Edifier is a company normally known for making audio products with an ultra-modern, abstract or minimalist design. I’ve reviewed and tested a few of their speakers in the past, and they’ve all had an unusual aesthetic. It was a refreshing change, then, to get my hands on the R1700BT bookshelf speakers. They’re Bluetooth, versatile, look good and sound great. More impressive, they’re available for a little over £100.
The R1700BT speakers look like a regular set of classic, wooden speakers. The’d fit in well in a classically-furnished room.They measure in at 154mm x 254mm x 214 mm and weigh 6.6kg (14.5 pounds), so they’re not huge by any means. But if you’re partial to all things solid wood, you’ll be disappointed. I couldn’t tell if it was a plastic with a wood finish, or a composite like MDF covered with a wood-effect laminate. Edifier describes it as ‘hand picked walnut vinyl’ which roughly translated means ‘not wood covered in not wood’. Solid walnut these are not.
Overall design is still very attractive though, thanks to lots of straight, clean lines and subtle angles. And the walnut-effect is still nice to look at, as long as you don’t compare it to actual walnut.
Both speakers feature the wood effect panels on left and right, while the right speaker’s right side houses the recessed treble, bass and volume controls. The entire front panel where the speakers live is set at a ten degree angle to direct the sound up to your ears.
The right speaker acts as the main speaker. The power supply feeds it directly from the mains, and all the inputs and outputs live on the back. All in all, there’s not too much going on here. There are two inputs: PC in and Aux in, both of which use RCA/fono connectors. A coaxial cable tethers the left speaker to the right, in order to pass through the power and audio and give you true stereo sound.
You can use the included RCA to 3.5mm jack cable to connect virtually any audio source. But if you’d rather go wireless, switching to Bluetooth mode using the included, tiny remote is really simple and requires no complicated pairing process. Just switch Bluetooth on, search for speakers from your smartphone and connect.
I’ve been using the R1700BT speakers for around 4 weeks now as my main source of audio while working, and I’ve generally been really impressed. For the price, the audio quality is admirable. The 19mm “Eagle Eye” tweeter and 4-inch subwoofer combine with DSP and DRC to offer a well balanced sound with limited distortion. I didn’t turn them up anywhere close to the full volume capable, and yet they were plenty loud enough. At their loudest point, the speakers were turned up about half way, and that was enough to fill my entire dining room with sound. Although many audiophiles would likely bemoan the lack of a middle control, the presence of treble and bass knobs was enough to balance the sound to my taste.
Now, if I was to compare this set to an expensive, high-grade audio system I’d likely find a lot to complain about. For instance, the constant, quiet hissing of the speakers when turned on would almost certainly frustrate me if the system cost a lot more than they do. But the fact is, it wasn’t even that noticeable once music started playing. I would like to have a little more clarity in the bass tones, a little more warmth and less muddiness, but that really is nit-picking. If you’re on a budget, and want a great looking and great sounding speaker system, you could do a lot worse than choosing the Edifier BT1700BT.
If you want to buy a set for yourself, you might struggle to get hold of them in the States. In the UK, they’re available to buy on Amazon for £115 ($180 USD).