The Audioengine P4 is a cheap speaker.
Correction, it's an audiophile speaker that sells for $249 a pair. But that hasn't stopped it from getting raves from audiophiles who live with speakers that sell for a whole lot more.
I use Audioengine A2 self-powered speakers ($199 a pair) with my computer, so I thought I had a handle on what to expect from the P4.
I did not; it's a whole new ball game. First, the P4 is a "passive" speaker, so you need to hook it up to an amplifier or receiver. The A2 is an "active" self-powered design that can be connected to a computer or MP3 player via a headphone jack.
I started listening to the P4 with my computer, with the speakers hooked up to an old Jolida hybrid tube/solid-state amplifier. The A2 is a sweet sounding little speaker, but the P4 was dramatically clearer, cleaner, and more vibrant. The P4 blows the A2 away--it's not even close.
At 9 inches tall by 5.5 inches wide by 6.5 inches deep, the P4 looks like a larger A2 (the A2 is 6 inches high by 4 inches wide by 5.25 inches deep). The P4 comes in satin-finished black or gloss white paint for $249 a pair, or in bamboo for $325 a pair. The wood isn't merely a veneer over medium-density fiberboard; no, the P4's cabinet is made out of solid bamboo, it's gorgeous!
Audioengine offers a nifty tabletop stand, the DS1 ($29 a pair), that cants the speaker back at an angle to project sounds up. The rubbery stands also isolate the speaker and prevent it from transmitting bass into your desk. Want to wall mount it? No problem, use the threaded inserts on the speaker's rear-end.
The P4's three-quarter inch silk dome tweeter and 4-inch Kevlar woofer appear to be of very high quality. Both drivers are made by Audioengine. … Read more