Buying the perfect speaker can make or break your listening experience. The heart-thumping bass, the ability to hear the details, and even get crisp and clear sounds is the trademark of the world’s best speakers. One company, AudioEngine, has been coming out with top-notch speakers and other audio products, and two of them are the AudioEngine HD3 Home Music System and the AudioEngine A5+ Speaker System.
While both of these products give you excellent sound quality, there are the main differences between the two:
- Physically, the AudioEngine HD3 is more compact than the A5+. It’s more lightweight as well.
- The AudioEngine HD3 includes a USB and Bluetooth connectivity options, which the A5+ Speaker System doesn’t have.
- The AudioEngine A5+ Speaker System can produce room-filling sound with its five-inch aramid fiber woofers and 75 watts peak per channel, whereas the HD3 makes for a great desktop speaker with 60-watt total peak power.
- The A5+ has a broader frequency range than the HD3.
Which one is better for you? Continue reading as we discuss both of these products and delve into what makes them shine. We will also expound on their differences and help you know which one is more ideal for your needs.
- 1 AudioEngine A5+ Speaker System: All the Details You Need to Know
- 2 AudioEngine HD3 Home Music System: Everything You Need to Now
- 3 The Differences Between the AudioEngine A5+ Speaker System and the AudioEngine HD3 Home Music System
- 4 Side-by-Side Comparison: AudioEngine HD3 and A5+
- 5 What’s the Same?
- 6 AudioEngine HD3 and A5+ Alternatives
- 7 Frequently Asked Questions
- 8 The Bottom Line: AudioEngine A5+ Speaker System vs the AudioEngine HD3 Home Music System
AudioEngine A5+ Speaker System: All the Details You Need to Know
The AudioEngine A5+ Speaker System is for your desktop, but it can fill up the room with excellent sound. It comes in three finishes: satin black, solid carbonized bamboo, and hi-gloss white. You can take your pick and make it match with whatever decor you have.
It gives you 50W for every channel with its five-inch (130 millimeters woofers and ¾-inch (20 millimeters) silk dome twitters.
The kevlar speakers allow sound to pass through without any reverb, and the sound is evenly spread out over the speaker cone. As such, kevlar speakers have a more consistent sound, and it’s more durable and flexible than other materials such as polypropylene.
How Does the A5+ Deliver? Excellent Sound!
The AudioEngine A5+ allows you to hear individual instruments and other distinguishable elements in the music you’re listening to. Even as they are marketed as multimedia speakers, the A5+ delivers fuller and richer sound. It gives you clear high notes and can get as loud as to fill a room.
Even with their small size, the A5+ gives you sound quality that can rival bigger speakers. If you owned an AudioEngine A5, you would undoubtedly love how the A5+ gives you a bump in both size and performance. The newer speakers really do earn the “plus” in its name.
AudioEngine A5+: Design and Build
The AudioEngine A5+ has the classic look of bookshelf speakers, and they are plugged into a wall socket, so you don’t really need a receiver or amplifier to power these speakers. You can just use these speakers for any music source that you have. You can choose from three finishes as well.
These are not your ordinary multimedia speakers as they occupy more space. It doesn’t have speaker grilles, which adds to the beauty of the speakers, but it might be an issue when you have kids or pets, or anyone with a curious finger and decides to poke at the speakers.
What You Would Like About the AudioEngine A5+
You’d like how this speaker system renders tight bass sounds that are very detailed and flexible. It can fill your room with sound, and the dynamics are impressive.
You will also love the accessories that the manufacturer bundled with these speakers. Each package has:
- 12.3 feet (3.75 meters) of 16AWG speaker wire
- 6.5 feet (2.0 meters) mini-jack audio cable
- 6.5 feet (2.0 meters) RCA to RCA audio cable
- A pair of cloth speaker bags
- Cloth cable bag
- Detachable power cord
- Remote control
These speakers are also video-shielded, so the magnets will not interfere with cathode-ray tubes used in older TVs, monitors, and turntables. The video shielding can also protect music players that have a hard drive.
AudioEngine gives you a superbly styled set of speakers that does an excellent job of rendering excellent sounding audio. Plus, it comes with a remote that can help you enjoy music right from the couch or somewhere where you don’t have to get up to turn the volume up or down.
