The Airpulse A80 are a set of active bookshelf speakers touting 100-watts of total power output, Hi-Res Audio support and a variety of input choices that make the speaker flexible to use in a TV, audio listening or desk setup.
This is my first time looking at an Airpulse product, but you may recognise some design elements from Edifier speakers as Airpulse is part of the Edifier Group. These Airpulse speakers aren’t cheap, with a retail price of £629, so let’s take a closer look at the speakers to see if they’re worth the price.
The Airpulse A80 are available in two colour choices, the Walnut finish offers a more traditional aesthetic whilst the Electric Blue finish that I have been testing for this review offers a modern design that really pops and stands out in your space. In my case, I’ve had these set up at my desk for the last couple of weeks, and, I have to say, with the electric blue colour alongside the black woofer and tweeter, these really do look great and have a contrasting design and the splash of colour is a very welcome addition.
Just before I continue, I should mention that I’ve set up the speakers the wrong way round – the active speaker should be on the right-hand side. This placement may be something you take into account when thinking about how the speakers can fit into your setup.
The speaker design is fairly minimal, the sides are plain, as are the tops, so they look clean when set up. Both speakers feature a horn-loaded ribbon tweeter as well as a 4.5-inch woofer on the front and feature a black and silver design and both feature oval-shaped glossy black bass ports on the back. The speakers also feature an 18mm thick MDF cabinet that is lined with sound absorption foam, although this design element can’t be seen, it should provide a more controlled listening experience.
The right-side speaker acts as the controller for the two, featuring all the inputs and connectivity and this connects and provides power to the left-side speaker using an included five-pin cable. There’s also plenty of connectivity, with four physical inputs as well as Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity. There are two RCA inputs as well as USB and optical input, the latter support Hi-Res audio playback. I connected the speakers to my computer over USB so I could make use of this, but I did need to make sure that I manually selected the 24-bit 192,000Hz sample rate and bit depth in my sound settings.
The speaker also features a subwoofer out connection, which is great to see, as if you like bass you’ll have that flexibility to add a subwoofer if you’d like to – the speakers also feature treble and bass dials which you can use to increase the presence of bass and treble if you want to turn up the bass without adding a separate subwoofer unit. There’s also a volume dial on the back which doubles up as an input selection button as well as a standby toggle, however, waking the speakers from standby isn’t immediate and can take a few seconds. Briefly moving back to the front-side again, the right side also has an input indicator to tell you which input is in use and this also is the infrared receiver for the included remote.
The Airpulse A80 provide a good listening experience and sound great. The best way I can descript the speakers is that they sound clear and controlled, the ribbon tweeters offer great clarity for the high-end and treble and I have not noticed any sharp sounds or sibilance when listening to music and watching videos. Likewise, I have found the bass to be good for what I like, but if you are a bass-head you may want to add a subwoofer to accompany the 4.5-inch magnet ferrite woofer.
During my testing, I left the speakers set to 0/0 for bass and treble on the adjustment dials on the back to understand how they naturally sound, but you can always adjust these to get the sound that you want to fit your taste and listening environment. Unfortunately, there are no built-in EQ presets on the remote, so the dials on the back of the speaker are the only hardware-level adjustment you’ll get.
I’ve been impressed with the frequency response and range of the speakers, which feature a range of 52Hz to 40KHz. The speakers sound great for a range of music genres and hold up well, I was particularly impressed by the bass response when I was listening to a track by The Weeknd – I heard some low-end that I had never heard before when listening to a track – the bass is also punchy when needed but doesn’t sound out of control. The mid-range is also handled by the woofers, which use 40W power each, and produces a clear vocal sound and immersive listening experience when a track is produced with stereo panning on instruments. The treble is handled by the tweeter which uses 10W power each and provides a very detailed and crisp treble.
The volume offered by the speakers is also good, I mostly ended up using the speakers listening at a comfortable background volume whilst I worked, but if you’re wanting to fill a room with sound and crank the volume, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Overall, these speakers do sound great and the word that I keep coming to when describing these is “controlled”, the sound that they put out sounds intentional and clean. Additionally, their Hi-Res support will be great if you enjoy listening to high-fidelity audio – you’ll just want to make sure that your device can support it to make full use of the speakers, but even without Hi-Res they still sound impressive.
Features and Accessories
As mentioned earlier during the review, the Airpulse A80 feature a variety of inputs and there are a variety of included cables so you can get up and running straight away. Within the box a 3.5mm to RCA, RCA to RCA, optical and USB cable are included – it’s nice to see that the cables you may need to get up and running are included as it means you don’t have to wait for the correct cables to arrive or need to spend even more money to use your speakers.
For wireless connectivity, the speakers support Bluetooth 5.0 so you can connect without the need for cables at all – this is particularly handy if you want to use your phone or tablet as a wireless audio source. The speakers also feature an XMOS processor to handle all of the digital sound processing for the speakers.
The included remote is rather cheap-feeling which was a little twisted around the battery cover – for £629 this remote should really be better for the price of the speakers and how Airpulse position themselves as a premium audio brand, it feels like a remote which would come with a cheap iPod dock in 2010. It’s a shame that the speakers are presented so nicely in the box, individually bagged and all, but then you end up with this cheap-feeling remote to interface with them. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to see a remote included but I feel it could be far improved to provide a premium user experience.
Speaker isolation foam pads are also included within the box which helps prevent any unintentional noise from the speakers being passed through onto the surface that they are on, it’s great to see that these have been included and the foam also feels well made and sturdy. The foam is angled so the speakers can point upright towards your ears which should further help enhance the listening experience.
The Airpulse A80 offer a great listening experience with incredibly detailed and controlled sound that sounds great for listening to a wide range of music genres as well as watching videos. The speakers support a range of inputs, so you should be able to use them with a wide range of devices and I think they look great – just a shame about that remote.
The Airpulse A80 speakers are available to purchase on Amazon.
The SummaryAirpulse A80
- Stylish and modern design.
- Clear treble and deep bass.
- Subwoofer output.
- Cheap-feeling remote.
- No speaker grilles for protection.
- Information display does not show volume.