Airpulse A100 Active Speaker Review Rating
I like the Airpulse A100 speakers a lot. They are my favourite Airpulse speaker so far, and they are arguably better speakers than the Edifier S3000 Pro if you value the extra detail in the higher ranges that the horned tweet provides.
Overall - 90%
- Superior bass to A80 and superb overall sound quality being able to produce detailed highs will still having lots of low end.
- Attractive design and well proportioned
Not much at this price, but to be picky:
- Wired speaker connectivity with dated DIN connector
- Lacks modern Bluetooth and newer aptX codecs
I have worked my way through most of the excellent Edifier active speakers, and more recently, I have been checking out the premium Airpulse range.
Similar to Klipsch, the defining feature of these speakers is the horn-loaded tweeters which helps the speaker produce a wide dynamic range producing detailed highs and low distortion.
When I reviewed the Airpulse A80, I enjoyed the overall experience, but the bass was a little subdued for my personal tastes. The Airpulse A100 I am reviewing today is a big improvement for me and has been much more enjoyable to use.
The normal speakers that I use daily are the Edifier S3000 Pro which I think are superb and are one of the logical alternatives to the Airpulse A100.
Airpulse A80 vs A100 vs A200 vs A300 vs Edifier S3000 Pro Specifications
I apologise for the big table comparison, but I think it is worth looking at all of the speakers. There is not a huge jump in price between each model. I know if I was willing to spend £550 on the Edifier S3000 Pro, it wouldn’t take much mental gymnastics to convince myself to spend £900 on the Airpulse A300. I ignored the Airpulse A300 Pro because they have a huge price difference from all the others.
|Airpulse A80||Airpulse A100||Airpulse A200||Airpulse A300||Edifier S3000 Pro|
|Tweeter||Horn Loaded Ribbon Tweeter||Horn Loaded Ribbon Tweeter||Phase Correction Horn Loaded Ribbon Tweeter||Horn Loaded Ribbon Tweeter||107 x 107mm Planar silk diaphragm|
|Mid Wooder||4.5 inch Aluminum Cone 30mm VC Mid-Woofer||5 inch Aluminum Cone Underhung Design Neo.|
|5.5" Aluminum Cone Neo Power Mid-Woofer||6.5inch Aluminum Cone Underhung Design Neo|
|6.5” (179mm) aluminum alloy diaphragm|
|Amplifier System:||Digtal Amplifer With Xmos Processor||Digtal Amplifer With Xmos Processor||Digtal Amplifer With Xmos Processor||Digtal Amplifer With Xmos Processor|
|L/R(Treble)10W + 10W|
L/R(Min-Range and Woofer) : 55W + 55W
|R/L (Treble): 8W+8W RMS
R/L (Mid-range and bass): 120W+120W RMS
|Frequency Rang:||52Hz-40KHz||52Hz-40KHz||46Hz-20KHz||40Hz-40KHz||38HZ ~ 40kHZ|
|Sample Rate Input Sensitivity:||AUX:450±50mV PC:550±50mV|
|Balance Input 1000±50mV，AUX Input 550±50mV，Bluetooth Input 1000±50mFFs，Optical Input 350±50mFFs，Coaxial Input 350±50mFFs||AUX:450±50mV PC:550±50mV|
|Line in: 600 ± 50mV | Balance: 1000 ± 50mV | OPT/COAX: 400 ± 50mFFs | Bluetooth: 450 ± 50mFFs | USB: 400 ± 50mFFs|
|Input||AUX, PC, USB, Optical, Bluetooth||AUX, PC, USB, Optical, Bluetooth.||AUX, Balance Input, Optical, Coaxial, Bluetooth||AUX, PC, USB, Optical, Bluetooth||Line In/Balance/Bluetooth/Optical/Coaxial/USB|
|Speaker Connectivity||Wired||Wired||Wired||Wired||KleerNet Wireless|
|Cabinet Size (WxHxD):||140x255x238mm||160x288x273mm||570x400x469mm||225x384x358mm||232*368*356 mm|
|Net Weight:||10Kg(22lbs)||11Kg(24.2lbs)||22.7Kg(50lbs)||24kg (53lbs)||21.1 KG|
I was sent the speakers in a glossy white colour. I’d say they look more attractive than the Edifier S3000 Pro, certainly a more modern aesthetic. While they are not small, they are considerably smaller than the Edifier speakers, which makes them a bit more convenient to place.
Apart from the colour and physical dimensions, the overall design is basically the same as the Airpulse A80.
Just like the Airpulse A80, the right speaker connects to the left with a cable using a DIN port. The Edifier S3000 Pro uses KleerNet wireless which has worked flawlessly for me and makes setting the speakers up and keeping the installation tidy much easier.
There is some control over the bass and treble via the knobs on the rear. I found that this only provides a subtle amount of differences.
