Audioengine B1 Bluetooth - Really Surprised

For those of you who enjoy casual listening, and minimizing either financial outlay or the number of components it takes to get great sound, this post is for you.

I picked up the Audioengine B1 Bluetooth receiver to plug into our living room system, just sort of out of curiosity to see how simple I could make it for when my wife wants to use the system, or when we just want to listen to Spotify without wires across the living room. What a great little device - it never drops signal, and it sounds fantastic. And this post isn't specifically an endorsement of the B1 (or of Spotify specifically) as much as an endorsement of the idea of the B1 - from what I've read many of the Bluetooth devices from $100-250 all sound nice, with just differences in connections, signal range, etc. so you can pick your favorite brand and do the same thing.

The cool part is the simplicity it allows - with only three components...

- Speakers
- Integrated Amp
- Bluetooth Receiver/Dac (analog out into the integrated)

...not including the iPhone/Android/iPad which most people have anyway, you can listen to millions of songs without wires, without leaving the couch, and with sound quality that will probably surprise many others like it surprised me.

We'll play Scrabble and make it a game of musical-torture - whoever wins the round gets to pick the song and "torture" the other (I'll pick '70s AM-Gold love songs, she'll pick Nine Inch Nails) - but that would be tedious with CDs. With Spotify on the iPad, we can pick songs in seconds, no wires, the signal never drops, and it sounds much better than I expected.

I went into it with an "I'll just return this when I discover how limited it is" mentality, so this was a cool discovery for us, and definitely a keeper. Not that changing CDs (or LPs) is all that difficult, but being able to pick from 20 million songs using my iPad while planted comfortably on the couch, and without any wires, is really fun and I wish I'd tried it sooner.
I agree.
The sound was amazingly good when running my cell phone and Tidal. No one would believe that bluetooth could sound that good.
If someone wants to listen to pop music what difference does it make ?
Bcgator, I smiled when I read your review. I've had it for about 5 or 6 months now and been using it to stream Pandora and have been impressed with the results. The next step is to try it with some high resolution files. Stay tuned.
Mattmiller: all I can say is "Lighten up Francis" ;)
06-14-15: Schubert
If someone wants to listen to pop music what difference does it make ?

Bingo Schubert. I have my times when I sit in solitude and enjoy the music just for myself, but when we're playing with dogs, or a board game, and cranking Motley Crue or Def Lep, the brand of tube in my amp and type of connection used to route the signal go out the window.

06-14-15: Russellrcncom
Bcgator, I smiled when I read your review. I've had it for about 5 or 6 months now and been using it to stream Pandora and have been impressed with the results. The next step is to try it with some high resolution files. Stay tuned.

Glad you mentioned that Russell, I just tried some high-res files, which I hadn't done at the time of my OP. My laptop has Bluetooth (which I'd never used, actually), with part of my library of lossless rips in FLAC and AIFF running through JRiver 19. From the laptop to the B1 via Bluetooth, it sounds perfectly listenable. Not as good as via asynch USB of course but the air drums still make an appearance and sometimes that's all it takes to have fun.

The beauty of the Bluetooth receiver, as I've discovered, isn't in the bitrate, it's the convenience. My wife has more important things to worry about than WASAPI drivers, and toe-in, and DAC chips, things I may dwell on. But by making it fun and easy for her to use the system it's become something we enjoy together, rather than just my expensive side hobby.
Hey Mattmiller, you are wayyy off base, even if just trying to joke around. You should hear what the audioengine is capable of before opening your mouth. We ran it recently through a Chord Hugo and the sound was tremendous playing hi res files from Tidal on my HTC phone. Bluetooth had almost no negative effect.
Furthermore, I use my B1 usually for casual listening through my whole house audio and it's awesome running off my phone wireless.
So, I would say that you need to give it a chance. The newer bluetooth technology through a $2500 dac is amazing. Yes, I would say that my sota table going through my custom grommes amps into my coincident speakers is better but is also a lot more work.
Elevick, I'm quite certain Mattmiller isn't joking around - that smiley face was as transparent as they come. But you have to take a step back and look at this from a wider angle...

