Aperion Audio Allaire Bluetooth Speaker System Reviewed

resize.php.jpegNo one in their right mind sits around and thinks that what the world needs is another Bluetooth speaker. I’m not saying that the people at Aperion Audio are crazy, but evidently someone at the company decided that the world did need another Bluetooth speaker. Thankfully, though, whoever the dreamer was at Aperion had the good sense to make the distinction that the world needed a high-quality Bluetooth speaker, rather than just another piece of plastic junk that sounds worse than your grandmother’s old clock radio.

The result of the company’s efforts is the $399 Aperion Audio Allaire Bluetooth speaker system. It consists of a pair of self-amplified desktop speakers that include Bluetooth connectivity; a 3.5mm headphone-jack-style analog audio input; an optical digital audio input; a fancy infrared remote control with a solid-aluminum chassis; plus all the cables and wires you’ll need to hook up the system. In other words, it’s a complete package that’s ready to go out of the box in just about any situation. The Allaire Bluetooth speakers themselves are rather large, as far as Bluetooth desktop speakers go, being slightly over 8.5 inches tall, six inches wide, and 6.75 inches deep. For some desktops, that may not be bad at all; however, on my Ergotron WorkFit-D adjustable standing desk that holds my laptop plus a second monitor, they just barely fit on top. There are two threaded inserts on the back of each speaker, though, so you could use a set of speaker wall-mount brackets or even a couple of adjustable monitor arms to free up some desktop real estate.


Additional Resources

  • Aperion Allaire ARIS Wireless Tabletop Speaker reviewed at HomeTheaterReview.com
  • Aperion Audio Intimus 5B Bookshelf Speaker Reviewed at HomeTheaterReview.com
  • Check out HomeTheaterReview.com’s Bookshelf speaker section

Available in black or white, the beautifully finished Allaire Bluetooth speakers have black-cloth-covered magnetic grilles that are super-easy to remove and put back on without running the risk of breaking one of the insert pins that most companies use to attach their speaker grilles. Aperion designed the speakers with a meticulously detailed front baffle, so the Allaire Bluetooth speakers look great with or without the grilles in place. Once the grilles are removed, you can see that these speakers use a two-way design, with a one-inch silk dome tweeter and a four-inch woven fiberglass woofer. There’s also a slotted port near the bottom on the back of each speaker that helps extend the bass response.

The left speaker contains all the electronics, including a two-channel, 50-watt built-in amplifier. All the input connections are on the back panel, and there’s a remote eye window with a blue status LED on the front. The cloth on the grilles is not only acoustically transparent, it’s also thin enough for the IR signal from the remote and the light from the LED to pass through. Since the amp is in the left speaker, you have to run speaker wire from the left speaker’s output to the right speaker’s input. Aperion includes a heavy-duty, nine-foot, 14-gauge, oxygen-free run of speaker wire that’s pre-terminated with gold-plated banana plugs. Unless your desk is exceptionally wide – or you’ve opted to mount the speakers on the wall – nine feet is more than enough speaker wire.

Also on the back of the left Allaire Bluetooth speaker is an RCA jack for a subwoofer output. Although Aperion didn’t send one with the speakers, the company now offers a special package containing a pair of the Allaire Bluetooth speakers along with a Bravus II 8D powered wireless subwoofer. Of course, the subwoofer output is a standard connection, so you can use a wired subwoofer from Aperion or any other company, for that matter. In addition to the sub out, Aperion included a USB charging port on the back of the left speaker. I couldn’t find a rating on the exact amp output of the charging port, but I connected my iPad and verified that it does have enough juice to charge up that amp-demanding beast of a portable device.

resize-2.php.jpegAlthough it’s smaller than a typical candy bar, the remote control is milled from a solid piece of aluminum with a small, rubberized insert that holds the battery and includes bubble-style buttons for power, mute, volume up/down, Bluetooth pairing, and source. The remote isn’t big enough for even an AAA battery, so it uses a standard CR2032 watch battery for power. The insert, which is really an IC board on the side hidden beneath the button side, sits in an oval cutout near the top of the aluminum remote and is held in place by three small but powerful magnets glued inside – so don’t set the remote control down on any credit card you might have lying on your desk.

