Edifier Spinnaker e30 Bluetooth multimedia speaker system review

You needn’t listen to the devil’s music to enjoy Edifier’s latest Spinnaker speaker system, even if the horn-shaped structures might suggest otherwise. Oh, and they’re available in a red finish, just to add to their devilish charms.

Undoubtedly striking to look at, can these tri-amped, 42cm tall speakers deliver to the ears as much as they do to the eyes?

Design

We suspect there’s going to be a love/hate response to the Spinnaker’s looks. The pointy-topped, bent-cone-like structures might look as though they’re crying out for your eyes’ attention, but there’s logic to the design too.

As the tweeters sit towards the top of the speakers, the higher frequencies won’t be delivered in the same flat, face-on direction as the mid-range and bass components. It helps to offer separation that’ll be much needed if the Spinnaker system is placed low to the ground.

The black finish model we were given for our review sits on a silver-like base with the Edifier brand name to the rear. The cloth-clad speakers are otherwise rather inconspicuous. They’re still going to grab the attention of anyone who pops by your house, but we think they’ll look rather apt in a trendy, minimalist pad.

Just over half way up each speaker is a band that separates the design, giving it a little more focus.

On the top of the mains-plugged speaker is a small light that shows the system is switched on, which shifts from green to blue when Bluetooth is activated.

Cones & Connections

In addition to a 19mm silk dome tweeter, each speaker horn has a 70mm cone to handle the mid-range and a 116mm unit to deal with the bass. They’re loud too, with enough clout to fill a decent-sized room.

Flip the mains-powered speaker over and there are a bunch of different wired connections: speaker out to marry up to the passive speaker; aux out/optical in (both an optical and 3.5mm cable are provided); a subwoofer out; and a mini-USB connection should the unit require any software updates.

One of the unit’s main selling points, however, is its Bluetooth compatibility. It’s possible to sync up a computer, smartphone or most EDR 2.1+ compatible devices.

We’re pleased that the necessary cables are included in the box, but our main gripe for the speaker-to-speaker connection is the length of the cable. As some of the cable is lost under the speaker in order for the units to sit flat, the distance between the two maxes out at around 140cms. Might sound like far enough, but we prefer a bit of extra distance - even if that would mean including two different cable lengths in the box. Seems only fair for £349.

There’s also a rather unconventional remote that looks almost like a paper weight. That might sound odd, but it means it can be left on a table without looking as unsightly as a button-riddled controller or the like. The aluminium-shelled Edifier RC308 remote has a simple twist mechanism to turn the volume up or down, coupled with a red light at the base that shows only when in use to confirm operations. It’s a shame the remote isn’t a bit heavier though, as it can’t really be twisted with one hand without spinning around entirely.

Sound Quality

Pocket-lint has had the Spinnaker system set up for a couple of weeks, where we’ve tested out all manner of sound through optical, auxiliary and Bluetooth connections.

Overall we’re impressed: the sound covers a decent range, the system isn’t bass heavy, yet there’s enough downward kick for a full and rich listening experience.

The inclusion of a subwoofer output will complete the experience if you’re a fan of the ultra-low frequency stuff.

There were some occasional blips: The mid-section can sound a little muddy at times, and there’s the occasional "crunch", but we put this down, on most occasions, to the Bluetooth connection and, therefore, this is more the fault of the transmitting device than the receiving speakers.

When running music using the provided optical cable we were far more satisfied. DJ Shadow’s What Does Your Soul Look Like - almost like future jazz meets hip hop - bounced along with gusto. Compressed drums hit in all the right places, while samples sat well within the stereo mix.

A mixture of orchestral, current pop - a term used loosely in this context - and more demanding underground dance put the Spinnakers through their paces with little issue.

But we didn’t stop there. There was no avoiding playing at least one Black Sabbath track on these devil horns, right? Fan or not, that didn’t disappoint either.

Connect the speakers directly to a TV and they do suffer from some lag, but we doubt this will be their primary use. The Bluetooth also has a delay from source to output, but for music alone it’s so slight that it won’t be a problem at all.

Verdict

If the Edifier Spinnaker has grabbed your attention thanks to its striking looks then you needn’t fear poor sound quality.

The Spinnaker system we’ve been testing for a couple of weeks isn’t completely perfect on the sound front, but avoid Bluetooth use and it gives decent all-round performance.

Our main qualms are just minor quibbles: the length of the speaker cable to the passive speaker could be longer, the occasional "crunch" depending on what you’re listening to, and the provided remote control could be weightier for one-handed use. And the projected £349 price tag isn’t tiny, but it’s not major when compared to some of the well-established competitors out there.

Otherwise these devilishly designed speakers are just as fiery when it comes to audio. A stand-out design with pumping audio.