Laptops and desktop computers usually don’t have great speakers. To get the most out of your audio, you will need a suitable speaker. One of the best speakers for your computer is the AudioEngine HD3 Home Music System.
The AudioEngine HD3 delivers excellent sound quality from a wide variety of devices owing to its inputs: Bluetooth, USB, RCA, and a mini audio jack. It can stream music files over Bluetooth and play it back with a high 24-bit resolution thanks to the aptX HD codec.
What other features does it have? Is it the ideal set of speakers for you? Read on as we delve into the AudioEngine HD3 Home Music System and its many functionalities.
- 1 AudioEngine HD3 Home Music System: What You Need to Know
- 2 Specifications in a Glance
- 3 What You Will Like with the AudioEngine HD3
- 4 What You Might Not Like About the AudioEngine HD3
- 5 Alternatives to the AudioEngine HD3 Home Music System
- 6 1. Edifier S1000DB Audiophile Active Bookshelf Speakers
- 7 2. Kanto YU4 Powered Speakers
- 8 3. Razer Nommo Pro
- 9 Should You Buy the AudioEngine HD3 Home Music System?
- 10 FAQs
- 11 Get Rocking Beats with the AudioEngine HD3 Home Music System
AudioEngine HD3 Home Music System: What You Need to Know
The AudioEngine HD3 Home Music System is ideal for small spaces and for your desktop. You can have a wired connection or go wireless via Bluetooth APTX-HD.
These little speakers give you excellent audio quality and can source music from your computer using a USB connection or stream music from your smartphone. You can even use an old-school turntable with it.
What makes the AudioEngine HD3 a big deal? It’s the features that they offer, the compact size, and fantastic sound quality. What are the features that you should know?
Compact Size, Big Sound
The AudioEngine HD3 is designed for your desktop, so the manufacturer made it small enough so that you can have the freedom to place it anywhere you want. Each speaker measures 7.0 by 4.3 by 5.5 inches ().
But don’t let the small size make you think that this is a flyweight speaker. It does deliver top-quality sound with its 2.75-inch () drivers and 0.75-inch tweeters.
What’s more, there is not much noise introduced into your music with a sound to noise ratio of more than 95 decibels. That means that the music you’re listening to is 95 decibels louder than any unwanted noise.
These speakers are also very accurate when it reproduces sound with a total harmonic disruption plus noise rating of less than 0.05 percent no matter what power settings you have.
The AudioEngine HD3 also has a 60-watt peak power output. That means that each channel can handle up to 30 watts of power without blowing.
Another component that adds to these speakers’ ability to produce great sound is the dual analog class A/B monolithic amplifier. These speakers also have crosstalk ratings of less than 50 decibels and a frequency response of 65 hertz to 22 kilohertz at an input impedance of five kiloohms.
According to this Digital Trends article, a headphone amp works very much like larger amplifiers and can improve sound quality. If your computer sounds tinny, you should use a headphone amp to enhance its sound.
The AudioEngine HD3 comes with an OPA2134 headphone amp with an output level of rated at 2.0 volts RMS. This headphone amp gives you superior sound with very low distortion and noise.
aptX HD Bluetooth
In the olden days, people settled on a Bluetooth connection because they wanted a convenient way to listen to music. With no wires to contend with, they can play music from Bluetooth enabled devices and perhaps even control the volume, navigate through tracks, and even pause or resume playback without having to get out of their seats.
That changed when the aptX HD codec was introduced. aptX HD was able to transmit audio with 24-bit resolutions. Finally, consumers don’t have to choose between convenience and top quality listening experience.
The AudioEngine HD3 supports aptX HD and some other codecs, including:
- aptX HD
You connect wirelessly from more than 100 feet (30 meters) away. Wireless latency is rated at around 30 milliseconds, which means that delays in your audio are barely noticeable.
Digital to Analog Converter
The AudioEngine HD3 has a 24-bit PCM 5102 DAC, which helps to improve sound quality. You get high-fidelity and low-noise sound.
If you like to have the finer things in life, you can add the AudioEngine HD3 to that list. With these speakers, you get silk dome tweeters, aramid fiber woofers, and neodymium magnets.
