First of all a little background before I launch into this review of the Edifier ‘Sound To Go’ (formerly known as the Edifier Soundbar USB portable laptop speakers). Wherever I go, I have to have my music collection with me. It is without a doubt of greater importance to me than any other piece of gadgetry I happen to have upon my person I have at any moment.
Even without being particularly well-informed when it comes to the music industry, simply listening, enjoying and relaxing to music is undoubtedly my favourite pastime. Therefore, when out and about enjoying the music in the quality that it was originally intended is a constant pain.
For example, I own the customary iPod and whilst it is a revolutionary device, and convenient to, the capacity on my iPod Touch is limited so carrying my somewhat sizeable iTunes library in its entirety is an issue, add to that the file sizes that lossless audio brings and it’s down right impossible.
So, what to do? Well, when spending any length of time away from home I tend to take my laptop with me, and this eradicates entirely the problem of storage capacity, but with it comes another issue: sound quality. Even with lossless audio and files bigger than your head, the quality of every day built-in laptop speakers is woeful and thus not suitable.
Of course, HP, along with the ‘Beats’ collection of audio systems endorsed by music producer Dr Dre, has attempted to rectify that, but to spend up to £1,000 on a laptop-sized pair of speakers is ludicrous, so what else is there? Well, USB laptop speakers are almost ten-a-penny, but let’s be honest, most of them are sub standard and simply not particularly portable.
However, when I heard that Edifier’s ‘Sound to Go’ system is a CES innovations 2011 Design And Engineering Award honoree, and what’s more I was being given one to review, a sudden sense of optimism filled the room. So, naturally, I obliged and this is where the increasingly tedious anecdote ends and the actual review begins. So, are they actually any better than the plethora of other options out there?
With an award in design and engineering innovations, you would expect just a smidgeon of quality when it comes to the design and engineering. The Edifier ‘Sound To Go’ (Soundbar) really doesn’t disappoint. In size it is roughly a foot in length and an inch in height at it’s thickest point. In shape it’s a prismatic triangle with excellently smooth edges. It feels great to hold, and what’s more it is relatively light as well being made from an aluminium material for the most part with a hard mesh covering the actual speakers.
On either end you’ll find connections and controls, looking face on towards the speakers you’ll find the left-hand end houses the miniUSB port alongside the 3.5mm audio jack. It’s all pretty discrete and flush to the device. Whilst we’re on the topic, I’d like to point out that in the past I have had a little trouble with miniUSB connections being pretty loose, so for a freestanding mobile device it is imperative that it is a sturdy and secure fit. It is.
On the opposite end of the ‘Toblerone’ you have a lone rotating volume control which glows blue when powered on and can be operated by pressing it repeatedly to increase volume and holding it to decrease. It’s functional, but I would rather have seen a simple rolling control with a simple flick upwards making it louder and vice versa.
The contrasting colours, premium feel of the materials and stylish aesthetics seriously do, and I’m not just being kind, justify the award. It is quite outstanding when compared to the clumpy, sometimes ugly competitors. Hats off to Edifier in this department.
Setup & Operation
The last thing you want when you receive your new pair of speakers is to spend hours finding out how to connect them up and start listening. This isn’t often the case in this day and age and it isn’t here. There are no drivers necessary on Windows or Mac, with both working flawlessly out the box.
I’ve not tested them on Linux, but I would imagine that they will operate as the default output device automatically in the same way as other platforms. Simple set up process always sheds a more positive light on a product from the outset, so again, hats off.
Once you have plugged in the included USB-miniUSB cable to your computer and similarly the 3.5mm audio cable, you really are good to go and listening to anything will spring the gorgeously designed speakerset into action.
So far, a good design and a simple set up, but without a decent quality of audio output these things are dead on arrival, so can they get over the final hurdle in their journey to becoming my single favourite pair of portable USB speakers? Yes. Simple as that.
I have often pronounced my admiration for the relative sound quality output by the integrated MacBook Pro laptop speakers, and of course the Edifier Sound to Go set offers a distinct improvement. I will not pretend at this point to know the ins and outs of what makes up a fantastically balanced pair of stereo speakers, but all I can say is these are awesome. Don’t be expecting them to rival the likes of BOSE, Sennheiser or Klipsch, but when I unveil the price in a short while, you will understand why.
My only qualm with the speakers is the maximum volume, which is sufficient but not as loud as you may like. Having said that, you are unlikely to have them at any great distance from where you are with them primarily being intended as laptop speakers.
Also, bass levels are a little lacking, but nothing likely to put you off. The simple fact is it is difficult to make an exceptional pair of portable speakers in such a compact design, but Edifier has given it a real good go and come up trumps versus near enough all of the competition I have sometimes the displeasure of listening to.
Value For Money & Summary
Here’s the interesting part. These Edifier ‘Sound To Go’ (Soundbar) USB portable laptop speakers as I have already mentioned provide a relatively great sound quality, are housed in probably the most intelligently designed, and best looking, frame and are expectedly simple to set up.
There are literally no real negatives to these speakers as far as I am concerned at this point and that includes the price, which is a mere £39.99 on Amazon.
If none of these qualities are enough for you though, you also get a velvet-like branded drawstring carry case thrown in for your pleasure.
Image Source – Unplggd