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Edifier MP202 Duo Review – It Takes Two To Tango

Pros – 

Hyper-portable, True wireless stereo, Full yet clear midrange

Cons – 

Little bass, Unnecessarily loud audio cues, No water resistance

Verdict – 

The MP202 Duo’s sound is pleasing, their maximum volume sufficient, but their usability is outstanding.


Introduction –

I’m sure most looking into speakers have heard of Edifier. They’re the largest speaker manufacturer in China, an absolute juggernaut, but their Western presence has only accumulated in recent years. In particular, they made a huge entrance with their visually captivating Image line of computer speakers with the stunning Luna Eclipse leading the charge. I’ve personally reviewed their entire bookshelf speaker range in addition to their image speakers. However, the rest of their line-up is lesser known.

What we have here today is another creature entirely; this isn’t a statement in artistic design, or a triumph of audio engineering. The MP202 is a small Bluetooth speaker that  with an emphasis on portability, succeeding Edifier’s MP200. And what differentiates it from other solutions is the inclusion of two speakers in the box, enabling users to pair in stereo akin to the UE Boom. At ~$130 USD, the MP202 has no shortage of competition, many of which offer more a substantial bass response and life-proofing features such as water-resistance. You can read more about the MP202 on Edifier’s website here.

 

Disclaimer –

I would like to thank Edifier very much for their quick communication and for providing me with the MP202 Duo 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.

 

Accessories –

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The MP202 is a nicely packaged speaker, with a transparent acrylic box showcasing the two speakers. Upon removing the speakers, the base separates to reveal the included accessories.

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Inside are a handful of user manuals in various languages. Edifier also provide 2 micro-usb cables to keep both speakers topped up, in addition to a micro-fibre cleaning cloth.

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Though inexpensive online, I still would have liked to see Edifier include a pouch of some kind to provide some scratch protection during transit.

 

Design –

The MP202 Duo has a very approachable design that is functional yet pleasing to the eye as we’ve come to expect from Edifier. It’s smoothly formed angles, rubberized exterior and choice of pastel colours speak to a younger audience as opposed to their more art house computer speakers. And, in typical Edifier fashion, the speakers are very solid in construction with surprising density in the hand. There are no unsightly moulding defects of discolouration and the finish is both tactile and even.

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Though the externals are mostly rubber, the front and rear grills are constructed from plastic, permitting a fair amount of flex. As they’re intended for younger users, this is likely to increase shock resistance, working in conjunction with a flexible rubber rim around their perimeter that helps to prevent damage from drops and other impact. The base of the speakers also have rubber rings that serve to reduce vibrations during higher volume playback and provide some stability on flat surfaces. Of note, the original MP200 did have IP54 water resistance but ingress protection appears to be absent on the MP202.

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This all sounds like the standard affair for Bluetooth speakers, so what really separates the Edifier’s latest speaker from the competition is its portability. Few Bluetooth speakers are as compact as the MP202, and none that are possess the ability to pair in stereo. Its cuboid design isn’t pocketable, but at under 7x7x7cm in size, it easily fits into a backpack or bag. In addition, integrated straps enable the speakers to be hung from a carabiner. The MP202 is practically designed while remaining visually pleasing and approachable for users of all age.

 

Usability –

Edifier have also carefully considered the control scheme of the speakers to ensure practical use. Up top are playback controls; play-pause in the centre with skip track buttons on either side. The inner faces have the main wireless controls, a power button that doubles as source select in addition to dedicated BT pairing and phone call/hang-up buttons. When paired, the speakers provided reliable audio and fairly impressive range.

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However, connecting in stereo introduced significant latency that was immediately noticeable when watching video. Still, this is more a limitation of BT v4.2 rather than the speaker itself; as audio is received by one speaker then sent to another, latency increases to keep both in sync. The slave speaker would also cut out occasionally for a second or so, but it wasn’t overly jarring with audio gently fading out and back in. It’s also easy to use a single speaker in mono as both have the ability to pair and act as a slave speaker to the other.

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The outer face houses the micro-usb charging port and a micro-sd card slot. Just above is an LED indicator that denotes power, pairing status and the selected source. Of note, the speakers have no 3.5mm input so use from a non-BT enabled source is unviable. That said, the ability to playback from a micro-sd card should suffice in those instances. Though the speaker wasn’t able to decode any of the lossless files in my collection, it had no difficulties with MP3’s or M4A’s which are the most common file types at present. Interestingly, the speakers also play over USB, a handy feature when they’re low on battery.

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In addition, as both speakers are identical in design and symmetrical front and back, Edifier have put white LEDs on their front face. They’re also offset towards the outer edge to ensure correct orientation between the left and right speakers. Batterylife is rated at 12hours which is greater than the 10hrs provided by the Bose Soundlink Mini and similar to the JBL Flip 4. However, when paired in stereo, that drops to a more modest, but still respectable 9hrs. In use, I was able to just meet that claim, with just under 9hrs of longevity at 70% volume.  Of note, the MP202 Duo has no inbuilt volume control instead corresponding to the paired source.

