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Lifewire / Jason Schneider
Great sound quality
Heavy, bulky footprint
A lack of sound-shaping options
Bargain brand name
The value you get with the R1700BT is great, with beautiful sound, an attractive design, and even Bluetooth connectivity.
The Edifier R1700BT Bluetooth speakers are a perfect solution to those who just can’t decide what they want. Do you want bookshelf speakers for casual listening? Do you want a Bluetooth device loud enough for small parties? Do you want something that’ll work nicely for your TV sound system? The R1700BT does all of it, and mostly it does it well. Just like the less expensive options from Edifier’s mid-to-low-level speaker line, these sound way better than their price would indicate. They also don’t skimp on style with beautiful accents and a classic aesthetic. Plus, with some added connectivity you won’t find in the non-Bluetooth versions, these are versatile speakers for those who need something that covers a lot of bases.
Something difficult to achieve is designing a speaker that looks great but also doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. It’s a difficult balance to strike because you want a speaker to be sleek and unassuming enough to not draw too much attention, but if you go too far in that direction it ends up boring. The R1700BT looks striking, a fact you’ll immediately notice when you take them out of the box.
The main chassis is built from a textured black plastic composite material not dissimilar from most passive bookshelf speakers. But Edifier has put its classic spin on these speakers by putting two walnut/cherry planks on the sides of each speaker, hinting at the classic 70s aesthetics of speaker cabinets.
Each speaker is 6 inches wide and almost 10 inches tall, giving it a sleek footprint. What’s more, because they’ve chosen to angle the speakers (specifically a 10-degree angle), there’s some geometric lines toward the bottom of each side. These give the speakers a slightly more modern look than the standard rectangular speakers you’re used to. Overall, we think these speakers look great, striking a beautiful balance between eye-catching and unassuming.
Edifier has put its classic spin on these speakers by putting two walnut/cherry planks on the sides of each speaker
A high-quality build with a good amount of durability can be a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand, these speakers feel substantial, with a wood exterior and the rigidness of a composite chassis. Even the knobs feel premium with small metal rings nodding to a more expensive component. But this made the speakers kind of surprisingly heavy at almost 15 pounds for the pair. This might not seem like a lot, but it made it a bit difficult to carry them from room to room as a pair, and it made us think twice about putting them on flimsier bookshelves.
What’s more, because there was a geometric shape to accommodate a 10-degree projection angle (a fact that helped with the sound quality), it made the shape a bit awkward, which ultimately made the footprint on our shelf larger than it had to be. This does support the fact that these speakers will probably succeed in staying strong for years to come. Edifier isn’t forthright with what their driver or their “Eagle Eye tweeter” are built from, but it felt premium and substantial.
At first glance, the R1700BT seem limited on the connectivity front. There are only three knobs on the side: a Master volume control (up and down), and bass/treble controls. On the back, there are two different RCA-based inputs, and Edifier has thrown in RCA cables for use with these. All of this is standard for speaker sets, and all the inputs worked great. The speakers are connected via a 5-pin port rather than the two-wire standard speaker cables you’re used to, and we found that this ensured a much easier installation and a more stable connection.
The real additional feature here is the presence of Bluetooth, but as far as Bluetooth connectivity goes, you can’t get any more barebones than this. Out of the box, you fire up the speakers and you should be able to find them via your smartphone’s Bluetooth menu (provided no one has already paired).
As far as Bluetooth connectivity goes, you can’t get any more barebones than this.
What’s annoying is that it’s not super easy or evident how you get into Bluetooth mode on the speaker. There’s a Bluetooth button on the tiny included remote which allowed us to go back into pairing mode, but we had to dig into the instruction manual to uncover how to do this via the speaker. You have to press and hold the volume knob to re-enter pairing mode, and it seems this also disconnects other devices. When we did get connected, the sound quality was decent over Bluetooth, and should be suitable for most needs. But if you want a bunch of devices connected at once, there’s a bit of a learning curve.
We continue to be impressed with Edifier’s sound performance. Your first inclination for speakers would be to turn to Klipsch or even Polk on the budget side, or to Sonos/Bose if you want a little extra research and marketing behind the sound spectrum. Edifier flies a bit under the radar in both price and brand recognition, but uses that to its advantage by impressing the listener right out of the box.
The RMS output is about 15W per speaker, but it really does sound closer to 20W or 30W, with plenty of headroom. Even though they fit the small amp unit within one of the speakers, it puts out about 85 decibels of handling—comparable to much larger bookshelf speakers that have separate amp receivers. This all amounts to less than 0.5 percent harmonic distortion, an impressive number that’s on-par with pretty much any other speaker in the mid-range.
All these on-paper numbers add up to much more when put into practice. We set up these speakers in a home office for about a week and used them for a variety of listening purposes that range from casual morning podcasts, top 40 weekend shows, and even a small gathering where guests could connect to the speaker via Bluetooth.
What struck us most was just how loud these speakers are, especially with drivers that are only 4 inches. There was a fullness that was particularly prevalent on the low-mid range, giving plenty of richness while somehow managing to not swallow up all the detail. You aren’t going to get sparkling performance on the high end of the spectrum at this price point, so our expectations were admittedly somewhat low. But the bass response carried music through our entire listening space with ease, and we found that the additional two-band EQ controls were all we needed to dial the sound in between genres and styles.
What struck us most was just how loud these speakers are, especially with drivers that are only 4 inches.
We got our hands on this pair of speakers for just about $150—a reasonable price point considering just how good these sound. With that said, these aren’t for those who want truly budget devices. You can get similar sound quality for right around $100, though you’ll sacrifice some connectivity features like Bluetooth. But if you want solid speakers that look and feel premium, and offer surprisingly rich sound quality, we think the price is mostly fair.
Edifier R1280T: These powered speakers are about $50 cheaper, and don’t offer Bluetooth, but song-for-song, they sounded pretty close to the R1700.
Sonos One: Probably the buzziest name in the speaker game is Sonos, and their entry-level option is still about three times the price of these. But, you’ll get amazing sound and a host of crazy smart features.
Klipsch R-14M: The Klipsch 4-inch powered take gives you a slightly richer sound and great design, but you’ll have to shell out about $100 more.
A solid pair of Bluetooth speakers, though lacking in some polish.
We were pleased with the Edifier R1700BT speakers. The sound quality was surprising for a sub-$200 speaker, and the design sealed the deal with beautiful wood accents and high-quality components. But the bulkiness of the build and the awkward footprint of the design means these speakers won’t quite fit into every setup, aesthetically speaking. But for the money, you’ll find a lot of value with these powered speakers.