Just like earbuds, the portable Bluetooth speaker scene seems to be growing at an exponential rate; every audio company is intent on cornering this admittedly younger market with flashy speakers that boast huge sound from a compact body. I`ve reviewed quite a few of these speakers, but the Rave is another story entirely. It`s rather unorthodox in both design and sound and, until recently, has flown quite discretely under most buyer`s radars. Presenting as a more Hi-Fi orientated portable speaker that tributes to the boom-boxes of old, the Rave is not marketed as the home theater slayer nor does its design pivot around an obscene bass response. Instead, the Rave is a little more understated, a little more sedated and much more mature.
Designed by Edifier, the MP700 Rave is one of the larger portable Bluetooth speakers on the market, slotting in above models such as the UE Boom and competing directly with the Megaboom and JBL Extreme. It has a recommended retail price of $300 AUD but can commonly be found on sale for much less.
Edifier are no stranger to either acoustic or aesthetic design, and so far, every product I`ve tested from Edifier has offered a nice balance of both. Visually speaking, the Rave is no exception, but does its audio performance live up to it`s high fidelity moniker? Let`s find out.
I would like to thank Edifier very much for providing me with a review unit of the MP700 Rave in exchange for my honest opinion. I will be as objective as possible and provide a valid verdict upon the product.
About Me – Some background, Gear of choice, Preferences and Biases
I generally prefer a slight v-shape to my sound, but still closer to neutral. I like a lot of detail and clarity, but can appreciate a smooth, laid back sound such as that on the X10`s. I prefer a more neutral midrange within a relatively tight tolerance, but I`m probably more forgiving of brightness over darkness. I`m not particularly treble sensitive and can tolerate large amounts without fatigue, though too much ruins the enjoyment. If I use a different eartip/pad/cover during the review I will note that and describe the sound changes.
The Rave comes well protected within a nice minimalist box. The front showcases the speaker and main features whilst the rear lists the specifications. I like the two tone design, it`s eye catching and makes the speaker feel a little more special.
Inside is a protective cardboard box that flips open to reveal the speaker within a plastic inlet and another smaller box of accessories.
Along with the speaker, Edifier provide you with an AC wall charger, a very nice AUX cable similar to that provided with the e25`s, manuals in various languages and warranty information.
It`s a simple setup, but Edifier provides you with everything you could need to accompany a portable speaker.
The Rave possesses Edifier`s usual standard of design and is easily as premium as similarly priced contenders such as the UE Megaboom and JBL Extreme. The speaker doesn`t look luxurious nor does it look rugged, instead, the Rave utilizes more retro styling, creating an image that is a lot bolder than it`s cylindrical competitors.
The Rave has a look that I think is quite refreshing and unorthodox, it`s definitely a little less juvenile and more utilitarian, suiting a workshop, garage or even kitchen just as well as it would a party.
It`s not a small speaker, but it`s not much larger than the Megaboom or JBL Extreme either. For comparison, the RAVE measures 6.6 x 17 x 30 cm (depth x height x width) as opposed to the Megaboom which measures in at 8.3 x 8.3 x 22.6 cm. The added height of the RAVE factors in the fold-able handle, so in daily use, both are surprisingly similar. The Rave is probably the heaviest speaker in its class however, weighing in just shy of 1.6Kg. This does give the tall, thin speaker a lot of stability and the speaker never rattles or moves during max volume playback nor does it ever feel prone to falling over.
Perhaps the most standout feature of the RAVE`s design is that oversized handle located at the top. The handle is both a visual accent and a functional addition; it really helps to manage the weight of the speaker during transit. It also enables you to hang the speaker in an area with limited space. The handle is fully metal and feels absolutely solid. It`s embossed with the Edifier branding that also denotes the orientation of the speaker. A nice brushed finish catches the light in interesting ways.
The handle ratchets down to 90 degrees through a very tactile feeling hinge, enabling it to double as a stand. I found this to be an especially well implemented feature, the handle is solid, clean and well designed.
Moving onto the speaker itself, the fully metal body feels rock solid with negligible flex from either the handle of grills. A simple triangular design propagates across the front and rear faces of the speaker which are separated by a rubberized trim on the top, bottom and sides. When handling the speaker, this coating grants the speaker a little extra grip and the coating feels quite robust.
The speaker does have some life-proofing with an ip54 water and dust ingress rating that more or less matches that of the Denon Envaya Mini. This means the speaker will withstand splashes, the occasional shower and even trips to the beach without worry, though I doubt the speaker would return from full submersion.
The top face contains the main methods of interface whilst the right side contains the various connectors. On the top are the power and volume buttons in addition to the NFC tag and status LED.
The buttons are large and easy to distinguish but I found them to feel a little cheap. They still work well, but could have been implemented better.
