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Edifier USA Spinnaker Media Speaker System (Black)

Posted

Pros: Spacious, separated sound, Linear tuning prevents bloom, Midrange body and clarity, Detail, Build Quality, Bluetooth system, Bass Expansion port

Cons: No physical controls on the speakers, Mode select is tedious, No apt-x support, Proprietary interconnect cable, Treble a bit thin

Introduction – 

When I was first looking into a set of computer speakers, many brands tickled my ear but few really caught my eye. Edifier are a perfect example of a brand renowned for their unique styling, providing a very unorthodox and even artistic take on the conventional computer speaker. While the E25 Luna Eclipses seem to have taken the spotlight with their striking crescent housings and opposing passive radiators, the e30`s by pure specification and numbering hierarchy alone, once represented Edifier`s flagship computer speaker. 

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Recently, through aggressive price cuts, the Spinnakers now carry the same $300 AUD RRP as the E25`s yet offer additional active bass drivers and features on top. This asks the question, do the Spinnaker`s remain competitive with newer, smaller speakers and can they best Edifier`s own Luna Eclipse? These are my experiences as a long term owner of both speakers. 

 

Disclaimer –

I would like to thank Edifier very much for sending me a set of Spinnaker speakers in exchange for my honest opinion. I am not an employee of Edifier, nor is there any monetary incentive for a positive review. I will be as objective as possible and provide an honest evaluation of the product.

 

About Me – Some background, Gear of choice, Preferences and Biases

I generally prefer a slight v-shape to my sound, but still closer to neutral. I like a lot of detail and clarity, but can appreciate a smooth, laid back sound such as that on the X10`s. I prefer a more neutral midrange within a relatively tight tolerance, but I`m probably more forgiving of brightness over darkness. I`m not particularly treble sensitive and can tolerate large amounts without fatigue, though too much ruins the enjoyment. If I use a different eartip/pad/cover during the review I will note that and describe the sound changes.

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Accessories – 

As the flagship of Edifier`s “Image” line of computer speakers, the e30`s are definitely packaged to impress.

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The box is similar in design to Edifier`s other more premium products and the distinct look will no doubt be familiar to returning Edifier customers. The two tone white face with black sides design is certainly catching, providing a nice sense of contrast to the images on display.

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Edifier lists a few key specifications on the rear along with a rundown of the overarching features. A few accompanying renders illustrate the various functions of the Spinnakers.

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Inside buyers will find two Styrofoam inserts sandwiching the speakers, accessories and papers. Opening up the top face reveals the Spinnakers wrapped within a nice drawstring bag, the controller, power adapter and interconnect cable (Identical to the Luna Eclipse). Underneath is the user manual and warranty papers.

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The included remote has an intriguing design and rather impressive build quality when compared to the e25`s plastic remote. It`s largely featureless, comprising mainly of an aluminium dome with a matte button replacing the apex and a rubberized base helping to maintain stability. A transparent ring runs the perimeter of the base, illuminating red to denote function. Of note, the controller connects to the speakers through Bluetooth as opposed to IR. As such, the remote does not require a line of sight connection and can be used much further from the speakers. Its range spanned the length of my entire house which will be sufficient for pretty much any use.

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The controller is powered by an in-built rechargeable battery that is claimed to last for 2 months, I got just over 7 weeks in my testing, not bad at all. It`s easily charged through a conventional micro-b port on the base, the illuminated ring slowly pulsates when charging and turns off when fully charged. The remote feels solid in the hand, the base adheres well to your desk and the rough texture of the aluminium allows for fluent usage.

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I appreciate the additional functionality of the Spinnaker`s remote over the Luna Eclipse, or a standard remote at that. Functions are controlled through the button, rotating the aluminium top and a combination of both. The rotation mechanism is well weighted with a slight ratchet for more precise steps. I find this rotating remote to be far more satisfying than a simple button remote, it`s similar to using an analogue pot or a home theater amp for example.

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For those wondering what functions the remote offers, basic rotation controls volume with each ratchet pertaining to 1 of around 50 volume steps. The button at the top controls the mute function and holding down the button while simultaneously rotating will skip tracks. Notice mute function, the remote has no play/pause button, it simply quiets the speakers in isolation from the source which will continue playing.

All these functions worked reliably for me, but the speaker`s lack of physical buttons did still bother me. I understand that they would be difficult to implement given the speaker`s design, but the Spinnakers are not even equipped with a power button, you can only power on/off through the included remote (more on this later).

