Edifier’s speakers have largely been a hit with us, and they keep on coming. Next in line are the S880DB, a pair of active bookshelf speakers with a smart wood aesthetic, oodles of connectivity and high-res certification.
On the exterior the S880s are dressed in a smart wood cabinet with a nice textured grain to the aple sides. Those cabinets not only lend the speakers a smart aesthetic appearance but are also internally damped to control cabinet resonance. Mid bass duties are handled by a 3.75” aluminium diaphragm driver optimised for higher power handling and increased cone stiffness. A 19 mm titanium laminate tweeter sits above claiming to offer a cleaner top end increased sensitivity.
An XMOS U11690C20 chip handles the USB input, supporting 24-Bit, 192kHz sampling rates. The same chip doubles as as the DSP (digital signal processor). The S880s four sound profiles (Monitor, Classic, Vocal and Dynamic) are handled here with digital crossovers and digital bass and treble controls, set by the knobs on the back. The Monitor profile provides the flattest sound possible, while Dynamic is essentially the opposite, boosting the highs and lows for a more energetic sound typical of consumer audio. The Classic profile sits somewhere in the middle, with the Vocal profile emphasising the mids to offer more body and clarity for vocal material, useful when listening to dialogue in movies.
The amplification is class D and handled by a pair of Texas Instruments TAS5754M chips for true bi-amplified operation. While certainly not the creme de la creme of class D amplifiers the TAS5754M does incorporate DC, short, thermal and overcurrent protection with respectable distortion figures and a low signal to noise ratio. Edifier quote a combined power output of 44W per channel and a signal to noise ratio of ≥85DB(A) and a frequency response of 55Hz, – 20kHz, flat to within 1dB depending on the chosen sound profile.
Bluetooth is handled by a Qualcomm CSR8645 supporting Bluetooth 4.1 with AptX and Mp3, AAC and SBC over A2DP, to get the best from any Bluetooth device. AVRCP is also supported, allowing for media control via the S880 remote. Other inputs include 2 pairs of RCA, coaxial and optical, the latter accepting sampling rates of up to 24-bit, 192kHz. These inputs are handled by a Texas Instruments PCM9211 ADC which specifies just 50PS digital jitter and 101dB of dynamic range.
In the box the S880s are provided with a full set of cables including RCA to RCA, RCA to 3.5 mm and high quality optical and USB cables. A 5-pin DIN cable of roughly three metres in length is provided to link the two speakers, and a power supplied with a figure of eight mains cable specific to the country in which the speakers were purchased. You’ll also find some documentation and the remote control.
The remote control is a welcome departure from that of previous Edifier models. Gone is the usual flimsy credit card style remote, replaced by a circular control pod which is a solid, chunky and unique design. It takes a coin cel battery beneath which is also provided. Control codes do appear to be non standard but the remote works well with a long range and relatively wide infrared angle. It’s weighty and feels great in the hand, with a nice tactile ‘click’ to the buttons.
During my time listening to the S880DB I spent a great deal of time switching between the sound profiles to see which I preferred. ‘Monitor’ produces a flat signature that did prove to be accurate, leaving me no reason to doubt the quoted specifications. I used the S880s to check a reference mix made on my larger studio monitors and it checked out and proved highly revealing, sounding very close to that of the much more expensive monitors. The ‘Dynamic’ profile is the complete opposite, boosting the highs and lows for a fun, energetic experience. For me the Dynamic profile boosted the highs a little too much for high volume listening, though it did provide a nice boost at low volumes much like a loudness contour. Those used to typical consumer speakers with their excessive bass and shrill top end will likely prefer this mode, but it’s not for those looking for high fidelity sound and doesn’t do the S880s justice.
The ‘Vocal’ mode boosts the mids slightly and flattens other frequency bands for greater vocal projection. It’s ideal for speech material but also sounds great with some acoustic music and can help to smooth out a bright recording or master. ‘Classic’ mode boosts the bass and treble slightly and provides an overall warmer tonal character akin to a much larger pair of speakers with a softer tone. Classic mode also has the effect of making the speakers sound much larger than they are, producing a sense of scale that was quite spectacular for a speaker so diminutive in stature. I ultimately preferred Classic mode for general listening, allowing high volume listening with no discomfort and a pleasing if not entirely accurate tonal balance.
Like most Edifier designs the S880DBs particularly excel in the low end. You’re not going to achieve ground shaking bass or cause any structural damage with a speaker of this size, but they go plenty low enough for a growling bass or thundering piano to be felt or a meaty kick drum to slam repeatedly into your chest. The bass is tuneful and well controlled with minimal blurring of notes, and doesn’t distort at high volume levels.
Mids are lush lending a pleasant quality to acoustic vocals in particular. The top end is detailed and crisp, though I wouldn’t describe it as bright. It’s clean and fairly resolving, though low level detail such as tape hiss doesn’t come through particularly well. These are speakers designed to make listening to music an enjoyable and convenient experience, not an accurate one so a little loss of detail here is excusable. If anything the S880s are forgiving of poor recordings which is in their favour given the kind of music they are likely to be used to play.
The Edifier S880DB is a presentable and hugely enjoyable speaker system blending convenience with a smart contemporary aesthetic and top-notch build quality. Truly excellent both physically and sonically and packing quality components into a pair of compact enclosures, the S880s represent real value for money. Highly recommended.