It is quite a rare thing, reviewing hardware on the site, for the simple fact that from mouse to mouse, or headphone to headphone, not a lot changes, but when I first saw the Edifier R1010BT they caught my eye, now having gone ears on, they are something people should get.
Right of the bat, you will notice the design of the speakers, they are very retro in their appeal, from the initial look, they have a 60’s inspired look, but at the same time, feel like they will match any place you want to put them. The speakers themselves are small enough to fit alongside your books, or really any place that you choose to place them. The front of the speakers has a traditional mesh cover, which can be removed, exposing both the ceramic-paper cone speaker and dome tweeters, if you wanted a more industrial look. The ones that I had were the standard black colour, but there is a wood look, if you plan to have them more exposed, overall the design was impressive.
But design on a speaker is nothing, if the sound quality is not there and thankfully these little speakers pack a powerful punch. At only 24cm tall, you would think that the speakers would be too small to produce any sort of worthwhile sound, or that their minimal depth would lose bass, but the quality could not be faulted, in fact I was more surprised at the volume they could produce, given their size. The speakers themselves only output at 12W, which is not a lot, at least compared to some speakers out there, but it was very much perfect for this little unit, combined with a 4-inch bass driver, it really delivered on the sound quality, that I have found lacking on other speakers of similar sizes.
In the entire time, I had the speakers connected, I threw a range of music at them, from quiet artists like Michael Bublé, to loud ones like Imagine Dragons, even older bands like The Beatles and Queen got mixed in, with The Piano Guys and Skyhooks. No matter the artist, or more specifically the type of music being played, the quality never dipped, something that I have noticed on speaker systems before. When I was not playing music, I threw movies at it, Captain America Civil War and How to train your Dragon are very different, but both sounded incredible, while not a 5.1 system and not even designed to simulate them, they still provided ample sound coverage, so it felt like a 3-channel system. In terms of video games, I through Minecraft at it and the game sounded fine, though the sounds were weird, but that was a game thing, Counter Strike GO was nice, but the game that surprised me was Project CARS, the engine noises were utterly delightful on the ears.
For all that the speakers got right, in their looks and sound quality, the area that they completely dropped the ball was in functionality, the speakers allow for three separate input types, including Bluetooth, but swapping between them is a nightmare. Given the nature of how the speakers are marketed, as Bookshelf speakers, you might think that placing all the controls at the back of one of the speakers was a pretty stupid move and you would be correct. If you want to turn the power on, you will need to pull the speaker forward, even when I had them on my computer desk, not tucked behind things, I was still having to move the speakers around to turn them on and off and it gets even crazier when you want to swap between input methods.
On the back are two dials, one controls the bass levels and the other the volume level, however if you wanted to swap from RCA input 1 to 2 or to Bluetooth, then you needed to press the volume knob in and again, if you pack them away, that means pulling the speakers out to get at the controls. Obviously moving those controls to the front of the speaker may have impacted the overall look and design that they were going for, but sometimes function trumps design and sadly, this is one of those rare instances when it was not even considered.
The price of the speakers can’t be beat, priced at only $100, the quality of the sound and the impressive size is something you need to listen to and witness to understand. However when paired with frustrating control placement, restricting them to sit upon open counters or desks, it becomes less an issue of cost and more an exercise in form over function.