Audioengine 5 review: Audioengine 5

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.4
  • Design: 8.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 9.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The powered Audioengine 5 speakers deliver phenomenal sound and offer simple, attractive styling. They feature two audio inputs and two integrated charging options (one USB port, one AC plug). Speaker wire connections mean that you can optimize stereo separation.

The Bad The speakers aren't cheap, and many will find them to be too large and bulky compared with PC speakers. There's no remote control, and no way to toggle between inputs.

The Bottom Line You'd be hard-pressed to find a pair of powered stereo speakers at this price point that sounds better--and offer more flexibility--than the Audioengine 5s.

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Editors' note (February 21, 2012): The speakers reviewed here have been replaced by the newer Audioengine 5+ speakers.

We've been a little tardy in reviewing Audioengine's PC speakers, but we're glad we finally got our hands on both the 5 series ($325) reviewed here and the step-down Audioengine 2 series ($199) because they really are quite impressive.

The key thing to note about both sets of speakers is that they are bookshelf-style speakers masquerading as PC or "multimedia" speakers (as these things are apt to be labeled). But unlike classic bookshelf speakers, these Audioengine models are powered (via a standard AC plug); there's no need for a separate receiver or amplifier, so you can use them with any audio source. The larger 5 series is the more industrial-looking (read: less stylish) of the two models and appears to share some heritage with monitor speakers you'd find in a recording studio. It's available in either black or white, as are the 2s. There's also a bamboo version of the 5 series that costs $449.

The Audioengine 5 speakers measure 10 inches high by 7 inches wide by 7.9 inches deep. They each have a 5-inch Kevlar woofer and a 20mm silk dome tweeter. Because the left speaker houses the amplifier (50 watts per channel), it's heavier than the right speaker. Unlike the 2s, which are ported on the front, the 5s are ported on the rear.

It's worth noting that both the 2 and 5 series Audioengine speakers come nicely packaged, with cloth covers over the speakers and cables. The left and right speakers connect to each other with "real" speaker wire (included) and you also get an input cable that allows you to connect your PC to the 3.5mm aux input on the back of the left speaker. The use of standard cables means that--unlike some speakers with proprietary connections and cables--you can invest in custom-length cables that are as long or as short as you'd like.

What's most unique about the Audioengine 5 speakers is the 3.5mm aux input on top of the left speaker that sits next to a USB port. To be clear, the USB port is only for power, not for reading audio files; it also doesn't allow pass-through syncing to PCs. But that combination of USB power-plus-audio input allows you to charge your iPod/iPhone with a USB cable while you're listening to your music. And though the cables make it a bit less appealing to the eye than a standard iPod dock, the combo is far more universal in its compatibility: you can charge 'n' play any USB-powered audio device, including a wide array of non-Apple music phones and media players.


The USB power and audio input on the left speaker's top side make for easy portable player hookups.

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Where to Buy

Audioengine A5B Powered Bookshelf Speaker System - Black Finish

Part Number: A5B

Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Speaker System Type PC multimedia speakers
  • Nominal (RMS) Output Power 45 Watt
  • Color black
  • Nominal Impedance 10 Ohm
  • Amplification Type active
  • Crossover Channel Qty 2-way
  • Connectivity Technology wired
About The Author

Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable e-reader and e-publishing expert. He's also the author of the novels Knife Music and The Big Exit. Both titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, and Nook e-books.