[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=39553[/img]Audioengine B2 Bluetooth Speaker Review
Audioengine B2 (MSRP/Street): $299/$299
by Wayne Myers
The Audioengine B2 Bluetooth Speaker is a high-performance Bluetooth stereo speaker system for receiving a stereo music stream from a smartphone or tablet or any other Bluetooth music transmitter, allowing you to play tunes from your portable devices with room-filling sound at CD quality. It is a little box with big capabilities.
This is the second product I have reviewed by Audioengine. Together, those reviews have demonstrated that the Audioengine team likes to pack lots of coolness, capability and quality into small packages.
Audioengine B2 Website
The B2 was full of surprises for me. First of all was its weight. The B2 is the size of a loaf of bread, yet weighs in at over 7 pounds. Be careful the first time you pick one up so it does not get away from you. The second surprise came when I saw the specifications for the B2. It is designed to act as a full-range speaker, from 65 Hz to 22 kHz. Very ambitious. And the third surprise came when I heard the amount of good clean volume the B2 could produce.
The B2 is housed in a an MDF box with a real wood veneer of Zebrawood, Black Ash, or Walnut. The Walnut sample that I received looked very nice. And as I said it is a heavy little unit, indicating it contains either lead weights or well-built electronics and speaker drivers. I am betting it is the latter.
The unit is divided internally into two chambers with a woofer and tweeter in each, so the two channels can act independently. All drivers are on the front panel facing forward, so there is really not much stereo separation. But the frequency response in front of the box is at its best, and how much can you expect for stereo separation from a loaf of bread anyway? No complaints from me. It is meant for good overall sound capability. I believe they chose their priorities wisely. According to their literature, Audioengine designs and makes their own drivers and many of the components used in the
The front grill cover is magnetically attached with a powerful set of magnets that snap it precisely into place. The rear panel houses a volume control, Bluetooth antenna, Bluetooth pairing switch, and the power switch and power cable connector. There is also a 1/8 inch stereo jack so you can run a line level signal in directly.
Associated Review Equipment
The B2 continued to impress through my listening test. I used my LG G3, with its aptX codec, as my main music source. Pairing took seconds, and the B2 was quickly recognized and connected. By the way, I have noticed that not all media player programs deliver the same sound quality. I get the best sound from Neutron for Android.
Sitting on a speaker stand three feet away from my listening chair, the bass was light, as expected. There was a little bit of a boxy tone in the mid-bass frequency range. The highs were well represented, rolling off gradually and smoothly. The overall profile was very listenable.
Distortion was very low up to listening levels in the mid-80 dB SPL range, which the B2 delivered without straining. Clarity was good, the aptX Codec and 24-bit upsampling converter get credit for delivery of a CD-quality bit stream over the Bluetooth link. Piano, brass, strings all sounded natural and balanced. Vocals were handled properly. More than once I noted the ability of the B2 to handle complex tracks and keep all aspects of the recording clear, separate, and balanced. It never got overwhelmed, and my favorite tracks were fun to hear through its delivery.
I was tickled by the tiny, highly portable Audioengine B2. The B2 is a loaf-of-bread-sized stereo speaker with a big sonic heart. If you have room on an outing for a few sandwiches, might as well grab the B2 and bring it along.
I see the B2 serving well as a portable speaker able to create plenty of balanced, clean volume in a variety of settings where one might not have a permanent speaker set up: at the cabin, on the patio, poolside, by the workbench, on your desk, at an impromptu party, anywhere a project or event might take you long enough to want to enjoy or share your favorite music. The B2 looks smart, sounds smart, is well built, and is able to take some knocking around. The listener who has become sensitive to the hashy distortion evident in MP3s will appreciate the delivery of CD-quality audio and the convenience of Bluetooth pairing of the B2 with their smartphone or tablet.