Moving onto the right side of the speaker reveals three ports hidden beneath a rubber seal. The Rave provides a 3.5mm jack for AUX connection, a power port for charging (unfortunately will not charge from micro-b) and a USB port which allows the speaker to be used as a powerbank.
The port only outputs 5v at 500mah, but it will suffice in an emergency or just to top up your phone during the day. The speaker needs to be on to charge your device.
As is usual, the Rave offers two methods of connection, Bluetooth and AUX (3.5mm). It utilizes Bluetooth 4.0 and, like the Envaya Mini, supports apt-x. Connecting through apt-x enabled devices produces less latency than a regular connection in addition to a sizable boost in audio quality. The Rave sounds pretty much identical connected through apt-x to my HTC M8 as it does through a wired connection. Whilst latency is still low enough for movies through a regular 4.0 connection, very slight offset is present, though this can be easily rectified through VLC.
Edifier`s Bluetooth system is pretty much perfect. The pairing and re-connection processes are especially intuitive, similar to that on the E25`s. If you have a compatible device you simply tap on the NFC tag to pair with the Rave over Bluetooth (first time only). Otherwise, the device enter pairing mode when it is powered on, greatly simplifying connection. The Rave has no audio cues when connecting/disconnecting or changing volume but I usually try to turn off audio notifications anyway as they can get obtrusive. Of note, the speaker doesn`t preference the device it was last paired to, instead connecting on a first-come first-paired basis. This is convenient if you often have multiple devices connected to the same speaker. Furthermore, a single press of the power button enables you to switch between the multiple devices connected.
The speakers is similarly easy to switch between wired and wireless connections, even on the fly. Holding down the power button for ~1 second allows you to change sources between Bluetooth and AUX. The status of the speaker is displayed by the top mounted LED that glows white when on, flashes blue when ready for pairing and glows a solid blue when connected over Bluetooth. When the speaker is in AUX mode, the LED changes to a solid red. It`s an easy system that I had no complications with.
The Rave produced a reliable Bluetooth connection completely devoid of dropouts during my usage. The range is also respectable; stretching across 3 rooms (double-brick) before audio became intermittent. That`s better than the Envaya Mini and Soundlink Mini that both cut out after just 2. In open spaces, the range is much improved and should not be a concern during normal use.
One thing to note is that you can`t press and hold the volume buttons to change volume in larger steps. Luckily the speaker only has 20 volume steps (not 100 like some speakers), though the volume does reset to 10/20 every time you power off the device which can get tedious.
The Rave boasts 8 hours of battery life from its rather unconventional 14v internal lithium battery. As such, the speaker can only charge from the included power adapter, not USB. Luckily the power adapter is compact and supports 110-250v for worldwide use. It also has an inbuilt velcro strap to keep the cable in check. I found the Rave to have solid but not exemplary battery-life, easily meeting Edifier`s 8 hour claim at medium volumes and getting reasonably close at high volumes (about 7 hours avg over 3 cycles). The UE Megaboom by comparison offers up to 20 hours of charge, and although this estimate is a little more overstated, it won`t struggle to beat the Rave in longevity. The speaker does charge quite quickly however, it took me 2 hours and 49 minutes to completely charge the Rave from empty.
Quite a few reviewers complained that the Rave has no battery indicator. There are actually 5 LEDs next to the ports on the right face that denote remaining charge, although they are easy to miss if you didn`t read the manual. There is no dedicated button that will activate these LEDs, only illuminating when the speaker is powered on, changing source or charging. The speaker also doesn`t auto power-off, but will enter standby mode to minimize power consumption.
The Edifier RAVE sounds slightly mid forward but balanced overall. If I had to liken them to an earphone/earbud, they actually sound quite a bit like the MrZ Tomahawks which is a great accolade in my books.
With two 10W 70mm fullrange drivers, two silk-dome tweeters and a whopping three passive bass radiators all connected though a 2-way electronic crossover, the Rave produces a combined output of 36W RMS. That`s substantial for a portable speaker; for reference, the UE Boom 2 outputs just 12W RMS whilst the more comparable UE Megaboom outputs the same 36W RMS. But numbers only tell part of the story and the Edifier make good use of this hardware by implementing DSP and DRC (dynamic range control) software systems to limit distortion and actively tailor the sound for a more enjoyable audio experience.
Rave with front grill removed
Marketing aside, I was quite disappointed that the Rave, much like the e25, either does not have volume compensation (basically increases bass levels at lower volumes to create a more level sound profile) or it is not aggressive enough, resulting in the Rave sounding anemic at lower volumes (though the midrange still sounds full-bodied throughout). As such, the Rave is at home in large, higher volume applications such as parties, events and even TV use where the bass radiators can create a much fuller low end response. This is complimented by a very high maximum volume that is higher than even my Edifier E25`s (74W RMS). The Rave is perfect for parties, easily filling a large room, and thanks to Edifier`s DRC system, doesn`t distort at all throughout the volume range. As a newer device, the Rave`s electronics seem to be a little smarter than the E25`s which clipped a little at maximum volume, sounding a bit harsh in the upper end. The Rave has no such problems.
