There are oh so many Bluetooth speakers out there. Little plastic ones that sound tinny, larger battery-operated speakers that you can take with you and improve the sound quality.
In a departure from the small and the portable is this new speaker from Audioengine (US$299.00). The company, which has impressed many audiophiles with monitor speakers like the A5+ and the A2+ systems, is getting into wireless speakers in a big way.
This B2 speaker is a one-piece unit with similar internals to the A2+. No battery, no handle, just good clean sound from your iPhone or iPad.
The Audioengine B2 is an attractive speaker available in a variety of colors and finishes. It weighs 10 pounds and features a 60W peak total amp (30W per channel). The single piece stereo array features two 2.75" Kevlar woofers and a pair of 34" Silk dome tweeters. It supports Bluetooth 4.0 audio and the aptX codec for higher quality sound (more about aptX later.) The packaging is first class. Accessories and the speakers are packed in plush cloth bags with a drawstring.
Setting the speaker up is easy. Screw in the antenna, turn it on and the B2 is in pairing mode. Bring up your iPhone or any Bluetooth capable device and pair it to the B2.
Sound is subjective, but I found the Audioengine neutral with a solid low end. Range was good. Audioengine specifies 100 feet, and no matter where I moved in the house the signal stayed solid. The unit itself is noiseless, and with my ear up to the speaker with no input I could not hear any hum or hiss. The Audioengine bettered all the little Bluetooth speakers I have traveled with, and while my Bose Soundlink Bluetooth speaker sounds very good, I thought the AudioEngine bested it, but for a third more dollars.
I listened to classical strings, some Miles Davis and the new soundtrack to the Interstellar movie which has some deep organ notes. Everything sounded clean and pleasant. The speaker doesn't have really extended highs, but generally most small speakers don't. The bass held up very well without getting muddy.
The Audioengine is not a portable travel speaker system. It it doesn't feature battery power, and is large enough that you won't pack it for travel. But its size is the good feature here, not a negative. It has a solid stereo sound that would be great for a bedroom or an office desk. It's very well built. I always test the volume controls on audio equipment to see if they feel solid, and the Audioengine is obviously a high quality unit. No spurious noises, a lovely finish and concise documentation make it a great package.
The only negative is iOS itself. It only supports Bluetooth 4.0, while many Apple competitors support the higher quality aptX codec. Apple is behind here. Very much behind.