Audioengine B1 Review

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Pros: Easy to use, Great Audio quality, Compact, Long Range

Cons: Price

Bluetooth audio receivers have always been looked down on by audio enthusiasts. They are traditionally very cheap with sound quality being one of the least important elements. It is very hard to get high quality sound out of a smartphone since the components are designed to be cheap, not sound good. The Audioengine B1 looks to change that by offering great audio quality and ease of use.

Starting with the box we get a feature overview. The B1 will stream high quality 24-bit audio from any Bluetooth enabled device to nearly any sound system. It uses the aptX codec which is an industry standard for high end wireless audio.

Next we see the box contents and the inspection sticker. Audioengine inspects everything that leaves their factory to ensure everything lives up to their expectations. No big name brand is going to put that time and effort into quality assurance.

The back of the box highlights the ease of use of the product.

The side lists tech specs including the AK4396 DAC. This is the same DAC used in Audioengine's popular D1 and D3 USB DACs. Also highlighted are the gold plated connectors and metal construction.

Included in the box is the unit itself, a USB power cable and wall adapter, a quickstart guide, an explanation of their quality control sticker, and a product line.

Here is the unit. It looks exactly like the D1. It is solid and feels very high quality. The front features a power/pair button and an adjustable antenna.

The back of the unit features a micro USB in for power, a Toslink optical output, and analog outputs. I would recommend using the analog outs unless you are connecting to a dedicated DAC better than the internal one.

Although the antenna is not removable, the unit dies fold up.

Now on to the review:

I can't really find anything to complain about. Range was excellent. When most people think of Bluetooth audio they probably think of earpieces that are designed for a 2-3ft range. The B1 is not even comparableI was able to walk three rooms away and still achieve great sound quality. This is more than adequate for someone who will more than likely be in the same room as the receiver. It could also work great if you were working in the room next to your speakers and wanted to enjoy high quality sound while you worked.

Setup was simple. I didn't have to hold down the pairing button or connect the devices together. My phone found the B1 instantly and it just plain worked. There is no software to install or configure. The B1 shows up as a pair of headphones. There is no volume control on the unit. Everything is done through the phone.

Quality was great.I enjoyed the same quality of audio as my D3 desktop DAC, on my B&W home theater setup. It blows my phone's audio quality out of the water. Mobile audio is worse than desktop audio and the AK4396 is night and day compared to desktop audio. The B1 won't make your system sound better, it will make your phone sound better. The DAC is even high end phones probably costs less than $2 if it isn't already integrated into the phones SoC. Sure you can get a more expensive wireless DAC, but the B1 seems like the sweetspot for beginning to moderate audiophiles.

I don't know what else to say. The B1 does exactly what says it does. It streams high quality sound from any Bluetooth enable device to your home home theater. There is nothing to download or setup.. It is great for parties or just relaxing since nothing detracts from the audio experience. It just works and sounds great. There are many cheaper Bluetooth audio receivers but if audio quality is an important factor then this is the product for you.


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