Airpulse A80 Review – How do they sound vs the Edifier S3000 Pro?

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Airpulse A80 Active Bookshelf Speaker Review Rating

Summary

The Airpulse A80 are an excellent pair of active bookshelf speakers. The horned tweeter is something typically used on much more expensive speakers and this allows the A80 to produce excellent detailed highs without the sharpness.

Overall
86%
86%
  • Bass - 75%
    75%
  • Treble - 95%
    95%
  • Mids - 85%
    85%
  • Connectivity - 90%
    90%

Pros

  • Well proportioned design ideal for desktop use
  • Superb treble thanks to the horn loaded ribbon tweeter
  • Sub out

Cons

  • Bass is more subdued than other Edifier speakers (or it's balanced depending on how you feel about these things)

Airpulse is the premium sub-brand of popular Edifier. This premium brand is headed up by audio designer Phil Jones, who was also the original founder of the British audio company Acoustic Energy.

Much like famed audio brand Klipsch, one of the defining features of the Airpulse range is the use of horned tweeters, which allows the speakers to produce directional and optimised high frequencies.

Specification

  • Tweeter: Horn Loaded Ribbon Tweeter
  • Mid-Woofer: 4.5 inch Aluminum Cone 30mm VC Mid-Woofer
  • Amplifier System: Digital Amplifier With Xmos Processor
  • Power Output: L/R(Treble):10W+10W, L/R(Woofer): 40W+40W
  • Frequency Range: 52Hz-40KHz
  • Signal-Noise Ratio: L/R:≥90dB(A)
  • Input Mode: AUX, PC, USB, Optical, Bluetooth (The USB, Optical Inputs Support Up to 192KHz Input Sample Rate)
  • Input Sensitivity: AUX:450±50mV PC:550±50mV, USB:400±50mFFs, Optical:400±50mFFs Bluetooth:500±50mFFs Sub Out:1200mV Max
  • Mains Voltag: AC 100-240 V /50-60 Hz
  • Cabinet Size (WxHxD): 140x250x220mm
  • Net Weight: 9.3 Kg(20lbs)

Airpulse A80 vs Edifier S3000 Pro Active Bookshelf Speakers

The Edifier S3000 Pro was my most recent review and is the top of the range speaker under the Edifier brand. The Airpulse A80 is the lowest-priced model in the Airpulse range and is at a similar price point to the S3000 Pro of £625.00.

While the price may be similar and Airpulse part of Edifier, these are two very different speakers.

The Edifier S3000 Pro is a gigantic pair of active bookshelf speakers weighing in at 21.1kg in total with a rated power output of 8W+120W per speaker for the treble and mid/bass.

The speakers are then connected wirelessly using Kleernet.

The Airpulse A80 are considerably smaller and less powerful, they are also wired together.

One of the big differences is that the Airpulse A80 has a horn-loaded ribbon tweeter, with the horn design being one of the defining features of Klipsch speakers. In comparison, the Edifier S3000 Pro uses more standard, albeit excellent, planar diaphragm tweeters.

This creates quite a big difference in the overall sound profile. The Airpulse A80 offer superior highs with more detail overall, while the S3000 Pro have more bass and a richer sound profile.

Both sets of speakers have an excellent array of connectivity options. They both have USB with the Airpulse offering 192KHz input Sample Rate. The Edifier can do 24bit/192kHz, using the built-in PCM5242 DAC.

The Airpulse A80 has the benefit of a dedicated subwoofer output, though the Edifier S3000 are so big and powerful you don’t really need any added bass.

Design

The Airpulse A80 are an attractive and nicely sized pair of active bookshelf speakers. The walnut coloured option has nothing particularly bold about the design; they just look smart. Alternatively, you can opt for a more stand out Electric Blue option.

As much as I love my Edifier S3000 Pro, they are massive and don’t have quite the same neat lines that the A80 has.

These speakers are constructed from 18mm thick MDF cabinet that is lined with sound absorption foam. They are quite heavy considering their size at 9.3 Kg(20lbs) in total.

On the front of the speakers, you have the horn-loaded ribbon tweeter, which is the same used on the larger A100 pair of speakers.

On the rear of the right speaker is the extensive connectivity options as well as dials for volume, bass and treble.

You then have the DIN port, which connects the passive left speaker.

The speakers come with some wedge-shaped foam pads. These are both to angle the speakers up to you and reduce noise from hard surfaces.

Connectivity

Like all of the active speakers from Edifier/Airpulse, you have a wide range of connectivity options including:

  • USB
  • Aux
  • Optical
  • Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX

You then also have a port for subwoofer connectivity.

Like other Edifier speakers, you need to use the included remote control to switch between inputs. Apart from input choices, volume and power, the remove has no other functionality. There is no option to skip tracks or any form of EQ option.

During my review, I switched between using the USB and Aux connected to my FiiO K5 Pro Desktop DAC.

Sound Quality

As you’d expect, the Airpulse A80 sounds fantastic, but it is a very different sound profile from the more affordable Edifier models, including the S3000 Pro.

You can immediately hear the benefits of the horned tweeter. The speakers offer excellent clarity in the highs without the typically associated sharpness or sibilance.

Mid-range is exceptional, and I found them particularly good with vocals.

Bass is much more subdued than the S3000 Pro. At first, it felt lacking, but when I switched to more bass-heavy tracks, you could hear it kicking in pleasantly. If you lean towards a more bass-forward profile, you will either want to up the bass dial on the rear of the speaker or invest in a subwoofer.

The combination of the excellent tweeter and restrained bass allows these to offer a greater level of detail than many mainstream active speakers. These work well for more analytical listening.

Overall, I’d say I personally prefer the Edifier S3000 Pro that I have been using for the past few months. I prefer a bit more bass and find them a bit more fun to listen to, but this is entirely a personal preference rather than me thinking that the Edifier are objectively better speakers.

Price and Alternative Options

The Airpulse A80 are £625 on Amazon and also available at Selfridges.

The larger Airpulse A100 only cost a bit more, at £660. They have the same power output, but the A100 has a physically larger woofer and a heftier design weighing in at 13.4kg.

Then the A200 is £780, and the A300 is £900.

For Edifier, the S3000 PRO is £700

Overall

The Airpulse A80 is an excellent pair of active speakers with superb connectivity in a manageable form factor.

Audio performance is superb, with the horned tweeters allowing these to produce superior highs without the harshness that many other speakers suffer from.

With the relatively small price difference between these and the A100, I’d be tempted to try and audition both speakers and see which you prefer.

Last update on 2022-05-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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