My thanks also to MikeC for a very good review. I too used to inhabit the world of high end audio insanity, as both a hobbyist and later, as a means to making my living (sales, then later, speaker repair/rebuild). Audioengine are filling a niche that has been largely ignored - the computer as a good quality audio source. Sure, there are plenty of devices intended to mate a computer with a high end audio system placed in the same room or elsewhere in the house, but they are, like too much in the realm of quality audio gear, out of reach for the average user interested in getting decent sound. They also presuppose a separate audio system and a willingness to entangle the two.
Much of what passes for speakers in the computer world are a travesty of crappy design, lowest common denominator parts and horrible implementation. Most computer owners have simply come to accept that this is the norm.
It doesn't have to be. Though tiny, the A2 is sheer genius in a tiny box at a ridiculously low price. A decent quality bookshelf speaker of small size might be something like the PSB Alpha, the current version selling for something like $199, takes up more space and doesn't include the amplifier circuitry to power it. Prices for decent, small speakers only go up from there, and many are already too large for a desk top application.
I have nearly pulled the trigger on the A2 several times. I currently use a set of TDK S-150s, a sub-sat system utilizing NXT panels in the sat speakers, which makes them tolerable for most things but still deficient for music listening. The midrange becomes easily compressed and the bass from the sub unit is round, fat, and utterly unrealistic.
My computer audio consists of the S/PDIF output from the computer's on board sound card run through a Headroom Micro DAC, which in turn feeds the TDK speakers and a McCormack Micro Integrated Drive, a fantastic headphone amp and preamplifier. The McCormack drives my Sennheiser HD650's (a bit of aural heaven), and a McCormack Micro Power Drive, a small, high quality stereo amp. The amp drives a pair of PMC Audio TB2 monitors, excellent stand mounted speakers.
Unlike MikeC my speakers are in the same room as the computer, so I have the luxury of listening to my audio system (most of which is of a similar era as his, except the DAC and the speakers) while working at my computer. At night I don the headphones and enjoy great tunes and good sound. Thing is, using the audio system for casual listening while working or doing other things (like watching movies or TV shows on the comp) isn't really practical, and the disparity between the cheap speakers on my desk and the better ones across the room is beginning to grate on my ears.
So it seems a pair of A2s are in my very near future.
Or perhaps my excessive nature will win out and a pair of A5s will wind up on my desk instead.