Review: Edifier Spinnaker Desktop Speakers

Even in a tech-packed place like the January Consumer Electronics Show, the Edifier Spinnaker stood out like a. . . well, like a pair of red rhinoceros horns at an electronics trade show. I noticed it from about 70 feet away and rushed right over to see it. These days, you see lots of crazy designs for audio systems, but the Spinnaker looked crazy-cool, not crazy-silly. I demanded a review sample right then and there.

As if to prove there’s more to the Spinnaker than just a radical design, I didn’t receive a review sample until about a month ago. That suggests that Edifier spent a lot of time getting the sound right, rather than just packing the Spinnaker with a couple of drivers and pushing it out the door.

Although the Spinnaker seems like it was designed to appeal to people who live for their next issue of Dwell magazine and don’t care about audio, the guts were definitely engineered for serious listening. Each horn contains a silk-dome tweeter and a 2.75-inch midrange in the top part, and a downfiring 4-inch woofer in the bottom. Each driver gets its own amplifier, and the sound is tailored with a digital signal processor. (Although don’t be too impressed by that — even some very inexpensive iPod docks have built-in DSP.)

Just as cool is the wireless remote control. Push down on the remote’s dome, turn it clockwise, and the volume goes up while a red ring lights up on the bottom. I don’t know yet if chicks will dig it, but it definitely impressed my Tech^2 blogging partner Geoff Morrison when he stopped by last week. The remote also skips tracks, activates play/pause, and turns the system on and off.

Edifier wisely designed the Spinnaker primarily to interface with smartphones through A2DP Bluetooth wireless. It also has an optical digital input and an analog input, which share a 3.5mm minijack. There’s a 3.5mm subwoofer output jack, too. All inputs are concealed nicely at the bottom of one of the horns, and the cable routing is well thought-out. A 6-foot cable connects the two speakers.

For what it is, the Spinnaker’s surprisingly affordable: just $349. That’s only $50 more than the Jawbone Big Jambox (a more portable, but much smaller and less-capable product) and the Audyssey Wireless Speakers (a product with similar functionality but no remote and a relatively uninspired design).

Best of all, you can pick up the Spinnaker for about one-sixth the price of an ounce of powdered rhino horn — and unlike real rhino horn, the Spinnaker might actually heal your body and/or soul.

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