But all considered, I think the Spinnaker`s come very well packaged and the included accessories are of great quality. Buyers will be pleased with the included kit for the $300 RRP.

 

Design – 

The Edifier Spinnakers are a Bluetooth enabled computer speaker with a design that`s hard to quantify in photos or renders. That`s because a large part of the “Spinnaker experience” is actually in the feel; the weight of the aluminium base, the rough texture of the fabric covers and the subtle honeycomb of the speaker`s internal structure. I was recently in contact with Amber, a very friendly member of the Edifier team who clarified their computer speaker hierarchy to me. The Spinnaker is clearly superior to the Luna Eclipse in terms of specification, why is it the same price? The answer was simple, the Spinnaker`s aren`t as popular as the e25`s. But that`s hardly surprising given their design, the Spinnaker`s really need to be felt in person to be appreciated.

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There is method behind that quirky build, the Spinnakers have a split identity as a TV/Home speaker, with an exotic and premium look to match. This is exemplified by the speaker`s dimensions. Although they`re smaller than I had imagined, the Spinnaker`s stand very tall, just exceeding 40cm (twice that of the e25`s). They somewhat make up for this with their small footprint, if you have the vertical space, then the Spinnakers will fit comfortably on pretty much any desk. And this height actually does work to the speaker`s advantage as the treble and midrange drivers are at ear level, negating the need for a speaker mount whilst omni-directional bass tones radiate from the bottom.

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Sound radiates through three honeycomb vents (one for each driver) in the Spinnaker`s plastic frame, peaking through the fabric that encases the outer surface. A thin matte black band runs just beneath the midrange driver, I`m assuming it marks the separation between the bass driver enclosure and the rest of the drivers (no passive radiators here). The band meets up with a similarly finished plastic strip that runs down the rear of the speakers.

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The plastic feels to be quite thick and no aspect of the speaker ever feels hollow or cheap, but that`s to be expected of an expensive flagship product. There`s not much to say about the design really, apart from the unorthodox shape of the speakers, they`re otherwise clean and solid. While this simple design does grant the speakers a very distinct look it can make them appear awkward in photos. Take renders with a grain of salt, the Spinnakers are a very good looking speaker in person.

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Just like the Luna Eclipses, the right speaker houses the bulk of the speaker`s electronics and interfaces. The very top of the right speaker houses a small LED that displays the speaker`s status through various colour changes; red for optical, green for aux and blue when connected over Bluetooth. The LED will also flash when the speakers have been muted. It`s a reasonably simple system, but due to the curved top of the speakers, the LED is often hard to see, especially if you intend to use them as a bookshelf speaker.

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In addition, cycling through these four modes is a little more difficult than it should be, requiring the user to hold the centre button on the remote for 3 seconds to switch to the previous mode. It can get a bit tedious, especially when powering off the speaker`s whilst connected over Bluetooth as you must first hold the button to exit Bluetooth mode, hold to enter standby then hold an additional time to power off. There`s also no sound prompts to signify connection or power (which I personally appreciate), if you`re not familiar with the LED system then the speakers can be unjustifiably difficult to operate. I often have a hard time explaining this mechanic to new users who are intrigued by the speakers looks, it should be easier, but I digress.

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Each speaker has an aluminium support which provides some additional stability. The supports are well machined with a pleasing concentric texture and are laser etched with the Edifier logo. The base of the speakers are covered in a ring of rubbery foam that`s surprisingly grippy and prevents the speaker from scratching your desk. Even during maximum volume playback, the speakers did not wander or rattle. As the bulk of the electronic circuitry is housed within the right speaker, this is also where the majority of the connectors are found. On the bottom of the right speaker lies the power-in port, a bass expansion port (to connect an external sub-woofer), an optical/aux connector and a port for the interconnect cable that powers the left speakers.

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There`s also a firmware update port, however Edifier does not include the necessary cable to facilitate this yourself. Like the E25, the proprietary cable that adjoins the left and right speakers limits placement and stereo separation to a degree, but they still comfortably flank my 60″ TV. For reference, the cable is 3m long.

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The bottoms of the speakers have in-built cable management grooves to keep everything in order, this will limit the use of some third party cables, but most should fit in just fine. The aluminium supports also have cutouts for the cables, routing them towards the back of your desk for a cleaner look.

The speakers connect either through wired or Bluetooth 2.1 connection, unfortunately they do not support apt-x, but wireless range and reliability is very good. I got through 3 rooms (double brick) before sound became intermittent, quite a bit better than both the Edifier Rave and Luna Eclipse in my uses (both cutout around 2 rooms). Again, I very much appreciate Edifier`s Bluetooth system, rather than defaulting to your previously connected device, the Spinnaker simply goes into pairing mode when powered on, making for simple multi-devices connection.

