Laptops and desktops often get the short end of the stick when it comes to audio: the former because of space constraints, the latter because pack-in accessories tend to be of low quality. If you want an upgrade for either, these Edifier speakers will do nicely.
The R1280T is a set of fairly conventional bookshelf speakers, with lots of capability concentrated into two chunky wooden satellites with no subwoofer. With a street price of $100 and standard analog inputs, it’s a set that makes a serious upgrade for your desk’s audio without breaking the bank or adding too much bulk or complexity.
Want to upgrade your basic desktop speakers without getting into checkbook-busting audiophile territory? The R1280T is a rock solid upgrade pick.
While the fairly simple setup is unlikely to please audiophiles looking for wall-rumbling power or painstaking precision, they’re a marked improvement over the dusty old 2004-era Logitech set found on many desktops.
Covering the Basics
The powered bookshelf speakers boast 4-inch primary woofers and a dedicated tweeter in each unit, sharing 42 watts of power between them. Inputs are simple: two RCA audio jacks, both of which are constantly active. The right speaker holds adjustment knobs for master volume, bass, and treble, with no screen of any kind.
The connection panel is similarly Spartan, with double RCA inputs and the speaker wire jack for the left unit. The only other control is a power switch. The only indication of a more modern make is the included remote, which is spare, with only volume and mute controls. Oddly the adjustments for treble and bass aren’t available on the remote.
I set up the speakers in the usual spots on my desk, one at each back corner with a slight tilt towards my sitting position. The double inputs are handy for my particular setup, with one for my main desktop and one for the Mac Mini I keep plugged into a secondary monitor input. Having both inputs active at once means there’s no need to switch them along with my monitor or use a more elaborate cable setup; I’d imagine most users would want to keep one cable specifically for their phone or tablet.
Inside the box, you’ll find everything you need and nothing you don’t. In addition to a standard RCA cable, there’s a headphone-to-RCA adapter, which is all you’ll need for most desktops or phone connections. The regular gauge speaker wire connecting the left and right units is eight feet long, more than enough for most offices or bedrooms.
If you should need more, the wire isn’t permanent on either side, so installing a longer replacement will be easy enough. A simple manual and the aforementioned remote (infrared, with the sensor hidden in the right unit) round out the package.
Audio Power Fit For Goldilocks
At 42 watts, the R1280T isn’t powerful enough to do duty as full entertainment center audio, even if you’re not interested in anything over 2.0 stereo sound. A desktop, or perhaps a small bedroom, is the ideal and intended listening scenario. Without a dedicated subwoofer or larger drivers, it just doesn’t have the power to fill up a larger room in anything but silent conditions.
That being said, the set is perfect for those smaller applications. Its excellent midrange and clear highs are only slightly let down by a bit of distortion with the bass turned up to the maximum setting. I found myself only needing it set at about half of its maximum for most of my PC video needs, even for the louder video games I like to play, and adjusting the Windows volume for more fine control. The volume knobs and remote are serviceable, but in my specific case, unnecessary.
Distortion at the extreme bass end is present, as expected for a 2.0 setup, but I rarely found media that actually hit against the R1280T’s lower-frequency range. It’s also quite balanced between the left and right units, which isn’t always the case for this design with a primary and secondary. For an office, bedroom, or dorm, it’s an excellent compromise between range, volume, quality, and price.
Sound That Looks Good
Edifier went for a more classic approach with this set: standard rectangular housing, wood side panels, grey speaker coverings, and grey panels on the top and bottom. The “wood” is there only in a technical IKEA-sort-of-way, since it’s MDF with a vinyl outer coating, but you wouldn’t know that by the warm tones and grained texture.
The protective cloth panels are removable if you prefer to see your drivers rattling along with the music. But I wouldn’t recommend it: the set’s neutral styling doesn’t invite it like other more “edgy” stereo sets do, and it’s meant to blend into a more serious office decor. But that’s coming from someone who keeps half a dozen LEGO spaceships on his desk, so remember that there’s no accounting for taste.
With left and right units measuring around 6x6x10 inches, the speakers are small for bookshelf style, but pretty large for a desktop setup, especially if you’re used to a 2.1 configuration with a sub on the floor. You’ll want either a larger desk… or a smaller one that’s cleaner than mine in order to accommodate the physical volume of the set.
At $100, the R1280T is not much more expensive than a quality 2.1 speaker set, and much cheaper than similar powered bookshelf sets. With its excellent sound quality, medium power for an office or bedroom, and good if button-down looks, it’s a great companion for almost any desk setup. Dual inputs are a nice bonus, especially if you regularly juggle multiple audio sources.
If you’re looking something with the same sound quality but a bit more flexibility in terms of sources, spend an extra thirty bucks on the R1280DB. It uses identical speaker hardware but upgrades the connections with Bluetooth, coaxial, and optical input options.
Here’s What We Like
- Excellent value
- Good looks
- Dual inputs, no switching
- Removable front panels
And What We Don't
- MDF wood construction
- Distortion on low bass
- Fixed power cable