A Deep Dive into R1280DB Speakers by Edifier

The R1280DB Speakers are a small set of bookshelf speakers (about the size of a loaf of bread) produced by Edifier. They are intended for small spaces where space is at a premium.

These genuine wood-sided speakers are available in maple or black stain and support various input options. In addition, they can be controlled remotely with the provided IR remote control pad.

Edifier was started in 1996 in Beijing by a small group of audiophiles who wanted to make beautiful and powerful speakers of all sizes. Currently, Edifier exports to 70 different countries, enjoys a broad following and has received several awards for design excellence; and even has a speaker line designed by audio engineer Phil Jones of Acoustic Energy in the UK.

Who’s It For?

R1280DBs are an ideal solution for an affordable but effective sound system for apartments, offices, dorm rooms, and standard living rooms. These small speakers easily fit on a regular bookshelf yet produces a rich sound that belies their small size.

A set of R1280s will only set you back about $120-130 dollars (or less, if you can find a sale) and can be fully integrated into any current audio output source through wired or Bluetooth connections.

Set up of the R1280DB is easy as there is a simple on-off switch in the rear of the right speaker (you can also use the remote control).

The left speaker has slaved to the right speaker, which houses the power supply, and also has manual control knobs on the side for easy access. However, if you are looking for a stereo system with some bass kick, these are not the speakers for you.

They have some really good mid-tone and upper-bass range sound (see below for details), but hardcore audiophiles will likely pass on these speakers.

What We Like About the Edifier R1280DB Speakers

Edifier R1280DB speakers have a great sound for a small set of bookshelf speakers. The tonal quality is rich enough in the midrange that listening is enjoyable. We also appreciate the ease of use with respect to connectivity. 

Bluetooth connectivity, remote control, and device pairing memory features are a big bonus and make these speakers usable for easy listening and movie viewing.

What We Don’t Like About the R1280DB Speakers

We would really like to see the R1280DB speakers equipped with better-quality accessories. We are not talking about the remote control here, but the cabling.

The cabling provided is the most basic you can get and not very good quality. However, we realize that the R1280DB speakers are Edifier’s Bluetooth-enabled budget speakers, so that is keeping in line with the affordability objective.

What’s Included?

Basic quality connection cables are provided with the R1280DB speakers. These include a 

A set of basic quality connection cables is provided with the R1280DB. These include a speaker connection cable to link the left speaker to the right (the right has the power supply and amplifier; 8.2-foot cable), an RCA-RCA cable with L/R jacks on each end (5.5 feet long), an standard RCA audio cable (5.5 feet long), and a fiber optic cable that is good for smart TVs and some stereo systems (5 feet long).

There is also an instruction manual, which is helpful for understanding how to pair the speakers to a Bluetooth device properly, a full IR remote control that can switch between any input source, control a Bluetooth device, and of course, control volume, mute, and switch the whole thing off.

Overview Of Features

Build and dimensions: Genuine wood (comes in maple or black stain) and metal cabinet, with some plastic components. 5.7-inch-wide face x 9.5 inches tall x 7 inches deep (146x242x178 mm)
Case: Bass-reflex
Drivers (each speaker): Woofer (4.57-inch; 116 mm), silk dome tweeter (0.51-inch; 13 mm)
Amplifier power: 42 W RMS (root mean square)
Frequency response range: 55 Hz to 20 kHz
Ports: All front (woofer, tweeter, bass relief)
Wired connections: Optical TOSLINK (1), digital coaxial (1), RCA (2), spring clip pair I/O (2)
Signal-to-noise ratio: 85 dBA
Input sensitivity: 550 mV
Wireless connections: Bluetooth, remote control

We would just like to start by saying that these speakers look great. Whether you choose the retro look with the maple stain or do with the modern-looking black stain, the use of real wood (we think it’s probably oak) in an affordable set of speakers is a huge bonus.

The R1280DB speakers basically look like pieces of furniture and will absolutely be a tasteful addition to any space. The choice to use real wood on small speakers that are marketed as a budget system is a really nice touch, as the wood provides an aesthetic warmth to the surroundings.

If you are going to use small speakers because you do not have the room, there is no reason that they cannot look nice. Edifier has really hit the mark on looks, but how do they sound? (more on that below).

The case design of the R1280DB is identical to its predecessor, the R1280T speaker set, which is regarded by many as a very nice, very well-made, and affordable bookshelf speaker. The R1280DB excels where their predecessor did not in being able to accommodate all current audio input sources.

The cloth facing is made of grey cloth and slightly domed over a mesh screen to protect the speakers from dust or casual contact. At the bottom of the screen is the word Edifier in silvered metal and there is a mid-face fess of the same metal that falls short of traversing the face.

On the right speaker, there is a small receiving window for the IR remote control. and is usually not seen unless the cloth facing has been removed. On the side of the right speaker is also a recessed control panel of bass, treble, and volume knobs.

These knobs have a bit of weight to them, do not feel cheap, and can be turned in small amounts, and tend to stay where they are set. All power, input, and I/O connectors are located on the rear of the right speaker (except for a sole I/O connector on the left speaker).

