If you’ve been searching for a pair of stereo speakers to sit on a study bookshelf, add to a bedroom or even to equip a Hi-Fi setup, that incorporate Bluetooth and wired multimedia interfaces for around the £130 price point - then you should probably keep on reading!
A classical approach has been taken with the aesthetics of the Edifier R1700BT, and we like this walnut vinyl side panelled 80s throwback look. It’s a refreshing change from the sheer quantity of aluminium and plastic speakers we’re inundated with. The sculpting of the speakers isn't boxy either, featuring a 10-degree angle so that the speaker pushes audio at your ears and not underneath them. Each speaker grill is easily popped off to expose the drivers; however we really couldn’t hear any difference with these on or off. Around the back of the left speaker are a plethora of output ports for which Edifier kindly supply the cables - including PC-in and aux-in.
Controls & Bluetooth
Thoughtfully placed on the side of the right channel speaker is a panel of three very pleasing to twist dials adjusting treble, bass and volume (also doubles as the Bluetooth enabler when pressed). With direct and immediate effect on the output sound, these controls are placed for easy access that doesn’t destroy the appearance. We think most people will use the Edifier R1700BT wirelessly via Bluetooth like ourselves, which is speedy to reconnect and doesn't ever cut out. Whilst this medium of connectivity still results in loss of quality when compared with Wi-Fi based speakers and direct wired inputs, the Bluetooth 4.0, along with DSP (digital signal processing) and DRC (dynamic range control), that the R1700BT makes use of, results in less digital compression and a focus on tighter audio output. We should stress that the difference when we compare the wired to the wireless output has been marginal.
Straight in with ‘White Tiger’ by Izzy Bizu, and the track shook us with its constant penetrating deep bass and passionate performance from the room packing 66W output. The bass, when cranked all the way, definitely has enough impact to feed the thirst of enthusiasts that like feeling it in their hearts. These speakers, from the get go, established themselves as front-runners for entertaining and enjoyable sound that suits a broad style of music. Detail of piano keys gently skimmed from one end to the other and guitar strings shimmering after being crisply plucked are evident. In fact, the stereo separation is terrific, even with the speakers aligned closer together on, say, a shelf.
‘Don’t Misunderstand Me’, vocally performed by Norah Jones with pianist Harold Mabern, is a fine example of just how perfectly these reasonably compact speakers deal with treble amidst bold larger vocals. Another tick off our checklist is that the high range glints out in songs with sharp vocals like ‘Down’ by Marian Hill - just how we like it. The only stumbling block we did find is that sometimes separation within the frequencies is not as clean cut as it should be. Of course, the range balance can be greatly adjusted for taste thanks to the onboard controls, but this doesn't really address what is, we admit, only an inconceivably minute criticism.
Surprisingly the price of the Edifier R1700BT speakers was unknown to us in the early stages of our listening. We only went on to research the price for the sake of our review, and at this point the £130 price tag did astonish us when compared to the £200+ price we had in mind! It is worthy of note that these speakers have a reasonably comparable impact and volume to that of the Wi-Fi stereo Sonos PLAY:1 speaker starter pack at £338. The latter edges ahead in almost all areas but the disparity of quality is only an iota in measurement when compared to the HUGE price gap!
The Edifier R1700BT speakers are deceiving in a good way. Their £130 price tag is astonishingly low compared to the ratio of room-filling richly entertaining and enjoyable audio performance delivered. Whilst convenient Bluetooth still lags behind Wi-Fi based solutions like the Sonos and SACKit speaker offerings, it’s challenging to hear the loss of any significant detail - and with wired inputs also featuring as an option on the Edifier R1700BT, we think all ears will find a lot to enjoy!