I can sum up my impressions of the Aperion Allaire Bluetooth speaker system this way: I’m damn glad Aperion took the chance and jumped into the crowded Bluetooth speaker arena. For starters, even though the speakers have a traditional, rectangular box shape (where most other desktop speakers have a plastic, curvy shape), the Allaire Bluetooth speakers look gorgeous. My samples were in the white finish, which is a color I normally shy away from because it shows all the dirt and scratches that accumulate over time. But the white finish on Allaire Bluetooth speakers held up extremely well, despite my tendency to set things (remote controls, medicine bottles, drinks, and one time a bowl of spaghetti) on top of them. I really grew to like the bright, matte-white color amidst a sea of black and silver things crowded side-by-side on my desk.

Read on to Page to for the Performance, High and Low points, Comparison and Competition, and the Conclusion . . . 

resize-3.php.jpegWhere the speakers really shine, however, is in the way they sound. The Allaire Bluetooth speakers are spellbindingly awesome. And awesomely spellbinding. And awesome. And just spellbinding. Do I make my point? Desktop speakers – Bluetooth or not – are hard to get right for a variety of reasons. First of all, they’re usually very small – too small to produce any amount of convincing bass output. Then there’s the issue of proximity. More often than not, desktop speakers aren’t more than about three feet from your ears. At that distance, your ears aren’t very forgiving. The Allaire Bluetooth speakers don’t need forgiveness, though. All they require are accolades and applause.

Ellie Goulding’s perfectly defined voice on “Lights”, for example, at times seemed to hang hauntingly between the monitors above the middle of my desk before the music expands outward. The bass is not overwhelming compared with a more massive, bookshelf-style speaker (Aperion only rates the system to 50Hz), but it’s tight and quick. It’s not tubby or overemphasized in an acoustic trick that tries to fool your ears into thinking there’s more bass output than there actually is.

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Lorde may “crave a different kind of buzz,” but she certainly is addicted to heavy bass beats in her music. Her big hit, “Royals”, did push the Allaire Bluetooth speakers at high volumes, but instead of distorting and sounding like crap, the speakers politely drop off. (That’s their way of saying, “Dude, if you’re going to crank it up this loud with this kind of music, you really need to add a subwoofer.”) Above the cutoff, though, the bass is strong, and the tweeter and woofer form a perfect blend together. There’s a delightful energy in every finger snap and a wonderful smoothness to Lorde’s vocals.

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Despite the title of the song, the Allaire Bluetooth speakers definitely don’t treat (the late) Solomon Burke like a “Stepchild”; and they’re not afraid to get down deep and bluesy with him, either. The speakers have a fullness and a richness that you don’t often find in even the top desktop Bluetooth speakers. As a matter of fact, if you don’t particularly care for R&B music, these speakers just might convince you otherwise…and if you already love R&B, you’re going to love what you hear coming through the Allaire Bluetooth speakers. Even though the one-inch silk dome tweeters were not far from my ears (they were about an arm’s length away on my desk), they were lacking in any harshness or emphasis that would have made me want to move my chair back a few feet.

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resize-1.php.jpegHigh Points
• Aperion offers a 30-day in-home trial with free shipping both ways.
• The Aperion Allaire Bluetooth speakers have classic bookshelf-speaker styling with a great fit and finish.
• The Allaire’s magnetically attached grille design means there are no grille pins to break.
• The Allaire Bluetooth speakers use Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity with low energy requirements and support for the AptX codec.
• In addition to Bluetooth, the Allaire desktop speakers have a 3.5mm analog audio input and an optical digital input.
• The amplifier for the speaker pair is in the left speaker, so there’s only one power cord.
• The left speaker also has a USB port on the back for powering mobile devices, including iPads.
• The speakers come with a nine-foot piece of speaker wire already terminated with banana plugs.
• The remote control is milled from a single block of aluminum, which makes it both attractive and sturdy.

