As explained in my review of the Audioengine P4][p4] passive speakers, Audioengine has recently expanded their products to include unpowered speakers. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that they also now sell the N22 Amplifier to power your passive spearkers.
The $199 N22 looks like something from a Kubric movie, monolithic with a single dial in the middle. It looks great next to your Mac, on a shelf, or beside your TV.
The N22 measures in 7”(H) x 2.75”(W) x 5.5”(D) and weighs about 3 1/2 pounds. The back of the N22 includes several connections including gold plated connections for two speakers, and inputs for RCA and mini-jack connectors. There is also a powered USB port that can be used to turn your N22 wireless amplifier (with the optional W1 Wireless transmitter) or charge your iDevice. There is also a variable line out that accommodates a subwoofer or external amplifier.
Both audio inputs are active at the same time so you can run two sources simultaneously. I did this with a Garage Band audio filie and my WX-11 wind controller (a sort of midi saxophone) and it worked great.
The N22 delivers 22 watts per channel and cools through passive convection. The unit runs remarkably cool. There is a discreet headphone amplifier that works well with your headphones of choice.
With all of our digital media migrating to just a few devices, we no longer need the complexity of amplifiers that we had when there was a phonograph, CD player, tape deck and (gasp) 8-track plugged in. The N22 offers a legitimate light-weight option to the traditional receiver/amplifier without the compromises you’d expect.
Audioengine provides the same 30 day trial policy for the N22 that it has for its speakers. So long as you don’t damage it and keep the original shipping materials, you can return it within the first 30 days for a full refund.