Front – Back
Despite its very symmetrical design, the Rave is not omni-directional, only projecting sound from its front face. I didn`t find either the sound quality or volume to drop off too much in the 180 degrees in front of the speaker, but the audio behind the speaker sounds hollow. It`s not nearly as direct as the Bose Soundlink Mini or Envaya Mini and this further contributes to the profound sense of space in the midrange. Like the envaya mini, bass does radiate predominately from the rear grill and placing the speaker next to a wall will increase bass presence to some extent. You can see above that one bass radiator faces forward, this prevents the speaker from losing bass presence in open spaces (the Envaya Mini was better suited towards near field listening), it`s not nearly as sensitive to orientation as the Denon was.
Delving into the sound itself, I`ll start with the midrange as it has the most tonal prominence. With such an emphasis, you would hope that the Rave also delivers on quality and thankfully, this is very much the case.
The slightly bright midrange is extremely clear while retaining satisfying balance overall. This sound signature is a big departure from the usual portable speaker sound; where most competitors pursue a thicker, warmer sound to imbue the impression of a larger sound, Edifier stays true to size and source, instead assuming a more Hi-Fi orientated signature. This shouldn`t be taken as a negative at all, because both the lower and upper midrange have great clarity and speech intelligibility. Even the Denon Envaya Mini sounds muffled by comparison, the Rave`s have impeccable balance and clarity to the midrange.
This makes the speaker ideal for youtube, jazz, acoustic, rock and most movies. Whilst the lower midrange is a little thin for my liking, male vocals still have plenty of body and the midrange is flawlessly revealing and detailed. Female vocals in particular sound true to life and the added clarity makes acoustic and pop sound particularly vivid. Comparing to the Edifier e25`s and Envaya Mini, the Rave impresses with much more clarity to the midrange than either and a lot more detail over the Envaya Mini (though still slightly less than the e25`s). The Rave has one of the strongest midranges of any portable speaker I`ve tested, the tonal balance is spot on and the quality of the sound is superb.
I did note that Edifier`s DSP adds a surround effect to the sound, and although the more compact speaker doesn`t provide much stereo separation, the midrange in particular still sounds very open and spacious. Instruments are well separated and the Rave easily avoids the usual kind of congestion that portable speakers struggle with. The effect isn`t overly aggressive and well compliments the airy sound signature of the Rave, but I did notice an artificial tone to some female vocals in particular.
The Rave produces a very extended treble response for a portable speaker; you can tell those silk dome tweeters are well integrated. Highs come through crustal clear with copious detail whilst remaining textured with adequate body. Treble does roll-off at the very top but far less than the vast majority of other speakers including the exemplary Denon Envaya Mini.
Although the treble response avoids being harsh, much like the midrange, I did find it to sound slightly thin. The treble is also a little grainy in the grand scheme of things, but is perfectly smooth for a portable speaker. The performance slots in comfortably between the e25, which comes through even clearer with more detail, and the Envaya Mini which sounds a little more recessed and rolled-off.
There isn`t much comparison with other consumer speakers, most have either too much or too little treble, and rarely is it very revealing of detail. The Rave strikes a winning balance here, the treble performance is pretty much class leading for a portable speaker under $300 AUD, high notes are portrayed very well overall.
I`ve purposely left the bass response until last as this will probably be the most polarizing factor for buyers looking into the Rave.
Bass (or at least an impression of bass) is probably the biggest marketing point that manufacturers leverage when advertising their products. With such large drivers and three passive radiators, one would probably expect the Rave to sound quite bassy, but the bass response of the Rave actually sounds very lean and controlled, quite uncommon for a portable speaker.
The Rave doesn`t have any of the boom or slam of its JBL and UE equivalents. Instead, the triple passive radiator Rave offers a very tight bass response that is extremely agile and punchy. The bass ranges from less than neutral to just above it in quantity depending on volume, but bass notes usually take a backseat to the prominent midrange. The lack of volume compensation is quite evident with the Rave. At low volumes, the Rave produces an anemic bass response but starts to sound very balanced at medium volumes and then full at high volumes. This limits the uses of the Rave as even my Envaya Mini sounds richer at the low volumes I listen to in my room. However that all changes in a larger space, where the Rave easily outclasses these smaller speakers which tend to lose composure as volume increases.
