About a year ago, Airpulse sent over their A80 bookshelf speakers to look at and I was impressed. Now they’ve sent over the A100’s, so I imagine a step up. I only had the A80’s on loan, so I cant do a direct comparison between the two but we can compare features and specifications. Let’s run through it.
Out of the box, what a fantastic looking pair of speakers. A simple and elegant design, a good size and weight to them as well. A glossy white finish, with black horn and woofer, no grille, and it just works really well. You can get them in other colours too, a glossy black or red and I’ve not seen those in the flesh but I think the white finish is the best. The speakers are constructed from 18mm MDF, and then finished with a glossy piano lacquer. Although I’ve not seen inside, Airpulse is stating the inside of the speaker is fully lined with that spongy acoustic foam to help performance. Each speaker comes in at 160mm wide, 283 high and 255 deep, and they weigh just over 13kg each.
To the front of the speaker at the top, there is a horn-loaded ribbon tweeter, which includes an aluminium ribbon diaphragm. Below that is a 5” mid-woofer, which at the centre includes an aluminium alloy cone, which is a nice touch and adds to that premium build quality. To the right speaker only, a small display at the very bottom, which shows which source you’re on and also includes the infrared sensor for the remote. To the rear of each speaker is a glossy black bass port and it’s also worth noting each speaker sits on four black feet.
The right speaker is the master, the left its slave, so the amplifier, controls and inputs are on the right speaker. Inputs include 2No. RCA inputs labelled Aux and PC, a USB port for PC connection, optical port and it also has Bluetooth 5.0. There is also a sub out option if you wanted to make it a 2.1 system. There are three rotary knobs as well, volume & source selection, plus bass and treble control.
Lastly, the speakers come complete with an array of cables in the box to get you started. These include an RCA to RCA, RCA to 3.5mm jack, optical, USB, speaker cable to link right to left and power lead. That speaker cable is roughly 3metres in length, which should be enough to have a good separation on your desk or bookshelf. Also in the box are the remote control and two little foam angled stands. The foam stands are a really nice touch that you usually have to pay for. Sit them on your desk, put the speakers on top and not only does it help reduce vibration on your desk but angles the speakers up slightly toward your ears.
Specification wise the speakers include a Digtal Amplifer With Xmos Processor. The power amplification part is built with 2 pieces of TAS5754 Class-D amplifier from Texas Instrument. This component is one of a handful of Class-D amplifiers in the market which combines high input sample rate support and high output PWM carrier frequency. The frequency range is from 52Hz to 40KHz, signal-noise ratio is equal to or greater than 90dBA and the power output is 50watts per speaker.
Audio performance for me was great from start to finish, whatever song or type of genre I listened to, it was an all-round pleasure to listen to. Out the box, punchy, vibrant, and versatile. When adjusting the bass and treble, I was able to improve the sound to better suit the genre I was listening to or to generally just how I liked to listen to the song. I listened to a lot of Rock music, Polyphia are on rotation at the moment, they have a heavy sound, no vocals in their songs just looks of guitar riffs and funky drums. In that instance, I added a bit to the bass, but then even more to the treble. Not huge increments on the knob, just subtle tweaks improved performance. I listened to some country music, old school hip hop, which really took advantage of that 5″ woofer, all of which, was great. Volume-wise, more than loud enough to fill your home and although I used them at about mid volume for the majority of the time, very pleasant, and at high volume, potential there to annoy your neighbours. There are times when I review things and I just think, I love it, this is great and I keep using that product over and over again. This was one of those times.
Using the speakers is very straightforward. You’re provided with a small remote, making it easy to power on/off, volume control and changing the source. That can also be done via the knobs on the back of the right speaker, plus you’ve got the rotary controls for bass and treble but that’s a little more awkward as you have to get behind the right speaker. For me, I set the treble and bass and then used the remote control. The position is important and while on my desk, the foam stands helped with the direction of sound and vibration transfer through my desk.
So what’s the difference between the A80’s and the A100s? Price-wise, the A80s retail at £599, while the A100’s retail at £659, although, some retailers differ and I found both online for £599, so you could say the price is the same if you shop around. Spec-wise, it’s the same amplifier, same frequency range, same inputs and outputs, same 18mm construction, same horn-loaded tweeter, and the only technical difference I can see is a slightly larger woofer on the A100’s, which is a 5” woofer, over the 4.5” within the A80’s. With that larger woofer, comes a larger speaker casing and increased weight as well.
Without having the A80’s here with me, I cant compare their performance, although I remember enjoying the A80’s too. That being said, if the price is the same or near to it and you can accommodate the slightly larger size, go for the A100’s and get that larger woofer for increased bass.
So there we have it, the Airpulse A100’s and I thoroughly enjoyed using them. Airpulse do a range of active speakers, they have the A200’s and 300’s as well, that I’ve not checked out yet but will be worth looking into. For more info and to purchase, head over to the official Airpulse website.