Not all Bluetooth speakers are created equal. Most of them focus on portability over sound quality, which results in a speaker that you can take anywhere, but which generally won't wow you with its sound. Speakers like that are everywhere, and there's been a race to the bottom, where everyone is trying to beat everyone else on price.
Audioengine has wisely chosen to position themselves above the fray with the B2. It plays to their strengths, and delivers stellar audio in a great looking, distinctive package. This speaker is easy to move throughout your home, but you probably won't be taking it on many trips, because it is AC powered only. Being AC powered allows it to be much more powerful, and amazingly better at filling a room with sound than any battery powered speakers that I've ever heard. It also allows it to have an integrated power supply, so you don't have to deal with yet another wall-wart taking up space on either your wall or your power strip.
It's also a beautiful speaker. It's hand finished, with smoothly rounded edges and in my case a walnut color that makes it a conversation piece. It looks more like the classic speakers of the 70s and 80s, which makes it a very classy addition to any home.
I put it through its paces over the last week, playing everything from acapella to metal, and even some well-produced podcasts, and it delivered clear sound, powerful mid-range and respectable bass. This speaker seems more tuned for those who like their sound more neutral than bass-heavy, but it's no slouch when it comes to vibrating a table.
And this thing is loud
. I cranked up the volume to about 70% and could hear my music clearly across my house. It's a really good thing when a speaker is as loud as you need it to be without being turned up all the way, because you'll get better sound if you aren't driving it at its limit.
The B2 allows you to pair up to 6 devices (not at the same time), which is super useful in a house with multiple Bluetooth audio sources. It also has a 1/8 jack for direct audio input.
Initially I thought that it was a bad thing that the power switch and the volume switch aren't combined, but after using the B2 for a bit, I get it now. Separating them allows you to turn the B2 on and off without having to reset the volume each time. It's a seemingly small decision, but a lot of small decisions can add up to a great product, and they do here. Here's another small decision that helps the B2 add up to a great product: Bluetooth pairing is dead simple. You turn the B2 on, and if there's not a paired device available, it puts itself into pairing mode immediately. No button holding required!
The B2 costs $299, and it's well worth it. If you buy directly from Audioengine, you can try it for 30 days and get a full refund if you don't like it (but I'm sure you'll keep it after you hear it for the first time).
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