For a bookshelf speaker set, the R1280DB comes with a wealth of features that permit it to be connected to any current audio device. These speakers can also be connected to smart TVs through the optical fiber connection port; this port can also be used with high-end stereo systems for an extra bit of input signal breadth.

Apart from coaxial, optical, and standard RCA jack inputs, the R1280DB speakers are also Bluetooth-capable. This permits them to be connected wirelessly to any smartphone, MP3/4 player, laptop, or tablet and makes them compatible with all modern means of wirelessly transmitting audio information except WiFi.

Bluetooth device pairing for some electronic devices can be a real pain and more like a game of wireless tag. In Bluetooth mode, the device pairing of these speakers is effortless and the electronics of the R1280DB speakers will also remember all recent Bluetooth connected devices.

Essentially, after the first go you just need to set your laptop or smartphone to Bluetooth transmit, use the R1280DB’s remote to switch over to Bluetooth, and in a few moments, your audio playlist or music video is blasting through the speakers. This also makes setup for movie viewing a cinch if you are using a portable device or a Bluetooth-enabled television.

Regarding more traditional input methods, the R1280DB speakers have regular RCA jacks with L/R inputs and can accommodate two sound sources (LINE1 and LINE2 pair or L/R RCA sockets). The free-pair spring connector on the rear of the right speaker is how the left is linked up via the speaker connection cable.

The R1280DB speaker remote control is an IR unit that has 12 buttons. Apart from the basics like on-off, volume up, volume down, and mute, the remote allows the user to switch between audio source inputs.

In fact, it is the only way to switch between audio sources, since there are no manual controls for these sources on the speakers. The remote features buttons for LINE1, LINE2 (two different RCA-connected sources), OPT (optical fiber), COX (coaxial cable), and Bluetooth.

In the Bluetooth area of the remote, there are play-stop, program back, and program forward buttons to enable the user to move around linearly through a playlist, a set of pre-programmed radio stations, or through chapters in a movie DVD or BlueRay disc.

Sound Quality
This is where the rubber meets the road, as they say. They also say looks aren’t everything and the R1280DB’s look pretty nice.

So, how do these little beauties sound? Surprisingly good for a small set of speakers.

The tone of the R1280DB speakers has a smooth and warm low-end with some crisp treble up at the top. For a small set of speakers, the sound feels large and can easily fill a standard room with normal acoustic properties. There is surprising clarity in the sound for near-field listening.

With correct placement (either at or slightly above listening level), the speakers produce voluminous mid-bass that blends well into the natural sound midrange for most music and movie tracks. The treble is distinct and clear in the mid- to upper-treble range, but falls off in the lower treble registers.

The overall sound quality is most appropriate for background music (passive listening) and as a video sound system since the speakers do not demonstrate any fatigue with long-term playtimes.

Bass: The mid-bass range of the R1280DB speakers is warm, focused, and not fuzzy. It blends well into the mid-range, which is the bulk of the audible perception sound space for people.

However, if you are looking for a big bass kicker or something with a sub-bass thump, forget about it. That quality is a matter of bass cavity volume and woofer size, which are small in the R1280DB’s.

Nonetheless, the R1280DB speakers have a warmth and richness to their mid-bass zone with good note articulation and a lack of blur. Keep in mind that speaker placement for bass presentation can be critical, so try to place these speakers against an outer wall or in a corner for more acoustic focus.

On the bottom of the mid-bass, they are capable of some bang but no rumble. Higher up in the mid-bass, the speakers are punchy and responsive which tends to be perceived as room-filling in the bass range for most listeners.

Mid-range: Mid-range audio is a strong suit of Edifier and they tend to focus on that audio range in most of their small speaker products. It is simply a range where most listeners keep their attention focused.

The lower part of the mid-range is a little elevated and gives some full-bodied volume, yet the center mid-range is flat and vocal tracks tend to get a little run over here by instrumentals. Vocals are clear, however, and not thick or fuzzy.

Female vocals tend to come through clearer in the upper part of the mid-range if they make it up to the lower treble register. Despite these shortcomings, the sound is generally smooth and voicing sounds natural with a harmonic timbre.

Treble: Small, affordable speakers usually cannot hit the highs very well and is typically where they all fall short. To combat this, Edifier has chosen to use a 13 mm silk dome tweeter, which is a very agile little tweeter that produces clear, crisp, energetic tones.

The treble output of the R1280DB speakers is very detailed and not buzzy. The strategy they have employed appears to emphasize the lower-treble register by deliberately elevating it.

This sound zone is usually where most instrumental tones are played such as brass and strings and lends to a great attack, particularly with the clarity afforded to acoustic instruments. But, the R1280DB’s tend to suffer from an early roll-off in this range with a distinct loss to shimmer and airy notes.

Their background tones are clean, however, and not overly bright lending to good sound clarity. Overall, the R1280DB speakers do a good job in a small package at an affordable

Review Summary

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