What’s more, the cabinets are made with medium-density fiberboards with a wooden veneer. You’d also love that you have several finishes to choose from, allowing you to match your speakers with your decors. Finish options include:
- Satin black
- High-gloss white
Other Characteristics That You Should Know
The AudioEngine HD3 has magnetic shielding, which protects devices with cathode ray tubes inside them, including older TV sets and classic turntables. Without shielding, there might be interference disrupting the audio signals.
Sometimes, the lack of shielding might damage older TVs. Aside from the shielding, here are some features that you can expect from this beautiful set of speakers:
- Simple to set up because you don’t need a receiver
- You don’t have to connect it to your network, so there are no passwords or network keys needed
- Bluetooth connections and other inputs are ready to go anytime
- Convenience in accessing the headphone jack and volume control
- The package includes all the cables you need, as well as microfiber speaker bags, which allows you to store these speakers without worrying about them being scratched or being covered with dust
Specifications in a Glance
- Dimensions of each speaker: 7.0 by 4.3 by 5.5 inches
- Left speaker weight: 4.0 pounds (1.8 kilograms)
- Right speaker weight: 3.4 pounds (1.5 kilograms)
- Dual analog class A/B monolithic amplifier
- Total peak power output: 60 watts, 30 watts per channel
- Drivers: 2.75-inch aramid fiber woofers and 3/4-inch silk dome tweeters
- Sound to noise ratio: At least 95 decibels
- Total harmonic disruption: Less than 0.05 percent
- Crosstalk: Less than 50 decibels
- Frequency response: 65 hertz to 22 kilohertz
- Frequency response w/bass reduction: 100 hertz to 22 kilohertz
- Input impedance: 5 kiloohms
- 3.5mm stereo mini-jack
- Stereo RCA
- RCA variable line-out
- 3.5mm mini-jack headphone out
- Output current limiting
- Thermal over-temperature
- Power on/off transient protection
Bluetooth radio specifications
- Digital to analog converter: PCM 5102
- Input bit depth: 24-bits
- Receiver type: Bluetooth 5.0
- Supported codecs: aptX HD, aptX, AAC, SBC
- Maximum wireless operation range: Up to 100 feet (30 meters)
- Latency: 30 milliseconds
Headphone amp specifications
- Device used: OPA2134
- Full-scale headphone output level: 2.0V RMS
- Output impedance: 2 ohms
- Recommended headphone impedance range: 10 ohms to 10 kiloohms
Micro USB specifications
- USB 1.1 or above
- Digital to analog converter: PCM 5102
- Input bit depth: 24-bits
- Input sample rate: 44.1 or 48 kilohertz
What You Will Like with the AudioEngine HD3
There is no denying that the AudioEngine HD3 has an elegant design that gives in a premium appearance. There are none of those plasticky black cubes here.
You even have the classy metal strip and the finish that you want. It’s also compact enough to be placed anywhere you want but big enough to be noticed.
You will also love the variety of inputs. You can hook up any device with the RCA input and output ports, the headphone input jack, the USB input, and of course, the Bluetooth.
What’s more, you’d love the high fidelity audio provided by the excellent digital to analog converter and the headphone amplifier. So, all in all, you are not just buying a set of speakers, but also a high-quality headphone amplifier and DAC.
What You Might Not Like About the AudioEngine HD3
If you’re the type that likes to listen to jazz, hip-hop, funk, and other genres that tend to go heavy on the bass, then you might find this speaker lacking. However, it does deliver audible bass lines with top-notch mid and highs.
The Bottom Line: Should You Buy the AudioEngine HD3 Home Music System?
Retailing at around $350, the AudioEngine HD3 Home Music System has good sound quality, a wide frequency range, good looks, and a wide variety of connections that allow you to use it with all your music playing devices.
What’s more, at that price, you also get a DAC and a headphone amplifier. Overall, that’s not a bad deal, considering that similar external DACs and headphone amplifiers would add around $100 to $200 if you buy them separately.
However, if bass sounds are important to you, you might want to consider other options. Paying more than $300 for a pair of speakers and then having to buy a good enough subwoofer might mean you’re spending too much. Other options deliver heart-thumping bass at a much affordable price point.