 

Sound –

The MP202 Duo utilises a single 2” driver with a single passive radiator at the rear. Despite their size, each has a substantial 5.5W RMS output, creating a total of 11W when paired in tandem. To put that into perspective, larger UE Mini Boom outputs a paltry 2.5W RMS.

Portable speakers lie on a wide spectrum of quality, some are pretty horrific while others really surprise with their quality. I can’t say the same for speakers as small as this, a select few reproduce bass at all and most have a fairly modest maximum volume. The more premium MP202 Duo doesn’t deviate a lot from this, but its quality drivers produce a sound that is nicely balanced; not piercing in the highs nor are they completely anaemic.

They do seem to prefer quality over volume, producing 87dB of maximum volume. That’s a large upgrade over a phone speaker and enough volume to fill a small to medium sized room. However, it also isn’t nearly as high as the 93+ dB offered by similarly priced, albeit larger speakers; especially given that a 6dB increase represents twice the perceived volume.

That said, the ability to alter the placement of each speaker significantly increases immersion, providing some real stereo separation that single speakers physically can’t provide. Of course, their sound isn’t nearly as substantial as something like the Archeer A320 or the Denon Envaya Mini, but they’re a well-performing speaker considering their size.

 

Tonality –

The MP202 Duo is a mellow but full-bodied speaker with a mid-focussed signature. This mostly stems from an enhanced upper-bass/lower midrange that provides a warm, organic tone in culmination with a rather laid-back high-end. They lack bass impact and provide little energy up top, but the MP202 Duo never sounds bright to fatigue or lean as a result. When compared to similarly sized speakers, they sound a lot more natural; perhaps not due to a huge advantage in end to end extension, but by maximising the quality of the frequency range they do cover.

 

Bass –

Edifier’s quoted frequency range outlines a significant bass roll-off below 150Hz which seems congruent with my subjective impressions. As such, sub-bass is non-existent with roll-off beginning partway through mid-bass. Mid-bass also isn’t particularly present though they do have some fullness in this range. This produces fairly neutral bass note size so while not rich, they also don’t sound especially thin and lows aren’t drowned out by the higher-frequencies. In fact, upper-bass is actually emphasized, instigating the speaker’s warmer tone and providing body to its low-end.

As a result of this style of tuning, bass does sound a little tubby and there is little depth or impact to the MP202’s sound. That said, bass guitars still have some texture and drums are fast and punchy even if bass drums sound small and distant. They aren’t perfect for EDM or rock, but easily suffice for pop and videos, providing a solid foundation for a natural midrange. So while the MP202 Duo doesn’t match larger speakers with its ability to reproduce low-frequencies, they’re still a huge upgrade over laptops and phones that don’t reproduce much bass at all.

 

Midrange –

Mids are the main focus of the MP202 Duo’s sound, but though forward, they’re approachable and pleasing to the ear. This is mainly due to the speaker’s elevated lower-midrange mated to a slightly attenuated centre midrange that provides a full-bodied presentation combined with a slightly brighter signature that grants increased clarity. And, as its lower-midrange is fairly linear with its emphasized upper-bass, the speaker’s low-end doesn’t spill over its slightly more laid-back male vocals. Rather, they’re granted an organic warmth that permeates throughout. The result is a speaker that clearly presents vocals without fatigue or peakiness.

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Their warmth does has its caveats, most noticeable with male vocals on poorly mastered albums that can be subjected to some muffle. However, they’re clear and well-articulated for the most part, with easily discernible speech when watching videos and a pleasing sense of detail for a compact portable speaker. Upper-mids have slightly more emphasis, and this slight brightness serves to counteract their warmth with enhancing clarity. As such, I found female vocals to sound less obviously coloured and devoid of minimal irksome veil. The MP202 Duo, therefore, presents forward vocals and a smooth, warm tuning well-suiting long listening sessions and a wide range of genres.

 

Highs –

Highs are quite modest in quantity; present enough to retrieve some detail but lacking the extension to provide much air or energy. Lower-treble is the speaker’s main focus, preceding a substantial roll-off above. It’s still attenuated by comparison to the MP202’s elevated upper midrange so its sound does lie on the smoother side. Still, the speaker is granted some crispness and modest amounts of detail; they’re certainly more engaging than any hyper-portable speaker I’ve heard. There’s little else above that initial crispness, no shimmer, air or sparkle which works for and against its sound.

On one hand, the MP202 sounds very clean, its dark background bringing foreground vocals and instruments more into focus. On the contrary, instruments sound quite truncated; cymbals clash but don’t resonate, guitars are focussed but muted and higher elements such as strings and high-hats either sound very distant or absent. The result is a speaker that presents well but lacks depth. It doesn’t provide much competition to models such as the Envaya Mini, but in its class, there’s no denying that the MP202 is a convincing proposition if only due to that initial sense of detail.

