There has never been a better time to upgrade to a new pair of speakers for your home audio setup. The market is flooded with options at different price points to meet every need. From Bluetooth to traditional 2-channel, you’re bound to find something to fit your budget.
Audioengine, a speaker-focused brand out of Texas, recently released its HD6 powered speakers. These 2-channel bookshelf speakers are packed with nearly every mainstream connectivity medium. We’ve spent the last month testing and cranking tunes on our way to delivering a recommendation for our readers. At $749, these speakers are at the higher-end of the Bluetooth market. Were they able to perform? Head below for more.
Audioengine is responsible for some of our favorite powered desktop speakers, the A2+. Its entire line of products does an excellent job of mixing modern design with build quality. While the smaller A2+ and A5+ feature glossy black, white and red colorways, its latest release goes back to a more traditional look. Audioengine’s HD6 Powered Speakers are available in solid walnut and cherry finishes, plus a traditional matte black. The departure from the glossy casing in favor of a more refined natural finish is a welcome one for its top-of-the-line offering.
Along those same lines, Audioengine has opted for a magnetic speaker cover on the front that can be easily removed depending on your personal preferences. I prefer the cover on, but those with an eye for internals will appreciate the option of seeing the unencumbered tweeters and woofers. Below is the lone metal highlight of the HD6. An aluminum control panel offers access to volume and a status light. Overall, the design is minimal and attractive. You won’t find distracting lights or colors that take away from Audioengine’s craftsmanship.
At $749, the HD6 finds itself in a middle ground of sorts between low range and ultra-high end speakers on the market. Audioengine checks all the boxes when it comes to inputs, offering a flexible option for those in need of ample connectivity. The lower-priced models in Audioengine’s line-up split between hardwired and Bluetooth speakers. With the HD6, it’s all brought together in one package.
One the backside, you’ll find RCA, 3.5mm and optical inputs alongside controls for Bluetooth radio. There is a screw-on antenna near the top of the speaker for those that prefer wireless connectivity with a focus on stronger signal strength. The left speaker houses the power supply plus the inputs, it is connected to its counterpart with included heavy gauge wire (much appreciated).
Audioengine is using a 24-bit digital-to-analog converter to handle wireless streaming. Apple users will be able to play AAC files while others can utilize aptX where available. The plethora of connectivity makes the HD6 an attractive option for someone looking to skip an expansive receiver setup. Those that find a soundbar unappealing should look to these speakers as an alternative.
One minor but appreciated detail is the inclusion of a milled aluminum remote that controls volume and playback. Often times, this is a detail that is overlooked and comes packaged in a last-second plastic casing. The remote doesn’t add a high-level of functionality, as most users will control volume via a streaming device or universal remote.
We’ve come a long way since the days of separate receiver and bookshelf speakers being a pre-requisite for quality sound. As Bluetooth has improved in both data rate and codec support, audio quality has made a similar jump. While Audioengine has been cranking out quality computer speakers for over 10 years, the transition to high-end speakers can be daunting for some.
With the consumer audio world dominated by artificial bass enhancements, Audioengine thankfully skips the low-end augmentation. The HD6 shines on acoustic and jazz tracks where string instruments accompanied with strong vocals are present. Make no mistake, $100 Bluetooth speakers, these are not. While it is possible to drown out the low-end when pushed with bass heavy tracks, it has to be a mission rather than typical use to accomplish this.
Performance is slightly better with traditional sources like a receiver or turntable as opposed to Bluetooth streaming. Depending on the situation, there can be wireless variables at play that may interfere with connectivity. Overall, I’d put the tone of Audioengine’s new HD6 on the warmer side of the spectrum in comparison to other Bluetooth speakers we’ve tested. That’s where I personally prefer my sound systems, so it’s all aces for me. If your preferences lie with a more flat and technical sound, traditional studio options may be a better fit.
From finish to sound quality, the HD6 does a notable job of providing quality across the board. Its $749 retail price tag puts it in a bit of a precarious position, however. Consumers looking for an upgraded Bluetooth experience will likely look in the $300-$500 from more well-known names like Bose or Bang & Olufsen’s Beoplay line-up. High-end audiophiles are prone to go above the $1,000 barrier, looking for a traditional 2-channel floor setup.
So where does that put the HD6? If you’re in the market for an above-average home audio setup that isn’t too technical, we highly recommend giving Audioengine a look. Move past comparable technical specifications here. These are great premium Bluetooth speakers with all the connectivity options needed satisfy the average home theater setup. You get what you pay for in this product category and the HD6 is well worth the money.
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