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Edifier Spinnaker Bluetooth Speaker System: Striking appearance, amazing sound

Edifier is an international manufacturer of a number of electronics accessories, including iPhone/iPod docks like the Tick Tock Dock. While I was less than impressed with the sound and design of that retro alarm clock dock, Edifier's e30 Spinnaker Bluetooth Speaker System (US$349.99) looks like it's going to be a winner for the company. Let's take a look at these visually striking (and great-sounding) speakers.

Design

The first thing that hits you when you see the Spinnaker speakers is the design, which is unique amongst Bluetooth speaker systems. These gently curving cones look either like rhinoceros horns or fully deployed spinnakers on a sailboat. Available in black or burgundy, the speakers stand about 16 inches tall.

Each Spinnaker includes three amplifiers pushing a 10 W tweeter, a 10 W 2-3/4" midrange speaker and a 25 W 4" downward-firing bass speaker. The Spinnaker set includes a small dome-shaped Bluetooth remote -- and what I mean by that is that it's a manual remote that communicates with the Spinnaker via Bluetooth. You turn it clockwise to turn up the volume, just like a volume knob, and the bottom glows red to let you know that it's communicating with the speakers. The control also works to skip to the next or previous track, mute and unmute playback, and adjust the volume. The remote is rechargeable via an included USB to micro-USB cable.

Not only can you bump your tunes to the Spinnaker speakers over Bluetooth, but the speakers also include an AUX input and an optical audio input (cables included) for connectivity to gaming consoles and multimedia systems. For extra bass, there's a separate subwoofer output. The two speakers are tied together via a proprietary cable, and there's a 5 V power brick that supplies juice to the active speaker.

Functionality

As with all speaker and headphone reviews, it's important realize that sound reproduction methods and the sounds perceived by the reviewer are very subjective, so your results may vary from mine.

I found the sound quality to be excellent, as one would expect with three separate amplifiers and three decently sized drivers per speaker. If you use the speakers next to a Mac (the Edifier site shows one Spinnaker on either side of an iMac, for instance), expect to be blown away by the volume and clarity of the Spinnaker system.

One interesting note: when I played music from my iMac (late 2009), the sound quality was often choppy. Playing the same tunes from a late 2010 MacBook Air, iPhone 4S or third-generation iPad resulted in amazing sound quality and additional volume. My guess is that it's the Bluetooth 4 capabilities of the newer Mac, the iPhone and the iPad that work so well with the speakers. So that's a warning to potential purchasers -- pairing with a fairly new Apple product will get you best sound quality over Bluetooth.

Conclusion

If you want more than the plain box shape on a good-sounding Bluetooth speaker system, then you'll definitely want to take a look at the Edifier Spinnaker. The speakers look great and the sound is hard to beat. Audiophiles with recent Bluetooth devices who want to beam tunes to these speakers will be quite happy.

Pros

  • Great sound quality and volume for a Bluetooth speaker system
  • Very striking design that is definitely out of the ordinary
  • AUX and optical audio input make Spinnaker speakers usable with other devices
  • Price is reasonable for an audiophile product
  • The hemispherical remote is a brilliant idea for setting the max volume level of the speakers, then using the volume control of the device (iPhone, Mac) to control the relative level.

Cons

  • Price is high for mass market

Who is it for?

  • Audiophiles who want a pair of Bluetooth speakers that make a statement, both in terms of their sound quality and design.