 

Sound – 

The Spinnakers vary from the Luna Eclipse mainly through their more extensive driver setup. Utilizing a triple driver, triple amped configuration, each driver has plenty of power and plenty of space given the speaker`s tall cabinets. Up top is is a single 19mm silk dome tweeter with a 70mm midrange driver just below. At the very bottom, Edifier have mounted a 25W, 116mm downward-firing subwoofer to provides some low end kick. This provides the speakers with a combined output of 90W RMS, about 20% more than the Luna Eclipse, along with a frequency response stretching from 50Hz to 23kHz.

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Driver setup from Edifier (youtube)

It`s also worth noting that the speakers have a remarkably higher SNR than the Luna Eclipses (90dB vs 85dB). I didn`t notice a lot of noise on my set but a few reviewers found it intrusive. The Spinnakers have no such issues, apart from a small pop when first powered on, they`re pretty much silent. Edifier also includes their signature DSP with a 6-way digital crossover. I find Edifier`s DSP to be pretty sensible on a whole. It helps with high volume playback in particular, altering the FR to prevent clipping and helping the drivers maintain coherency and composure, but there`s a strange soundstage effect that can make female vocals sound a bit artificial. Regardless, Edifier provide a lot of product for $300, few 2.0 computer speakers pack such intricate setups and the ability to add an external sub will be appreciated by media lovers.

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But the proof is in the pudding and the Spinnaker`s make great use of this technology in their sound. And what a sound they produce, the Luna Eclipses were a very solid speaker, but I find myself enjoying the Spinnaker`s that much more. As more of an entertainment speaker, the Spinnaker`s provide a slightly lusher, fuller sound than neutral with a crisp high end and robust bass response. Despite this, when placed correctly, the speakers are actually still pretty close to neutral at least for an entertainment speaker. I would still call them v-shaped though very tastefully so. In comparison to the Luna Eclipse, the Spinnaker`s sound lusher and fuller but also more linear throughout the midrange, making for a more convincing listen when gaming or watching movies/videos.

One of the largest reasons I enjoy the Spinnakers over the Luna Eclipses are those large active bass drivers. Here, volume compensation absolutely isn`t required and the Spinnaker`s maintains a full presentation even during very low volume playback, unlike the majority of speakers that employ passive radiators. The bass sounds pretty linear to my ears with just a slight sub-bass emphasis providing some additional fullness, bass was largely devoid of bloat and midrange spill was non existent. Perhaps this can be attributed to the speaker`s extensive driver array, I found the 5 driver UM 50 Pro iems to be similarly well separated. Since bass radiates from the bottom, the speakers are sensitive to placement. Bass tones radiate from the front and sides (not rear) so placing each speaker within a corner can provide considerably more low-end. It really depends on preference, but it`s worth considering based upon your intended application.

The midrange is similarly tuned with a slightly fuller than neutral presentation. Both upper and lower mids have a pleasing sense of body, but upper mids are thinner due to a slight boost in clarity. So the whole lower-mid range of the sound is pretty natural sounding and also pleasingly linear on a whole. The treble, however, isn`t so neutral. Instead it has a slightly thinner character that can sound slightly raspy at times but never sibilant or fatiguing. This is because treble isn`t overly boosted, rather it`s slightly accentuated to neutral depending on range. That being said, this small emphasis does give the speakers a little more excitement, more aggressive detailing and contrast to the sound in general. I`m not sure if I would have preferred the Spinnakers with more treble body. Regardless, I think the tonality is very well tuned on a whole.

The soundstage gets a notable mention, like the Luna Eclipses, the Spinnakers permeate a large sense of space, with a nice, well rounded presentation. Imaging is pretty good, not as immaculate as a similarly priced IEM or headphone but great for a computer speaker system. Instrument separation is very, very good and each frequency range has a nice bubble of isolation without losing coherency. Edifier`s triple driver setups is working very well here. I`m sure the DSP is adding some psycho-acoustics, like the Envaya Mini, but it absolutely works, well complimenting the speaker`s dynamic sound. Of course placement plays a key role in soundstage, but the Spinnaker`s maintained a nice presentation even during near-field listening.

