Airpulse A100 review: 2.0 bookshelf speaker with excellent sound
The A100 2.0 bookshelf speakers from the manufacturer Airpulse want to realize a hi-fi sound in a compact form factor. The speakers have a simple, high-quality look and modern features and even enable wireless Hi-Res sound via Bluetooth with Qualcomm aptX support. Our Airpulse A100 review clarifies whether the stereo speakers are worth their money.
|Dimensions (H x W x D)||288 mm x 160 mm x 255 mm|
|Frequency range||52 Hz – 40,000 Hz|
|Noise ratio:||> 90 dB(A)|
|Noise power:||< 25 dB(A)|
|Amplifier:||Digtal Amplifer with Xmos processor|
|Tweeter:||Horn Loaded Ribbon Tweeter; 2.5 inches|
|Midrange woofer:||Aluminum tube; 5 inch|
|Power:||2x 10 watts (tweeter); 2x 40 watts (mid-woofer)|
Bluetooth 4.1 (Codec: SBC, aptX), AUX, USB, optical
Airpulse A100 review: scope of delivery, design and workmanship
13.1 kilograms weighs the package of the Airpulse A100, which fluttered into our editorial office. Yep, with a weight of 11 kg for the pure speakers, the A100 are truly no lightweight.
So we immediately start opening the box and are surprised by the convincing scope of delivery. Various cables, a compact remote control and the speakers themselves along with accessories are neatly divided in the packaging.
The cables include everything you could possibly need. Besides an optical Toslink and an RCA cable, there is also a 3.5 mm jack to RCA and a USB cable in the box, which is used for the connection to the PC. Of course, the matching connection cable that links both speakers together should not be missing.
Simple design, high-quality workmanship
As for the design of the Airpulse A100, the bookshelf speakers went for a simple look. Our test model comes in a black piano lacquer look, but the speakers are also available in red and white color schemes as an alternative.
Otherwise, the speakers come across as simple and elegant. There is not much to see. At the front, you’ll find the tweeter in a rectangular box in the upper area, secured by a grille.
Below that is the mid-woofer, where Airpulse relies on a 5-inch aluminum cone. Both are held in place by four Torx screws each. At the bottom of the right speaker’s front, there is also a black strip that provides information about the respective operating mode (i.e. the selected audio source) along with LED indicators.
There’s not much to see on the bottom, besides the rubberized feet. Things get more interesting at the back – even if only at the right speaker, which has the controls and ports here.
On the left side, there are three knobs that you can use to adjust the volume, switch the operating mode, and switch to standby mode. The two knobs below are used to adjust the sound and raise or lower the bass (middle knob) and treble (lower knob), respectively.
The connections on the right side are of course self-explanatory. If desired, a dedicated subwoofer can even be connected here to turn the bookshelf speakers into a 2.1 system. Visually, the Airpulse A100s certainly cut an excellent figure and can even be set up at a slight angle thanks to foam pads – which naturally benefits the sound.
With a size of 160 mm x 283 mm x 255 mm (width x height x depth), they are also not too big to fit comfortably on a desk. The weight of just under 11 kg also speaks for the high-quality build quality, which definitely lives up to the price.
Practical test and operation of the Airpulse A100
The Airpulse A100s are quick and easy to set up. Power cable on, connect the speakers together and connect to the appropriate audio source. You’re ready to go.
Wireless playback is possible via Bluetooth, albeit only in version 4.1 – but including support for the high-resolution Qualcomm aptX codec – aptX HD, however, is conspicuous by its absence. The wireless range of around six to seven meters is also acceptable. That’s certainly enough to fire up the speakers wirelessly from a notebook or smartphone.
However, I see some need for optimization in the operation, respectively the comfort functions. On the one hand, it takes a bit until the A100s wake up from standby and are ready for use.
On the other hand, the speakers do not have a display that would inform about the volume level or similar. That would be quite practical – but you can’t really blame the speakers for that. Would be just still nice for the successor.
Sound test: How is the sound of the Airpulse A100?
Any criticisms are blown away when it comes to the sound characteristics of the Airpulse A100. Because the 2.0 stereo speakers simply sound outstanding. One 2.5-inch tweeter (with 10 watts of power each) and one 5-inch mid-woofer (40 watts of power each) per speaker are available, which are fired by an integrated class D amplifier. A frequency band of 52 Hz to 40,000 Hz is covered, and that with a high-resolution sampling rate of up to 192 kHz (Hi-Res sound).
Let’s leave all the technical data and specifications aside and concentrate on the sound quality of the Airpulse A100. And that has a lot going for it. And not only for the comparatively high price (I know, there are still much more expensive premium speakers).
The difference in sound compared to classic PC speakers, such as the G5000 from Airpulse parent Edifier (our review) is hard to put into words. Even in the standard settings, the A100s score with a detailed, quite warm and also airy sound image that brings out all the details – even of very complex arrangements – very well.
Now, the sound is always a subjective sensation. Personally, I appreciate a little boost in the treble in most cases, which is not a problem with these speakers with the knob on the back and noticeably improves the sound quality in my eyes.
If you want, you can also use the bass control to make your home decor dance. However, I find the bass to be very well balanced by default. The stereo sound also scores with a comparatively large sweet spot which means you don’t have to position the speakers with pinpoint accuracy to get the best possible sound.
Peak sound in all genres
At the same time, the A100s cope excellently with all music genres. In the heavy metal genre, songs like “Bring me to life” by Evanescence or “Mother” by Danzig score with a detailed and almost perfectly mixed sound image that you’re otherwise only used to from much more expensive speakers.
However, the speakers also like electro and pop music. “Illuminate” by Schiller pours out of the speakers with a rich, booming bass, clear mids and an excellent airiness, while “River” by Miley Cyrus expertly reproduces even the minimal details in the background of the chorus.
In terms of sound, there is nothing at all to criticize about the 2.0 speakers. If you are looking for a point of criticism, you might find it in the rather limited maximum volume. Other competitors can be much louder here – although the A100 is more than loud enough to withstand the background music of a (small) party.
Airpulse A100 review: conclusion
With the Airpulse A100, the manufacturer delivers an excellent 2.0 speaker pair, which plays up especially sonically so strong that this could already justify the rather high price for music fans.
Especially in wired mode, the speakers achieve a high-resolution (Hi-Res) sound that allows you to sit back, relax and simply enjoy the music. Finding similar compact stereo speakers that deliver such a convincing sound might be quite difficult in this price range.
The simple, but high-quality design, however, is likely to divide opinions. However, the A100s cut a very good figure in the living room as well as on the desk. However, they should only be handled with the included gloves and cleaned regularly due to the piano finish.
The connectivity is also good, even though the latest Bluetooth standard is no longer used, the use of the aptX codec deserves praise. A companion app and a remote control with additional functions would be nice-to-have, while a wireless Wi-Fi connection should also be included in the specifications of the successor.
However, for those looking for truly excellent-sounding, yet pleasantly compact bookshelf speakers, the Airpulse A100 are well worth a look – and, more importantly, the money.