What May Be Better with the AudioEngine A5+
If you’re looking for a multimedia speaker, then the A5+ will be a great addition to your list of devices to be considered, but they will be larger than the speakers you have come to expect to sit on your desk. What’s more, these speakers are not exactly cheap.
- 3.5mm input
- Remote control
- Tight bass sounds
- Excellent sound quality
- Easy to set up
- A bit dated
AudioEngine A5+ Speaker System: The Bottom Line
AudioEngine A5+ is a capable speaker system that delivers excellent sound quality. Plus, the little details matter here, such as having top-of-the-line materials for the components, a hardy cabinet, and the choice of three lovely finishes.
However, all that comes with some tradeoffs. For one, it’s expensive, costing around $400. Plus, this is an old system, having been launched close to a decade ago. But that might be the draw of the AudioEngine A5+: the classic feel.
AudioEngine HD3 Home Music System: Everything You Need to Now
If the AudioEngine A5+ appeals to people who like things old school, the AudioEngine HD3 is for those who want to step a bit into the modern era. These powered speakers allow you to connect to your devices using wired connections via its numerous inputs.
However, the coup de grace is the wireless connection via Bluetooth. You will love just how the HD3 connects to your devices once you turn it on: no messy and frustrating Bluetooth connections, no passwords, and no network keys required.
What’s more, the Bluetooth interface comes with the PCM 5102 for its internal digital to analog converter. The PCM 5102 has a dynamic range of 100 to 112 decibels and has very low out-of-band noise. It doesn’t use DC blocking capacitors and has a smart muting system. This component can also accept anywhere from 16-bit to 32-bit audio levels.
The HD3, in particular, can handle 24-bit audio data. It can also play the following codecs:
- aptX HD
Having the aptX standard is somewhat a big deal because it uses compression that has fewer bits per sample than other codecs. As such, it can potentially give you better audio quality than different codecs without choking up your Bluetooth connection.
You can connect wirelessly from up to 100 feet (30 meters) away and enjoy synced music with a latency of only 30 milliseconds.
AudioEngine HD3: How It Sounds
The bass is impressive as the AudioEngine HD3 gives you a satisfying and responsive low end. The mid frequencies also sounded excellent, which worked with the bass to provide you with a polished and refined sound.
The HD3 also treated you with detailed and clear highs, but other speakers can deliver this better.
However, one problem is that these speakers are not meant to disturb your neighbors if you live in an apartment. These speakers are not very loud, which is both a good or a bad thing depending on how you like to listen to music.
It’s probably best for you to use the HD3 in a medium-sized room, as it will definitely fail to fill a large room with music.
Design and Build Quality
If you’re searching for bad things to say about how the HD3 looks, you’d probably end up with a very shortlist. On top of the choice in the cabinet’s finish, you also get an expensive-looking speaker with a brushed metal panel. These speakers are simply meant to be seen.
What’s more, they are compact and thin, making it easier to put them in the places you want. It also comes with a detachable magnetic grille, which allows you to have two looks for your speaker. Attach the grille easily as the magnets keep it in place, or for a cleaner look, you can leave it off.
What You Would Like About the AudioEngine HD3
The HD3 can overcome some of the bad things we always hear about Bluetooth speakers: dropped connections and awful sound quality. It’s easy to connect your phone to the speakers, and it stays connected, as well.
This speaker system looks great, and more importantly, it sounds excellent. You will probably want to display the HD3 on your desk for everyone to see.
What You Might Not Like About the AudioEngine HD3
If you’re looking for a wireless speaker, then you should know that the HD3 isn’t it. You may like the Bluetooth connection, but there are many wires to sort out with this speaker. The power cable has a brick, and the speakers need to be connected via wires.
Further, if you’re one of those people who likes to blast music off their speakers, then you might want to pass on the HD3. Unless you put them in a small room, these speakers will have problems filling the entire space with sound.
- Bluetooth pairing is easy and reliable, with no drops
- Looks great and small enough to place anywhere you like
- Excellent sound quality, especially when you consider how compact it is
- Nothing plasticky about this speaker, and it looks elegantly stylish
- Not truly wireless
- More expensive than similar speakers
- No Wi-Fi connectivity
AudioEngine HD3: The Bottom Line
There are a lot of things that the AudioEngine HD3 gets right. The company spent time on the design, so you’d have a speaker that will also look great, not just sound great.
