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Acoustic Energy AE-29 Bluetooth speaker system review: Acoustic Energy AE-29 Bluetooth speaker system

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The Good Bluetooth stereo speaker system; includes auxiliary input for non-A2DP devices; modular design offers maximum stereo separation.

The Bad Expensive for what it delivers; wired performance is better than that of wireless Bluetooth; power light blinks incessantly; no remote.

The Bottom Line The Acoustic Energy AE-29 is a decent--if slightly overpriced--Bluetooth speaker system.

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6.7 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 6
  • Performance 6

In the past couple of years, we've seen an increase in the number of Bluetooth-capable speaker systems designed to wirelessly receive audio streams from Bluetooth-capable music phones and audio players. One of the latest such products is the Acoustic Energy AE-29. The tabletop speaker system has been available in Europe for some time, but it's just now making its way to North America, where it sells for $220.

As a speaker system, the AE-29 is pretty straightforward. It's a three-part system: a narrow 20-watt amplifier in the center flanked by detachable speakers on the left and right. Each speaker has about 3 feet of wire that wraps into a recessed channel on its backside. You can leave the system locked together if space is tight (or when transporting it from room to room), but you'll want to unspool the speakers for maximum stereo separation. (The cables are hard-wired to the speakers and use proprietary plugs to connect to the base, so you can't really extend them beyond their default length.)

The speaker grilles are nonremovable, but their size indicates that the drivers are probably around 5 inches wide. Each speaker is 6 inches high by 6 inches wide by 5 inches deep; the central amp is the same height and depth, and just under 3 inches wide. The overall build quality of the AE-29 doesn't exactly live up to Acoustic Energy's hallowed tradition. The speakers feel cheap and plastic, and the whole unit only weighs 4.8 pounds.

The AE-29 has just two controls: a single volume knob that also toggles power, and a Bluetooth sync button. There is no remote--you're stuck using the onboard controls. The front panel also has a power LED that continuously blinks on and off when the unit is operating; I found it incredibly distracting, and would probably opt to cover it with electrical tape.

The Acoustic Energy speaker can stream audio from any A2DP-enabled (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) Bluetooth source. That includes a wide variety of newer multimedia-friendly phones and portable media players. While neither the iPod nor the iPhone can be counted among that group, snap-on Bluetooth A2DP dongles are available. Alternately, you can opt to use the 3.5mm auxiliary line-in port on the rear of the AE-29, which accepts any standard stereo minijack. As such, you could have the AE-29s double as PC speakers (for instance), but just be aware that the presence of something plugged into the speaker input cuts off the Bluetooth source, so you'd have to plug and unplug accordingly. (A toggle switch would've been preferable.)

Pairing a Bluetooth audio source to the AE-29 is simple enough: Just hold down the front button for about 5 seconds, and it will begin blinking alternating red and green. Put your Bluetooth source into search mode, and once you find "AE 29-06," pair it with the code "8888."

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