After a short break I return with the review of the A200’s baby brother, the A80. Read on to learn more in my second Airpulse review.
This review is sponsored by Airpulse.
Audrey, Kay, Kathryn & Airpulse have been very kind and shipped me this set of monitors.
The A80 retails for £629 and can be found on Amazon:
I will note here that although this is a sponsored review by Airpulse. I have been honest and unbiased in my opinion.
You can find the A80’s and more on the Airpulse website:
Review equipment and software:
Airpulse A80 active speakers.
Focusrite Scarlet Solo Gen-2 audio interface.
Audioquest Dragonfly Black V1.5 USB DAC/Dongle.
Sony Bravia TV.
Apple TV 4K.
Apple MacBook Air.
Qobuz Studio Premier.
Qobuz Studio Premier on Macbook Air.
Apple Music on Apple TV 4K.
For all your High Res music needs please take a look at our partner Qobuz and give it a try:
What’s in the box:
Airpulse A80 active speaker system.
1x Transparent 5pin Din speaker cable.
1x Stereo RCA to 3.5mm male jack cable.
1x Stereo RCA to RCA cable.
1x Optical cable.
1x USB cable.
1x Power cable.
4x Sorbothane feet.
2x Foam desk wedges.
1x Remote control.
Again, Airpulse don’t skimp out on accessories here.
I was impressed with what came shipped with the A200’s, the same can be said for the A80’s.
Airpulse include everything you need to get up and running with all the cables required to get your gear connected. The only cable that is missing is a coaxial cable, though considering everything else in the box it’s not the end of the world.
- Tweeter: Horn Loaded Ribbon Tweeter
- Mid-Woofer: 4.5 inch Aluminum Cone 30mm VC Mid-Woofer
- Amplifier System: Digital Amplifier With Xmos Processor
- Power Output: L/R(Treble):10W+10W, L/R(Woofer): 40W+40W
- Frequency Range: 52Hz-40KHz
- Signal-Noise Ratio: L/R:≥90dB(A)
- Input Mode: AUX, PC, USB, Optical, Bluetooth (The USB, Optical Inputs Support Up to 192KHz Input Sample Rate)
- Input Sensitivity: AUX:450±50mV PC:550±50mV, USB:400±50mFFs, Optical:400±50mFFs Bluetooth: 500±50mFFs
Sub Out：1200mV Max
- Mains Voltage: AC 100-240 V /50-60 Hz
- Cabinet Size (WxHxD): 140x250x220mm
- Net Weight: 9.3 Kg(20lbs)
Build & finish:
Airpulse have constructed a substantially solid and great looking compact active speaker system.
Their attention to detail and superb craftsmanship are clearly evident the moment you unbox them.
From the box of accessories to the speakers themselves, everything here is well thought out.
The finish is stunning with a good choice of veneer.
From the fronts to the rears, all the parts are fitted neatly and have a robust feel.
They are very much the A200’s baby brother in every way. Although I would go as far as to say I prefer the finish on the A80’s over their larger sibling.
The accessories are all good quality items.
They look so good, my wife wants me to keep them for use in our office/desk space once it’s built!
Note: They are also available in some very nice glossy finishes. See below the aqua/mint blue for an example…
Setup is very straight forward.
First you will want to decide how & where you want them positioned, and depending on your choice you can then either use the included sorbothane feet or foam wedges.
The pair that came to me are a review sample and already had the feet attached. However, I decided to use the foam wedges, and this did work. Just be aware that the feet can and will leave indents in the foam!
Now it’s a case of positioning them and hooking them up.
You have a few options here. ( Bare in mind that although Airpulse have included most cables you will need, they don’t include a coaxial cable )
Optical, Coax, USB, Bluetooth or RCA.
There is also the option to feed an external subwoofer, however I don’t currently have a sub laying around so this review was written, using the A80’s without a sub.
The bluetooth pairing process is easy and fast. Once you’re paired the connection is very stable with no drop outs.
