Edifier have been well known for making posh and respectable PC speakers. From the commendable Luna 2, to the less accomplished, and competitively priced M1250 bob- a-job speakers. The speaker I am reviewing today lies more at the competitive end, but still manages to retain an aesthetic quality that belies its price. So before we embark on the review, I will give you the official specifications from the Edifier website:
- Total power output: RMS 2 x 1W (THD=10%)
- Signal to noise ratio: 80dBA
- Total harmonic distortion: 0.5%
- Input sensitivity: 500 + – 50mV (THD + N = 1%)
- Speaker dimensions (W x H x D): 261mm x 36mm x 44mm
The Edifier Soundbar is a multimedia speaker aimed at the portable market, it is attractively priced at £39.99. The first thing to note is that you only get one unit, not two. You still get stereo, but both speakers are encased in the same casing. From my highly scientific investigation, it looks like there are five separate speakers in the unit, two each side of a longer central speaker. One assumes the longer central speaker looks after the lower frequency sounds, while the other four emit the left and right channels mid and high range. A 2.1 speaker set squashed into single unit.
The casing is brushed aluminium, giving it a solid and well built feeling while retaining a portable weight. On my scales it came in at just under 300 grams. Light enough to carry, while at the same time having enough weight behind it to give you a real sense of having something substantial. The brushed aluminium also give the speaker a tactile feel that makes it pleasing to hold. On the bottom, are two rubber feet, and the speakers are encased by a metal mesh. All this goes to make a speaker that will outlast me, and certainly being bashed about in a bag. If you are worried about superficial damage to the speaker though, Edifier supply a soft drawstring bag.
At one end of the Soundbar are the two inputs. One is a mini USB that plugs into your computer, the other is a 3.5mm jack that you can use to plug the speaker into a MP3 player. Both a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable, and USB cable are provided. If you do plug something into the 3.5mm jack, it is this that will take precedence over the USB. The computers I used picked up the speaker instantly, and it was usable straight away. Unfortunately I had no Apple hardware to test this on, but I am sure there will be no problem, the same is true for the Linux users as well. The USB audio drivers are fairly universal, and I have never experienced problems with this type of plug and play speaker.
The other end of the speaker houses the volume control, and a wee blue power light. The volume control flummoxed my modest intellectual capacity for a short time. The button, although a squat cylinder, like many volume controls is indeed a button and not a knob. My frantic attempts to spin the button got me precisely nowhere, and had me reaching for the manual. To increase the volume one repeatedly pushes the button, and to lower the volume, you push and hold. I am not sure that this feature is any better than a volume control knob would be. There is a depression in the plastic that allows the blue power light to shine through at the base of the volume button, and would allow you to thumb a volume control knob.
Once plugged into the netbook, the speakers instantly provided a better audio than did the built in speakers. The Soundbar punches above it’s weight, and pushing up the volume, I got to a level where it was uncomfortable to listen too, but there was no distortion. I am not sure that it was as loud as it could go, as there is no indication of the level you are at with the push button design. However, for most uses in a portable scenario I can see this being enough.
The sound reproduction is good. You have to think of it in the context of a portable unit, though having said that the Soundbar does well to produce a quality that is well rounded and natural. As is the Achilles heal with anything this size, the unit lacks the bass punch of a larger 2.1 system, but then you would never fit a 2.1 system into your laptop bag. The mid range and treble are excellent, and stand up to your average tweeters on a 2.1, and then some. Overall the performance of the Soundbar is better than the small form factor would suggest, knocking the average laptop speakers into a cocked hat.
The Gaj-It Verdict:
If you are looking for something to replace the speakers on your laptop with something more dynamic, and don’t want to break the bank, I can recommend this small and capable unit.