Volume is unfortunately a mixed bag. I actually think the Luna Eclipses output more volume, they get a bit harsher than the Spinnaker`s at maximum output but their more prominent high end emphasizes perceived volume. By comparison, the Spinnaker`s struggle a little more, they maintain a much fuller sound but the sound gets congested and compressed at high volumes. While both will confidently fill a medium sized room, perhaps even a large room with a little difficulty, the Spinnaker`s don`t match the volume of most other high-end 2.0 and 2.1 systems in this price range. For desk usage, the volume offered is absolutely sufficient and they`ll compliment a TV setup with ease too.

One concern many users have is quality degradation over Bluetooth. Despite supporting an admittedly outdated standard (2.1) and lacking apt-x support, the Spinnaker`s don`t lose a whole lot of quality when connected wirelessly. My experiences were similar to that of the Luna Eclipse, bass becomes a little looser and the high end perhaps slightly more brittle, but otherwise I feel that the Bluetooth circuitry within the Spinnaker`s is pretty solid. Even connected to my laptop (which has abysmal Bluetooth range), the Spinnakers were free from dropouts or stuttering, a problem I frequently had with the Luna Eclipses. Latency is also relatively low, not as seemless as apt-x enabled devices, but low enough to enjoy a movie or youtube video. Audio lag is always perceivable but not to a distracting level, for videos it shouldn`t be a problem, this can be rectified in VLC for movies but for gaming I would probably recommend a wired connection. The audio evaluation below was done through a wired connection, almost all of it still applies when connected over Bluetooth.

Bass – 

The bass has a full yet linear tone that flatters pretty much every genre of music. It definitely has more of a laid back presentation, I found that the Spinnaker`s flatter Jazz in particular, but there`s still plenty of detail and definition to the sound. The quantity of bass is a great trade off between enjoy-ability and versatility, it`s sufficient for music but movies and games also benefit from this slightly fuller sound, especially the sub-bass boost. In that regard, bass is accentuated from neutral, but not to the extent that you start to lose definition. I find this kind of tuning is particularly sensitive to the quality of the source file/player. Listening through my radio, the lack of sub-bass from this poor quality source resulted in quite an anemic bass response lacking a lot of impact, while the more mid-bass focused Luna Eclipses sounded punchier and more dynamic. With high quality MP3 and lossless files we see the tides turning in favour of the Spinnakers that have the extension and nuance to take advantage of the extra information.

Notes come through with plenty of texture and detail, not the best I`ve heard, but still up there within the price range. The twin radiator Luna Eclipses have a punchier, leaner bass response and also a little more definition to each note but the Spinnakers offer a more even, more extended bass response in return. Speaking of which, the Spinnaker`s are very extended for a computer speaker in general. Rolling off smoothly once they hit 50Hz (as per the specification), the Spinnaker`s offer as much bass extension you could hope for without a dedicated subwoofer, but of course an external subwoofer is easily connected to provide a more visceral experience. Sub-bass in particular is much fuller than the Luna Eclipses whilst mid and upper bass are just slightly more emphasized on the Spinnaker. It`s a very nice presentation with very impressive but not class leading detail and texture.

 

Midrange – 

The midrange is the most flawless aspect of the Spinnaker`s sound. For my individual tastes it`s almost perfectly tuned and I`ve gotten similar comments from friends and family, the supreme midrange on the Spinnaker`s make for an incredibly satisfying listen. The Luna Eclipses by comparison are a little thinner sounding with more scooped mids that make for a more vivid if less accurate listen, I feel that the Spinnaker`s will be superior the vast majority of the time.

The Spinnaker`s presentation reminds me of the Oppo PM3`s, not overdone but tastefully tuned. In kind, the lower midrange is very clear, just slightly fuller than neutral. That being said, male vocals sound ever so slightly truncated, perhaps there`s a small dip in the very middle of the midrange, but otherwise the lower midrange sounds pretty level. This grants acoustic a very pleasing tone with a great sense of body and timbre without sounding overly congested or thick. The same goes for piano, with every note being reproduced with compelling detail and clarity.

Upper mids are just as impressive, if not more so. With an emphasis on clarity, the upper midrange reveals a great amount of detail and intricacy. The amount of detail is probably the most impressive aspect, it`s fantastic for any speaker in general. Speech intelligibility is also great, emphasizing the versatility of the speakers for movies and games. Female vocals are a specialty of the Spinnaker. The upper midrange has fantastic clarity and a nice sense of body with notes coming through clear without sounding thin. There`s also a nice crisp tone that really brings intricacies to the fore. Strings sound extremely textured without that piercing sound you get from some speakers, wind instruments are similarly pleasing to listen to and overall instruments in this frequency range are just well represented. Top marks for midrange there`s not too much more to say.

