- Excellent build quality
- Compact, minimal design
- Weighty sound
- Smooth tone and impressive detail
- Lacks the insight and poise of rivals
- Review Price: £249.99
- 2 x 2.5-inch drivers and dual side-firing bass radiators
- 40W power output
- Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX decoding
- Built-in microphone for hands-free calls
- Stereo pairing with second BT2
What is the Acoustic Energy Aego BT2?
Acoustic Energy celebrates its 30th birthday and recent return to British ownership with the launch of the Aego BT2, a portable Bluetooth speaker designed for use in the home, office or garden.
With its £250 price tag and premium construction, it promises a step up from cheap supermarket speakers while remaining reasonably affordable. It hails from the same range as the impressive Aego Sound3ar, so we’re expecting big things from this small speaker.
Related: Best Bluetooth Speakers
Acoustic Energy Aego BT2 – Design and Connections
The aluminium casing, steel grilles and rubber panels make it reassuringly heavy and solid, with nary a trace of plastic in sight. It’s a tad unadventurous, perhaps, but the minimal styling works well and would look great next to a silver MacBook. The light silver finish contrasts beautifully with the dark side grilles, while curved edges offer a touch of elegance.
The BT2’s minimal design and compact shape help it integrate with any surroundings without the need for a wholesale reshuffle. It sits securely on a rubber pad that isolates it from the surface and stops it rattling when you crank up the volume.
On top is a rubberised control panel that houses power, volume and Bluetooth pairing buttons. They’re described as touch-sensitive, but you have to actually press them; they give a solid click when you do. The silver ring framing the control panel is another alluring touch.
In among the buttons are two discreet status lights: the top one indicates the power/battery status, while the bottom one lights solid blue when connected to a Bluetooth device, or green when the aux input is selected. It’s simple to use, like all good Bluetooth speakers should be.
The rubberised rear panel sports a 3.5mm mini-jack input and a USB-A port that charges connected devices. It works when connected to the mains or running off the battery, but if the battery falls below 20% then charging is disabled. The BT2’s NFC touch point is also located on the back.
Acoustic Energy Aego BT2 – Features
The BT2 is equipped with two front-facing 2.5-inch drivers and dual side-firing bass radiators. There’s 40W of power in the tank, which is relatively muscular for a portable Bluetooth speaker.
The built-in Bluetooth 4.0 connection supports aptX decoding, offering CD-quality sound from compatible devices. A built-in microphone – placed next to the control pad – conveniently allows you to take calls hands-free when your phone is connected. If you have two BT2s, you can pair them together in stereo to improve your listening experience.
The built-in battery gives you up to 36 hours of playback, although that’s measured using the aux input at 30% volume; with Bluetooth playing at 70% volume, the figure is more like 18 hours – but either way, it’s pretty impressive.
When you boot up or power down the BT2, a jazzy synth chord plays through the speaker, which is a lovely touch.
Acoustic Energy Aego BT2 – Performance
After running in the BT2 for a little while to loosen the hard edges, it easily exceeded my expectations with a lively, powerful sound. The key tests for any Bluetooth speaker are the ability to go nice and loud without excessive distortion and muster plenty of bass, and the BT2 passes both with flying colours.
The side-firing radiators give the sound a full, meaty quality. Kick drums thump solidly and basslines have a pleasing sense of depth and weight, without sounding too thick. The squelchy synth bassline in ‘Traversing the Oort Cloud’ by keyboardist Carl Hudson sounds bigger and fatter than it has any right to through such a compact unit. It also picks out the sharp leading-edge of each note.
Push the volume to maximum and you’ll hear a touch of straining in vocals and minor flapping in the drums, but on the whole it handles high volumes with impressive composure. The tone doesn’t turn unpleasant or brash, and treble spit is kept to a minimum. That’s great news if you want to hear music outside, over the chatter of a barbecue.
Further up the frequency range, the BT2’s mid-range is well rounded with a decent amount of detail creeping through. Vocals have presence and character, but – most importantly – they remain intelligible over the music. It also has no trouble picking out enunciation and emotion in different voices, be they sung or spoken. Gregory Porter’s smooth, full-bodied voice on ‘Insanity’ is just gorgeous.
What’s also pleasing about the BT2’s performance is its sense of balance. Some portable Bluetooth speakers are all bass and treble, but forget about the mid-range; others lack bass weight and leave you with a thin, shouty sound. Not so the BT2. It gives equal attention to each area, without allowing any frequency group to dominate.
This balanced sound lets you listen for long periods without fatigue, just how Acoustic Energy engineered it. Treble isn’t overstressed or unnatural, but prominent enough to give music air and space. It’s smooth, but not so smooth that it ignores the snap of a snare drum.
That said, there’s room for more finesse and subtlety. The BT2 retrieves a good dollop of detail, but lacks the insight and sophistication of the DALI Katch or the Ruark Audio MR1 Mk2. The DALI, in particular, has a smoother and more textured delivery that edges it further into audiophile territory; it also displays better composure at high volumes.
The BT2 didn’t make my spine tingle in quite the same way, but it’s worth remembering that the Katch costs a good £80 more, so it’s hardly surprising. Judged in its own right the BT2 is a superb speaker for the money, and its punchy, polished sound is sure to earn it plenty of fans.
Should I buy the Acoustic Energy Aego BT2?
There are better-sounding Bluetooth speakers around if you’re willing to pay a little more – the DALI Katch and Ruark Audio MR1 Mk2 spring to mind – but for the money, the BT2 is a very impressive proposition. Build quality is excellent, while its classy, minimal design and compact size look great in any surroundings.
Sound-wise, it delivers a loud volume and plenty of bass, while the smooth, detailed treble lets you listen for long periods without fatigue. It needs a little more insight and poise to challenge the class-leaders, but if you take a punt on the BT2 we guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
With its solid build quality, easy operation and beefy sound, AE’s classy Bluetooth speaker easily justifies the price tag – but it can’t quite topple the class-leaders.
Score in detail
Sound Quality 8