Early this year I reviewed the Alpha P5 bookshelf speakers from renowned Canadian audio brand PSB Speakers. I found the $399 speakers were “just about perfect,” delivering a great listening experience in a compact form factor and without an audiophile price tag. I liked them so much that I bought those review samples and they are still the primary speakers in my office audio system. However, not everyone wants to deal with having to connect speakers to a standalone amplifier or receiver. That takes up a lot of space and it can be expensive. PSB’s Alpha AM5 delivers the Alpha P5 experience, in a powered bookshelf speaker. No amplifier or speaker required.
Everything I Like About the Alpha P5 Speakers
The Alpha AM5 speakers are a visual dead-ringer for the Alpha P5s. They are virtually identical (within a fraction of an inch) in size, which means these are bookshelf speakers that will actually fit on most bookshelves. The only difference on the front is an input dial and LED light on one speaker. The back is a different story. The bass reflex port has moved to the bottom of the speaker cabinet. More importantly, the back of the main speaker is equipped with a series of inputs and outputs, along with the speaker binding posts.
Plus an Integrated Amplifier, Bluetooth, and More
The primary speaker plugs into power, and you connect the two with included 16-gauge speaker wire. Set them up at least six feet apart for true, two-channel stereo sound.
With the Alpha AM5 speakers, no amplifier is needed. They are powered by their own, integrated Class D amplifier. It puts out 50W per channel, which means they can get pretty loud. These powered speakers can also add some digital enhancements to the mix if you choose, including an Enhance Digital Clarity mode (should be good for podcasts), and Widesound that gives the effect of a wider, concert-hall setting. These are optional; you can also stick with stereo mode.
These speakers were also a very close match for Alpha P5s hooked up to the receiver in my office. The same warm tone, refined bass, solid mids, crisp highs and wide soundstage. If anything, the bass was a little more pronounced than the Alpha P5s.
The speakers are equipped with multiple inputs and outputs including optical and a subwoofer output. The two most people will care about are Bluetooth (stream your music), and a PHONO input. In fact the Alpha AM5s are equipped with an integrated PHONO pre-amplifier, so you can connect any turntable directly to these speakers. That includes older turntables made before manufacturers started including switchable pre-amps on them. I did just that during testing and it made for a great sounding, compact, vinyl-listening setup.
PSB Alpha AM5 Key Specifications
• 5-1/4 inch black steel polypropylene mid bass woofer
• 3/4 inch Aluminum ferro-fluid cooler tweeter with neodymium magnet and front waveguide
• Acoustically engineered MDF cabinet (matte white or matte black finish) with tuned bass reflex port
• Acoustically-transparent detachable black steel micro-perforated magnetic speaker grilles
• Class D amplifier rated at 50 watts per channel
• Frequency response 55Hz to 20KHz
• Integrated phono pre-amp with RCA input
• Bluetooth with aptX support
• Rear-mounted volume control, sub out, AUX inputs
• 6-3/4 x 11-2/5 x 9-1/2 inches, pair weighs 21.5 pounds
• Includes IR remote control (with batteries), 16 gauge speaker wire
• MSRP $599
If you’re looking for an excellent set of bookshelf speakers that won’t break the bank, I highly recommend the PSB Alpha P5s. And if you want that Alpha P5 performance — without needing an amplifier or receiver — then PSB’s Alpha AM5 powered bookshelf speakers are a no-brainer. They cost $200 more, but considering that you are getting a very good set of speakers plus an integrated amplifier, Bluetooth, turntable support, digital effects and more, I think that’s a pretty reasonable premium to pay.
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