More Bluetooth Speakers Should Look Like This One

Edifier MP230
The Edifier MP230 is a compact Bluetooth speaker with a classic design. TYLER HAYES

This Edifier MP230 Bluetooth speaker gets nearly everything right, from its design to sound quality to price. For around $130, the speaker doesn't try to do too much, but it still includes bonus features like a 3.5 millimeter auxiliary (AUX) input, physical buttons and the ability to play music offline with a microSD card. Its biggest appeal, though, is its classic, retro design.

A lot of companies find it hard to fully commit to an aesthetic without ruining it in some way—big or small. Edifier somehow even manages to include its logo and name without harming an otherwise perfect design. Personally, I don't think enough modern, wireless speakers are using wood. Even on this budget model, it's gorgeous.

Luckily, Edifier was also able to give the MP230 speaker two drivers capable of outputting some decent sound. The speaker gets loud enough to fill a living room. While the bass is lacking compared with larger speakers, there's enough low-end oomph to make the sound full and have some depth. The worst thing about this speaker is simply its boring and unimaginative product name.

TL;DR

Pros:

  • Striking design
  • Voluminous sound for its compact size
  • Aesthetically cohesive and useful physical control buttons

Cons:

  • Only one color and style available

Buy at Edifier.

Bluetooth Speaker Design

Edifier MP230
The Edifier MP230 speaker uses Bluetooth 5.0. TYLER HAYES

Looks and design are probably secondary concerns for a speaker. But who doesn't want a speaker that drips with style? This is the first modern, Bluetooth speaker whose looks I instantly fell in love with. I love the wood enclosure, the woven fabric grill and its gold buttons. Everything is done in the service of enabling its style to shine through.

Its physical control buttons are in the exact style of the retro radios' this design recalls. I love that detail. It would have been so easy for someone to put the buttons on top or make them ugly in the name of internal circuitry or some other reason. Instead, the power, Bluetooth pairing, play, pause and volume controls further the aesthetic. The company's MS50A speaker also uses wood, but it doesn't look as elegant as a whole because the speaker's plastic top and controls veer from its overall design.

There's a battery inside the MP230 so the speaker doesn't need to be plugged into a wall most of the time. The company calls it portable. I would only agree in the sense that it can be moved around the house. Because of the wood wrapped around the exterior, I would be hesitant to put it in a bag and bring it with me outside. It is compact enough, however, to travel if that's what you really want to do with it.

Edifier MP230
A microSD card slot, an AUX input and a USB-C port for charging are located on the back of the speaker. TYLER HAYES

Additional connectivity, like an AUX input and microSD card slot, are included on the back of the speaker. I had a hard time finding a wired device to plug into the AUX port. I didn't test the microSD card slot, because I don't have an adapter or a way to get music onto a card. If you need those ports, they're there, but it seems those connections are increasingly outdated. Since those features don't seem to take anything away from the speaker, I don't mind their being included.

MP230 Sound

Edifier MP230
The MP230 speaker has a 10-hour continual listening time on its battery. TYLER HAYES

Edifier advertises stereo sound because there are two 48 millimeter drivers behind the speaker's front-facing fabric. I think stereo sound is a stretch. My favorite way to test stereo separation is with Haim's song "Summer Girl." Out of a single speaker, the bass is vibrant and present. But out of a stereo pair of speakers with some actual space between them, you can hear the bass slide from left to right, too. I couldn't hear that on the MP230 speaker.

That's not the fault of the speaker, just a physical limitation of spatial distance. Also, most of the time, in general, we're listening to music through a single speaker nowadays. The MP230 might technically be stereo, but don't buy it for that sole reason.

Having two (small) drivers inside does give the speaker plenty of volume. At a 50 percent volume level, it could be too loud for a small bedroom setting. At 75 percent volume, it's probably too loud for conversation with others in a living room. At near full volume, I didn't notice any distorting, and I think the balance between high and low frequencies remained mostly even.

It's hard to make an exact comparison with other speakers, but I think the MP230 sounds somewhere between one and two HomePod mini speakers—both in its volume and sound quality. The MP230 provides slightly more bass than a single HomePod mini, but not as much as two paired together.

I listened to jazz, rock and pop songs through the speaker, and they all sounded good—better than it's nearly $130 price. Its sound is not unbelievable, but music is crisp and lively.

Edifier MP230
There are retro-style physical media control buttons on the front of the speaker. TYLER HAYES

Should You Buy the Edifier MP230?

On the whole, there's almost nothing wrong with the Edifier MP230 speaker. No speaker is perfect, but for what this one is, it comes close. Since its design doesn't really facilitate its leaving the house, I would have liked to have seen Wi-Fi included. I also would have liked the exact same design in a larger version for a truly impressive living room speaker. Maybe a different wood choice with a different grill color? Those aren't flaws or issues with the product, only wishes for the future.

If the Edifier MP230's design speaks to you, as it did to me, then you should be very satisfied with this purchase. It's a beautiful nightstand speaker. It can work great in an office. And because of its long-lasting battery, it's a versatile speaker than can be moved around the home.

Buy at Edifier for $129.99.

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