So I have had the Airpulse A80 active speaker system, on my desk for over a week now. This is the first time we’ve checked out Airpulse, they’re not someone we’ve heard of before but they are in fact part of the Edifier group, which we’ve reviewed many times, most recently the Edifier D12 speaker.
These are the A80’s, they’re active bookshelf speakers and from what I can see online, they come in either a walnut wood finish or this pastel blue (electric blue they’re calling it). They originally released the A80s in just the walnut finish but they’ve just added this blue finish as an option, so we may see more finishes in the future. The speakers are constructed from 18mm MDF, then either wrapped in the walnut finish or sprayed blue. 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 140mm wide, 250 high and 220 deep, and they have a nice weight to them at nearly 10kg 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 4.5” mid driver, 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.
Inputs & Cables
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, USB port for PC connection, optical 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. Also in the box is 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.
Let’s talk spec for a minute. The speakers run off a XMOS XU216, 16 core processor, based on XMOS xCore200 architecture. The sample rate can be up to 192 kHz but this is only achieved via USB or optical, and you’ll get lower rates via other sources. Therefore, it supports Hi-Res audio playback and has obtained official certification stating so. The total power output from each speaker is 50watts, 40 for the driver, 10 for the tweeter.
Setting up the speakers was very straight forward, provide them with power, install the link cable between right and left, then input your sources. You’ve then got two options for controlling your content, via the knob on the back or the remote. Using the source select knob is ok, you push it in to switch between the sources but it is a little sluggish, you cant quickly switch between them, you need to almost wait for that command to load, then press it again to move onto the next. As for the remote, probably the worst part about the set up and does not offer the same premium look or feel the speakers do, unfortunately. Very small remote, black plastic, with limited buttons for power, sources, volume control and mute. No EQ presets or content control, and trying to get the battery lid off to install the battery, tough. I had some trouble there. Anyway, the remote works, it’s not great but you probably will use it for volume control.
Audio performance for me, fantastic. The sound profile can be fairly well balanced, rich, dynamic with good clarity. Leaving the bass and treble at zero or neutral, the mids and highs come through a little bit more than the bass and some of the tracks I listened too, needed more bass. Fortunately, you can crank the knob and increase the bass. I went about 50% up on the knob, sitting us at about +1.5 and it changed the tracks. I found mid-volume to be the sweet spot for best performance, loud enough to fill a small room but not too loud to annoy others in the house. The quality remains throughout the volume spectrum, low level listening while working was a dream, as was at max volume but I did increase the bass further at the max volume as I felt it was needed. Do you need to add a sub to this, as it caters for it. Probably not, there is plenty of bass, you just need to turn it up a bit.
For testing, I had these plugged into my main PC via USB to try various 192KHz tracks I had and then the rest of the time was mostly via Bluetooth. I have to say, I could definitely notice a difference when playing the higher quality tracks and if you can, it’s the best way to use them. That being said, stick with Bluetooth and I can’t see you being disappointed in the slightest. Are these good enough as studio monitors, amateurs, perhaps but anything more, there are better purpose-built speakers for studio work out there. These are more aimed for general use.
So that was the Airpulse A80’s, they are the first pair of speakers we’ve tested by the brand and they’ve left a very positive mark on us. They look very sleek, modern and this new blue finish looks better than the original walnut finish I think. The audio performance was very good and bearing in mind the price tag of £599, more than fair. We’ve tried Edifier speakers that are slightly cheaper, KEF speakers that are 2 or 3 times more expensive and I feel these sit nicely in between those. I would have like a better remote, one that allows content control and perhaps some preset EQ’s but then you’re provided with all the cables you need and those foam stands, so I guess that balances it out somewhat.
To find out more about the Airpulse A80, hit the link <—–