The Audio Pro A26 is a solid enough stereo system, but it falls short of being a captivating one. Stylish aesthetics and versatile connectivity aside, the performance doesn’t quite meet expectations at this price.
- Smooth presentation
- Small size aids positioning
- Versatile connectivity options
- Not the most captivating of sounds
- Better value can be had elsewhere
- Review Price: £500
- Bluetooth 5.0/aptX-LL
- Frequency range: 45Hz – 20kHz
- Compatible with SW-10 subwoofer
- 1-inch textile dome tweeter, 4.5-inch woofer
The Audio Pro A26 are powered bookshelf speakers from the Scandinavian hi-fi brand that have designs on being an alternative to a soundbar.
Audio Pro have been around for decades, building small speakers with a big sound. You may recognise the name from its more recent and popular Addon wireless speaker range. The A26 adds more strings to its bow, putting themselves in contention as an alternative to a soundbar.
The price is a not-inconsiderable £500, but it could be argued that the level of versatility on offer here gives them value over a similarly priced soundbar. Let’s find out.
Audio Pro A26 price and availability
The Audio Pro A26 went on sale in early 2020 for £500 / $500 / €500. They’re available in both black and white finishes.
Audio Pro A26 design – Smart lookers that aren’t fussy about placement
- Well built
- Remote can be fiddly to use
A Scandinavian brand makes a minimalist-looking product – who would have thought it? The last pair of bookshelf-sized Audio Pro wireless speakers that passed through Trusted Reviews were the LV2e, and the A26 are even more spartan in appearance. Available in stylish black or white finishes, the A26 are nothing if not smartly attired.
At 238 x 150 x 200 mm (HWD) they don’t take up much space, and the cabinet gives the impression of not just being well built, but built to last. Their size opens up multiple placement options: they can sit on a desktop, bookshelf or on a pair of speaker stands.
The front of the speaker is covered by a magnetically connected baffle (grey or black, depending on the colourway). On the left speaker you’ll find an LED light that indicates the mode the speaker is in: blue for Bluetooth; white for Wi-Fi; green for auxiliary; purple for TV/ARC.
The left speaker is also where the connections are housed, with both speakers featuring a rear bass port (so give due consideration to placement near walls) and speaker terminals for connection to one another. At 4m, the speaker cable adds some clutter – but it’s harmless unless you’ve got lots of trailing cables in your TV/hi-fi space.
Included in the box is a 3.5mm aux cable that opens connectivity to a laptop, for example. The pervading sense of Scandi cool continues with the slim remote’s brushed finish and clicky buttons. It isn’t always the most practical, as it needs to be pointed directly at the speaker or else it won’t register a press. I found it fiddly, too, requiring a second press most of the time.
Audio Pro A26 features – Plenty of ways to get audio in
- HDMI ARC for TV connection
- Supports Audio Pro’s multi-room system
The A26’s connectivity is where it starts to make its most fervent case for your cash. There are wired and wireless options, and if you have multi-room capable Audio Pro speakers, then the A26 can be grouped with them for an Audio Pro-centric system.
Wi-Fi is set up through the Audio Pro app, but initiated through the Wi-Fi Connect button on the back of the right speaker. With the aptX-LL Bluetooth supported, it should ramp up the speed of transmission and synchronise sound and video with minimal latency. You’ll need an aptX-compatible device to reap the benefits, which rules out iOS devices.
The control app hasn’t received much of a facelift, so it’s still the same one I used to test the A10 wireless speaker. It isn’t an app I use often (I’d rather play from the native app), but it does offer integration with music-streaming services such as Qobuz, Tidal, iHeartRadio, Amazon Music (clicking Spotify ferrets you away to the actual app), as well as playing songs locally stored on the smartphone/device. One rather chafing aspect of the app is having to log in to the likes of Tidal and Qobuz for each speaker.
Settings can be perused by clicking on the cog icon and, for the A26, there’s a Virtual Surround setting (which makes the performance slightly bigger) and a Midnight mode, if you don’t want to disturb others with your night-time watching. I’ve not had an issue with the app – it’s easy to use – although some users have reported stability issues.
Physical connections include an aux input, an RCA sub-out for adding Audio Pro’s SW-10 subwoofer (or any other, if you so choose). There’s also an optical input for connecting to a TV (or 4K Blu-ray player) and HDMI ARC, which turns it into a soundbar. When connected to a TV, the Audio Pro A26 only accepts PCM audio, so you’ll need to dive into your TV’s sound settings to change this.
Unfortunately, if you were thinking you could create a 5.1 system – you can’t. The most you can do is add an additional subwoofer.
Audio Pro A26 sound quality – Smooth sound lacks fireworks
- Entertains with TV/films
- Rather laid-back attitude
There’s an odd aspect about the Audio Pro A26’s performance. Having streamed music and hooked it up to a TV, there are parts that work well as well as a few oddities.
Let’s start with music. With its 4.5-inch woofer, there’s a slight warmth and softness to bass frequencies with music played over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections. But even more noticeable is the A26’s laissez-faire demeanour. The effect is a rather modest sense of describing highs and lows.
The A26 can make a din with KMFDN’s Ultra, but the mid-range lacks finesse; vocals sound a little lost amidst the fury of the track. The overall tone is a pleasant and smooth one, though, but that also blunts its effectiveness with music that requires some verve and punch.
It’s happier with slower-paced tracks and silky vocals such as Playground from Terence Blanchard’s 25th Hour or John Legend’s Again, respectively. The tinkling of the ivories in both tracks produces defined top-end notes that are pleasant if safe in how they sound through the A26’s textile dome tweeter. The slower pace of Again helps the A26 handle Legend’s vocals with more clarity than it does in more energetic tracks. It’s good, but also somewhat staid, never quite delivering an engrossing sound.
Planted on a pair of speaker stands with a 4K Blu-ray of Dunkirk, the soundtrack and action of the opening scene takes place in a convincingly wide soundstage. Bass handling is weightier and firmer (home cinema aficionados will want to consider that sub-out connection), and the A26 presents a tall-ish soundstage as the Stuka planes dive-bomb the soldiers stranded on the beach.
Dynamically, it commits to a more entertaining sense of highs and lows, although there’s a niggle with slight dropouts in quieter scenes that I noticed in A Quiet Place.
For everyday TV viewing, the A26 provides space to dialogue and renders speech in a clear and intelligible fashion. There’s no sense of warmth – tonally it sounds well managed – and that wide sound is bolstered by solid steering of effects across the soundstage. The soundstage is fairly flat and lacking depth, but you wouldn’t expect much more from a stereo system. Plus, having tried the A26 with action, horror and musical films, they’re an entertaining alternative to a proper soundbar – although not to the tune of £500.
Audio Pro A26 conclusion
As a wireless speaker-cum soundbar alternative, the A26 put on a solid show. Their music performance could be more assertive, and there’s a lack of nuance and clarity to their mid-range, but they just about appeal.
With TV/films the speakers shows more potential, but for much less money you could get the Sonos Beam, which is handy with films and music. For those already invested in the Audio Pro ecosystem and out to get speakers for the front room, perhaps give the A26 a more thorough look – but the price seems rather prohibitive if you’re not in the Audio Pro ecosystem, even in the face of their versatility.
You should buy the Audio Pro A26 if…
- You’re after a versatile wireless speaker
You can use the A26 as speakers for the TV, for your desktop, or stream to them like you would any other wireless speaker. There’s plenty use you could get out of them.
You should not buy the Audio Pro A26 if…
- You’re after value
There’s no denying that the A26 are versatile, but not to the tune of £500. Not when as an option for TV viewing there’s the Sonos Beam for £100 less.