The Edifier R1280T offers excellent value for money at around $100. Their compact size in combination with being an active speaker, makes them extremely versatile for PC audio, as TV speakers, or plugged into your vinyl player. The tone adjustment knobs provide audio flexibility too. The R1280T has some very forward bass, while the mids and highs are clear and vibrant at most volume levels.
While initially researching these speakers prior to purchase, I noticed that the Edifier R1280T had won the hearts of a number of customers and in some cases even being preferred to slightly more expensive options. Intrigued by the idea of a $100 pair of active bookshelf speakers, I opted to give these a shot.
Edifier’s R1280 range consists of several variations of the product. The R1280T is the original model from this series, though the R1280DB which was released a couple of years later added the additional benefit of Bluetooth connectivity. The R1280Ts is similar to the model we reviewed but includes a subwoofer output jack. There are also the R1280DBs, Edifier’s newest addition to the R1280 range, which offers both Bluetooth functionality as well as increases the frequency response range slightly in the lower range, offering a cut-off of 51Hz.
When unboxing the Edifier R1280T, I was taken aback by how small they were. At just 6.9 x 9.5 x 5.8 inches, their sizing was a welcome surprise, as desk space is often an issue around my desktop and bedroom TV area. This size format is not uncommon in the more budget side of bookshelf speakers though and fits in a similar scale to the Klipsch R-14M for example.
Included in the box were the speakers, along with all the cables needed to get these set up. Whether you’re running these directly to a television or to your computer, you’ll find what you need already included in the package. A small (very small in fact) remote is included in the box, which is especially useful for some older TVs which may not offer the ability to control aux output through the TV software itself.
I realize that wood finish isn’t for everyone, but the neutral grey grills do tone down the finish and give it a more balanced appearance, where they don’t feel out of place in most home environments.
Removing the grilles reveal a 4” bass driver and ½” tweeter, as well as flared bass reflex port. The right (active) speaker, also houses a series of controls to dial the speaker tone across both bass and treble, independently. It also offers a single volume control dial.
Despite their small size the Edifier R1280T find a pleasant balance in their weight, where they are light enough to be easily moved around, while also managing to not come across as cheap or of low build quality.
The color scheme, as touched on, may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Even though the finish is advertised as being easily integrated into any home aesthetic, I do feel like in a primarily black setup, they may come across a little like a hipster sitting at a lunch table of goths.
This speaker design really shines when placed around interior decor that is focused on woodgrain or brown tones and is specially brought to life with the presence of indoor plants.
I loved the way Edifier approached the control panel on the right-side speaker. The darker colors used on the concave element add a little something to the overall design. The dials themselves feel brilliant, with a firm response that doesn’t at all feel cheap.
These dials are able to control the bass between a range of -6 and +6, and the same ability is provided to the treble. Sure, it’s not going to allow you to fully EQ your speakers, at least not with the help of additional software or hardware, but it does provide versatility and an easy way to get your speakers to the place you want them to be for your intended use.
Because the Edifier R1280T are active speakers, there is no need for an additional amplifier to be used. It’s as simple as plugging them into a power source and connecting them to your device.
The location of the power switch at the back of the speaker is a little inconvenient and would have liked to have seen the side panel extended a bit and having had the switch attached to the tone and volume panel.
For more versatile connectivity options, the upgraded version of these, the R1280DB bookshelf speakers, offer Bluetooth, Coaxial, and Optical cable connectivity for less than $40.00 more.
When buying speakers that are more based on budget, I feel it’s important to go into the discussion with that aspect in mind. I often see audiophiles approaching a $100 pair of speakers with the same critical ear as a $500 pair of speakers. And while I believe in being critical and analyzing the sound as in-depth as possible, it’s important to compare apples with apples.
Note: All sound testing for this review was done with the default tone calibration (+0).
With a frequency response of 75Hz – 18kHz, I was a bit worried about the bass not feeling wide enough, however, I was pleasantly surprised by the bass output.
In fact, out of the box, the bass response from these speakers is impressive, to say the least. I’ve seen some other reviewers suggesting that they felt the bass was too overpowering on the default setting, but I think this comes down to more of a personal preference, as well as the intended use of the speaker. Being a bit of a bass-head at heart, I didn’t feel it was much of an issue overall, but there are certain tracks where I could notice that the sound quality could be improved by dropping the bass a bit.
Because I primarily listen to electronic music – I don’t tend to mind the louder bass, but when I opt to use these speakers for podcasts or watching streams, I can certainly see myself opting for a lower bass influence. The bass and treble control really comes in handy for this type of situation, as you can quickly adjust your settings for your active media.
Volume was never an issue for me in a 4x4m room space, if you’re looking to throw a house party there are most certainly better choices out there, but for a casual listening area, bedroom TV setup, or even as computer speakers, they can more than hold their own.
The Edifier R1280T does a good job at providing an overall full sound, though that’s not to say they’re perfect. There is a point where pushing the volume can result in a slightly muddy sound, this is one of the areas where EQing or toning the bass down a bit will give you more freedom in the volume department, as some of the lack of clarity at higher volumes seems to come from the bass overpowering some of the mid frequencies.
If you’re connecting the R1280T to a PC, you can always use a third-party EQ program like Equalizer APO to adjust your frequencies. Because sound is often subjective to the listener, I am always hesitant to give fixed frequency adjustments. For me, I found the clearest audio to come from dropping the 75Hz – 200Hz range down to -2.6dB while increasing the mids between 500Hz and 2kHz up by just +1.4dB. For me, this seemed to stop a bit of the bass bleed.
Who Are They For?
One of the strengths of the Edifier R1280T is that they are extremely versatile. Whether you’re looking for speakers to attach to your vinyl player, TV, or computer – these speakers are able to cover all those bases and do a pretty good job at it too.
While these are referred to as studio speakers and some do use them as such, I would not personally recommend them for studio speakers if your production/mixing is more than a hobby as there are more neutral options on the market. Nor would I recommend these for someone looking for true audiophile quality bookshelf speakers – the reality is you’re going to have to dig much deeper in your pocket to find true ‘audiophile grade’ bookshelf speakers.
Instead, the Edifier R1280T is a great choice for someone who wants to move away from built-in TV speakers to something with more clarity and diverse frequency response. They are also ideal for a desk setup. They pair very well with most vinyl players, especially given the aesthetic of a lot of vinyl players, which look to retain the 70s style wood grain finish.
Because they are so compact, they are also easy to move around your house. The versatility of the R1280T is definitely one of its key features.
At around $100, the Edifier R1280T is more than capable of standing toe to toe with bigger brands in this space.