Some speakers, especially smaller powered speakers, are dynamically limited. That wasn’t a problem with the 5+ speakers. I recently recorded the world premiere of a modern classical “concerto” for beat box and orchestra (a beat box is a guy with a microphone and the skills to mimic percussive sounds). When I listened to the playback over the 5+ speakers the big percussive attacks were handled with ease, but what was even more impressive was the way the 5+ speakers captured the micro-dynamics involved in the subtle rhythmic play between the full drum kit, tympani, and pair of xylophones onstage.
Although not as three-dimensional or revealing as the far more expensive combination of a pair of Aerial Acoustics 5B speakers ($2400/pr) tethered to a Parasound A-23 amplifier ($799), the AudioEngine 5+ speakers were still capable of creating a cohesive and convincing three-dimensional sound stage that came very close to the higher-priced spread. Although the spaces between the instruments and outlines of the instruments weren’t as well defined, and the background wasn’t quite as quiet or grain-free as with my reference separates, it became clear after a few minutes of listening that it’s easy to be seduced by the amount of sonic information the 5+ speakers deliver.
The 5+’s published specs list their lower threshold at 50 Hz. If you want real low bass, you will need to use a subwoofer. But the 5+ speakers do deliver more than adequate amounts of mid and upper bass. The rear-firing slot-loaded port lets the speaker’s 5” Kevlar mid/bass driver generate more low-frequency energy than you would expect. And it is high quality, nuanced bass, not a one-note blatt. In a leaky-bass environment, such as a dorm, apartment, or small condo, using the AudioEngine 5+ system without a subwoofer would be a more neighborly way to go, and given the 5+’s mid and upper bass capabilities, would still make for a rollicking good time.