Summer Audio A-401 review featured

Summer Audio A-401 Review

TESTED AT $81 USD
WHERE TO BUY

Summer Audio is a subsidiary of FX-Audio (Shenzhen Fydea Digital Technology Co. Ltd) with a focus on affordable HiFi stereo equipment. In this review, I’m taking a look at the Summer Audio A-401 passive two-way speakers. The A-401 has a 4-inch woofer, a 1-inch silk dome tweeter and 5-inch passive radiator. Do these deserve a place on your desktop? Read on to find out.

This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.

Summer Audio A-401 Review

Pros
  • Gorgeous design
  • Room-filling sound
  • Not fussy with positioning
  • Great for vocals
  • Value for money

Cons
  • Moderate imaging
  • No speaker grilles included

Build and Design

A-401 silk dome tweeter

When first I laid my eyes on these in person, I was quite struck by the appearance of the A-401. Yes, they are diminutive in size, standing just 240mm high but they really look like a proper speaker. The MDF cabinets feel surprisingly solid and look genuinely classy with their light wood grain vinyl wrap and curved cabinets.

The sides of the A-401 are curved and taper off towards the back of the unit. On the front baffle are the 4-inch woofer and 1-inch silk dome tweeter. The tweeter’s waveguide is made of plastic and includes a protective horizontal bar crossing over the centre. For the woofer though, it has a rigid metal mount with straight, vertical sides. On the underside is a down-facing 5-inch passive radiator which is surrounded by 3 silicone anti-skid feet.

 Summer Audio A-401 down-facing passive radiator
The 5-inch passive radiator.

There are no protective grilles provided with the speakers so some care needs to be taken when handling them. Around the back are the two pure copper-plated 5-way binding posts with a transparent plastic housing.

In terms of specifications, the A-401’s have a rated frequency response of 65Hz-20kHz, an impedance of 4 ohms and sensitivity at 87±2dB (2.83V/1M). Cabinet dimensions are W 145mm x L 210mm x H 240mm.

5-way binding posts
Setup

When setting up the Summer Audio A-401, I thought what better to pair them up with than the FX-Audio D2160 integrated amplifier which was fed an analogue input by the Yulong Canary II acting as a DAC and preamp. The Canary II was connected to my Windows 10 PC via USB for some Foobar2000 and Spotify action. The D2160 also has aptX Bluetooth so I did additional testing by streaming Spotify from my smartphone.

The A-401’s are not fussy about placement. I placed them on my desktop, toed-in to the listening position but they also worked just fine when facing straight out as they produce a very wide sound. They’re not demanding when it comes to amping either, working well with a wide variety of integrated and separate components.

 Summer Audio A-401 speakers with FX-Audio D2160 DAC/amplifier

Sound

Firing up Solar Fields’ “Sombrero”, the A-401’s reproduce the low piano notes with a satisfying fullness. The effect of the passive radiators is immediately heard as they add body and amplify the speaker’s bass output. While the track is far from complex, the A0401’s show that they have a good sense of rhythm and a revealing, neutral-leaning tonality.

Tonally, these have a similar amount of warmth as the Audioengine HD3 Wireless but their upper midrange is more forward. This makes vocals and guitars really pop and in addition, makes the presentation brighter in comparison.

In the hauntingly beautiful “Cloak and Hat” by Hybrid, the A-401 isn’t the most resolving speaker but shows good dynamic character and tone. The timbre of the piano and horns in the track is also very convincing for budget speakers like these.

Next in Riverside’s “Escalator Shrine”, the A-401’s bring the vocals to the forefront. The treble rings clearly but with no signs of harshness, making long listening sessions fatigue-free. As the track progressed through its shifting rhythms and phases, the speakers impressed with their energy and eagerness.

I took this opportunity to push the speakers and they proved that they can really move some air and produce high volume levels with equanimity. The way they handle power is impressive for such a small cabinet.

Playing some test tones, the bass became audible at around 40Hz but the passive radiators actually started vibrating at around 35Hz. One area where the A-401 lags is imaging which can be a little vague. The positive tradeoff though is that the speakers produce a very wide, encompassing sound that doesn’t deteriorate as much as you move out of the central listening position.

Close up of the badge and bass driver

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a small pair of speakers to upgrade the sound of your TV or computer the Summer Audio A-401 is a simple and inexpensive way to do it. Similarly, if you have a small or limited space but want to set up a compact HiFi system, these would be a great starting point.

With their excellent build quality and a pleasing aesthetic, these look and sound a lot better than their price would suggest. They certainly look a lot better than the majority of black plastic multimedia speakers on the market. So, if you’re looking for something small, stylish and affordable you should definitely check these out.

Specifications
  • Cast aluminium bracket
  • Hi-End Pure copper plating binding post, Silicone antiskid pad
  • 1inch size Silk Membrane speaker
  • 4inch Wool paper disc cast aluminium tweeter
  • 5inch Passive Radiator
  • Frequency Response:65Hz-20kHz
  • Power Output: 15-80W
  • Sensitivity:87±2dB(2.83V/1M)
  • Impedance: 4Ω
  • Unit Weight:6kg
  • Speaker Unit Size :W 145mm x L 210mm x H 240mm
Founder of Prime Audio
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John Weber
John Weber
5 months ago

I’ve been looking for a small system for my laptop for watching movies with the family mostly. This looks good but do you have any recommendations for a 2.1 system, 2.0 powered bookshelf speakers around $150 or less? Or do you have any single amplifier that can power this for around $80 or less? My budget’s kinda tight right now unfortunately :’v

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