Another day, another Edifier. Edifier international are a company who never seem to stand still, pushing out one product after another in a steady stream of new models. Such rapid development has the advantage of keeping the company on top of technological developments, but I do sometimes wonder whether a slower product cycle might increase product longevity, not to mention make it easier to keep up with the company’s portfolio from a journalistic point of view. Still I do like their products a lot, and am always happy to review appropriate models from their lineup here. While not often considered within audiophile circles, their products do represent excellent value for money for those seeking high quality sound at a more realistic price point. So too are their products well engineered and well crafted, using quality components and the same engineering techniques used in revered audiophile designs for years.
The S350 on review here is a 2.1 system comprising a pair of satellite speakers and a sub woofer. I wouldn’t ordinarily review such a setup here as they’re typically targeted toward computer use or for use in an audiovisual situation where sound quality isn’t a foremost consideration. Such doesn’t appear to be the case here however. The satellites are quality bookshelf speakers in their own right with rear ported wooden enclosures and titanium dome tweeters. As heavy as it is large, the wooden sub is home to a substantial 8” driver and the system’s class D amplification, with bi-amplified satellites, dedicated sub amplification and DSP-based crossovers with digital volume, tone and dynamic range control, the latter intended to minimise distortion at high volume and improve dynamics at lower levels. These are ultimately tuned for listening enjoyment and volume, rather than neutrality and absolute accuracy.
Plenty of inputs are onboard including dual RCA, digital optical and coaxial and Bluetooth 4.1 with AptX. The system outputs a combined 150W RMS; 35W x 2 per satellite (15W treble, 25W mid / bass) and 70W for the sub. Overall frequency response is rated at 40Hz – 20kHz, with the sub / satellite crossover at a fixed 160Hz. The crossover point, which is on the high side, in combination with how these enclosures are tuned means that the sub doesn’t integrate as well as it could into the system, with blurring of musical information around the crossover point. It’s also easy to pinpoint the location of the sub in relation to the satellites. Ideally then the sub would be centrally located between the two, but the cable from the right-hand satellite is significantly shorter than that of the left. Positioning the sub centrally limits the spread of the two satellites, though you could use a 9 pin serial extension cable to extend the right speaker cable to a sufficient length.
The system includes an infrared remote control with power, input, volume and transport controls on its circular face. It’s a nice weighty unit that feels great in the hand with an unusual design and excellent build quality, with a gentle ‘click’ felt and heard when operating the buttons. Its operating angle isn’t particularly wide, requiring that it be aimed directly toward the right-hand speaker for functions to respond.
Packaged with the system are RCA and digital optical cables, an IEC figure 8 power cable with a plug suited to the country of purchase and a 3 metre 5-pin DIN cable for the left speaker. The aforementioned 9-pin connection cable from the right speaker is permanently attached.
System setup is a breeze with all connections located on the rear of the sub. The right speaker houses controls for bass and treble, and a rotary encoder to alter volume, switch inputs and to switch to and from standby mode. A short press switches between inputs, while a long press toggles standby; all functions which have dedicated controls on the remote. Bass and treble are controlled digitally, though via analogue potentiometers with a detent to indicate the centre (flat) position. Analogue and digital inputs function exactly as expected, with Bluetooth also operating flawlessly and connecting to an iPhone 8 without issue. The remote’s transport controls were able to control music playback on the phone and a connected MacBook, and the sound signature of the Bluetooth input was in keeping with that of the analogue inputs and more than adequate for convenient listening.
The sound is pleasingly clear and crisp, though with a slight softness to the highs that reduces listener fatigue. Mids are excellent with great detail, particularly in areas above the 160Hz crossover point where the satellites are left to their own devices. Vocals and acoustic instruments are wonderfully portrayed and stereo imaging is quite respectable, though not as vivid as an entry level hi-fi system would be at this price.
The system’s shortcoming is in this low frequencies. The sub has oodles of power, but it is without refinement. The high crossover point and the tuning of the enclosure makes it easy to pinpoint the location of the sub between the two satellites, and the handoff between the two results in blurred low frequency detail with individual notes ill-defined. The sub also appears slower than the two satellites, thumping along while the satellites struggle to keep things coherent. That said, the bass is not hugely overpowering, and with great care in positioning and tweaking of the controls it is possible to achieve an integration between the sub and satellites that sounds decent, if not perfect.
The Edifier S350 is a 2.1 system with a smart design and decent sonics. It’s neither tonally neutral nor accurate and it’s not the last word in refinement. If exacting fidelity is what you’re after there are better products in the company’s range. At £249 the S350s are in entry level hi-fi territory, and it is possible to assemble a more refined and more musical system of separate components. For multimedia however where movies, games and other forms of entertainment come into play, the S350 can deliver the thundering bass and array of features required. If you’re after plenty of inputs, smart aesthetics and conveniences such as Bluetooth, with better sonics than the average one box solution, these are worth a look. For no compromise audio performance, look elsewhere. Perhaps consider the S880DB instead.