Everyone knows that environment - room dimensions, furnishings, fixtures - can play as large a role in sound quality as what you place in the signal chain, and then there's system synergy, speaker placement, toe-in, rake, etc. It's entirely possible that I (and maybe you too) just nailed it in regards to my room and my careful experimentation, measurements, and final placement of my speakers, and that my system actually sounds better than Mattmiller's system.

Last night we listened to some Hope Sandoval, and the wall of sound was exquisite - the speakers disappeared, the image was 10 feet tall, the soundstage was defined. It wasn't great - it was superb, and it sounded superb running Spotify off a cheap $270 Groupon-special laptop into a $189 Audioengine B1. Of course, it helps that these are running through an Audio Research integrated and Purevox speakers with dual AMT tweeters. But it's entirely possible that Mattmiller, with all the research-slogging he's done, and the mistakes he's made and money he's spent, is chasing MY sound. Because resolution is wonderful, but not if it's the only thing you've got going. We've all had at least one of those awkward audio demonstrations, where they're excited to show off a big-dollar system, and you listen and it just doesn't work and you have to fake enthusiasm for the demonstrator. Big money doesn't always guarantee winning sound.

So if you put yourself in Mattmiller's shoes, someone who may not really be happy with what you have (someone truly happy with their place in life, and with what they have, doesn't post what he did), you realize how frustrating it would be if someone else achieved that elusive audio happiness with a device that cost less than dinner for 2 at Del Frisco's and you can understand why he's coming a little unglued.
Thanks for putting things into perspective. I love my audio system/s and listen more than most people. No complaints from me usually, just always the elusive "golden fleece".
Elevick, I have a question...Do you hear a difference, small or dramatic, between running your Bluetooth receiver directly into your preamp/integrated vs. running it first through a better DAC like the Hugo? I was under the impression, just from the limited bandwidth of Bluetooth, that there was no benefit from using a separate DAC vs. the DAC in the B1. But you mention how great it sounds through the Hugo...did using the Hugo, or any other separate DAC, improve the sound vs. the B1's internal DAC?
It's a big difference. The B1 is a better technology than most Buetooth receivers which helps with signal quality. The source helps as well. Using high def Tidal or wav/flac/wmi files on your phone makes a difference. The Hugo can make almost anything sound amazing. I think that it was a pretty clear difference through my bifrost as well.
In summary: I WANT A HUGO
Mattmiller, we need a mop and bucket to soak up the insecurity pouring from your posts. You need to keep it together. Let me help...
Mattmiller, we need a mop and bucket to soak up the insecurity pouring from your posts. It's killing you that someone else is getting great sound without spending what you spent. You need to keep it together. Let me help...
Hey Mattmiller, how have you been? Things here are system still sounds fantastic. How much does that hurt, that all of your moronic, myopic, arrogant and grammatically-challenged posts have done nothing to change that? Let's review...I post about something good happening with my audio system, something that other people that may not have the affluence that you have may benefit from, and you thought that the most constructive and helpful thing you could do was threadcrap. Think about it...that's all that really happened. I was happy, you were mad that I was happy. It doesn't get any more complicated than that. You were unhappy that someone else was happy. What an utterly miserable human being that makes you. Facebook? So now unless someone is prepared to drop $40K on a system, they should leave Audiogon? Let's see how others feel about that...I have a pretty good feeling that in demographic terms, you're outnumbered here.

If you want to continue crapping in our thread, feel free...dealing with you is like a cat toying with a field mouse. I can do this all day long.
A lot of people in this world would love to have a Prius but can't afford one. I drive an old Civic cause my kids all need new shoes.

I don't have a Porsche twin turbo, but if I did I would keep it in the garage and drive it as often as possible. Not just listen to it.

I think I'm gonna go check out the Audioengine.
Hi Bmdduck, I remember last year you were looking for speakers and an integrated for a 20x20 room - did you ever finish that system?
A lot of people in this world would like to have shoes and a decent meal but can't afford it.

Thanks for remembering. I haven't changed much since then, I've kind of settled on it being a compromise of sound quality with fitting in the room. I keep thinking about a sub but haven't done anything about it.

