I continue my year of quality audio with a look at the Audioengine B2 premium Bluetooth speaker. This unit is distinctively different from the Infinity One I reviewed last week, in that it doesn’t pretend to be portable. There’s no rechargeable battery, and it weighs in at a hefty 10lbs. Obviously, then, the B2 is meant to find its space on the book shelf and stay put (or, in my case, on the top of the piano).
The B2 is powered with the included power cable, so you’ll need access to an outlet. Want a throwback to yesteryear? There’s an on/off switch on the back, although a built-in stand-by mode will help you conserve energy if you forget to turn it off (or just don’t want to be bothered). The back of the B2 even has a volume knob, so you can set a master volume, more or less, and then control the volume with your computer, phone, or other Bluetooth device.
You’ve likely noticed the antenna sticking up back there, as well. That’s to enhance the range of the Bluetooth, giving you pretty much a house worth of connectivity. If your audio source remains in or near the same room as the B2, you likely won’t need the antenna. But extend beyond that, and the antenna will allow you to stay connected well beyond the range of most Bluetooth speakers.
Connecting the Bluetooth is a breeze. The speaker goes into pairing mode when you turn it on, so you then just find it on your device, select it, and you’re done. And if you don’t have a Bluetooth device (or just don’t want to use it all the time), and auxiliary input in the back will allow you to connect pretty much anything with an 1/8″ stereo output.
The last item I want to cover before I get to the sound is the design of the cabinet. Available in zebra wood, black ash and walnut, the Audioengine B2 has a classic wooden look to it that would look right at home in your ’70s style den or your modern living room. You can choose to display it naked or with the gray grill that attaches via magnets.
Quite honestly, I like it both ways, but generally kept the grill on; the gray nicely accents the wood.
Now, regarding the sound, you can see the full specs at the Audioengine website. The basics are that you’ll get 60W peak total power (15W RMS, 30W peak per channel), AES pumped through two 2.75” Kevlar woofers and 3/4“ Silk dome tweeters. Analog input impedance is 10K ohms unbalanced, and the frequency response is
65Hz-22kHz (±2.0dB). Not too bad, and certainly enough to fill a room (or, in some cases, a floor). The stereo separation is on par with what you’d expect from a bookshelf unit, but I found the overall audio to be a bit too bass-heavy or my tastes. My music got a bit muddy on some of the heavier tracks, especially when playing MP3s at anything lower than 320 kbps. Music coming directly off CD on my Mac, however, fared better, with clearer separation between the highs and lows.
Ultimately, the music listener who would want to consider the Audioengine B2 is the one who wants an attractive, powerful system in his/her den, office, etc., and has no intention of moving it. I’d feel better about recommending it if it were about $50 cheaper, but you’ll likely be able to find a deal as you shop around.
Regardless, after reviewing so many portable Bluetooth speaker units, it was good to finally try out a system that is meant to stay put and provide a consistent, powerful audio experience without having to worry about recharging it or even just finding it. The Audioengine B2 is a great throwback to the solid speaker designs of the wired age, without the hassles of the wires.
Provides: Bluetooth stereo audio
Minimum Requirements: Bluetooth audio source or 1/8″ audio output