 

Comparisons –

All comparisons were volume matched using an SPL meter, running from Apt-X enabled sources with the same files. Both the Envaya Mini and UE Boom are larger speakers, but both occupy similar bag space when taking into account the two MP202’s. Of course, neither offer real stereo separation, in fact, the UE Boom only outputs in mono.

Envaya Mini ($130):

The Envaya Mini remains my favourite portable speaker for good reason, it’s feature rich, solidly constructed and sounds brilliant. Most notably, its bass has terrific extension that blitzes more expensive models from UE and JBL, competing head-on with the Soundlink Mini from Bose. The MP202 Duo can’t compete in this regard, the Denon extends right down to 65Hz before a nice bump in mid-bass fullness around 120Hz. By comparison, the MP202 Duo doesn’t even reproduce frequencies beneath 150Hz and the audible difference cannot be overstated. The Denon Envaya sounds far fuller, is more defined and reproduces the full range of instruments. That said, mids are actually more comparable than one would think.

As expected, the Envaya is fuller due to its greater mid-bass presence, though it is also more susceptible to muffle. Moreover, as the Envaya has a slightly darker midrange, lacking the vocal clarity of the Edifier. On the contrary, the MP202 doesn’t have quite the same depth as the Denon due to its leaner bass and smoother treble, but it’s just as natural and more transparent, greatly benefitting use with video and film. Highs are again, more potent on the Envaya, its more extensive driver setup and larger sound chambers permitting a wider frequency response. The Envaya is the more detailed speaker, with enhanced lower-treble adding some extra energy and attack to its sound.

The MP202 is smoother and less detailed, its higher elements sound very distant by comparison. Furthermore, the Envaya extends into middle treble, providing more accurate instrument reproduction and greater vocal articulation. Finally, the Envaya is utilising psychoacoustic processing to provide an enlarged soundstage though it still can’t match the stereo separation of the MP202 Duo. Finally, the Envaya Mini is approximately twice as loud with a maximum volume of 92dB as opposed to 87dB on the Edifier.

 

UE Boom ($200):

I personally don’t consider the UE Boom to be a highly competitive speaker, especially with models like the Envaya Mini available for less. However, it does represent a very popular model that many are familiar with. The UE Boom’s low-end sounds lean compared to the Envaya on account of a substantial roll-off south of 110Hz. As a result, they do extend slightly more than the MP202 Duo, but the difference isn’t nearly as pronounced as compared to the Denon. The UE Boom does have a little more impact and fullness to its sound, but it’s still mid-forward in its overall delivery.

The UE Boom also climbs to a focus around 400Hz which grants quite a tubby bass tone that saps definition. It has a more jarring transition into its midrange creating thinner but also clearer vocals than the MP202 Duo. Both are quite mid-forward, producing easily discernible vocals in addition to intimate backing instruments. The UE Boom sounds noticeably brighter with ascending emphasis into the upper midrange and lower-treble. As such, it sounds more articulate and details are brought more to the fore than the smoother, mellower MP202 Duo. Treble also extends further on the UE Boom though not to the extent of the Denon.

It has a decent amount of air and shimmer but sounds quite peaky, valuing engagement over a natural timbre. As such, it best suits more energetic genres but may tire over longer listening sessions. Due to its vertical orientation, the UE Boom outputs in mono, with essentially no soundstage. Resultantly, it lacks a lot of the immersion offered by the MP202 Duo despite its more engaging sound. Like the Edifier, the 2 Booms can be paired in stereo through a smartphone app though at this point it becomes a very price prohibitive proposition. In return, the UE Boom has the highest maximum volume at 93dB, twice as loud as the MP202 Duo, and a little louder than the Envaya Mini making it best for larger spaces.

 

Verdict –

The MP202 was a nice hyper-portable speaker and the new Duo model compounds upon its success by offering stereo output. As they’re battery powered, the speakers can be placed a significant distance apart to provide a wide image, and they have enough range to avoid cutting out when done so. True stereo separation from a Bluetooth speaker isn’t unprecedented, but it is rare at this price and level of portability. Combined with its full, vocal forward sound, the MP202 Duo is perfect for laptop and smartphone users seeking greater immersion from films and videos.

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Of course, when compared to larger speakers such as the class-leading Envaya Mini, the Edifier’s clearly don’t provide the same range or dynamics. However, given their size, Edifier have extracted very pleasing sound quality that excels with videos and easily suffices for music, at least, much more so than the similarly sized competition. The MP202 Duo is also feature-rich and well constructed, with additions such as micro-sd and USB playback aiding practicality. Because that’s the allure of these speakers; their sound is pleasing, their maximum volume sufficient, but their usability is outstanding.

One thought on “Edifier MP202 Duo Review – It Takes Two To Tango Leave a comment

  1. Great review, I purchase 2 of these cube bluetooth speakers. The speak complements my iPad and Android phone for watching Netflix and online video streaming.

    Like

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