Someone in the family always seems to need new shoes:)
@Bmdduck, yeah I know how that goes. Footwear is more important than your audio gear so you have your priorities in order. Good thing is, there's so much nice equipment out there - new and pre-owned - at great price points that it's easy to build a rewarding system on a limited budget and there's no reason to rush it. Keep your eyes on local classifieds and such - I picked up my REL Strata III sub that way. If you decide to try one of the Bluetooth DACS in your system, let us know how it works out and feel free to PM me if you have questions or anything.
Have to somebody who was raised on vinyl since the 70s...and observed every media change since...the convenience and enjoyment of wireless streaming is too hard to ignore...hi-enders are going to bash the fidelity because it wasn't designed for them in first place...and I have to admit, I was skeptical at first...but after taking the plunge.. I'm glad I did...if one were to tell me in the
mid 80s that a hand held device could hold millions of songs/albums...and connect via no wires to your way Jose!
Got one six months ago. Stream all sorts of stuff from my G3 smartphone including Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Soma, Pandora, Spotify, Youtube, iHeart etc etc. through my VAC PA100/100, Modwright pre and JM Reynaud Offrende speakers. It sounds great. No drop outs.

I have a 1000 lp vinyl collection, 2500 song Ipod collection in hirez and 100s of CDs including SACDs. My CD front end is Sony XA5400ES. Vinyl is Superscoutmaster with Shelter 901 and Quad phono pre. All wired with Cardas. So, I think I have some street cred.

It's been months since I played an LP or CD. Every kind of music and artist is available at the press of an icon. I hate the "game changer" moniker but for my game it's been completely changed. Couldn't be happier and completely satisfied. Wonderful product.
@Eddaytona, that's a fantastic setup you have - congrats on some really sweet equipment. Let me ask you, since you've taken your system much farther than I've taken mine, so your experience interests me...has it been more a case of overlooking the sound quality difference in exchange for convenient and quick access to music, OR have you found that having really great front-end equipment around the B1 has compensated for the lack of resolution of streaming sources and you don't find yourself missing full-resolution? (I'm thinking along the lines of lossy streaming through great speakers sounding better than lossless through mediocre speakers, that sort of question)

(side note - looks like Mattmiller's posts have all been deleted, I'm guessing for prohibited language. He seemed truly offended that people were so quickly and easily enjoying a $189 device given the time and money he'd spent on his own system. I hope he sees Eddaytona's post)
To answer you question. Each format
has it's place. Sometimes I want to
get really deep into the music so I
go to my vinyl. Sometimes I want to
be there with the music but not be
so involved so I go cd. I love the
ease of my iPod and think it sounds
great in lossless through it's dac
so I'm down for that. Also the Apple
store is so tempting
With streaming over the Audio
engine; it sounds really good and
for chilling out and finding music
you didn't know was out there. For
example I'm waiting for dinner right
now and streaming a band called
Pretty Lights that my niece likes. I
wouldn't have considered or known or
ever heard them if not for
I hope that kinda answers your
All the best on this July 4th.
..haven't been around here in a good while..listening to music I guess..

Anyway..I thought I'd toss in my 2 cents on the Audioengine B1.  I searched A-gon for a smartphone-bluetooth-Pandora input to my system solution and arrived at this thread.  I've since picked up a B1 and having it running through my Paradisea + DAC via an optical cable.  Install and hookup was a no-brainer..2 minutes. 

Very Nice!  I'm really surprised just how good it sounds.  Bluetooth, and the nearly free world it opens up in identifying new music to take a harder listen investment I've made in a while!

An Alison Krauss I hadn't heard is playing now...lovin it. 

Thanks to bcgator for starting this thread/review. 
Thanks for posting fishboat, glad to hear the B1 worked out for you and that my original post was helpful.   Sounds like you're enjoying the same thing I am - it is so cool being able to instantly queue up millions of songs, right from the smartphone, and discovering new genres, bands, songs.   Thanks to the B1 and Spotify I've had more fun with music this year than any other time in my life.  There's so much great music out there that I hadn't discovered, especially the lesser-known independent artists.   There are times when I want to listen critically, but most of the time I just want to explore the world of music and have fun.
Just curious if anyone tried upgrading the interconnects that came with the unit to something more robust (for lack of a better term) and what were the results.  Heavy interconnects obviously won't work due to the size / weight of the unit.