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Airpulse A100 Review (Powered Speaker)

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 10 3.0%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 136 40.7%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 184 55.1%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 4 1.2%

  • Total voters
    334

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Airpulse A100 powered monitor. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $900 on Amazon including free shipping.

The fit and finish on the A100 is definitely a step above the average "computer speaker:"

Airpulse A100 Review Powered Speaker Monitor.jpg


The piano, high gloss finish gives it a nice feel. The port is in the back along with a myriad of connectivity:

Airpulse A100 Review Back Panel Digital Powered Speaker Monitor.jpg


I must say those are some of the nicest volume (and tone) controls I have seen on a powered monitor. Connection to the second speaker has high pin count indicating active crossover and dual amplification.

As indicated, speaker was designed by British speaker designer, Phil Jones.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

I performed over 1000 measurement which resulted in error rate of roughly 1%.

Reference axis for measurements was the center of the tweeter.

Measurements are compliant with latest speaker research into what can predict the speaker preference and is standardized in CEA/CTA-2034 ANSI specifications. Likewise listening tests are performed per research that shows mono listening is much more revealing of differences between speakers than stereo or multichannel.

Airpulse A100 Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker is and how it can be used in a room. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws:

Airpulse A100 Measurements Frequence Response Powered Speaker Monitor.png


This is not bad. We have the usual messiness around crossover but then things look good. A sharp high-pass filter seems to have been designed to keep bass distortion at bay.

There is a resonance around 1.4 kHz which we can easily identify in our near-field measurements:

Airpulse A100 Measurements near-field Powered Speaker Monitor.png


Some kind of cabinet/port resonance is existing out of there and interfering with the response during the crossover region.

Early window reflections look messier than I expected:

Airpulse A100 Measurements Early Window Frequence Response Powered Speaker Monitor.png


Fortunately it sums reasonably well with on-axis to give us this predicted on-axis response:

Airpulse A100 Measurements Predicted in-room Frequence Response Powered Speaker Monitor.png


Horizontal directivity is a bit narrow but otherwise good:

Airpulse A100 Measurements Horizontal Beam width Powered Speaker Monitor.png


Airpulse A100 Measurements Horizontal Directivity Powered Speaker Monitor.png


Vertically we have a ditch if you go above the axis of the tweeter so don't do that!

Airpulse A100 Measurements Vertical Directivity Powered Speaker Monitor.png


Due to tall tweeter, the vertical window closes as you go up in frequency --- another reason to stay at tweeter height.

Distortion is kept at bay at 86 dBSPL but not at 96:

Airpulse A100 Measurements THD distortion Powered Speaker Monitor.png


Airpulse A100 Measurements distortion Powered Speaker Monitor.png


During the measurement sweeps, I could hear a distinct modulation/abnormally at 96 dBSPL. Not sure if this is what is peaking between 2 and 5 kHz or is the cabinet resonance.

Finally, our waterfall shows a few resonances:

Airpulse A100 Measurements CSD Waterfall Powered Speaker Monitor.png


Airpulse A100 Listening Tests and Equalization
I listened to the A100 before computing the response. Sound was fine to me except maybe a hair too bright at times. Once I got the measurements and saw the resonance at 1.4 kHz, I decided to correct for that:

Airpulse A100 Equalization EQ Parametric Powered Speaker Monitor.png


I always here the effect of this type of correction as improved clarity but it is very subtle. Other than the above, I didn't feel the need to fiddle with the response.

As far as dynamics, the A100 can play very loud due to the fact that it filters out all sub-bass. Music with such content plays as if those notes are not there. Interesting trade off that I tend to like but I think there is a bit too much filtering here.

As far as hiss, I developed a way to measure it. I was all happy with it until I went to process the data and found something odd. So I need to go back to drawing board. Subjectively, there is only a bit of hiss that disappears at 4 to 5 inches in front of the tweeter. So really not a problem.

Conclusions
The A100 is expensive for this category of "computer" speaker. But you do get better finish, very nice connectivity (including a remote and nice LEDs in front indicating which input is active), etc. Competing studio monitors have better response but lack the connectivity, remote, etc., forcing you to use a pre-amp (or deal with software controls which I don't like).

Overall, I am happy enough to recommend the Airpulse A100 speakers. There is now a poll where you can vote what rating this speaker should get. So use that to agree or disagree and let's see what you all's consensus is.

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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  • Airpulse A100 Frequency Response.zip
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dfuller

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Interesting that the distortion profile of 86 and 96 are basically identical, just 96 is much more.
 

respice finem

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If only the distortion wasn't so high...
BTW, is that really the ancient "DIN" 5-pin socket? (L speaker out)? I thought they were "extinct" in Hi-Fi for decades.
 

GimeDsp

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If only the distortion wasn't so high...
BTW, is that really the ancient "DIN" 5-pin socket? (L speaker out)? I thought they were "extinct" in Hi-Fi for decades.
That connector is so bad. I really don't understand them saving a few cents to use that. crazy. Swan has an much better connector that even has a threaded ring to secure it.
 

thewas

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Distortion profile in the mids is disappointing already at 86 dB being around 1% (thankfully mainly h2), especially for the price class.

If used as monitors like most loudspeakers with such a long tweeter type and thus vertical increasing beaming they should be used with high or tiltable stands to have the tweeters directly aiming to the ears.

The panther voting is very welcome, thanks!
 

GWolfman

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Thanks. Seems respectable for an AIO.

Wonder what's going on at ~800 Hz (dip in power)?
 

Head_Unit

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As far as dynamics, the A100 can play very loud due to the fact that it filters out all sub-bass.
A highpass crossover? Or not exactly? For these types of powered monitors, I think it is a very important point to note if the monitor can filter out bass, allowing proper crossover to a subwoofer.
 

napilopez

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Distortion profile in the mids is disappointing already at 86 dB being around 1% (thankfully mainly h2), especially for the price class.

If used as monitors like most loudspeakers with such a long tweeter type and thus vertical increasing beaming they should be used with high or tiltable stands to have the tweeters directly aiming to the ears.

The panther voting is very welcome, thanks!
Agreed, though I assumed that might be the reason for the slightly bright response.
--------
Panther voting is fun! Gives newcomers another point of reference.

Looks good to me other than seemingly leaning a bit bright. I'd imagine the low q dip around 2k and then peak at 4k might make it sound a little uneven both nothing seems broken.
 

MZKM

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Wonder what's going on at ~800 Hz (dip in power)?
Port resonance/leakage.

___________
That and the lack of bass for $1000 made me vote for a 2/4, if the bass was average then a 3/4.

Looks like they are related to Edifier.
Maybe someone (or the company) can send in the A300 Pro ($2100) or the 7001 (price unknown).
 
Last edited:

heraldo_jones

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I have heard both A80 and A100 and although they are a bit expensive for their characteristics I msut admit that they sound fine and good resolution (some people confuse resolution with a flat response)
 

fredoamigo

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I would say Kanto's YU6 are better for significantly less money. Or I'm missing something?
that's what I thought too and I would be really curious about a blind test between the two
 
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