Highs – 

The treble response is a little more hit and miss than the bass and treble. Treble has a thinner body than the rest of the sound making it sound a little out of place at times. It`s also missing that last bit of extension, rolling off at the very top. High hats sound very close to wood sticks and cymbals are a little splashy. Despite this, the treble does contribute a lot to the pristine detailing of the Spinnakers, the slight emphasis adds a little excitement to the sound and the treble never sounds fatiguing. The treble on the Luna Eclipses for example was more emphasized, sounding slightly harsh at times, but the Spinnakers avoid this entirely whilst retaining high-end crispness. They could do with a little more treble body and maybe even a little more quantity, but the treble is still a solid performer, it`s just overshadowed by the wonderful performance of the Spinnaker`s midrange.

 

Verdict –

In my Denon Envaya Mini review, I called the speaker balanced. I wasn`t insinuating that they were even remotely close to a studio reference monitor but rather that the Denon Envaya Mini was balanced for a portable speaker. With the spinnaker`s I find myself using similar vernacular. The Edifier Spinnakers are not necessarily balanced, but they have the right balance between frequencies for an entertainment/media speaker.

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Whilst the unconventional aesthetics of the speaker may be off putting for some, the rock solid build quality and fantastic audio performance of the Edifier Spinnakers should be enough to win over most buyers. With an RRP of $300 AUD, they`re not cheap, but the Spinnaker`s audio performance more than justifies the price tag, the exotic design and quality kit are just the icing on top.

Accessories – 10/10, Nice packaging similar to Edifier`s other Image speakers. Comes within a nice fabric pouch great for transport, included cables are thick and well shielded. Remote is of great quality and uses a rechargeable battery over a conventional button cell. The remote also supports numerous functions rarely found from computer speaker controller.

Design – 8/10, Aesthetics will be subjective but the tall, curved cabinets project sound at the correct height and attribute to the large sense of space created by the Spinnakers. I did not appreciate the lack of buttons and the status LED can be hard to see at times, but otherwise, the speakers have a very appealing design that blends home theater styling with computer system flare.

Bass – 8.5/10, As extended as a computer speaker gets without an external sub. Great texture but missing that last but of definition. Great detail retrieval with a mostly linear emphasis that flatters most genres. Slight sub-bass emphasis is great for movies and games.

Mids – 9.5/10, Pretty spot on tuning, flat with a little more body to the lower mids and a little more clarity to the upper mids, small dip in the very middle. Great intelligibility and resolution, very impressive detail retrieval for a computer speaker. No real complaints.

Highs – 8/10, Slight roll off up top and a slightly thin body, great detailing with a crisp tone. The highs have a little accentuation devoid of harshness or fatigue but are still a little thin for my liking.

Overall – 9/10, The Spinnakers from Edifier combine an extensive driver array with advance electronic sub-systems to create an engaging listening experience. The design is very unconventional but works well for most setups in reality. All included accessories and packaging are what you would expect from a flagship product. Edifier could work on the controls of the speaker, going purely through the remote is not ideal, but aside from this, the Spinnaker`s are a fantastic buy within the $300 price range. At their current price, having owned both speakers, the Spinnakers provide a much more compelling experience than Edifier`s similarly priced Luna Eclipses and, in terms of musical performance, easily best other 2.1 systems from Logitech and Klipsch.

 

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this article please have a look at my blog for more reviews and guides:

https://everydaylisteningblog.wordpress.com/2016/07/22/edifier-e30-spinnaker-review-sinister-looks-wicked-sound/

Posted

Pros: Vivid, energetic sound with good thump and sparkle, size and shape forces good tweeter positioning with no stand required

Cons: Can be fatiguing for certain music in the long term, can't handle really high volumes very well, questionable input choices

 

 
Remember Edifier? The company that now owns Stax? I recently covered their e10 Exclaim desktop speakers and found them rather impressive for just $99. While making a nice budget speaker is certainly noteworthy, part of that equation involves most other speakers in that price being rather poor. Edifier is able to stand out merely by not being terrible. Doing a higher-end design is another matter altogether - in the $300-600 range, competition is fierce, and quality options are plentiful. Could Edifier climb the ladder into this hotly contested segment?
 
