Audioengine A1-MR review: Compact size, solid sound

A compact sonic companion to you Mac desktop setup.

Audioengine A1-MR on a wooden surface
(Image: © Future)

iMore Verdict

Well-made, versatile and surprisingly musical, the Audioengine A1-MR are a fine pair of speakers that will enhance your desktop experience without completely revolutionising it.


  • +

    Fun, clean sound given the price

  • +

    Compact, unobtrusive design

  • +

    Solid range of features


  • -

    Could sound fuller and punchier at the lower end

  • -

    Won’t appeal to design snobs

  • -

    App could use an equaliser

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If you’re looking for a way to boost your desktop audio beyond the capabilities of your Mac's measly in-built speakers, the Audioengine A1-MR will appeal as a versatile and compact means of getting bigger, better sound without breaking the bank. 

A sort of semi-sequel to the Bluetooth-enabled A1 stereo speakers, 2024’s contenders go a step further by adding in Wi-Fi and multi-room capabilities at what is still a relatively modest price point. They'll make a great accompaniment to any Mac desktop setup, and sit comfortably alongside the best speakers for Mac on the market today.

Audioengine A1-MR on a wooden surface

(Image credit: Future)

Audioengine A1-MR: Price and availability

The Audioengine A1-MR retail at roughly $229. They don’t seem to be available at Target or Amazon US right now, though we did find a full-priced pair over at Walmart.

It’s a similar story across the Atlantic. The Audioengine A1-MR retail at roughly £219 in the UK, although you can pick up a pair for £219 at Peter Tyson and £217 over at Amazon UK. Stocks seem to be healthy, too, so you shouldn’t be concerned about missing out.

Audioengine A1-MR: Build and design

If you’re putting them up against Michelangelo’s “David” or a bejewelled Fabergé egg, the Audioengines aren’t exactly heart-stoppers. In the realm of budget desktop speakers, they’re much of a muchness, and while their utilitarian look doesn’t exactly draw the eye, it doesn’t do much to offend it, either.

Audioengine A1-MR on a wooden surface

(Image credit: Future)

Standing around six inches tall, they’re far from gargantuan, but that’s understandable considering their given use case. What we’re less pleased about is a lack of provided speaker grilles or desktop stands, the latter of which are useful for getting audio fired into your ears rather than at your torso. 

Audioengine A1-MR: Features

The classic Audioengine A1 bookshelf units only boasted Bluetooth connectivity, but the MR version builds on this base by offering expanded Wi-Fi and multi-room capabilities. Via the rather intuitive Audioengine app, you can control a slick multiroom streaming setup over your domestic Wi-Fi, as well as various streaming platforms including Spotify, Tidal and Amazon Music, or you can simply hook up directly via the provided 3.5mm input. 

Sadly, the Audioengine app doesn’t come with any equaliser settings, something which seems like an odd omission, especially for users wishing to whack up the bass a little. There is a subwoofer-out option, but not everyone will be willing or able to hook up a sub to beef up the lower end.

Audioengine A1-MR: Sound quality

Sonically, the A1-MR are strong performers for their size and price, drawing on rich reserves of detail and musicality and demonstrating a sense of musicality that, considering their inevitable limitations, is undeniably impressive. Pump out a forthright rock anthem such as Placebo’s Sad White Reggae and you’ll be thrilled and impressed not only by the general cohesion on display, but the weight, force and enthusiasm with which the A1-MR convey those shrill guitars and piercing vocals.

Audioengine A1-MR on a wooden surface

(Image credit: Future)

The A1-MR’s blind spot is, as alluded to above, at the lower end, and whether you’re gaming, enjoying movies or listening to music, we’d love a little more heft and authenticity to go with the A1’s substantial knack for detail and organisation. They’re never going to have the floor-shaking capabilities of even a modestly priced pair of standmounts, but even so, more grip and weight in the bass would help tracks such as Kasabian’s Empire hit with full force.

Still, they’re a lively, pleasing listen, especially when hooked up to a source via a wired connection, full of the sort of spark and snap that makes a pair of dinky bookshelf monitors a genuinely enjoyable listen. We’d like a little more dynamic contrast to bring out our music’s peaks and troughs, but the overall sonic impression is positive, especially given the reasonable price paid.

Audioengine A1-MR: Competition

If you're after something with a more refined look and more detailed sound, try the Ruark MR1 Mk2 — our current top pick for desktop speakers. Expect to pay around the $350 / £350 mark for them, pictured below:

The Ruark Audio MR1 Mk2 speakers on a wooden desk.

(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / Future)

The very fine Fluance Ai61 are well-made and impressively powerful bookshelf speakers that sit at almost exactly the same price point as the A1-MR, while the slightly more affordable Logitech Z407 are a solid choice if you’re on a tighter budget (around £120 / $115). Plus, of course, there’s the standard, Bluetooth version of the A1 which currently sit at roughly £189 / $199 and share much of the same sonic DNA as the newer, wi-fi-centric edition. 

Audioengine A1-MR: Should you buy it?

You should buy it if…

  • You want affordable, versatile and entertaining bookshelf speakers 
  • Multiroom and Wi-Fi streaming are your bag 
  • You’re tight on space

You shouldn’t buy it if…

  • You’re an unashamed bass head 
  • For you, aesthetics are king 
  • You can live with the standard Audioengine A1 bookshelf speakers

Audioengine A1-MR: Verdict

If you’re searching for a compact, cost-effective and effortlessly likeable pair of bookshelf monitors, the Audioengine A1-MR are a solid investment. Their likeable sound and dinky dimensions are undeniably appealing, while Wi-Fi and multiroom capabilities take them to the next level over the standard Bluetooth iteration.

Not only are the Audioengines fun-sized, but they’re also fun to listen to, and while they lack some real bass weight, a sub-out port does give you the option of whacking up the lower end if you’re desperate for more oomph. All in all, a very solid pair of bookshelf bargains. 

Harry McKerrell

Harry McKerrell is a writer working mainly in tech and audio. He studied law and history at university before working as a freelance journalist covering TV and gaming for numerous platforms both online and in print. When not at work he can be found playing hockey, practicing the piano, or long-distance running.