Alternatives to the AudioEngine HD3 Home Music System
When it comes to speakers, there are a lot of competitors that you can consider if you don’t like a particular brand or item.
When it comes to AudioEngine HD3 Home Music System, you can look at these three alternatives to decide whether the HD3 is the best one for what you need or not.
1. Edifier S1000DB Audiophile Active Bookshelf Speakers
With roughly the same price as the AudioEngine HD3, the Edifier S1000DB is a set of bookshelf speakers that can deliver excellent sound quality and can rival the HD3’s good looks.
These speakers have a combined total power output of 120 watts and a frequency response range of 48 hertz to 20 kilohertz. As such, it delivers more of the lower frequencies than the AudioEngine HD3. It also has Bluetooth aptX connectivity and a wide range of inputs.
Edifier S1000DB Audiophile Active Bookshelf Speakers measure 13.5 by 8.0 by 10.5 inches, making it bigger and bulkier than the HD3. Still, it does sport similar styling with wooden panels at the side and black matte speakers.
It comes with a 5.5-inch () mid-range driver and titanium dome tweeter.
- It has a wide range of inputs and connectivity options, allowing you to connect all your music playing devices
- Clean and elegant design
- Sound quality is better with detailed bass and crisp mids and highs
- It comes with a physical remote control
- Control knobs are at the back, which makes them relatively inaccessible
2. Kanto YU4 Powered Speakers
The Kanto YU4 Powered Speakers is a pair of bookshelf speakers that have four-inch () Kevlar drivers and a one-inch silk dome tweeter that works together to give you mid and highs that impresses.
This set of speakers has a pre-amp for turntables so that you can play vinyl records with no problems. Speaking of connections, the Kanto Yu4 also has Bluetooth connectivity and uses aptX technology, as well.
Each speaker measures 5.5 by 7.5 by 8.7 inches (14 by 19 by 22 centimeters). It comes in various colors, including matte white, bamboo, gloss black, matte black, gloss white, matte gray, and walnut.
- Lovely and elegant design
- Simple to look at but has top quality materials
- Kevlar drivers and silk tweeters
- Excellent sound quality
- Remote control
- A wide range of connectivity, including RCA, AUX, optical, and phono
- It has a USB port, but it’s only for charging your devices
- Bass is bad
- Expensive, especially since you’d need to buy decent subwoofers to go along with it
3. Razer Nommo Pro
If grumbling and growling bass is important to you, then go with the Razer Nommo Pro delivers THX-certified audio, which means that it’s guaranteed to produce the best digital sound quality. It comes with three-inch () drivers that are protected by a Kevlar coating. It also has a pair of 0.8-inch () silk woven tweeters and a downward-firing subwoofer.
This speaker system can deliver Dolby Virtual Surround Sound that helps immerse you in the game or movie you’re watching.
- Excellent audio quality with booming bass, crisp highs, and balanced mids
- Some customers complain that their speaker stopped working after a short period of use
- Short speaker wires
Should You Buy the AudioEngine HD3 Home Music System?
There are a lot of things that the AudioEngine HD3 does right. It’s nice to look at, it has some of the best and most durable materials, and it has excellent sound quality.
You are essentially buying three different devices when you purchase the AudioEngine HD3: a fantastic set of speakers, a headphone amplifier, and a digital to analog converter.
What’s more, these speakers have a variety of connection options, allowing you to connect it to just about anything you have, with inputs for a stereo mini-jack, RCA, Bluetooth, and USB. The USB included will enable you to play music straight from your computer.
At the same time, the wireless Bluetooth connection makes it possible for you to conveniently stream music from your smartphone, laptop, and other devices with Bluetooth connectivity.
However, if you’re looking for speakers that can give you booming bass, the AudioEngine HD3 may disappoint you a bit. What’s more, the HD3 may fill your room with sound, but it’s not for bigger spaces.
