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Audioengine HD3 Wireless Speakers Review

The Audioengine HD3 are truly exceptional, and they’re some of the most impressive wireless speakers I’ve tested in the last five years.

October 20, 2017

/ by Tin Salamunic

I don’t consider myself an expert audiophile, I’m more of an all round hobbyist, but I care enough about the quality of my media that I always opt for the best audio devices that I can afford. As such, I don’t normally turn to wireless options unless I’m casually gaming on consoles or using exercise earbuds. For the last few years, I used Edifier’s R2000DB (a gargantuan pair of very capable bookshelf speakers) on our office desktop because I wasn’t willing to sacrifice any quality while listening to music and gaming. But while the sound quality never failed to impress, the speaker size and cable overflow eventually became a hindrance.

Thankfully, Audioengine’s HD3 speakers prove that wireless audio in a compact size isn’t just reserved for casual listening, but has its own place among audiophiles. The HD3 are a stunning pair of wireless speakers that impress with their rich sound performance. I didn't expect these tiny speakers to match the sound of Edifier’s monstrous drivers, but the HD3 are arguably superior in everything but the bass. Thanks to the built-in 24-bit DAC and wireless receiver, the HD3 deliver a powerful kick straight out of the box.


"The HD3 are a stunning pair of wireless speakers that impress with their rich sound performance."

The speakers are elegantly designed and boast a luxurious, or as Audioengine calls it Retro-Forward, aesthetic that complements the premium price tag. At $399, the HD3 aren’t a cheap investment, but when you experience the crisp and clear audio for the first time, it’ll feel like money well spent. The speakers come in three different finish options: Satin Black Paint, Cherry Wood Veneer and Walnut Wood Veneer. We received the cherry unit and the color is simply sublime. These speakers will look fantastic regardless of your setup, and thanks to their practical size, they can easily fit in snug corners.

The HD3 speakers are unique in that they offer both wireless and wired connections. The USB input makes it easy to connect the speakers to any compatible device if Bluetooth is not an option. Since the USB input bypasses your PC’s built-in low-quality headphone jack, you’ll also benefit from improved headphone performance if you decide to use the HD3’s front-facing 3.5mm output. Bluetooth pairing is fast, and my Spotify was up and running via my iPhone in seconds. If neither options suit you, the provided mini-jack stereo cable can be used for a more traditional connection.


"The speakers are elegantly designed and boast a luxurious, or as Audioengine calls it Retro-Forward, aesthetic that complements the premium price tag."

Most speakers I’ve tested in the past carry all of their primary connections on the right speaker, but the HD3 mixes things up. The right speaker is passive with only the left speaker input on the rear panel. The left unit is a powered speaker that houses the input/output hub, Bluetooth antenna, as well as the upsampling PCM 5102 DAC that helps push for a higher signal-to-noise ratio and lower noise floor. The headphone AUX port on the front is powered by a separate amp and it works surprisingly well whether you’re using standard headphones, or a high-end model like the Audio Technica ATH-M70x.

A small problem with having the main connections on the left speaker is accessibility for PC user. Most PC users have their case on the right side of the desk, oftentimes on the floor, so having the main speaker far left on a large desk can make it difficult to opt for the wired USB connection due to the short cable. Thankfully, I had “just enough” space to stretch the cable across the table to my case, but anyone with a larger work/gaming setup should be aware of the organizational limitations. This is not a problem if you’re strictly going for wireless.


"I don’t know what kind of wizardry has gone into designing and constructing the HD3, but the Bluetooth audio is simply out of this world."

Despite their compact size, the HD3 pack a hefty bass. There’s a bass reduction switch that allows users to toggle the strength of the bass between normal and reduced, but I found the normal setting to be perfectly balanced as it delivers just enough punch without creating auditory distortions or vibrations. It’s exciting to experience such impactful audio from speakers that are almost  as small as a Kleenex tissue box.

I’ve tested plenty of wireless speakers in the past, but it’s always been easy to differentiate between a wired and Bluetooth connection. I don’t know what kind of wizardry has gone into designing and constructing the HD3, but the Bluetooth audio is simply out of this world. Yes, the USB connection delivers a crisper and wider sound stage, but the Bluetooth signal comes frighteningly close in quality.


"Moving onto other music genres, the HD3 continue to blow every wireless speaker I’ve ever tested out of the water."

Doomtree is my go-to group for analyzing overall speaker music performance. Dessa, Mike Mictlan, Paper Tiger, Cecil Otter, Lazerbreak, P.O.S. and Sims all bring a unique voice to their performances, and their music serves as the perfect testing ground for a new speaker set. The HD3 recapture Doomtree’s poetic energy beautifully and their balanced frequency levels keep the beats dynamic and rich without ever overpowering the vocals. Whenever Dessa hits her solo, her voice strikes through with great clarity while the accompanying rhythms spread evenly across the room. Most of my listening takes place directly in front of a computer, but even when I distance myself from the speakers, the audio never loses its breadth and impact.

Moving onto other music genres, the HD3 continue to blow every wireless speaker I’ve ever tested out of the water. Lindsey Stirling’s violin performances sound phenomenal on the HD3. From classical music to pop, rock and electronic dance music genres, Lindsey’s music covers an impressively wide spectrum of styles. Her main theme for The Dark Knight Rises has filled my entire office with rich sound with the volume dial barely reaching the middle. The HD3’s power is a true testament to Audioengine’s expertise with audio engineering.


"The Audioengine HD3 are truly exceptional, and they’re some of the most impressive wireless speakers I’ve tested in the last five years."

I even used the HD3 during my gaming sessions, and the experience has been flawless. Thanks to the HD3’s strong bass and clean mids, FPS titles and racers that boast intense volumetric shifts sound fantastic without a hint of distortion. Survival horror titles like Alien Isolation or Outlast sound particularly great because the HD3 handles lows with delicacy and precision. 

Conclusion: The Audioengine HD3 are truly exceptional, and they’re some of the most impressive wireless speakers I’ve tested in the last five years. Their versatility, design, and audio performance is unmatched. The HD3 are one third in size next to my Edifier R2000DB, but their sound quality crushes them thanks to a wider soundstage and cleaner sound. The asking price isn’t an easy pill to swallow, but their flexibility and impressive high-end features makes them an absolute necessity for anyone who wants audiophile quality in a compact size.

Final Score: A+

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