While the majority of manufacturers increase their pricing with time, it’s good to see Edifier offering their newer technologies at even lower prices than before. Meet the new R1010BT, a stunningly affordable $99 AUD speaker with a delightful mix of features. Implementing an intriguing dual ceramic cone driver setup and a bookshelf inspired design, the R1010BT sits just below the $150 non-Bluetooth enabled R1280T and in-line with cheaper portable Bluetooth speakers such as the JBL Flip 4. With their modern legacy of great value orientated offerings, let’s see how Edifier’s newest budget speaker performs.
I would like to thank Edifier very much for their quick communication and for providing me with the R1010BT on loan for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the speakers free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
The R1010BT’s unboxing assumes a more basic presentation than past Edifier speakers with a basic cardboard box covered in vectors and basic specs. It is also a simple beast with fewer accessories than most; the R1010BT comes packaged with an RCA to 3.5mm cable, RCA to female 3.5mm cable and a basic interconnect. It has no remote, optical or other inputs but supports Bluetooth streaming from a smart device. It’s a simple setup that gets the job done if not much else and Edifier do provide enough cables to take advantage of both of the R1010BT’s wired inputs.
The R1080BT is a compact active speaker that assumes the more classic design of Edifier’s bookshelf line-up. And though they carry that more traditional aesthetic, they are perfectly comfortable within a computer/laptop setup due to their meagre dimensions and understated design. And despite being quite simple in look, the speakers are handsome and well finished with an aesthetic quality that belies their affordable asking price.
The speakers have the same MDF construction as the R1280T but now assume a black wood finish on their side panels as opposed to the more natural wood grain on Edifier’s higher model. They are available in brown though I personally found the black model more convincing. The main housings of the speakers also have a faux leather texture though it is fine and subtle, providing a little extra tactility without becoming gaudy. I am definitely a fan of the R1010BT’s design as with Edifier’s other speakers, a budget speaker set has no right to look this good!
And in terms of build quality, the speakers feel very solid with some decent weight and none of the hollowness associated with similarly priced speakers with a plastic construction. Removing the mesh covers reveals a visually intriguing driver array with that yellow ceramic cone woofer really stealing the show. Above sits a dome tweeter that is well protected from damage even when the protective covers are removed.
The right speaker also houses a status LED which shines blue when in Bluetooth mode and green when running through a wired connection. The edges of the speakers are all rounded and soft though some angling of the side panels imbues them with a more striking geometric look. Each speaker sits atop 4 foam feet that prevent the speakers from wandering during high volume playback and also protect the surface they placed on.
The rear of the R1010BT houses the bulk of the interfaces, the bass port and main controls have also been moved to the rears and share the same basic layout as Edifier’s other speakers. At the bottom lies two spring loaded connectors that route power through a generic interconnect wire to the left passive speaker. This allows users to easily switch in a longer cable for wider placement.
The speakers have an integrated power cable that is relatively short and may limit the placement of the speakers in some setups where the use of an extension cable is not possible. Just above is a power switch next to the basic tone adjustment dial and analogue volume control since the speakers don’t support remote commands like the R1280T. The volume knob doubles as the source selector via button press, switching between the Speaker’s two RCA line-in inputs and Bluetooth. The dials do feel a bit cheap with a plastic construction though they rarely require adjustment beyond initial setup and are well hidden at the rears of the speakers. The rear facing bass port also makes the R101BT more placement sensitive than the R1280T though the bass dial does offer some level of compensation and individual tune-ability.
When placed in Bluetooth mode, the speakers immediately enter pairing mode or attempt to establish a connection with a previously paired device. As always, the lack of a distinct pairing mode removes an extra step from setup making them that much more convenient to use. The R1010Bt’s support Bluetooth 4.0 enabling two devices to pair simultaneously. Unfortunately, they don’t support apt-x and their implementation is clearly worse than Edifier’s higher priced speakers. In my testing, the R1010BT’s had inferior range, occasional dropouts and noticeably higher latency than the majority of Bluetooth enabled speakers I’ve used. They are still usable for movies and videos though delay is clearly noticeable and gaming over wireless is far from ideal. That being said, most similarly priced speakers don’t even support Bluetooth at all and the R1010BT works perfectly fine for music streaming where latency is less of an issue.
The R1010BT’s utilise a dual driver setup to provide respectable range and end to end extension, especially when considering their rather meagre 24W RMS output power. Unsurprisingly, they have the lowest rating in Edifier’s lineup, even the R1280T produces a solid 41W. Despite this, they provide quite a full sound, especially when placed in front of a wall. And since the speakers utilise only active drivers, they sound rich even at lower volumes making them perfect for bedroom use. They are still more of a near field speaker without adequate power to fill anything larger than a small room, making them more suited towards use with a computer.
As with Edifier’s other bookshelf speakers, I preferred to listen to the R1010BT without covers to achieve slightly more clarity and resolution, all comments during this review will be with the covers removed running from a wireless connection unless otherwise stated.
