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Choosing Bookshelf Speakers: Why I Bought R1700BTs over MR4

I don’t listen a lot to music usually, but lately I do. I also was in a situation that was annoyed wearing headset all the time. I also learned to appreciate listening to music, movies, videos and gaming using my laptop speakers.

Laptop Speakers Alternative

Problem is, that my Lenovo Vantage laptop speakers aren’t delivering a great experience. I decided to search for a laptop speakers alternative.

I am not an audiophile nor I need a hi-fi setup. Something that will elevate my experience and I’ve decided to look for desk speakers.

Now, I have a small room, 3.00 by 2.10 meters or 9.8 feet by 6.89 feet. I discussed with my father, and he told me that I should not use a 2.1 setup, by that he meant having a subwoofer for such a tiny room. I also heard that people use it in small room can get headache after some time.

He recommended monitors. I listened to various YouTube video sound test just to get a relatively comparison of what to expect. Of course listening like that won’t give you an understanding of the sound as there are so many factors, including the headset I was using to listen to. But when listening to 2 different sources, you can a little bit of understanding about sound separation, assess the sound qualities, etc.

Affordable Bookshelf Speakers: Lots of Options

I was looking towards the more affordable, cheaper options. Something around the $100-200 USD price mark.

I used ChatGPT and Google Bard to help me find and compare information about popular and highly-rated speakers.

Eventually I was narrowed the list to more or less these speakers:

Edifier R1280DB, Micca PB42X, Kanto YU2, Audioengine A5+, Edifier 2.0 R1700BTs, Edifier MR4, Edifier R1850DB, Klipsch R-51PM, Klipsch 2.1 Promedia, Presonus Eris e3.5, Logitech Z623.

I asked AI to rate those based on Price, Sound Quality, Connectivity, Bass Response, Size, and Features. Audiophiles use various parameters to rate speakers, like soundstage, image, resolution, transparency, dynamics, bass and treble, sensitivity, impendence, frequency response–but wasn’t into spending a month to overanalyze it, I mostly go based on reliable website/user reviews and user opinions.

Features I Needed in a Bookshelf Speaker

A few speakers stood out. This include the Klipsch 2.1 Promedia, Edifier R1700BTs, Edifier MR4. Micca PB42X and Neumi BS5, Presonus Eris e3.5.

I listen to YouTube comparison video sound tests to get more or less of basic understanding of the differences. How reach the sound is, the relatively bass sound and how it sounds for various genres, with emphasize for those I enjoyed listening to. I also considered that I’ll be gaming with it as well. I didn’t want a flat sound but not too much bass either.

I also wanted Bluetooth with option for subwoofer (just as an option and flexibility). The size didn’t matter that much, as all of those are in the reasonable size. I knew that the MR4 are nice and small and the R1700BT is larger and I saw a size difference, so it wasn’t an issue.

What was important for me is to have the Bass reflex port at the front and not the back.

The port is used to increase the bass response of the speaker. The port allows the back wave of the speaker’s cone to escape, which helps to prevent it from canceling out the front wave. This results in a deeper and more powerful bass sound.

If it’s at the back, you need some distance. For example, if the port is 2 inches in diameter, you should leave at least 2 inches of space between the port and the back wall. If you place the port too close to the back wall, it can interfere with the bass response of the speaker. This can cause the bass to sound muddy or boomy.

Because my desk is very close to the wall and I might hang it, I didn’t want to worry about that and prefer the flexibility of the port at the front. For the Edifier MR4 it might not be a problem as the ports are small so you need less space at the back.

Summary of my requirements:

  • Active speaker (no need for external amplifier, amplifier is optimized for the speakers, portability)
  • Built-in Bluetooth (stream music wirelessly from your devices)
  • Decent bass and Rich mood-elevating sound for my favorite genres, movies and video games
  • Front bass reflex port (intend to put them near a wall)
  • Well constructed – Preferably MDF at this price point (medium-density fiberboard), which is a dense and sturdy material that is known for its acoustic properties.
  • Suitable for both nearfield and farfield listening (I will probably put them around 1 meter (3.3 feet) from my workspace (recommendation is around 2-3 feet away from your listening position)
  • Not too bass-heavy or too treble-heavy
  • Wide soundstage, which gives you a sense of immersion when listening to music
  • Relatively compact

Edifier 2.0 R1700BTs vs Edifier MR4

Edifier 2.0 R1700BTs and MR4 bookshelf speakers

Eventually, after listening to comparison, reading reviews and taking a closer look at all the features, I came to a conclusion that I’ll go with Edifier, and it will be either the R1700BTs and MR4.

I really loves the deep bass sound of the R1700BTs compared to the flat MR4 bass (example here). The bass in my pop songs and in gaming, really helps elevate emotion. And I knew that the MR4 are monitors so it will be flatter. But of course I didn’t expect any of them to boom like crazy, nor that I wanted that. I wanted a punchy enough bass to move me–emotionally speaking.

Listened to the various sound tests compared the two, I definitely preferred the R1700BTs sound. Jus listening to this part, the extra bass gave so much color, density and richness to the sound alongside the mids. The MR4 on the other end sound flat and much less moving for me.

This is a personal opinion of course, and just note that I won’t be using it for critical sound editing work. I use headphones for that. It really depends on your personal taste, budget, purpose, size, connectivity, brand, style, room size, speaker placement, listening habits and more.

White Speakers: Clean Minimalistic Design

One thing I noticed a lot as how everyone mentioned how cool the Edifier MR4 speakers look. Have this slick “White Apple/iPhone” type of look. I think quite a lot of people are sold for the small size and the modern white look.

For me, the look come secondary. I care about the sound first and foremost.

Here are some of the things that people complained about the MR4:

  • The volume control is not smooth. Some users have reported that the volume control on the Edifier MR4 is not smooth. The volume knob can feel “notchy” or “scratchy,” and it can be difficult to get the exact volume level that you want.
  • The speakers feel cheap. Some users have reported that the Edifier MR4 feels cheap. The speakers are made of plastic, and they don’t feel as well-built as some other speakers in the same price range.
  • The bass is weak. Some users have reported that the bass on the Edifier MR4 is weak. The speakers don’t produce a lot of low-frequency sound, and they can sound thin or tinny at times.
  • The soundstage is narrow. The soundstage on the Edifier M4 is narrow. This means that the speakers don’t produce a wide sound field, and they can sound “closed-in” or “muddy.”

Things that ruined it for me is that the soundstage is narrow and the bass is weak. And although I considered them, comparing it to the R1700BTs in both sound and features, eventually lead me to choose the R1700BTs over it.

Next Part.. Testing

In the next article I’ll share real live testing and my first impressions. Buying decision aside, how good are they in real life and for my place.

Visit soon to find out!

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