Aperion Audio Allaire Bluetooth Speaker Review
- Frequency Response: 50 Hz to 20 kHz (+/-3 dB)
- Wireless Band: Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX Codec for CD Quality Sound
- Amplifier Power: 2 x 50watt
- Tweeter: 1" silk dome
- Woofer: 4" woven fiberglass
- Enclosure Type: Slot ported
- Dimensions: 8 5/8" H x 6" W x 6 3/4" D
- Includes: remote, 14AWG speaker wire with banana plugs, optical cable, RCA analog cable, 3.5mm analog cable
- USB power port for charging portable devices
- Threaded Inserts for wall and stand mounting
- $399/pair shipped
Bluetooth audio's gotten a bad rap, and Aperion knows it. I mean, who among us hasn't wanted to rip the gaudy earpiece off the head of the guy in front of us and say, "would you please stop yelling your phone conversation and just order your damn coffee already?"
However, with the release of the newest bluetooth audio codec, aptX, we can finally send wireless audio from our phones and tablets at CD-quality, as long as both the sending and receiving devices support it. That's where Aperion's Allaire Bluetooth Speaker comes in. They started with a great set of compact powered speakers, and, in addition to analog and digital wired inputs, added bluetooth to link portable electronics. All of this is remote controlled, which, at first, doesn't seem that interesting, but wait until you see that remote...
Aperion Audio Alliare Bluetooth Speaker Video Review
Packaging and First Impressions
Aperion is an Internet Direct company based just up the road from me in Portland, Oregon. They've been around since 1998, and quickly differentiated themselves with their exceptionally generous return policy including free two-way shipping.
They also became known for exceptional packaging, with their home theater speakers arriving in dark velvet bags fit for a king. While the $399/pair Allaire Bluetooth trades the velvet bag for a simpler, poly-fabric bag, which is still nicer than most, the attention to packaging detail is evident from the first glance. Not only does the Allaire come with everything you need to connect them including banana plug-terminated, heat-shrinked speaker wire, but these accessories are neatly velcro wrapped and presented each in their own little compartment.
The speakers themselves measure 8" tall with a 6x6.75" footprint which isn't vanishingly miniature, but still nicely compact and easy to accommodate on a messy desk like mine. They feature a 4" Fiberglass woofer and 1" Silk Dome Tweeter hidden behind a magnetic cloth grill. There are two finish options, black and white, both in a slightly matte finish which helps to reject glare from your TV and fingerprints from your greasy paws. The front of the left speaker houses an IR receiver for the included remote, and a 3 color LED that glows dimly when in standby and brightly when fully on. The LED glows 3 different colors, each designating bluetooth, analog, or optical inputs.
Around back, the left speaker features the 50 watt per channel Class D amp, and a full range mono output for adding a subwoofer. A USB port serves charging duties to keep your portables fully juiced. Slim binding posts accept full sized banana plugs that carry power to the passive right speaker, and a thin port makes possible the rated 50Hz response at -3dB. The speakers are threaded at the bottom for use on a stand, but also include adhesive rubber feet.
The remote is unlike anything I've ever seen. The buttons are, themselves, no different than most credit card style remotes, though Aperion chose to be delightfully restrained in opting for a mere 6 buttons. There are no physical controls on the speakers themselves, not even a power switch, so the remote is integral to their operation. Try not to lose it.
Not that losing the remote would be an easy task. The actual electronic bits are just a small circuit board and battery, held in place by magnets in a solid, heavy slab of aluminum. This thing screams executive, like a fist-sized nugget of precious metal holding down a stack of dry cleaning bills and a list of your political enemies. Sure, from a practicality standpoint, it's not terribly ergonomic, but the experience of this dense, cool hunk of achievement just begs for bourbon and cigars.
I tested the Aperions in 2 situations: Nearfield in a small room at 3 feet, and in a large, open space at 12 feet.
In the nearfield, the Aperions really benefited from careful placement with the tweeter as close to ear level as possible and pointed directly at the listener. Off axis, high frequency response loses a bit of detail, so if they are sitting low on your desk, toe them in and tilt them up with something like the Auralex mopad, or one of my favorites, rubber door stoppers.
