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Newport 2016: Audioengine revs up with new HD6

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I occasionally have friends say to me, “Hey, you write for an audio magazine. How can I get a good hi-fi system without spending as much as you have?”

These are the folks who are perilously close to hopping in the car and heading to Best Buy or Target for a heavily promoted tabletop system — or worse. “There’s a better answer,” I tell them. “Check out this manufacturer’s website.”

That’s when I point them toward Audioengine, a cool company dedicated to bringing superior sound to the lifestyle crowd. Like the little engine that could, this outfit has figured out how to make intrepid products that more than pull their weight. For about what the average listener would pay for that big-box unit — which has a price/quality ratio heavily affected by its huge advertising budget — they can hop aboard the high-end train.

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Audioengine’s latest product, the HD6 bookshelf speaker ($749 a pair), is its most amazing yet. I came away from a demo at T.H.E Show in Newport seriously impressed. If fact, I want a few pairs to put in my kitchen, office and bedroom.

DSC_0758The small (11.75” x 7.25” x 10”) monitors feature a built-in 50 watt-per-channel amplifier, wireless and digital inputs, a 24-bit DAC, a cloth grill and your choice of three handsome wood-veneer finishes (black, walnut and a stunning cherry). Audioengine didn’t skimp on the drivers, either: The HD6 sports a premium 5.5-inch Kevlar woofer and a 1-inch silk-dome tweeter.

Setup is simple. All you really need to start playing music is a source: an iPad or other digital device, a turntable and phono preamp, Apple TV, or even an old-school CD player. An antenna for streaming is included, as are cables and a remote. That’s a lot of tech. Still not convinced? You can try it all at home risk-free for 30 days.

When I arrived at Audioengine’s room, a representative was streaming “These Bones” by the Fairfield Four from his smartphone via Bluetooth. The sound was well-balanced, with the detailed but not edgy top end typical of silk domes, combined with a slightly forward midrange that served the voices well. There also was a surprising amount of bass for a speaker that specs out at 50 to 22,000 Hz. (You can add a matching S8 sub for $349 that will take you down to 27 Hz.)

I asked to hear Steely Dan’s “My Rival,” and a few keystrokes later the punchy drum-guitar-and-organ intro was filling the room. Donald Fagen’s voice came across with his trademark mix of sarcasm and irony, and the ghoulish laugh that floats up from the background near the end was nicely positioned in the generous soundstage.

In the realm of the high end, eight bills is about what you’d pay in tax on some cable for a he-man rig.  The fact that Audioengine’s HD6 can give you a taste of audiophile sound for less than that, to me, makes these little jewels almost a giveaway. Whether you’re a casual listener or a hard-core enthusiast, you need a pair of Audioengines somewhere in your life. They’re that good.

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About John Stancavage (105 Articles)
Writer and reviewer for Part-Time Audiophile

5 Comments on Newport 2016: Audioengine revs up with new HD6

  1. There really is nothing wrong at all with Best Buy. But a snob? Nobody likes a snob, be it in film, food or dare I say it? Audio.

    Try being on a budget and not on an ego trip. You’re better than this, are you not? Show us you are more than a typist.

    SS

    • I think you’ve chosen your words poorly.

      This article hardly includes a slight to either a Big-Box store, or anyone on a budget. Had you actually read the piece, instead of indulging a knee-jerk to the face, you might have noticed.

      Your idea of a budget needn’t be mine. Or anyone’s. That’s taken as read. And Best Buy is a perfectly fine store. For some things. Maybe. But I know, having shopped there, that the products on offer aren’t necessarily “good deals”, despite the store’s name.

      • My words are rarely, if ever, poorly chosen. Here are yours where you more than intimate your disdain for Best Buy (and Target):

        “These are the folks who are perilously close to hopping in the car and heading to Best Buy or Target for a heavily promoted tabletop system — or worse.”

        My reply is far from being a “knee jerk to the face”. Think not to somehow repeal (repel?) the truth of my reply with such a pedestrian retort. I read the piece and well you know this. That I write a well crafted rebuttal, albeit one that took merely minutes to compose and yet contains a superb analogy, should come as no surprise.

        I have more often than not delighted in your words as written here but I take umbrage at what you typed this time. Typed. Not wrote. You are a writer not a typist. We all get that the majority of so-called “audiophiles” are elitist by choice. Choose better. Or not.

        Do as you desire.

        SS

      • Well, you certainly get points for “umbrage”. Well done.

        The point — made in the article, yet somehow missed by your keen perusal — was that there is better on offer than what you might find in the Sunday flier. If that is insulting, so be it — it is also true.

        Cheers.

    • John Stancavage // July 23, 2016 at 2:26 PM //

      I, too, am puzzled by the hatefulness and lack of logic in your response. I am hardly on an ego trip in this article. I am simply making a recommendation based on the quality of reproduced sound as I perceive it, which is what I do for a living. If I instead had written that you must buy a $100,000 system or you’re a lesser human being, THAT would be an ego trip. If I was a “typist,” I would have just copied the Audioengine press release. I did neither. I carefully auditioned the product and detailed my thoughts. I have nothing against Best Buy or Target. I have bought certain products at both (including AudioQuest cable at Best Buy and Apple gear at Target). But they also
      sell a lot of mass-market stuff such as one-box Bluetooth speakers that are stamped out by big conglomerates with a focus more on convenience than musicality. If you want to believe one of these lightweight little bricks, which don’t even attempt to project a decent stereo image, sound as good as the Audioengine speakers, designed and made carefully by people who take music very seriously, then please go ahead. It’s just that, in today’s world, boutique audio companies that appeal to those who value good reproduction are faced with an enormous challenge to be noticed. The fact that the Audioengine folks can provide the level of quality that they do at modest price levels (they also have a wonderful $399/pr. speaker, the A5 Plus) makes them a business I want to root for and help get the word out to others. If my enthusiasm in doing that somehow came off as snobbery, that was not my intent.

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