that outstanding. However, the Bluetooth transmission range of Audioengine B2 is up to 30 meters. The wall penetration capability is improved to ensure that users can use the Bluetooth function generally in any corner of the room.
Better DAC decoder chip, excellent sound quality B2 uses a “TI PCM5102A” DAC audio decoder chip (digital to analog converter). Compared with the decoders in most Bluetooth speakers, this chip has better noise suppression, makes the distortion smaller, and dramatically improves the resolution ability to make the sound clearer and smoother.
At the same time, it ensures the stability and fluency of the audio signal. This chip also supports 24-bit oversampling to achieve a higher signal-to-noise ratio and minor signal loss, providing users with a high-fidelity sound quality closer to a lossless format. This design makes Audioengine B2 Bluetooth speaker sound quality far beyond many ordinary desktop Bluetooth speakers on the market.
Finally, let me talk about some minor shortcomings of Audioengine B2. Without NFC function, Bluetooth connection is not particularly convenient. Also, it is without a USB input interface. It can’t take advantage of the built-in DAC.
For a speaker, the audition of delicate vocals is naturally indispensable. I chose a popular vocal song. Surprisingly, The B2 has an excellent analytical performance. Not only are the vocals natural and sweet, but the overall performance of the mid and high frequencies is very clear and transparent, clean, and not procrastinating. The details are also very rich. The sound separation of the three frequency bands of vocals, instruments, and drums is very obvious. If you put your ears close to the speaker unit, you can feel a distinct sound.
Adele’s “Someone like you”, her’s voice at midnight sounds very storytelling as if life is melted in the light, flowing out with the singer. Using one word to describe it, it is like weeping. And Adele’s voice is more like the lyrics. It’s not shocking. The harmony of the live version is even more moving and embodies it. The detailed resolution of B2 is extraordinary.
Of course, The inherent limitations of the left and right channels cause the sound field to be unable to open, and the low volume and lack of texture brought by the small unit cause the atmosphere to be weak.
In the low-frequency part, I think the performance of the Audioengine B2 wireless speaker is far beyond that of typical desktop Bluetooth speakers. When listening to rock music, you only need to turn the volume to about 1/3, and the sound is already very shocking, and the airflow impact of the two bass ports is pronounced.
If the volume is adjusted to the middle or higher position, the bass will immediately become surging and shocking, which is enough for the bedroom usage. But when listening to some heavier music (after turning up the volume), I still feel that the low frequency of B2 is not solid enough, and the low-frequency dive is not enough. That requires the user not to turn on the volume too loud first. In addition, this speaker is still slightly weak in low frequency when listening to metal music.
Due to the use of an all-wood cabinet, and the thickness of the density board has reached 18mm, plus 30 watts of high power, the overall sound quality of the Audioengine B2 is very commendable. The sound is natural and mellow, the mid-to-high frequency performance is outstanding.
The human voice, the restoration is natural, the sound details are rich, the resolution is excellent. The sense of layering is strong, and the stereo effect at close range is noticeable, suitable for listening to vocals, pop music, classical music, jazz, blues, rock music, etc.
Audioengine B2 is a Bluetooth speaker that I feel has some desktop HiFi spirit. The overall sound quality performance has exceeded many Bluetooth speakers of the same price.
The dedicated used “TI PCM5102A” DAC audio decoding chip plays a crucial role here. The critical role is also the key to surpassing other Bluetooth speakers of the same level in sound quality. Although there is still some way to catch up with the traditional high-fidelity 2.0 speakers, Audioengine B2 can be said to have upgraded the sound quality of Bluetooth speakers to a higher level.
Audionengine B2 Specs
- Type: Powered Bluetooth aptX speaker
- Amplifier Type: Class AB
- Power Output: 60 W peak power total (15 W RMS / 30 W peak per channel), AES
- Drivers: 2.75” aramid fiber woofers, 0.75“ Silk dome tweeters
- Inputs: 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack, Bluetooth
- Input Voltages: 100-240 V 50/60 Hz auto-switching
- SNR: >95 dB (typical A-weighted)
- THD+N: <0.05% at all power settings
- Frequency Response: 65 Hz-22 kHz ±2.0 dB
- Analog Input Impedence: 10K ohms unbalanced
- Protection: Output current limiting, thermal over-temperature, power on/off transient protection
- Power Consumption: Idle: 10W
- Input Bit Depth: 24 bit (padded)
- Bluetooth Receiver Type: Bluetooth 5.0
- Supported Codecs: aptX, AAC, SBC
- Wireless Operation Range: Up to 100 ft (30 m) typical
- Wireless Latency: ~30 milliseconds (ms)
- Dimensions (HWD): 4.25”(10.8 cm) x 12.25”(31.1 cm) x 5.50”(14 cm)
- Weight: 6 lb (2.7 kg)
- Total Shipping Weight: 10 lb (4.6 kg)