Identical to the A80, you get plenty of accessories in the box, including all the cables you need. The included remote is basic but functional. It includes fewer features than the remote on my cheaper Edifier, which has basic sound profile options and music control.
There is also the foam wedge which is used if you place the speaker on your desk, allowing you to angle the speakers up towards you and reduce distortion from hard surfaces.
Like all of the active speakers from Edifier/Airpulse, you have a wide range of connectivity options, including:
- Bluetooth with aptX
This speaker also has a subwoofer output. Airpulse don’t seem to list this in the specs for all the speakers, but as far as I can tell, they all have it.
The majority of my testing was done either with the built-in DAC and USB connectivity or my FiiO K5 Pro Desktop DAC. The Airpulse goes up to 24bit 192Khz, whereas the FiiO can do 32bit and 384KHz. I can’t say I noticed much difference in quality switching between the two, and there seems to be little benefit of 32bit for listeners.
I briefly tested the other connectivity options. Optical and Bluetooth performance was good. You have aptX for Bluetooth, which provides better quality than SBC/AAC, but more modern codecs are missing, such as LDAC or aptX Adaptive (or HD).
On paper, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between the A80 and A100. They are rated for the same power output, they have the same horn-loaded tweeter, and there is not a massive difference in dimensions or weight.
The main difference seems to be the woofer design, and this has made a big difference.
I was immediately impressed with the sound of the Airpulse A100. While I liked the sound of the A80, I found the bass a bit subdued to my tastes. These have a much richer low end while producing a more detailed higher than my S3000 Pro.
This then allows the speakers to be a bit more versatile than my Edifier speakers. They perform well across all genres going from dance music and hip hop to harsher tones of punk. I also quite like the violin, and some modern violin music, like Black Violin, can be challenging for some speakers with the high notes of the violin and lows of the hip hop beats, but these handled the tracks with ease.
Mids are superb, and these excel with vocals regardless of pitch and genre. Male and female vocals all come through with excellent clarity without being overwhelmed by instruments on the low or high end.
With a lot of speakers and earbuds, I find that I am quite sensitive to high-pitched frequencies and, more often than not, find them quite harsh. I do perhaps find these a little more fatiguing to listen to over several hours than my Edifier speakers. Still, it seems that I can tolerate highs much better when the overall quality is excellent, like on these.
I also used these for TV, movies and gaming. They performed well all around, and I would say movie performance was excellent. Many speakers struggle with movies nowadays, having difficulty with dialogue and changing volumes. I found that I didn’t, or rarely, had to adjust the volume on these as scenes changed.
As far as volume goes, I have a moderately large office. Using USB connectivity and with the volume knob in the middle, I typically have windows set to 20% for casual listening. Dialling up to 50%, and I can just about tolerate it sitting at my desk. I have had these dialled up louder when I am pottering around upstairs, and they provide room-filling audio without distortion.
Price and Alternative Options
|Airpulse A100 ACTIVE SPEAKER||£659.00||Buy on Amazon|
|AirPulse A100 Active Bookshelf Bluetooth HiRes Audio Speaker...||£659.99||Buy on Amazon|
If you are happy with the white or red colourway, then the Airpulse A100 is available for £660 on Amazon.
As I highlighted in the comparison above, the big issue for me would be that it is easy to convince yourself to spend an extra £100 or so on the next model up. I’d likely repeat this process until I end up with the A300.
|AirPulse A300 Active Bookshelf Bluetooth HiRes Audio Speaker...||8 Reviews||£849.99||Buy on Amazon|
|AirPulse A200 Active Bookshelf Bluetooth Speaker System with...||8 Reviews||£779.00||Buy on Amazon|
|Edifier S3000PRO Hi Res Audio Active 2.0 Wireless Monitor...||£699.00||Buy on Amazon|
The Edifier S3000 Pro is an excellent, more affordable option. They are bigger and more powerful speakers but less detailed in the highs. These also have wireless connectivity, which has been hugely helpful with my office set-up.
The incredibly popular KEF LSX has been as low as £799 and benefits from wireless speaker connectivity and WiFi/Ethernet for streaming. While I would love to try this speaker, I have read many reports that it is underwhelming without a sub.
Klipsch has The Fives for £899, these have a horned tweeter for those detailed highs, and they have superior connectivity, including HDMI. A more affordable option is the Klipsch R-41PM for around £310.
Kanto appears to be a popular powered bookshelf option. They have the YU6 at around £490 or the TUK for £729.
I like the Airpulse A100 speakers a lot. It is one of the rare times I have been able to appreciate a bit more emphasis on higher frequencies without struggling with harshness.
I personally think these are significantly better than the A80 and well worth the extra money.
It is a tough call to say if I prefer these over my existing Edifier S3000 Pro, it is a close call. If you are someone that would appreciate the superior detailed highs that the horned tweeter can achieve, then I would strongly recommend considering this over the Edifier.
Last update on 2023-01-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API