Although the specifications state a frequency response of 80Hz to 20KHz, playing a quick bass sweep through either a Bluetooth or a cabled connection reveals a little more extension than these numbers would suggest. The Rave will actually hit notes as low as 45Hz but it rolls off strongly below 60Hz. The speaker thus has a little less sub-bass than competitors; sub-bass notes are present but have a softer quality to them.
Luckily the mid-bass performance is excellent. It`s just about neutral in quantity and is very tactile and textured, reproducing complex passages with finesse. The Denon Envaya Mini was another speaker I praised for its accuracy and punch, but the Rave has that extra level of definition and texture to the mid-bass that makes the Envaya Mini sounds a little bloated. This may be a constraint of the Denon`s small size, but the Rave sounds much tighter than both the JBL Extreme and UE Megaboom as well. The Edifier e25`s bests all of these speakers, combining the control and texture of the Rave with a slight emphasis for some added fun.
The Rave handles complex bass-lines with aplomb. Whilst most portable speakers are over-boosted, sounding muddy and losing a lot of detail, for better or for worse, the Rave is rather the opposite. This is especially so as the upper-bass response is a little recessed, avoiding spillage into the lower mids but also sapping the sound of that thick/full impression. I personally enjoy the clearer sound delivered by the Rave, it enables both the mid-bass and lower midrange to come through cleaner and clearer, though some may feel the Rave to sound subjectively “worse” coming from overly boosted consumer counterparts. This is definitely not the case, but I still think the Rave could have a little more low-end boost to combat sound dissipation in large open areas.
During this review, I made comparison to other offerings by JBL and UE as well as some smaller speakers too. As far as portable speakers go, the Rave is very accomplished, combining a pleasing and practical design with a very balanced sound. That`s not to say that I would immediately recommend the Rave to anyone looking for a Bluetooth speaker. For $300 AUD, you would be much better off buying a set of computer speakers such as Edifier`s own e25. But if you require portability and a few other features such as weatherproofing, you should definitely consider the Rave, just know what kind of sound you are looking for when purchasing the speaker.
I stress this notion because the general consumer will likely prefer the much bassier, thicker sound offered by JBL and UE speakers when comparing directly to the Rave in a retail store. But give the Rave a bit of time and you will discover a sound that is balanced, full and every bit as impressive. The rave excels in particular with acoustics and vocals, making it a great all-purpose speaker; whereas more overly warmed speakers tend to struggle with speech intelligibility. The addition of low latency apt-x, the ability to function as a powerbank and that innovative handle design only augment the Rave`s versatility. I would have preferred a little extra bass presence and body to the sound, but other than that, the Rave is a very well-rounded product from Edifier that`s well worth a look.
Accessories – 10/10, Simple un-boxing process is visually pleasing and protective. Comes with everything needed to operate the speaker and the AUX cable is of especially high quality.
Design – 9.5/10, The Rave carries Edifier`s usual standard of design devoid of ergonomic compromise. Despite its high weight, various design features enable the user to manage the speaker with ease. The body is very solid whilst also offering mild water resistance. I`m a fan of the bolder design offered by the Rave over the more cylindrical designs that have been popularized of late. Bluetooth pairing and connection is rock solid and the addition of the newest Bluetooth standards is just icing on top. The only complaints I have are the lack of a dedicated button to view remaining charge and the use of a proprietary power plug. I understand that, at 14v, the Rave cannot be charged off regular USB ports, but it is a small inconvenience nonetheless.
Bass – 7/10, The bass response is very tight and controlled, I would rate it above most other portable speakers, but the quantity may not be enough to satisfy some. At higher volumes, the speaker sounds very full. Bass comes through clean, textured and particularly detailed. Would benefit greatly from stronger volume compensation.
Mids – 7.25/10, Very resolving midrange with an emphasis on clarity and separation. It`s a little on the drier side, but vocals sound very lifelike and vivid. They are far more detailed and clear than any other portable speaker. Slightly bright but not overly so.
Highs – 7.25/10, Just about neutral in quantity and very extended. The treble has good body and detail retrieval is impressive.
Value – 8.5/10, The speaker is well priced for the sound quality and feature set it delivers, buyers are unlikely to have qualms with the speaker`s design or build quality either. The Rave is no more expensive than its competitors, and is very much equivalent on both a functional and audio level. The added versatility of a low latency wireless connection and a clear midrange only heighten value.
Overall – 8/10, For those looking to buy a portable Bluetooth speaker, the Rave is a standout offering in the $300 price range. Anyone with more audiophile tastes or simply music lovers in general will appreciate the open, detailed sound produced by the Rave, though everyone will enjoy it`s crisp aesthetics and convenient functionality. Edifier`s more Hi-Fi, utilitarian approach to portable Bluetooth speakers has produced a great product, just bear in mind that its leaner sound may not be to everyone`s individual taste.