Founded in 1996 and headquartered in Beijing, Edifier specializes in the design and manufacture of premium audio solutions showcasing technological innovation and design excellence. Over 20 years, Edifier has worked on the development and implementation of audio technology and provides a wide range of home sound, professional audio, automobile audio, headphones, and microphones for personal entertainment and professional use.
The Edifier MS50A is a new active standalone smart speaker costing $149. With connection by WiFi and Bluetooth, it also features streaming, Air Play and Alexa capabilities.
The MS50A is presented in a white cardboard box bearing a full colour image of the speaker. Securely packed, the speaker is wrapped in a clear plastic bag for protection. The contents are very simple and the box contains:
- Edifier MS50A speaker
- Mains lead
- Instruction manual
Build and Design
The speaker is very well made. The cabinet, which is rectangular with attractively curved sides, blends a retro look with a modern twist. Standing 8.5 inches high and with a diameter of 5.7 inches, it has wood veneer on the sides and a black fabric speaker grille embellished with a thin silver coloured metal strip adding a bit of stylish detail. The grille can be removed to reveal the two drive units. The speaker feels solid and durable and has a weight of 2.26Kg.
The top of the speaker features the controls. The centre button activates the speaker and also has a firmware update function. Around this is a touch sensitive ring which acts as a volume control. Sliding a finger clockwise increases the volume and counter-clockwise decreases it. Finally in the outer ring there are controls for previous/next track, a toggle switch for WiFi/Bluetooth operation marked “…” and play/pause control.
Apart from the WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities, the MS50A does not have any other input or method of connection. A simple 3.5mm Aux input would have been a useful feature here.
Driver and Internals
The MS50A is an active two-way design. The bass driver, with 25 Watts, has a diameter of 4 inches (102mm) and features a wool diaphragm. Above this sits the silk dome tweeter which is 3/4 inch (19mm) in diameter and has 15 Watts of amplification.
A frequency response of 52Hz – 18KHz is specified. Bluetooth is version 5.0 and uses the SBC codec. It would have been preferable if there had been support for apt-x or other high quality codecs. As for WiFi, the speaker can connect to both the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz networks (802.11ac).
The MS50A employs the AP6265 IC chip for audio encoding and decoding. The device includes a high performance audioprocessor with fully integrated audio filters and new Soft Step architecture. A resolution of 24-bit/192kHz is available.
App and Connectivity
When first switching on, the speaker enters set up mode. Using the Edifier Home app you are asked to connect to WiFi. After selecting the device ” Edifier MS50A” you enter your WiFi password and security type and then wait for the connection to be completed. It took me a number of attempts to establish a connection after I was told my WiFi password was incorrect. However a stable connection was at last obtained. When in WiFi mode, a central white LED is lit. Pressing the “…” button switches to Bluetooth and the LED ring changes colour to blue.
Initial connection via my Huawei phone was successful but I was unable to establish a Bluetooth connection with my Xduoo and Hidizs DAPs or an Avantree Bluetooth dongle. However a Sony A15 DAP connected successfully. The problem seems to affect CSR devices.
Along with simple volume and track controls, the app also allows you to pair two MS50A units for stereo operation and enable connections to an Alexa device. It would have been helpful if the app had added some EQ functions as the functionality is rather basic.
The MS50A supports Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect (if you have a subscription for their premium service) and TIDAL Connect and it will also work with Alexa but (for privacy reasons) the MS50A lacks a microphone so a third-party device is required to use voice commands. Multi-room function is also supported and this can also be controlled from the app.
Fed with high quality files from a Sony DAP via Bluetooth, the MS50A delivered a warm and inviting sound with a “vintage” analogue feel reminiscent of a valve radio or vinyl replay. Appropriately, the bass was warm and “cuddly” as befits the wool material in the driver and the treble showed a smoothness without harshness as might be expected from silk. The overall profile was mildly V-shaped with some recession in the midrange.
The bass extension was excellent bearing in mind the size of the speaker, and the low pedal notes of the organ in Albinoni’s “Adagio in G minor” provided a solid foundation for the violin melody and continuo. Similarly, in “The flow of Time’s Arrow” by spacemusic maestro Jonn Serrie, the deep synth bass underpinned the smooth string patches and sparkling electronic flourishes very effectively. Tonality was quite natural and on the warm side of neutral although the transient attack was a little softer than ideal.
Despite a little recession, the midrange was adept enough to present vocals in an attractive way. Al Stewart’s delicate vocals in “The year of the Cat” displayed good clarity with the studio reverb nicely reproduced. The balance between the voice and accompaniment was well handled with the guitar and sax solos in the bridge coming over with good definition.
In “Father and Son” by Cat Stevens, the characterisation of the two proponents in the title was delineated very well allowing the emotion and meaning of the song to be appreciated. The balance between the vocals and the backing track was nicely judged.
The smooth nature of the treble sometimes gave the impression of a lack of detail but close listening proved this not to be the case and there was actually a good deal of detail on offer. Andreas Vollenweider’s albums of electric harp are always intricate and complex and the MS50A managed to present the details very clearly although at times a little more sparkle and projection would have been welcome.
This could also be heard in Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” where the cymbals were a little further back in the mix than ideal with Joe Morello’s drum solo losing just a little of its impact with the tom toms and bass drum dominating the performance. However the smooth nature of the presentation was perfect for extended listening.
The MS50A presents music in a warm and relaxed manner with solid bass, a gentle midrange and smooth treble and only a little more energy and sparkle in the midrange and high frequencies is wanting to make the presentation a bit more lively and achieve a more natural balance. The operation interface is fairly intuitive although initial setup was not as straightforward as it might have been and support for a high quality Bluetooth codec would have also been welcome.
The Edifier Home app possesses the major controls for the functions but is otherwise a little basic. Although the speaker is designed to be wireless only, I would have liked to see a method of connecting external devices included, such as a simple 3.5mm input for equipment lacking wireless capability.
To sum up, with the MS50A, Edifier have produced a well made, good looking and attractive sounding speaker with WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. There are a few operational features which could be improved but at the price it is very competitive and represents good value.