Their entry in this field is the Spinnaker, which I refer to as a "system" because of its unique traits. The thing that immediately jumps out about this system is the external design. The shape is rather.... unconventional. To say the least. Standing over 16 inches tall, each speaker has a shape I can only describe as "horn-like". There's a joke in there somewhere. Covering the majority of the enclosure is a "sock" type material in the grand tradition of speakers like Vandersteen or the classic DCM Timewindow. The enclosure itself is made from a double walled polymer, with a nice touch of metal for the stability "lip" on the lower-rear section. Take a look at the pictures: one could describe the Spinnaker as futuristic, bold, striking, adventurous. Or just plain goofy. I'm not sure I'd disagree with any of those. What I will commit to is that Edifier did not choose a boring design here. Judging by their other models this seems to be a theme of theirs. 
 
Rather than being chosen purely for shock value, it seems the tall, tapered design actually makes sense here. As a three-way, tri-amplified design, each driver has different space and placement requirements, which the cone-like shape seems to accommodate. Occupying the bottom portion and taking up more than half the total enclosure volume, the 4 inch down-firing woofer is fed by a dedicated amp good for 25 watts RMS. Above that is a 2.75 inch midrange, and finally a 1 inch silk-dome tweeter up top, each getting 10 watts RMS from separate amplifiers. A 6-channel DSP system manages the whole operation, digital crossovers and all. It's really a surprising amount of technology in a $349 desktop speaker system. 
 
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The fun doesn't stop there, as Edifier has outfitted the Spinnaker with a fairly broad array of connectivity options. For physical connections, there's a 1/8" analog input, a Toslink digital input, and then a 1/8" output for adding an external subwoofer. The Spinnaker is also capable of accepting wireless signals via A2DP Bluetooth connection. This is a rather unique collection of choices, about which I have somewhat mixed feelings. I would have much rather seen a USB input rather than Tosklink, because computers these days seem to be moving away from built-in optical. USB is a guarantee for every PC or Mac. Also, the 1/8" jack is a bit of an odd choice. I had assumed it was meant to quickly pair with smartphones or tablets. But the location (underneath the "master" right speaker) is not at all ideal for that sort of thing - it seems Edifier may have just not had the physical space for an RCA connection. Lastly, the choice of A2DP Bluetooth rather than AirPlay actually makes a lot of sense to me, except I would have liked to see Edifier use the aptX codec for better performance. So overall it's something of a mixed bag for me.
 

 

 
Continuing the theme of "unique", the remote control is definitely unusual. It's a little wireless dome that sits on your desk (or wherever you want it) and communicates with the speakers via RF - no line of sight needed. The main body spins left or right for volume control, and the button on top does different things when pressed once, or held down, or used while rotating the knob. These actions result in skipping tracks, cycling inputs, muting, or even power on/off. The volume control part is pretty straight forward, with the other aspects being somewhat less intuitive. It worked fine once I got the hang of it but I did wish for a more traditional remote at times - especially when accidentally brushing up against the device, and therefore adjusting volume when I hadn't intended to. Still, I love it that Edifier tried something bold and different here - it might have been easier to do the typical credit-card-sized plastic remote, which just wouldn't fit with the character of this unique product. While I have some reservations about the concept, I must admit the execution is well done - battery life is substantial (I recharged via USB every few weeks), range is good, and the solid metal construction feels great in the hand. Overall a fine job by Edifier. 
 
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Just as the Spinnaker system looks different from any other desktop speaker I've encountered, so too does it deviate in terms of connectivity. This meant a wide array of messing about to experience what each option is capable of. Right from the start I figured I should grab a baseline by using the optical input - surely this would demonstrate the best Edifier had to offer. My desktop PC currently uses the Asus Xonar Essence STX sound card which provides a Toslink output, so with that connected I was off to the races. This type of output is not as common as it once was, so those interested in the Spinnaker should verify their system before just assuming. For example - the Macbook Pro does have it (through the headphone jack combo port) but the MacBook Air series does not. As is often the case with optical, this implementation tops out at 24-bit/ 96kHz.
 
Setting the Spinnakers in my usual desktop configuration - roughly 3.5 feet apart and slightly toed in - I noticed something I liked right off the bat: the height and the angle of the cabinet result in just about perfect placement. The midrange and high frequency drivers fire directly towards your ears for an ideal experience without the need of a stand. I've harped on this point in the past but it really can't be overstated, and Edifier seems to be on the same page - their $99 e10 Exclaim (link) speakers had a similar setup. 
 
