Next, we wanted to test the sound of the aptX, so we streamed Qobuz using a Google Pixel 3a directly to the A1 Wireless. This is where the clarity of details in the music became much more apparent. The stereo imaging opened up with more dynamic details in the music than we could hear before. This was especially noticeable during Prince’s funky hit song “Controversy,” recorded as the lead single and title track for the 1981 album. In this song, we could hear the popping of guitar strings against the fretboard played with Prince’s feverish funky style even when we walked away from the center of the A1’s soundstage.
Further testing of the A1 Wireless’s Bluetooth capabilities called for the Pro-ject Essential III Bluetooth turntable as an audio source, which is a great entry-level turntable that also supports aptX. Even though this digitized the analog signal of our vinyl recordings, we were impressed with the quality of the experience!
Continuing our session this time with a vinyl pressing of the same Prince 1981 “Controversy” album, the tight funky bass guitar came alive on the 6th track of the album, “Let’s Work.” The rhythm and pacing of the bass guitar had a tuneful sense of timing that made us dance and tap along while cooking for our friends and family in the kitchen. The syncopation between the kick drum and the snare drum thumped and thwacked musically with excellent bottom-end weight. In our smaller living room space, the A1 packed a powerful punch and performed really well as a tabletop setup that entertained our friends and family with enough volume and energy to get a party started!
For the best sound possible, we still recommend using the 3.5mm mini-plug to RCA adapter if your room is a smaller space. However, in most open whole room scenarios, listening to music with a larger wireless range is a convenient way to hear your albums. The Bluetooth connection performed well in this scenario and the sound was close to the quality of the 3.5mm input when using aptX and a compatible device. We were surprised to hear the Bluetooth signal maintain a stable connection into other rooms of the house. Moving the speakers further apart from each other will help spread the stereo image more and sound better in a larger room.
As bookshelf speakers, there’s no argument these were designed to sound the best when listening at close proximity. Similar to the A2+, you will want to form an equilateral triangle with the speakers so you are at equal distance from the speakers as they are from each other. If you are listening to a typical top 40 song, this will center the lead vocal and the kick and the snare drums in the center of the stereo image. Adding Audioengine desktop stands will improve the stereo image even more, and angling the speakers towards your ears will increase sound accuracy.
As a work from home setup, we were impressed with the A1’s stereo imaging. For this scenario, we streamed the same Prince “Controversy” album using Qobuz from our laptop with the 3.5mm mini-plug connection. Even at lower volume-levels Prince’s “Private Joy” let us hear how well balanced the A1’s imaging truly is. As near field monitors, the A1 presented a warm musical sound with clear mid-range and good low-end energy (even without a subwoofer). The bass guitar's rhythm and pacing made us tap our feet along with the beat and it helped us feel energized while working from home. Details in the top-end extension were clear and didn’t sound overbearing or harsh.
Due to the small size of these speakers, there’s not a ton of bass. However, the bass that does come out is very good for being such small speakers. Overall, we enjoyed listening to this entire album from front to back in a variety of formats using the new Audioengine A1 Wireless.