Low Points
• Compared with other desktop speakers, the Allaire Bluetooth speakers are larger than most.
• You can’t directly choose a source from the remote, since the remote control only has a source toggle button.

Comparison and Competition
Aperion Audio isn’t the only company that’s serious about making serious wireless, amplified, desktop speakers. Other options to consider are PSB’s excellent and slightly smaller Alpha PS1 for $299/pair and the superb $560/pair Paradigm Shift A2 speakers – although neither offers built-in Bluetooth connectivity. As with Aperion’s Allaire Bluetooth speakers, Audioengine’s A5+ ($399/pair) features beautiful cabinets that are available in several finishes (including bamboo); but, as well as lacking wireless connectivity, the A5+ speakers don’t come with grilles. If you want to go all out, you can spend $999 for a pair of KEF’s X300AW wireless speakers. They don’t include Bluetooth connectivity, but they are equipped with AirPlay and DLNA support.

For more on bookshelf loudspeakers like the Allaire Bluetooth speakers, please visit Home Theater Review’s Bookshelf Speaker page.

Aperion Audio’s $399 Allaire Bluetooth speaker system isn’t just an excellent set of wireless, desktop audio speakers. It’s a spectacular desktop system. That doesn’t mean it has to be limited to the overcrowded confines of your desk. These speakers will likely crush the sound of any $400 pair of bookshelf speakers (and some of the more expensive ones) that you’d need to mate with a separate amp or receiver to use in a small office or bedroom setting. Since the Allaire Bluetooth speakers include two additional audio inputs – one optical digital and one analog stereo – the only feature you might be sacrificing by foregoing the more traditional two-channel speaker/receiver package is a built-in AM/FM tuner. Nowadays, however, you can stream just about any radio station from the Internet, in addition to more music than you could ever listen to in a single lifetime, so the Allaire Bluetooth speakers’ easy wireless connectivity to your smartphone or computer more than makes up for the missing terrestrial tuner. Of course, larger listening rooms will really benefit from the addition of a subwoofer, and the inclusion of a subwoofer output makes it very simple to do just that.

There are a few cases in which you won’t want a pair of Aperion Audio Allaire Bluetooth speakers. You might, for example, merely want something inexpensive that will play a little louder (but not any better sounding) than the wimpy speakers you currently have in your laptop or desktop computer. Or you might be severely limited in the amount of available space you have on your desk. If you’re using a laptop, it’s possible that you’d like speakers that are compact enough to carry with your laptop – and maybe even include rechargeable batteries. Then again, you might want to go all-out and connect your computer to a full-fledged multichannel audio system. Finally, and very understandably, you might not be able to come up with $400 for a set of speakers, no matter how awesome they are.

I can’t think of any other reasons not to consider the Aperion Audio Allaire Bluetooth speakers if you’re interested in improving your computer’s audio. The same goes for anyone interested in putting together a basic two-channel audio system for a small room, such as a bedroom, office, or bathroom. Even though it’ll cost $349 more than a Sonos PLAY:5, I’d even recommend using a pair of Aperion’s Allaire Bluetooth speakers with a Sonos CONNECT instead of the all-in-one PLAY:5. Unless you really like the portability aspect of the PLAY:5, the Allaire Bluetooth/CONNECT combination will offer better stereo separation, more detail and presence in the high and mid frequencies, and (in many instances) more flexibility in placement.

In short, the Aperion Audio Allaire Bluetooth speakers are highly, highly recommended…for much, much more than just desktop use.

Additional Resources

  • Aperion Allaire ARIS Wireless Tabletop Speaker reviewed at HomeTheaterReview.com
  • Aperion Audio Intimus 5B Bookshelf Speaker Reviewed at HomeTheaterReview.com
  • Check out HomeTheaterReview.com’s Bookshelf speaker section