It’s small and compact, which allows you to be flexible on where you can put it. And it works as it should, with no extra effort on your part to operate it.
We wish it had a lot of things, but it’s really not necessary considering that the AudioEngine HD3 makes the most out of what it has. For instance, Wi-Fi connectivity would have ensured a better and more reliable connection than Bluetooth. Still, you’d hardly miss it because the Bluetooth connectivity here works with no dropped connections.
It may be more expensive than some of its competitors, but you can argue that it’s worth it. Not only do you get fantastic sound quality, but you have a speaker that doesn’t look like a plastic cube. Overall, it’s still an affordable set of speakers that do a great job at what it promises to do, plus it does have an embedded DAC and a headphone amplifier onboard.
However, it’s not truly wireless. It uses a speaker wire between the two speaker units.
The Differences Between the AudioEngine A5+ Speaker System and the AudioEngine HD3 Home Music System
Coming from the same company, these two speakers share a lot of characteristics, but some differences can help you decide to go for one over the other. These two speakers will delight different sets of people and meet different sets of needs. So what are these differences?
When it comes to size, the A5+ towers over the HD3 and is bulkier and broader. Another difference is that the HD3 has identically sized left and right speakers measuring at 7.0 by 4.3 by 5.5 inches (17.8 by 10.9 by 14 centimeters) while the A5+’s right speaker measures 10.75 by 7.0 by 7.5 inches (27.3 by 17.8 by 19.1 centimeters) while the left speaker has the same height and width, but is 1.5 inches deeper.
The A5+ also has heavier speakers than the HD3, with the left speaker being heavier than the right one. The HD3 has a left and right speaker that measures 4.0 pounds (1.8 kilograms) and 3.4 pounds (1.5 kilograms), while the A5+ weighs in at 15.4 pounds (7 kilograms) and 9.6 pounds (4.4 kilograms).
|Left speaker dimensions (H x W x D, inches)||7.0 by 4.3 by 5.5||10.75 by 7.0 by 9.0|
|Righ speaker dimensions (H x W x D, inches)||7.0 by 4.3 by 5.5||10.75 by 7.0 by 7.5|
|Left speaker weight (pounds)||4.0||15.4|
|Right speaker weight (pounds)||3.4||9.6|
There are three types of protection that are available in both AudioEngine HD3 and A5+:
- Output current limiting, which protects the drivers from unsafe power levels
- Thermal over-temperature, which prevents overheating
- Power on/off transient protection, which protects your speakers from voltage or current surges
However, the A5+ has a replaceable main fuse.
Types of Input
Both speakers have an RCA and 3.5-mm audio jack input. But the HD3 also has Bluetooth and USB.
The USB you see on the AudioEngine HD3 is one that can communicate with your computer, allowing you to play music from your hard drive. In contrast, most other speakers have a USB port only to power the device or upgrade the firmware. Either that or these USB ports only read flash drives.
Further, you can even queue music files wirelessly via the Bluetooth connection.
Both the HD3 and the A5+ have 3/4-inch (20 millimeters) silk dome tweeters that are more durable than paper tweeters. But the HD3 has a 2.75-inch (70 millimeters) aramid fiber woofers, while the A5+ has a bigger five-inch (130 millimeters) woofers.
The HD3 has a frequency response ranging from 65 hertz to 22 kilohertz. The AudioEngine A5+ has a wider range, with more room for growling bass at 50 hertz to 22 kilohertz.
Now that you know that both the HD3 and the A5+ both offer excellent sound quality, but the AudioEngine HD3 delivers only 60 watts at its peak power. At this rate, it means that it doesn’t get as loud as the A5+ with its 150 watts of peak power.
To be clear, a speaker with 50 watts of power output will be enough for most people. And in this scenario, the HD3 is clearly for rooms, while the A5+ will be more than enough if you want to use it for some music during a party or if you have a larger space.
Side-by-Side Comparison: AudioEngine HD3 and A5+
|Dual analog class A/B monolithic||Yes||Yes|
|Power output||60W peak power total (15W RMS / 30W peak per channel), AES||150W peak power total (50W RMS / 75W peak per channel), AES|
|Aramid fiber woofers||2.75 inches||5 inches|
|3/4″ silk dome tweeters||Yes||Yes|
|3.5mm stereo mini-jack||Yes||Yes|
|RCA variable line-out||Yes||Yes|
|3.5mm mini-jack headphone out||Yes||No|
What’s the Same?
