A couple of months ago, Julie told us about the Edifier MP250 Sound to Go portable speaker. This little sound bar for your computer looked promising as a replacement for wimpy built-in speakers, and several commenters seemed interested. Edifier sent an MP250 Sound to Go USB speaker to The Gadgeteer. Julie knows I’m a fan of little speakers, so she sent the Edifier MP250 Sound to Go sound bar to me for review.
In the Box
Sound to Go USB speaker
USB-to-mini USB cable
3.5mm-to-3.5mm audio cable
Power output: RMS 2W X 2 (THD+N=10%, f0=1KHz)
Signal to noise ratio: ≥75dB(A)
Input sensitivity: USB: 800mV + 50mV (THD+N=1%); Aux: 500mV + 50mV (THD+N=1%)
Audio inputs: USB/Aux
Subwoofer unit: 1.25 “ magnetically shielded, 5 ohm
Speaker dimensions: 10.3” X 1.4” X 1.7”
Weight: 0.73 pounds
The Edifier MP250 speaker is wedge-shaped. The body is made of brushed aluminum with a black metal speaker grill and black plastic end pieces. I can find very little documentation about the specifics for the MP250 speaker. Neither the manual nor the Edifier webpage has a lot of information. The information listed above is all I could find.
Controls and connectors are simple and minimal. On one end, there is a 3.5mm jack and a mini USB connector. The other end has a single button to adjust the volume. When the MP250 is connected to a powered USB port, a blue light glows around the volume button. To increase the volume, you simply push the button. To decrease volume, I had to push in the button then turn it. Awkward.
Please pardon my rough drawing, but I couldn’t photograph the speakers through the metal grill, and I couldn’t remove the grill without destroying the MP250 speaker. There are two little, round speakers at each end (about 1” diameter each), and there is a roughly 3” long lozenge-shaped component between the two sets of round speakers. Based on the information found on the Edifier website, I would guess the lozenge-shaped part is the passive bass radiator. This speaker arrangement sounds different from what Julie had been told for her earlier announcement, and the webpage reference to a passive bass radiator doesn’t seem to match up with the description of a 3” subwoofer from the manual – though I suppose my assumption that a subwoofer isn’t passive could be incorrect.
Although the MP250 Sound to Go speaker is called a “portable” speaker, you won’t be able to use it anywhere that doesn’t have a USB power source nearby. There is no internal battery for the MP250 speaker. If you want to use the MP250 with a computer, plug it into a free USB port for both power and sound transmission. If you want to use it with an MP3 player, CD player, or other device, you’ll connect the headphone jack on the device with the MP250 using the included audio cable, and you’ll also have to connect the speaker to a USB port on your computer, or I imagine you could also use an AC adapter with a USB output. When the speaker is connected with both cables, the USB will be for power only and the 3.5mm input will be used preferentially for sound input to the speaker.
I first tried connecting the MP250 speaker to my MacBook Pro using the USB cable. When I set the MP250 on my keyboard in front of my monitor, it covered up the function keys. Only the tapering of the wedge shape allowed me to see the bottom of my laptop screen. I was a little concerned about setting the speaker on my computer because of the magnets contained inside it. Documentation says the magnets are shielded, however the MP250 speaker grabbed onto the aluminum body of my MacBook Pro when the front speaker grill came into contact with it. When I kept the contact limited to the brushed aluminum portion of the MP250, there was no magnetic attraction to my laptop.
The USB cord is long enough that I could move the speaker to the side of my laptop. I do think the sound was better when it was sitting on top of the MacBook, though. I don’t know if it was better simply because it was closer to me, or if the arrangement of the screen and keyboard of the laptop “aimed” the sound more directly at me.
In any event, the MP250 Sound to Go speaker produced much more volume than my laptop’s built-in speakers at the same setting. The sound was fuller, and richer than the sound produced by my laptop’s speakers, too. With the speakers contained in such a small cabinet, there wasn’t any stereo separation. The MP250 doesn’t produce a lot of bass. My Chris Squire test songs didn’t have the impressive bottom-end that shows off Squire’s talents. I couldn’t find any information about the frequency range this little speaker can reproduce, but it won’t be rattling the fillings in your teeth. Other than the wimpy bass, it sounded good, with no noise or distortion at normal listening levels. It was a decided improvement over the built-in speakers in my MacBook.
I tried connecting the MP250 to my iPod touch using the 3.5mm audio cable. For power, I connected the MP250 to a USB port on my laptop. It worked well with my iPod, and it certainly produced better sound and much more volume than the tiny speaker inside the iPod touch.
The Edifier MP250 Sound to Go USB speaker looks great – all wedge-shaped and sleek. It produces good sound for such a small speaker. I am a bit concerned about having the magnets sitting directly on top of my laptop and against my screen, but I can resolve that concern by moving it to the side of my laptop. I am confused that such a compact, portable speaker has no internal power supply. I suppose Edifier assumed its primary use would be as a “sound bar” for a laptop with its ready source of USB power. However, I wouldn’t “waste” my laptop’s battery power on an external speaker if I were travelling with my laptop. No internal power also means I can’t use it with portable MP3 players unless I have a nearby power supply. I think an internal power supply of some type would make the Edifier MP250 Sound to Go USB speaker much more useful.
Note: Thank you to Julie, who took most of the photos used in this review. I took the photos with the MacBook Pro, and of course, I’m responsible for the “lovely” drawing of the speaker arrangement.