A nice touch can be found on the active speaker, sporting a small LED display at the bottom, indicating what channel is active.
During my time with the A80’s I predominantly used the USB connection between the speakers and my MacBook Air.
The MacBook recognised the A80’s and all I had to do was select my output device. Plain sailing!
I tested the Airpulse A80 in the following configurations:
MacBook > USB > A80.
MacBook > USB > Dragonfly > Jack-RCA > A80.
MacBook > USB > Focusrite Scarlet > RCA-RCA > A80.
MacBook > Bluetooth > A80.
Apple TV 4K > Bluetooth > A80.
Apple TV 4K > HDMI > Sony Bravia > Optical > A80.
As you can see I used the A80’s in a number of varied ways.
I don’t currently have an office or desk space so I simulated this using my large coffee table.
I sat on a beanbag in a near-field position…
The A80 project a wide, spacious soundstage with focus and depth when they are positioned just right.
Isolation and separation are handled very well, in fact incredibly well.
Being mindful that I didn’t have a sub at hand, the A80’s still presented me with a deep, punchy bass with a good amount of control and precision. Tweaking the bass control on the rear of the A80 helps to bring more body and depth low frequencies.
Also consider these are sat quite far from my living rooms front wall, as you can see in the image above. If the A80’s were on a desk closer to a wall, being rear ported, you would gain more control over the bass enabling you to tune it more to your liking.
I found the mids to be rolled off, yet airy and detailed. Vocals sound particularly gratifying through the A80’s with a very organic vibe.
This is where the A80’s shine, with a beautiful sparkle.
The horn loaded ribbon tweeters do a stunning job of bringing every fine detail in the higher frequency range to the fore, with speed and clinical precision that I haven’t heard very often in a smaller speaker, whether it be active or passive.
Using the A80’s with my Apple TV/Sony Bravia the sound quality was on par with the desktop setup.
Compared to my soundbar they sounded far superior and offered a clearer image. Dialogue comes through very clearly.
The dynamic range boasted by the A80’s handles movies and games really well and produces an engaging and lively sound, both in soundstage and tonality.
The onboard DAC/DSP is impressive. And handles High res files with ease.
I did find however, that feeding the A80’s with a signal from an external DAC like the Dragonfly, or a USB audio interface such as the Focusrite brought a heightened level of clarity and punch.
It is also worth noting that the A80’s have a set of controls around the rear for volume, input select, bass and treble.
The tone controls are a handy tweak when needed.
At £629 you may wonder if these active speakers are worth the investment.
However, Once you brush that aside and take a deeper look at them, you soon see the quality of the build, the technology built into the active speaker.
You look at the fitment and finish, cables, flexibility and the remote.
And then there’s the sound. If you want an analytical speaker that picks out every detail that doesn’t take up a whole lot of space on your desk then you could do far worse!
I did try them out in my main system in our living room and they performed surprisingly well. Mind you, we did notice the lack of bass in this experience, so a sub would have brought them up to speed.
But they did fill the room with an airy and crisp sound with a spacious soundstage. So if you’re in a small to medium living space these could just be the ticket with an external sub to cover the lower frequencies.
They also double up as a great solution and alternative to a soundbar or 2.1/3.1 AV system.
My wife is usually quite picky when it comes to audio gear, so when she states she wants me to keep these for our eventual office / desk space, it speaks volumes. She loves the style, compact build and the “clear” sound they produce. ( her words )
I may need to try and talk Airpulse into letting me keep these!
I highly recommend the Airpulse A80.
And I can comfortably state that the £629 price tag is a worth while investment for your office or small to medium living space.
Thanks again to Airpulse for giving me the opportunity to spend time with and review these speakers.
Thank you to my readers for your support and ongoing interest.
Please remember too like, subscribe and share.
Thank you, stay safe and happy easter to you all. Paul.
The Audiophile Cafe would like to thank our sponsor, Airpulse.
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