Audioengine makes some inexpensive speakers that look absolutely stunning. The cross of design between modern and vintage meets beautifully in a way that is not often seen. However, looks aren’t everything.
The P4s are one of two passive speaker options that Audioengine offers, being the smaller of the pair. The 4-inch woofer won’t provide a full range of frequencies, but it will provide solid sonic performance if paired with the right amp. Looks and sound, these speakers are a great option at a great price.
|Type||2-way passive, front ported design|
|Recommended Power||10-125W per channel|
|Crossover Frequency||2.8 kHz|
|Drivers||4″ Kevlar woofer, 3/4″ silk dome tweeter|
|Enclosure||9.5mm thick MDF cabinet|
|Connections||Gold-plated, 5-way binding posts|
|Price||$249 – $325 (Pair)|
Design and Build Quality
If there is anything shared across the line of Audioengine speakers, it’s the sleek look. Each pair of speakers manages a vintage look with a modern feel in a way that few other companies, not just in audio, have managed to do.
The P4s are no exception to that. The speakers come in three colors, one of which comes at a $75 dollar premium. For $250, you have the option between satin black and hi-gloss white. While neither are winning any contests in form, the finishes are still pretty enough, providing a slick surface despite the stock color choices.
However, the really special finish is the solid carbonized bamboo. Not only is it beautiful, but it gives a nice texture and rigidity to the cabinet. There isn’t anything wrong with the white and black finishes, but this bamboo really drives home just how beautiful Audioengine speakers can look.
On all three, the cabinet is the same. 3.5 mm thick MDF walls build out the unit. While not the thickest in the world, the speakers feel sturdy and the weight of 3lbs per speaker means they’re easy to pick up and move as well.
Inside, you’ll find a 4-inch Kevlar driver and a ¾-inch silk dome tweeter. The tweeter is recessed inside of an oval-shaped waveguide, but driver placement is standard. At the bottom, there’s porting that runs the length of the base.
The back is as plain as you’d expect from a passive speaker. You have gold-plated, 5-way binding posts, and two holes for mounting the speakers up on a wall.
The most attractive part of the P4s is the look. The speakers are sleek and stylish, and a few extra bones will provide a unique finish that is really difficult to beat at the price. There isn’t much to these speakers, but they’re really don’t need to be.
The P4s are designed to give you just about everything you need minus an amplifier. While the speakers work on their own, Audioengine has taken careful consideration to fit these speakers as a bookshelf option in a surround setup.
First are the mounting options. Audioengine includes three different ¼-inch mounting points. There are two on the back for different heights, and one on the bottom. Simply pick up the amount and screw the speakers down.
However, the bottom has another feature. Audioengine built foam isolation pads into the speaker. While the surface you set the speakers on will still likely vibrate, the pads will go a long way in cleaning up the response, particularly in the low-end.
The 4-inch driver is built out of Kevlar which helps in both rigidity and sound. Kevlar is over eight times stronger than steel wire, so your cone should be pretty well protected. However, unlike steel wire, Kevlar is very light, allowing it to properly respond to vibrations.
Outside of that, there isn’t much else to note. The P4s come as simple as can be in every form. The speakers are completely passive, so the driver inside and the connections in the back are really the only things to note.
However, Audioengine has done a good job pushing past those few important elements to provide multiple mounting options as well as built-in isolation pads that work without ruining the aesthetic.
Even with the pretty looks, the real star of the show with the P4s is the sound. Audioengine packs a lot of punch in a little package. While the speakers won’t give you a full range, they still manage to provide a solid enough response for those just getting started or looking to add a couple of speakers to a setup.
Of course, with such a small size, it’s hard to get solid low-end. The P4s are no exception to that, and no amount of engineering can fix that problem. However, I am pleasantly surprised with the low-end response from such a small driver.
The 58Hz advertised low point of the response is a bit generous, though. These speakers aren’t going to do much in the sub-region. Still, they pack enough bass in to stand on their own. If you aren’t a total bass junky, then these will do just fine.
That’s if they are your only pair of speakers. In a surround, setup is where the P4s are meant to be heard. Pairing these small guys with a pair of bookshelf speakers and sub really brings the whole rig to life, making the lack of a bass response easy to overlook.
The rest of the response can only be as described as clear. That isn’t always a good thing, though. These speakers can easily sound too harsh or edgy in the wrong context and will reveal a lot in your chain if there are other issues.
Like most other small speakers, the P4s are incredibly sensitive to placement. The included waveguide helps widen the high-end sweet spot, but not by much. If you pull these out and are disappointed, try moving them around to see a different placement improves quality.
All of this is said in the context that the rest of your chain is solid. These are passive speakers and, because of that, they’re going to send out the audio that is fed. You need to pair these with some good electronics because, if you don’t, the speakers will reveal weak points.
These speakers aren’t going to blow you away with bass, or scratch every audio itch you may have. They’re an entry-level pair of speakers and, for that, they’re a great value. If you’re new, they will reveal elements of the music you’ve never heard before, show the difference between a lossless and compressed, and show you why remastered versions of records need to exist.
If you need a pair of speakers to fill out your rig or are looking for a cheap pair to get you into audiophile quality, then the P4s are a good place to start.
Alternatives to Consider
Edifier S1000DB Active Bookshelf Speakers
These are the perfect speakers to gaming set-ups for PCs and consoles. Easily these are the most visually striking set of speakers among the visually stagnant field of bookshelf speakers made from other brands. Absolutely perfect for hooking up to your TV for mind blowing sound for movies.
I want to ditch the cables and the power amp, these speakers are a good alternative. You still get a wonderful look that combines vintage with modern, albeit in a different way. These speakers are completely active as well, so you won’t need to fuss with an amp if you don’t want to.
However, they’re also completely wireless. The speakers implement the Bluetooth aptX codec to deliver a high level of quality Bluetooth. It’s not as nice as a hardwired connection, but these speakers have you covered there as well. In addition to the Bluetooth, there are optical and auxiliary inputs.
Polk Audio Signature S15 American Bookshelf Speakers
The Polk S15s is the best spec to spec alternative to the P4s. They’re completely passive speakers that still manage a great sound, but for less money. You get the same wall mounting options, as well as an inverted design specific to Polk.
For the money, you get a slightly larger speaker as well. The driver size is bumped up to 5 ¼-inches, and the tweeter goes up from ¾-inch to 1-inch. The improved bass response is nice, but these speakers still shine in their own way.
Audioengine A5+ Powered Speakers – $399.99
Staying with Audioengine are the A5+ speakers. They’re completely active, so you can ditch the amp all together. They’re the closest in size to the P4s, coming in just slightly larger. Audioengine makes a line of separate amps for their speakers, so that should be a good sign for the built-in ones here.
Of course, you still get the silk tweeter and Kevlar woofer that is seen on the P4s. The only difference is the built-in amp and bumped up a size. Another plus is that they can be completely powered off USB, making them ideal for a compact desktop setup.
The Audioengine P4s are a solid pair of speakers at a good price. Their small size and extra features lend to a speaker well worth the price that manages entry-level audiophile quality. Their best use is found in a surround setup, but beginners may find them to be an inexpensive entry point.
Have you used any Audioengine products? Let us know in the comments and, as always, thanks for reading.