No one in their right mind sits around and thinks that what the world needs is another Bluetooth speaker. I'm not saying that the people at Aperion Audio are crazy, but evidently someone at the company decided that the world did need another Bluetooth speaker. Thankfully, though, whoever the dreamer was at Aperion had the good sense to make the distinction that the world needed a high-quality Bluetooth speaker, rather than just another piece of plastic junk that sounds worse than your grandmother's old clock radio.
The result of the company's efforts is the $399 Aperion Audio Allaire Bluetooth speaker system. It consists of a pair of self-amplified desktop speakers that include Bluetooth connectivity; a 3.5mm headphone-jack-style analog audio input; an optical digital audio input; a fancy infrared remote control with a solid-aluminum chassis; plus all the cables and wires you'll need to hook up the system. In other words, it's a complete package that's ready to go out of the box in just about any situation. The Allaire Bluetooth speakers themselves are rather large, as far as Bluetooth desktop speakers go, being slightly over 8.5 inches tall, six inches wide, and 6.75 inches deep. For some desktops, that may not be bad at all; however, on my Ergotron WorkFit-D adjustable standing desk that holds my laptop plus a second monitor, they just barely fit on top. There are two threaded inserts on the back of each speaker, though, so you could use a set of speaker wall-mount brackets or even a couple of adjustable monitor arms to free up some desktop real estate.
Available in black or white, the beautifully finished Allaire Bluetooth speakers have black-cloth-covered magnetic grilles that are super-easy to remove and put back on without running the risk of breaking one of the insert pins that most companies use to attach their speaker grilles. Aperion designed the speakers with a meticulously detailed front baffle, so the Allaire Bluetooth speakers look great with or without the grilles in place. Once the grilles are removed, you can see that these speakers use a two-way design, with a one-inch silk dome tweeter and a four-inch woven fiberglass woofer. There's also a slotted port near the bottom on the back of each speaker that helps extend the bass response.
The left speaker contains all the electronics, including a two-channel, 50-watt built-in amplifier. All the input connections are on the back panel, and there's a remote eye window with a blue status LED on the front. The cloth on the grilles is not only acoustically transparent, it's also thin enough for the IR signal from the remote and the light from the LED to pass through. Since the amp is in the left speaker, you have to run speaker wire from the left speaker's output to the right speaker's input. Aperion includes a heavy-duty, nine-foot, 14-gauge, oxygen-free run of speaker wire that's pre-terminated with gold-plated banana plugs. Unless your desk is exceptionally wide - or you've opted to mount the speakers on the wall - nine feet is more than enough speaker wire.
Also on the back of the left Allaire Bluetooth speaker is an RCA jack for a subwoofer output. Although Aperion didn't send one with the speakers, the company now offers a special package containing a pair of the Allaire Bluetooth speakers along with a Bravus II 8D powered wireless subwoofer. Of course, the subwoofer output is a standard connection, so you can use a wired subwoofer from Aperion or any other company, for that matter. In addition to the sub out, Aperion included a USB charging port on the back of the left speaker. I couldn't find a rating on the exact amp output of the charging port, but I connected my iPad and verified that it does have enough juice to charge up that amp-demanding beast of a portable device.
Although it's smaller than a typical candy bar, the remote control is milled from a solid piece of aluminum with a small, rubberized insert that holds the battery and includes bubble-style buttons for power, mute, volume up/down, Bluetooth pairing, and source. The remote isn't big enough for even an AAA battery, so it uses a standard CR2032 watch battery for power. The insert, which is really an IC board on the side hidden beneath the button side, sits in an oval cutout near the top of the aluminum remote and is held in place by three small but powerful magnets glued inside - so don't set the remote control down on any credit card you might have lying on your desk.
I can sum up my impressions of the Aperion Allaire Bluetooth speaker system this way: I'm damn glad Aperion took the chance and jumped into the crowded Bluetooth speaker arena. For starters, even though the speakers have a traditional, rectangular box shape (where most other desktop speakers have a plastic, curvy shape), the Allaire Bluetooth speakers look gorgeous. My samples were in the white finish, which is a color I normally shy away from because it shows all the dirt and scratches that accumulate over time. But the white finish on Allaire Bluetooth speakers held up extremely well, despite my tendency to set things (remote controls, medicine bottles, drinks, and one time a bowl of spaghetti) on top of them. I really grew to like the bright, matte-white color amidst a sea of black and silver things crowded side-by-side on my desk.
Read on to Page to for the Performance, High and Low points, Comparison and Competition, and the Conclusion . . .