I like to listen loud at times, and at max volume, the Aperions remained balanced with clean and detailed mids and highs, and articulate bass down to their rated response. At their max output, dynamics did become a touch compressed in the low-end, but overall, was still quite nice for a compact speaker of this size. When I added a small subwoofer similar to Aperion's Bravus 8A, the added extension and low-frequency headroom returned a sense of full-dynamic range.
Moving to the larger space is where the Allaire Bluetooth features really excelled. In a dorm room, office, or bedroom, the Aperions become the perfect do-it all-system. Multiple inputs meant that I could switch between a TV via digital, pc via 3.5mm analog, and tablet via bluetooth, all from across the room.
When listening from further away, I appreciated being able to spread out the Aperions. There’s no replacement for actual stereo separation and the Aperions created a more enveloping soundstage than any 2 foot wide dock or bar could hope to achieve, even with electronic pseudo-surround simulations.
In a room this size, the Aperions were potent enough for moderately loud music listening, but for movies, you'd want to add that subwoofer as response around 50Hz drops off a bit more quickly with this much room volume to contend with. Even then, understand that the overall output of the compact Aperions may not be loud enough for reference listening.
Competition and Conclusion
The most obvious competition is the Audioengine A5+. I have not heard the current iteration of Audioengines, but I did hear their predecessor, the A5 (with no “+”), on several occasions, and the Allaire Bluetooth hold their own. In terms of features, the AudioEngine A5+ do have a physical volume control on the speakers themselves, which is good for folks that don’t want to have to keep track of a remote. However, the Aperion’s add bluetooth, 3 switchable sources, grills, a smaller cabinet size, and the luxuriously dense aluminum remote of envy and doom, all for the same price.
The connection options are what really define the Aperion Allaire Bluetooth. These are do-it-all speakers for a wireless world where your CD player and your cell phone fight for favorites. These speakers are equally at home on an executive’s desk, or a college student's much less impressive desk. They can stay loud and clean up close and in smaller rooms, as long as you’re mindful of their placement to create as broad a sweet-spot as possible. Because of their versatility, I was able to find a usage scenario for them in almost every room of my house. I would recommend the Aperion Allaire Bluetooth to anyone looking for good sound with maximum connectivity in a small, simple package.
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Recent Forum Posts:
Montucky, post: 1080558, member: 72511
Maybe I missed it somewhere, but does anybody know what the usable range (distance) of these things is?
I was able to use them within about 30 feet through walls, if memory serves, with a Moto G.
Wonder if any if your friends' phones have aptX but didn't know it?
Anyway, since I generally don't put lossless media files on my phone, aptX sounds every bit as good as a wired connection could.
Sent from my LG-VS980 using Tapatalk
olc, post: 1027586
Yes aptX Bluetooth is very good but not really “CD-quality”. It is markedly better than standard Bluetooth. But aptX sending devices are pretty hard to come by. Tablets and smartphones that have it tend to be very expensive. The best deals in tablets are some of the Samsungs. The other are junk. Here's a place to find what has aptX capability JBA: List Of Apt-X Compatible Devices (transmitters, receivers, etc.)
aptX also keep there own list: aptXÂ® Wireless Bluetooth Audio Products & Technology
And you're right; I contacted all my friends and could find anyone with an aptX source. Receivers seem to be more common.
As far as using the term “CD-Quality”, aptX themselves are very careful about using the term “CD-Like”. Based on these specs, the algorithm may not perfectly replicate CD standards, but it come very close:
- Compression ratio: 4:1
- Audio Format: 16-bit, 44.1kHz (CD-Quality)
- Data Rates: 352kbps
- Frequency Response: 10Hz to 22kHz
- Algorithmic Delay: <1.89ms @ Fs 48KHz
- Dynamic Range: 16-bit: >92dB
- THD+N: -68.8dB
from aptXÂ® | High Quality BluetoothÂ® Stereo Audio | Codec
Let's also keep in mind that very few people will actually be feeding these products CDs or Lossless audio files from their portable devices via a bluetooth connection. Pandora and YouTube are more likely sources, and from that perspective, the source file becomes the bottleneck, not the transmission medium. For folks with CD players: use a wire.
Great Bluetooth products come out that cater to Iphones/pods in their marketing literature. Too bad they don't support aptx.
Blackberry and Samsung have adopted this technology but I do not see anything from Apple.
Sign of the times