I fired up some of the usual test material - Britten: War Requiem, Jazz at the Pawn Shop, Lateralus, Blue Train, and a little Norah Jones just to cover the "overplayed audiophile songstress" category. The Spinnaker system impressed right off the bat with very nice clarity and definition. The overall presentation seemed balanced, for the most part, with a bit of extra "excitement" compared to my Serene Audio Talismans http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/serene-audio-talisman-computer-speaker which I use for a reference. Low frequency extension was pleasing, with reasonably solid depth and convincing impact considering the size of the speakers. I can imagine some people wanting a subwoofer to flesh out the lows for a true full-range experience, but for the most part I don't really find it necessary - you'd be spending at least a few hundred dollars more for a decent sub, and for that total outlay you'd have a huge number of great speakers to choose from. But that's just me... I've always preferred to spread my cash between two speakers rather than three. Still, it's nice to have the option, especially if your main interest is watching movies, where the extra sub-bass is definitely more important.
 
Pleased with what I had experienced thus far, I used the system for several weeks in this same configuration. Over that time I made a discovery that I had not initially noticed. Essentially, I found that I absolutely loved the Spinnaker in smaller doses. If I wanted to jam for 30 minutes, I'd be extremely satisfied. The sound was bold, engaging, and vivid, to the point where it made my Talismans seem kind of dry and uneventful. I loved the top end sparkle, and the drivers seemed very well integrated - a concern I initially had due to the three-way design. 
 
The flip side of this energetic performance? I grew a bit tired of it in the long term. An hour of classical was usually fine, as was more laid back electro like Kraftwerk or Emancipator. But give me an hour of more aggressive jazz (The Bad Plus), prog metal (Mastodon), or electronic stuff (Crystal Castles) and I'm pretty much spent. The Spinnaker doesn't do any one thing terribly wrong; it's just that the presentation lends itself to fatigue with certain music. Focusing on the positive once more, the good thing about this dynamic sound is that it sounds great at lower levels, reducing the need to crank volume and thus more quickly kill ears. 
 
I mentioned the superb driver integrated earlier, and I think that aspect really helps imaging. While the Spinnaker is not the most expansive sounding speaker in terms of soundstage size, what's there is nicely open and well defined. With 6 drivers, 6 channels of amplification, on-board DSP, and crossovers to tie it all together, there's a lot going on behind the scenes here; and it seems Edifier has done a great job considering the price. 
 
I did notice what seemed to be cabinet resonance at higher volumes. These things sound great at low to mid levels, which is a good thing because I don't think they do so well when the volume is cranked. So while they do great in a near-field situation, I probably wouldn't recommend them as traditional speakers to fill a larger room with sound. They struggle with higher output, specifically in the bass region, so it's best to avoid 90+dB levels. I really think they are more appropriate to use in nearfield situations anyway, where this problem would almost become a non-issue.
 
I can't really think of a headphone that exactly matches the Spinnaker presentation. My Lear LCM-2b custom IEMs are probably the closest, if we remove most of the bass under 60Hz or so. But those aren't well known so the comparison doesn't help much. In terms of more commonly known headphones - I'm hearing a mix of Denon D2000 and some Grado if that makes any sense. Probably closer to the Denon but with less bass. Sorry for the imperfect comparison but there it is.
 

 

 
Later I switched to the analog input and was very impressed when it didn't sound much different from optical. Considering the extra analog to digital conversion taking place, this is a nice accomplishment. Yes, there's a small dip in clarity, and if you listen hard you'll probably spot it. The difference is not large though, and I'd be comfortable running it this way all the time if that's the only connection I could muster. 
 
Unfortunately I can't say the same about the Bluetooth option. The connection was robust and never gave me trouble on a technical level (good range, too) but sound quality took a considerable dive. It sounded as if the speakers had been wrapped up in a thin blanket or something - sound came through, but it was muffled and indistinct compared to what I heard earlier. This is not surprising considering the rather pedestrian Bluetooth implementation on board... I've been impressed with aptX solutions such as the Wren Sound speaker and Voxoa headphones, but this is clearly not on the same level. Then again, since I don't find the Spinnaker all that suitable for 2-channel, non-desktop use, the Bluetooth thing probably doesn't matter so much anyway. Honestly, when used in a desktop scenario, Bluetooth adds very little to the equation. So for me, personally, it's not a big loss. 
 
 
CONCLUSION
The Edifier Spinnaker is not a speaker I would have anticipated enjoying. Based on looks, I would have thought it was a marketing experiment gone wrong. And yet, in actual use, the darn thing is a very solid performer. Its quirky appearance actually serve a purpose, and the resulting sound is impressive - especially in smaller doses. 
 
