Since they first arrived on the scene, Edifier has made quite an impact. They established the company in 1996 in Beijing, China, but originally came out of Canada in 1974. And are known principally for their range of speakers. But also manufacture complete music systems and headphones.
They have produced several respected bookshelf speakers. First came the R1000DB model followed up by its successor, the improved R2000DB. Both speaker systems drew praise for the punchy performance and strong build quality. The other important aspect to mention with Edifier is that whilst they produce some quality speakers, they fall in the very affordable price range.
In today’s Edifier R1280T Review, we will be looking at their latest pair of powered bookshelf speakers to see what they have to offer.
The Edifier R1280T is one of those speaker systems that may get overlooked because of its price point. When you are searching for speakers, you might look at the price, and consider them too cheap to be any good, and just move on to another product. In the case of the R1280T, that would be a sizeable mistake, and they are more than worth a closer look.
It is quite common for manufacturers in Asia and especially China to receive undue criticism about the quality of what is produced there. Some of that criticism is justified, but it certainly is wrong to assume they must all be badly constructed. Some of the most expensive and the best speakers in the world are manufactured there without people realizing it.
Edifier is one of those manufacturers that have a good production record.
Having said that, it doesn’t always follow that the designs will be good, and in that respect, Edifier is to some, in a strange place. The R1280T speakers are a good example of what we mean. With speaker grilles in place and fitted, they are an attractive speaker. Simple and basic in design but perfectly acceptable and attractive.
Some people, though, prefer to see the speakers working and like to take the grilles off. And maybe that is where they lose points. Without the grilles on, they are not the most attractive looking of speakers. Though they are not the worst example in the Edifier catalog or anyone else’s product range for that matter.
They do, though, have a lot going for them, so let’s not dwell on what is, after all, just personal opinion and preference.
One big advantage they have is in the size of these cabinets. It’s not unusual to find what are termed as bookshelf speakers far too big in size and weight to fit comfortably on a bookshelf. Not the case with the R1280T. Sized at just 6.9 by 9.5 by 5.8 inches, they are compact and small enough to fit on any bookshelf, and at just a little under eleven pounds are not going to cause any weight problems.
Despite their relatively small size, they are still able to pack a punch with the volume.
They are made from high-quality MDF and are finished with a wood veneer paneling on the sides, giving them a classic style. And they have a metallic-based baffle that extends over the top of the cabinet. The front grilles are made of a grey cloth material and, as we have already mentioned, are detachable.
It is unfortunate that they weren’t manufactured with magnetic grilles as when they are removed, the holes that fix the grilles are plainly in view. We must keep reminding ourselves, though, that these are a budget set of speakers. Therefore, some luxuries will not be included.
Making compact speakers that are a size that easily fits on a bookshelf is one thing, but it will have its drawbacks sound-wise. The big loser is often the lower frequencies, the bass. With speaker design, the size of the cabinet is often important in creating the sound. And usually, the smaller the cabinet, the weaker the bass, and the sound becomes quite thin.
With the R1280, this is a slight problem, but the bass sound is not bad. It just does not let you really feel it. The Mids, though, are nice and smooth and give a well-balanced sound. With no bass to crowd them out, they are clear and defined. And the vocal especially is prominent.
The high end they do score some points with a nice bright sound that is clear and precise. This really puts the sound in a higher bracket than you would expect.
Each cabinet houses a four-inch woofer and a 13mm silk dome tweeter. And they have a front-facing bass port with a flared design. The front-facing design allows you to position the speakers near a wall on the bookshelf without impairing the sound quality by muffling the bass port.
If you are using them for music, then the sound is more than adequate for the price tag. But they would also fit as part of a home cinema system providing you had a bass woofer cabinet. All these fantastic features make them one of the best bookshelf speakers under 500 dollars you can buy.
Controls are quite basic and simple but functional. On the side of the right speaker cabinet are three controls set into the cabinet for volume, bass, and treble. Neatly placed and quite well-designed, they are an asset though we are left to wonder what left-handed people think of their arrangement?
On the rear of the active speaker are two auxiliary inputs to give you a connection to devices that have a 3.5mm socket for headphones, RCA to RCA, or Aux. You can, therefore, connect to a tablet, computer, phone, turntable, etc. However, if you are using a turntable, plugging it straight to these speakers only gives a fairly weak single. And therefore your turntable will need a pre-amp.
There is also a power on/off button situated on the rear of the active speaker.
The speakers also come with remote control for adjusting the principal functions, which has a useful mute button. And since one speaker is passive and the other active, they are connected by speaker wire, which is included.
There is no Bluetooth or other tech connections to talk about, as these are purely and simply a pair of bookcase speakers.
If you’re interested in more reviews of bookshelf speakers by Edifier, then please check out our Edifier R1700BT review.
Edifier R1280T Review Conclusion
Our impression of these speakers then is highly favorable. The build quality is good with nice designs. Though, as we said earlier, we do prefer them with the speaker grilles in place. The materials used are good, and the overall structural manufacture gives them a quality look.
There is no need for an external amp, though, as we remarked, the sound when using with a turntable is very low. However, if your turntable has a preamp, as many do, then there will not be a problem.
Connections have been made easy, and the inclusion of the remote control is an added bonus, especially with its mute function. The bass and treble controls offer you a +/- 6db control over what you are hearing, so there is room for a little adjustment to your liking.
Of course, what we really need from our speakers, budget, or otherwise is the sound. However, you have to keep your feet on the ground in this area. This is because while you can pick up some speakers that sound very good for a much lower price than many of their competitors, they will never match the quality of those with another naught behind the price tag.
The R1280, though, is a decent speaker with a very good sound at its price point, in fact surprisingly good. It is no wonder it is highly thought of. The sound is nicely balanced and warm and puts out every decibel of its 42 watt RMS rating.
You can make comparisons with more expensive speakers and say that the highs are not very clear at higher volumes, and the bass just doesn’t have any depth to it. But that would not be realistic if you consider the sound in line with the cost.
We think they are a quality set of speakers. Not buried with too much tech, well-made, and with good controls, and the sound is adequately good.
If you are expecting high-end sound quality, then you will be disappointed with these speakers. But if you put them into the context of the price point, then you will realize just how good they are.
For the price, these represent good value for money. They are well-built, and with a decent sound, they are a very good buy if you are on a budget.