PSB Imagine Minis or Audioengine A5+?

I realize the very comparison might offend purists around here, but I'm prepared to learn. :-)

Here's the situation:

space is an elongated living room (12' W x 22' L x 8' H) divided in two by a long couch making the effective listening area 12' W x 11' L x 8' H where I would like hi-quality 2.0 music played through my Mac laptop into an Airport Express. I already have the following system:

MacBook Pro => AirportExpress => HeadRoom MicroDAC => cheap pair of powered computer speakers

set up as proof of concept. AirPlay is consistent, beautiful, and the DAC really provides a nice signal into the otherwise inexpensive speakers (an RSL 2.1 system from 2005 that went for $60 new).

The major limitations of the room: it will not be maximized for hi-fi listening. It's a living room first, carpeted, furnished, and full of things like dog beds and blankets. Also, during cold weather, a gas stove circulates heat using a somewhat noisy fan. It would be four feet from the right speaker. Not a heating issue for the speaker (I've checked and there is no appreciable increase in temperature after two feet of distance from the stove), but the sound can drown out low-volume mid-range sound. Not too concerned about the noise since I can merely turn the stove off during devoted listening sessions.


For a space this untamed, would I see much difference investing in a pair of PSB Imagine Minis (or Image B4s) and a NAD c316bee to run with the DAC:

MacBook Pro=>AirportExpress=>MicroDAC=>NAD=>PSB Minis

which would run $1130 new, or would I be just as happy with

MacBook Pro=>AirportExpress=>MicroDAC=>AudioEngine A5+


Auditioning is not really an option. I like very detailed sound (I've also considered the ADAM Artist 3s, but there's no heatsink and that worries me), what could best be described as "dry" (think the way Glenn Gould engineered his piano sound: crisp, sharp, punctuated, and clear -- that's the sound I like).

Given the space these would go in, would the PSB/NAD set-up really be 3x better than the AudioEngine A5+ (based on cost)?

Thanks for all the expert advice.
I can't speak about the AudioEngine A5+ as I've never heard them. But I did own a pair of Quad L12 Active speakers that I thought were very good for the price I paid (way below retail). They are also beautifully finished in either polished wood or piano black finishes. Really attractive speaker for the price and they sound pretty darn good too.

Here's another possibility if you aren't too worried about aesthetics and especially considering you mention crisp/clear sound. Look into some of the pro-audio monitor speakers like the KRK Rokit 6 or Rokit 8 or other brands of pro-audio monitors.

Good luck.....

Hi, TIC.

Thanks for the response. I've looked at the KRK Rokit 6 and liked what I've read. Tell me, would my listening distance (3 meters) be too far for what are, after all, studio monitors?
Sorry. Didn't mean to call you "TIC", Reubent. :)
I vote "Not likely" to the PSB/NAD set-up being 3x better than the AudioEngine A5+ (based on cost).

If you are really planning to just use the one source through your DAC, I would think the multiple inputs on the integrated amp would be wasted. I have the Audioengine A2 and it sounds excellent and is trouble free. I have not heard the A5+s but imagine they'll provide more of the same listening satisfaction. And they look rad in bamboo and offer a 30 day audition.
If you can stretch your budget a little, I highly recommend the Focal CMS50 active speaker. It costs $595 each ($1190 a pair) new. It produces extremely detailed and fast sound, pinpoint imaging, wide and deep soundstage, and very good bass for a 5" woofer. I have just built a 5.1 home theater system for my mom two weeks ago using 5 CMS50's and a CMS sub with great result.

Highly recommended.

Good point. The only reason I'd need the amp is to drive the PSBs. I don't do home theater or video games and barely watch TV.

Thanks for the response.

So the Focals are still listenable at a distance of 3 meters (9-10 feet)?
I second the Quad L12. I have those paired up with a Benchmark DAC that has a built in preamp and the sound is very good, no comparison to the Audioengine speakers sitting next to my iMac. The finish is spectacular on these as well. They seem to go new for about half of what retail is listed for.

Hello and thanks for the input.

When googling "Quad L12" I come up with (I think) both passive and active versions. Are you referring to the active version?

I used the Quad 12L Actives at 7 ft listening distance in my old room. They were very good at that distance.

I don't know how the KRK Rokit would be at that distance, but I'm guessing they would be fine.

And "TIC" is fine. Its a reference to my user name on lots of other forums (Tom in Cincinnati).....


I just bought the audiogenie A5 bamboo to replace my Swans that died. I am going straight from my macbook pro headphone jack and listen passively mostly to spotify (higher rez option) and iTunes. I am sure it would be better with a DAC but this is it for now. I like them in comparison to the Swans in terms of clarity and resolution but the bass is not as good (swans had the bass adjustment to crank up). For an office system, the A5s are going to work fine enough for me.
Thanks TIC and Maineiac.

Agreed on listening distance. I can always move the couch a bit closer if I'm sneaky and my wife doesn't notice:

"Did you move the couch?"

"No, the room's shrinking again. I'll call someone tomorrow."

But I digress. :-)

Maineiac, that's actually good to hear about the AE5+ vs the Swans. I do not want a "boomy" speaker. I'm sitting 10 feet from one-inch computer speakers with the volume roughly on 10 o'clock and it's as loud as I want it.

Ended up getting the Audioengine A5+s. They're wonderful. Highly recommended.

Thanks for all the input.
Congrats Dsch87 .... very wise purchase. My second system in my library is computer => HRT Music Streamer II DAC => AudioEngine A5's. The sound of music is really, really fine..... much better than I had anticipated when I first set up this very cool system. I think you'll be quite happy. Enjoy the music, and Happy Listening.