- Solid build construction with top-notch materials
- Wide variety of inputs and outputs
- Excellent sound quality
- It comes with a headphone amp and DAC
- Bluetooth aptX and USB connection
- Weak bass sound
- It may not get as loud
Not Sold on the AudioEngine HD3? Here Are Your Options
For that, you can get the Razer Nommo Pro, which has better bass and can get very loud. That is perfect for parties in bigger spaces. But these Razer speakers can be very expensive.
If you’re looking for a similarly priced set of speakers, the Edifier S1000DB Audiophile Active Bookshelf Speakers may be what you need. These speakers have better-sounding bass and crisp and clear mid and high notes.
If aesthetics are what you want, the AudioEngine HD3 comes with some excellent finishes that can more or less complement your room’s decor. But the Kanto Yu4 has more choices.
Answer: When you’re shopping for speakers, you will come across three terms: stereo, 2.1, and surround sound. These terms pertain to the setup. To put it simply, stereo setups have two speakers: left and right.
Meanwhile, 2.1 channels have two speakers that are attached to a subwoofer. The subwoofer will handle the lower frequencies or the base. When you’re watching a movie, the subwoofer is responsible for the deep rumbling that accompanies explosions. With music, the subwoofer handles the depth of bass guitars, kick drums, and baritone voices.
Surround sound usually involves at least five speakers and one or two subwoofers. These systems allow you to immerse yourself in the movie or music you’re enjoying.
Answer: The first thing you should think about is whether you’d like Bluetooth connectivity for your speakers. Being able to wireless connect your speakers to a music source is very convenient, but these usually come with a tradeoff.
If you want to save on a Bluetooth-enabled speaker, then you should expect some loss in audio quality. If you’re an audiophile, you will want Bluetooth speakers with the latest codecs, such as the aptX HD that can handle 24-bit transfers. But these speakers tend to be on the pricey side.
If Bluetooth is not for you, or if you want outstanding audio quality without breaking the bank, wired speakers may be ideal.
Answer: You should make sure that the inputs accommodate the devices that you have. For instance, if your speaker accommodates a 6.3-millimeter audio jack, but your devices have 3.5 mm, then you will need to spend more on an adapter.
What are the extra features that it offers? Some people ignore the extra features, but these are nice to have and can contribute to an enjoyable auditory experience.
For instance, an equalizer can help you get the same sound profile that you want. Remote control can be very convenient, allowing you to operate your speakers even when it’s all the way across the room. Or perhaps, you’d like a mute button, which will enable you to instantly silence your speakers rather than having to frantically fumble for the volume control.
Answer: Another question to ask is where you’d be using your speaker. If you’re going to use it at work or somewhere where there are many people, you should go for smaller speakers that give you a clear sound. The good thing is that these types of speakers are generally more affordable.
Once you have narrowed down your selection, you will need to decide on what style you want and check out the sound quality. Most traditional computer speakers come in black plastic cabinets. Not anymore as more and more manufacturers are offering you different finishes as well as unique cabinet materials.
Further, you should check out its sound quality. Does it have a wide frequency range? Low noise and distortion? Does it deliver booming bass and balanced mids? The quick and easy way to determine this is to just listen to the speaker and see if you like how it sounds.
Answer: When it first appeared on smartphones and other electronic devices, Bluetooth was pretty wonky. It was intended to replace serial ports on printers and other computer peripherals. On earlier feature phones, Bluetooth was a way to give your contact details to another person. Some people used it to exchange notes.
Up until a few years ago, Bluetooth has evolved to be able to transmit music some 100 feet away. There was still a problem with audio quality. For you to transfer files reliably over Bluetooth, these files need to be smaller in size. And the easiest way to cut size down is to lower the quality of the music files you send wirelessly.
aptX solves that, allowing you to transmit 16-bit audio. Now you can transmit CD-like quality audio with astounding resolutions and accuracy. And while that is cool, aptX HD raises the ante and supports transmission of audio at resolutions of 24 bits at 48 kilohertz.
Get Rocking Beats with the AudioEngine HD3 Home Music System
It’s not difficult to recommend the AudioEngine HD3. You may find it difficult to find another set of speakers that combines a reasonable price, good looks, and excellent sound quality in a compact package.
Not sure if Audioengine HD3 is right for you? Check out how it compares to Audioengine A5+ here.