Speakers come in all shapes and sizes. And you don’t need to look far to find some pretty far-out designs. But if you’re in the market for a new high-fidelity pair with a retro flair, the Edifier R1280T Powered Bookshelf Speakers would be a good bet.
The R1280T keeps with the traditional bookshelf design: a pair of wood veneer MDF cabinets with a removable front grill. Behind each grill is a four-inch bass driver with calibrated front-facing bass reflex port to allow the air to circulate freely for more accurate lower range sounds. It has a 13-millimetre silk-domed tweeter tweaked for crisper highs.
Like most powered speakers, one is the active speaker – it houses the built-in 42 watts or 21 watts RMS times two amplifier. The other is passive. The two are connected using traditional speaker wire.
On the right side of the powered speaker are control knobs for treble, bass and volume. There’s also an LED that shows green when it’s on. At the rear is a power toggle switch, two pairs of RCA input jacks so you’re not limited to one source, speaker terminals and a built-in AC cord. Included is a basic three-button remote powered with a coin-cell battery, allowing you to control volume and mute.
You can easily connect a variety of sound sources, including a phone, computer and a record player. I took the R1280T for a test-drive connected to my iPhone. I got crisp, clear sound reproduction, with no distortion even cranking both the volume controls on the unit as well as my iPhone. I found the speakers favour the upper mid-range, offering great sound reproduction.
While it doesn’t hit the lows as it would with a powered sub-woofer, it still sounds pretty awesome. In fact, with the speaker grill removed you could easily feel the air being forced through the bass reflex port with the support of the heavy MDF wood cabinets (11 pounds in total) adding to the experience.
I’m impressed with the look (particularly with the grill off) and build, the sound quality and overall performance, given its size and price. But then I’d expect that quality from Edifier.
For bookshelf speakers, they’re just the right size: 5.75 by 9.7 by 7.0 inches.
I also like the fact there are dual RCA inputs so you’re not limited to one source. And the system uses standard speaker wire to connect the left and right speakers, so you can place them where you want and enjoy the stereo channel separation.
I was a little surprised by the vanilla remote. It lacks the ability to control the power or change the input, although the mute button is a nice touch. With the power switch located on the back of the right speaker, you’ll need to reach around each time you need to power off. That could be inconvenient if you place your speaker on a high shelf.
The unit ships with speaker wire, a dual-RCA-to-dual-RCA cable for traditional devices and dual-RCA-to-3.5-millimetre to connect from headphone jack or line-out. While certainly not a big deal, I would have expected better shielded or more rugged cabling to match the quality unit.
The Edifier R1280T Bookshelf Speaker System retails in Canada for $124.99. It comes with a respectable two-year warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee when purchased directly from Edifier International. You can also find it at Best Buy and Amazon.
This basic system is priced right and ideal for someone who is looking for solid sound performance and prefers fewer bells and whistles (like wireless Bluetooth connectivity, which this unit does not have).
If you’re thinking you like this model but perhaps want a little more, and you’re willing to dish out an additional $40, the upgraded R1280DB has similar specs. It also has a slightly wider frequency response, Bluetooth connectivity, RCA/AUX, coax and optical inputs, a redesigned remote with two-line inputs and power control.
Troy Media columnist Greg Gazin, also known as the Gadget Guy and Gadget Greg, is a syndicated veteran tech columnist, communication, leadership and technology speaker, facilitator, blogger, podcaster and author. Reach him @gadgetgreg or at GadgetGuy.ca.
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