The R1010BT is a full-bodied speaker characterised by a warm low-end with less prominent mids and highs. They don’t have the greatest clarity and midrange body nor do they have the greatest bass extension, but the speakers are relatively balanced once the bass dial at the rear is appropriately adjusted. Treble is more polite despite having that dedicated tweeter driver though the R1010BT’s portray convincing balance and
Sub-bass is mostly non-existent, the R1010BT unsurprisingly lacks the authority and power to create visceral impact like larger, more expensive speakers. But just higher up, bass comes on quite strongly through the mid and upper-bass frequencies, imbuing them with a sense of fullness and warmth. For my tastes, the speakers sound a little boomy and uncontrolled though they are pleasingly bodied and extended for a budget speaker. Bass also has a sense of tubbiness similar to that found on portable speakers like the UE Boom though not nearly to the same extent, and it goes without saying that they easily beat even the best portable speakers such as the Envaya mini and Bose Soundlink Mini in terms of low-frequency quality and extension. Otherwise, the R1010BT’s bass is relatively vibrant and surprisingly well textured. Listening to Eric Clapton’s “Old Love” and bass sounded taught and defined with impressive texturing and detailing to each bass note. On the contrary, listening to a song with more deep-bass content such as Frank Ocean’s “Pink + White” and the R1010BT’s struggled to provide adequate quantity and extension, losing bass control and compromising texture. Still, for the majority of genres, the R1010BT’s provide a very pleasing bass response and offer a great affordable upgrade to any smaller portable or integrated laptop speakers.
While the midrange is usually my favourite aspect of Edifier’s speakers, the R1010BT didn’t quite impress me like those before. They do share the same kind of full-bodied, slightly darker tonality as these other speakers, but the R1010BT lacks the clarity of higher end models, being tuned for long-term listenability over engagement. As such, they are more suited towards use in a small room/bedroom or with a computer rather than critical listening as one would expect given their size and price. The R1010BT, therefore, provides a laid-back presentation with smooth if not particularly clear vocals and modest detailing that sits more in the background. Male vocals sit slightly in front of upper midrange elements though both manage to be clear enough for video and film in addition to music. Lower mids are characterised by their warmer tone and fuller body that is very forgiving of poorly mastered tracks but can sound slightly thick with everything else. Still, vocals are perfectly distinguishable and the speakers grant instruments such as acoustic guitar with a nice organic body. Upper mids tell a similar story, they aren’t quite as warmed as the lower mids but retain that same kind of fuller tone. Resolution and clarity are not the speaker’s strong point though they have some modest detail retrieval when called for. The speakers do have some veil and muffle and while they are certainly no worse than something like the Logitech Z623 or Envaya Mini, the R1010BT lacks the huge midrange edge over 2.1 systems that the R1280T and R1700BT possessed. For example, listening to Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” and the R1010BT’s provided a pleasing listen but one that was lacking some nuance and transparency. Thom’s vocals came through clearly and their reproduction of higher frequency details was adequate if blunted. Once again, the R1010BT’s provided a very unfatiguing listen at the cost of intricacy, it really depends on the intended uses and sound preferences of the buyer but I would say that the R1010BT will not be as universally adored as its higher priced brethren. At least no one will mistake the R1010Bt for a thin sounding speaker which is arguably a less pleasing tonality.
Edifier have intelligently tuned that tweeter driver to liven up the R1010BT’s sound a bit and prevent outright congestion and dullness. That 13mm dome driver still retains a smoother, more laid-back presentation but it does provide a little extra crispness to lower-treble detailing and some sparkle to middle-treble notes without coming off as splashy or unrefined, quite uncommon at this price point. While they don’t have huge upper treble extension and air, the R1010BT nonetheless provides an insightful high-frequency response that will likely prove to be its strongest asset over 2.1 and portable speaker systems that can struggle in this region. Extension isn’t great, the speakers have almost no air to cymbals and high-hat details are either distant or cut-off entirely, but lower and middle treble detail retrieval is above average and slightly aggressive in presentation, adding some interest. Guitars are flattered by this presentation, adding some additional crispness while more forward instruments such as strings and trumpets are smooth and refined. Layering to these details is not exceptional, but separation is adequate to avoid the sense of congestion that tends to affect these lower priced speakers.
While they aren’t cutting edge or hyper resolving, the R1010BT provides a perfectly enjoyable sound at a very reasonable price. They aren’t an acoustically outstanding speaker in any regard, rather they provide an above average sound at a below average price. Moreover, this sound is wrapped within a delightful, style conscious housing that manages to be visually intriguing but not gaudy. The addition of Bluetooth connectivity grants them with a lot of versatility lacked by the R1280T that came before and a lot of more powerful 2.1 speakers around this price. Edifier’s new R1010BT will provide a hearty sonic upgrade to any integrated audio system and will be sure to invigorate any setup with their charming looks.
Verdict – 7/10, They might not have the most impactful bass response, the clearest midrange or the most detailed high-end, but the R1010BT focusses on something more important, and that’s the balance between these three elements.