If Edifier could get some market saturation, get these things set up on display like Bose so often does, they'd be sure to sell loads of them. The energetic presentation grabs you from the first note and refuses to let go. A somewhat flawed analogy would be walking into Costco and seeing some huge 70+ inch high-end LCD panel on display. They have some colorful Pixar Blu-Ray showing and everything is cranked up to the max - contrast, brightness, all sorts of processing. You've seen this movie in the theater and you know it didn't quite look like this, but you still find yourself mesmerized. Would you want to see this all the time? Probably not. Is it nonetheless impressive at that moment? Sure is. The Spinnaker system doesn't take it quite that far, but the general sentiment is the same. If you can handle the unusual looks, and don't require extreme volumes, the Spinnaker should definitely be on your list of "things to try". 
 
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Edifier USA Spinnaker Media Speaker System (Black)
Description:

The award-winning Spinnaker by Edifier is an unprecedented sound system. Standing over 16 inches tall, the abstract shape is designed to be visually striking as well as enhance the audio performance. Spinnaker boasts a total of 6 separate amplifiers driving two silk domed tweeters, two 2 3/4" mid-range and two downward firing 4" bass drivers. Spinnaker is Bluetooth enabled (2.1+ EDR), allowing audio connectivity to any Bluetooth device. The multi-functional dome-shaped remote, controls track navigation, play-mute and volume adjustment within a 30' radius. An optical/auxiliary input port is available for connectivity to other multimedia devices. An output port allows an external subwoofer/speaker to be connected for additional bass performance, making Spinnaker a unique and versatile system. Specifications Total RMS Output Power: (THD+N testing level): 10% Treble: 10W x 2 Midrange: 10W x 2 Bass: 25W x 2 Distortion: (%) ≤0.5 Signal to Noise ratio dB (A) ≥90dBA Frequency range: 50Hz - 23kHz -10dB Frequency response: 68Hz - 20kHz +/-3dB on reference axis Crossover Frequencies: 135Hz, 3.2kHz Channel Separation: (dB) ≥45dBA Input sensitivity: 800mV +/-50mV Drive Units: Tweeter: 3/4(19mm) silk dome tweeter, Magnetically Shielded, 4-Ohms Midrange: 2 3/4 “ (70mm), Magnetically Shielded, 4-Ohms Woofer: 4" (116mm), Magnetically Shielded, 6-Ohms Audio input type: AUX, Bluetooth, Optical Audio output: Bass expansion for outboard subwoofer Adjustment: Wireless remote control Power supply: Input 100V – 240V AC, Output:20V/60W DC

Details:
DetailValue
BindingElectronics
BrandEdifier USA
ColorBlack
EAN0875674000614
FeatureBluetooth pairing capability with Bluetooth enabled devices. A2DP and AVRCA Bluetooth profile support within a distance of 10m (30 Ft) radius. Optical input for connectivity to multimedia systems, gaming consoles and media center. Auxiliary input for versatile connectivity to external devices. Uniquely designed dome-shaped, multifunctional wireless remote. Incorporation of digital sound processing technology (DSP) with separate 6-channel digital. crossover for clean, clear sound amplification. Separate sub woofer output. Bluetooth pairing capability with Bluetooth enabled devices; A2DP and AVRCA Bluetooth profile support within a distance of 10m (30 -Feet) radius Optical input for connectivity to multimedia systems, gaming consoles and media center; Auxiliary input for versatile connectivity to external devices Optical input for connectivity to multimedia systems, gaming consoles and media center Uniquely designed dome-shaped, multifunctional wireless remote Incorporation of digital sound processing technology (DSP) with separate 6-channel digital crossover for clean, clear sound amplification; Separate sub woofer output; Tri-amped speaker system for enhanced dynamics and power
LabelEdifier USA
ManufacturerEdifier USA
Modele30-Black
MPNe30-Black
PublisherEdifier USA
StudioEdifier USA
TitleEdifier USA Spinnaker Media Speaker System (Black)
UPC875674000614
Warranty2 years
DepartmentSPEAKERS
IsAutographed0
Item Height16.25 inches
Item Length7.5 inches
Item Weight9.4 pounds
Item Width5.5 inches
Package Height7.6 inches
Package Length23.2 inches
Package Weight12.5 pounds
Package Width12.5 inches
PackageQuantity1
PartNumbere30-Black
ProductGroupNetwork Media Player
ProductTypeNamePORTABLE_AUDIO
UPCList - UPCListElement875674000614
MediaTypeMP3
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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