Both the A5+ and the HD3 use the same amplifier type: a dual analog class A/B monolithic. Class A/B amplifiers are one of the most common types of amplifiers in the market. These amplifiers are very efficient, produce low crossover distortion, and have heat protection even when the amplifier uses a considerable amount of power.
SNR at more than 95 decibels
Signal to noise ratio gives you an idea of how much background noise is present when listening to music. Both speakers deliver an SNR of more than 95 decibels, which means you hear less noise and more of your music (which is 95 decibels louder than background noise). To wit, an SNR rating of 41 decibels or higher is excellent.
THD+N at less than <0.05 percent
These speakers are accurate in rendering sound with a total harmonic distortion plus noise rating of 0.05 percent. If there are deviations from the actual sound, it’s so minor that you can’t probably perceive it. When you use these speakers, you won’t have to worry about instruments sounding unnatural.
AudioEngine HD3 and A5+ Alternatives
If you’re not sold on either AudioEngine speaker we talk about here, you might want to consider
- Yamaha Audio YAS-209BL Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer
- Creative Stage
Get cinema sound for your favorite movies, music, and games in a streamlined and minimal setup. Built-in Alexa voice control means managing your sound bar, playing music, setting alarms and controlling smart home devices is as easy as asking.
The Yamaha Audio YAS-209BL is a soundbar that offers wireless connectivity with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. But it adds a more useful feature: voice command using Amazon’s Alexa technology.
This very affordable soundbar is less expensive than both AudioEngine speakers we discuss here and can be used to listen to music or make your movies sound better. It’s very durable, too. However, it also has an LED display that is not much help because the light is too small to stand close to it to see anything.
Armed with all the possible connectivity options you can think of—TV ARC, optical, AUX, Bluetooth, and even USB audio, the Creative Stage V2 is the one-stop audio entertainment system for all your devices from TVs and computers to mobile phones and gaming consoles.
The Creative Stage is probably the perfect speaker for budget-conscious audiophiles. This speaker system does sound reproduction right. If you’re leaning towards an HD3, but you don’t like to pay more than $300 for a speaker, then Creative Stage might be worth considering.
This subwoofer and soundbar set is ideal for desktop gaming and music time. If you want, you can also hook it up with a small TV. Creative Stage comes in three different setups, costing anywhere from a little more than $30 to $110.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section, we answer some of the questions we receive from readers.
Answer: There are many similar speakers out there manufactured by different competitors, but AudioEngine is one of the few that custom builds their woofers, tweeters, and other components. You are not getting a speaker with parts made by other suppliers.
An AudioEngine speaker has parts and components made according to their specifications. Even the crossovers, cabinets, bass ports, drivers, and amplifiers are tuned to work on an AudioEngine speaker.
Why does this matter? The speakers use less power than most other speakers that deliver the same output. It’s also a more efficient system.
AudioEngine creates its drivers with top quality materials. For instance, the company uses ferrofluid-cooled silk dome twitters and neodymium for its magnets. Silk tweeters can withstand high power situations and can deliver smooth responses.
Meanwhile, the woofers are made with an aramid fiber that has glass composites, and rubber surrounds. This kind of fiber is extremely durable and can hold its shape even while being intensely driven. The speakers are hardy enough even for the most violent thrashing, so there are no grilles required to protect them. What’s more important is that these speakers will last for a very long time.
The Bottom Line: AudioEngine A5+ Speaker System vs the AudioEngine HD3 Home Music System
If you are most people, you’re probably in the market for speakers that you can connect to your laptop or HDTV so that you can better enjoy listening to music or watching a movie. Both the AudioEngine HD3 Home Music System and the A5+ Speaker System can provide that upgraded sound experience for you.
However, you will like the HD3 better if you are on a budget and are content with filling a smaller room with clear, crisp, and booming sound. These speakers are best suited for desktops and small areas. It also comes with a built-in DAC and headphone amp.
If you’d like something louder and you don’t mind shelling out at least $50 more to have a speaker that you can party with, then invest in the A5+.