Edifier’s S2000 MKIII revises the S2000MKII, similar to the S2000Pro that I reviewed here previously and enjoyed greatly. Though the S2000MKIII has much in common with the outgoing model, there are many improvements both externally and under the hood.
Not least of which is an updated Qualcomm QCC3031 Bluetooth chipset supporting Bluetooth 5.0 and AptX HD. New DSPs deliver the same four equalisation modes – Monitor, Dynamic, Classical and Vocal, though with a more subtle implementation than before which to my ears makes them infinitely more useful in real-world listening. Amplification is class D with a tri-amplified implementation putting out a combined 130W RMS (65W per channel, 15W treble + 50W bass) with a very respectable A-weighted signal to noise ratio of ≥90dB and self-noise levels less than 25dB(a).
Inside, a trio of Texas Instruments TAS5754M class D amplifier chips in a tri-amplified configuration with one bridged per bass driver and 1 handling the treble. Dual DSP chips independently manage the crossover and dynamics (limiting and compression) of the bass and treble drivers for finer control. Volume, bass and treble adjustments are prodded and are all implemented digitally, with 50 levels of volume adjustment and a ‘smart startup volume’ feature to minimise speaker or hearing damage from unexpected excessive sound pressure.
Prominently placed on the front of the cabinets are the 5.5” aluminium mid/bass driver and patent-pending planar diaphragm tweeter, with a status display featured on the active (right) speaker. The rear of the active speaker features the usual complement of connections including the output for the passive (left) speaker via a 5-pin DIN cable, included in the box.
Also included are RCA, RCA to 3.5 mm and optical cables, and the remote control. Edifier’s remotes have improved significantly over the years, and this handset is well designed and nicely put together. There are discrete controls for each input as well as the 4 equalisation modes, volume, power and even transport controls for connected Bluetooth devices. It takes a pair of AAA batteries which are also supplied.
Connectivity includes optical and S/PDIF digital inputs along with two pairs of analogue inputs. Though sited as being designed for music production, balanced inputs are notably lacking limiting connectivity with recording gear. They also lack USB connectivity for computers, leaving you reliant on the quality of the inbuilt audio or an interface with single-ended analogue outputs. This limits their usefulness in production to ‘in the box’ production (I.E entirely computer-based), and unless you have a good interface they’re not especially suited to this either. I see this as a marketing gimmick more than intended use, given the number of excellent purpose-designed studio monitors available for less money. No; these are active speakers for home listening; though an obvious cut above your average computer speakers or sound bar.
Turning to the sound. With the speakers situated on stands and an equilateral triangle formed between the speakers and listener, a pleasing stereo image is produced. It’s not holographic but it is nicely presented. Bass depth is impressive, no doubt aided by the signal processing. I preferred the speakers in monitor mode, which produced the flattest response. Dynamic mode is much like a loudness contour, boosting the highs and bass to account for the way our ears perceive frequency extremes at lower volumes. It was fine for low-level listening, though I found it fatiguing and a little overbearing at high volume. Vocal boosts the mids, which is great for TV shows or dialogue-based content, especially those with quiet passages where an actor is speaking in hushed tones. It’s a little too mid-heavy for music in my opinion, though it may suit synth-heavy dance and electronic tracks where the goal is usually mid-range prominence.
The ‘classic’ profile gives a warm tonal character, much like a ‘70s hi-fi or a tube amp. This was my secondary preference as it produces a rather nice effect when you’re listening to classic rock, especially uncompressed tape-based recordings. The S2000MKIII homes in on the analogue nature of these recordings and emphasises it to the nth degree. It might not be absolutely accurate, but it’s a great way to hear these recordings in a way that closely mimics the systems that would have played them on release.
Monitor mode produces a much flatter tonal response. I couldn’t hear the effects of any limiting or compression even at high volume. Nor did I find the speakers to be fatiguing or bass-heavy at high levels. Monitor mode allows top-end detail to shine, a trait of which the S2000s are highly capable. That planar tweeter comes into its own when it’s not being artificially manipulated to sound a certain way. It’s open, airy, sparkly and any number of audiophile cliches, but in more relatable terms just sounds ‘natural’. Vocals are produced with clarity and body, instruments have their place in a highly dimensional soundscape and there’s a coherence between the drivers that aptly demonstrates the advantage of a digital crossover.
To summarise, the S2000MKIII is an excellent speaker system for home audio listening. Ignore the pro audio marketing and look elsewhere for studio monitors. But for home listening, the S2000s continue Edifier’s excellent track record with superlative acoustic and electronic design, a vast array of inputs, stylish aesthetics and great sound. Highly recommended.
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