Edifier S3000 Pro Active Stereo Speaker Review

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The stereo resistance to the soundbar takeover continues to gather pace

by Ed Selley Jun 6, 2019 at 8:59 AM

  • Hi-Fi review

    32

    Best Buy
    Edifier S3000 Pro Active Stereo Speaker Review
    SRP: £589.00

    What is the S3000PRO?

    The Edifier S3000 is a self-contained active loudspeaker system. It has a selection of inputs to allow for direct connection of the source equipment you might want to use with them and some clever thinking to reduce the amount of cabling and complexity involved in getting them connected up. We’ve seen a few systems of this nature recently - not least the rather lovely KEF LSX Active speakers.

    The Edifier is a little different in execution to the KEF though and we’ll cover those differences in due course. The main one though is price. At almost half the price of the KEF, the S3000 Pro pitches into a different part of the market and while I am aware that the cavalcade of soundbars that do everything and cost £6.50 continue apace, this is a keenly priced device that could, if you were minded to do so, be viewed as an alternative in the way that the less expensive S350DB we looked at recently might.

    To be worth the effort though, the S3000DB has to be simple and hassle free to use and capable of showing some advantages over and above the sheer flexibility of some modern soundbars. There’s no question that this is a bigger and less subtle proposition than the one box options - can it do enough to make that worthwhile?

    Specification and Design

    Edifier S3000PRO Specification and Design
    First up, the Edifier is a true active design. There’s a degree of ambiguity in the description of the internals but the key points are that each speaker contains its own amplification and this sits behind a digital crossover arrangement. This is a bit less ‘trad’ than someone like ATC or the Acoustic Energy AE1 Active where the crossover is powered but nonetheless comprises discrete components. This is one of the many reasons why those devices cost rather more though.

    There are two amps per cabinet and the imbalance in output between them is one of the most significant that I’ve ever seen in any product of this nature. The unit for the mid/bass driver throws out a healthy 120 watts while the one for the tweeter delivers eight - a drop so significant that the general style guide for AV copy dictates I don’t write it as a number but instead type ‘eight.’ On the face of it, this seems a bit weird but there is a method to it.

    The 120 watts finds itself being delivered to a hefty 6.5-inch aluminium mid bass driver - a substantial device that will take that sort of power without breaking sweat. The tweeter is a different beast though. Edifier has elected to use a planar ribbon type device. This is a sensitive and delicate piece of kit. When used in passive speakers, there are strict instructions about the maximum amount of power this sort of tweeter will take and, even then, the crossover usually has to act in a manner of a choke to stop too much power going to it. Edifier has equipped it will all the amp it needs and nothing more.
    Edifier S3000PRO Specification and Design
    The cabinet that this is all fitted in is a substantial design bolstered by a large rear port that should ensure that the S3000 Pro has a useful degree of heft to the performance. What this also contains on the right hand cabinet is the input board and here, Edifier has played a bit of a blinder. With the S3000 Pro, you get an optical and coaxial input, a USB connection that supports 24/192kHz and earns certification from the High Res Association as a result and Bluetooth version 5.0 with aptX. These are joined by balanced and unbalanced analogue connections that allow for more conventional Hi-Fi to be connected directly. There’s no phono stage unlike a few near rivals but I think, even as an arch vinyl fan, this is the correct decision.

    What it means is that the Edifier will happily support being connected to a TV and also support some additional audio componentry too. Unlike the pricier KEF, the Edifier has no internal networking or streaming facilities but something like a Yamaha WX-AD10 would solve that and, perhaps awkwardly for the KEF, be more stable and flexible at the same time.

    Edifier S3000PRO
    One other very clever feature of the S3000 Pro is the means by which information from the right speaker is sent to the left. Edifier has adapted the Kleer wireless system to this and the result has been utterly stable under test in a manner that some similar systems just haven’t been. Its clever too. The system logs the distance between the two speakers and adjusts them to compensate for this. Each speaker still needs a mains supply but aside from that, placing the S3000 DB is not a challenge.

    Loving the way that the Edifier looks is a bit more of a challenge though. After the KEF, a beautiful world of considered materials, elegant industrial design and well-judged proportions, the Edifier feels a little more… trad. The use of dark ‘wood’ with an unusual notched side and the black inlays are all very slightly reminiscent of G-plan furniture. I will freely admit that the S3000 Pro isn’t going to vanish into the room in the manner of some rivals and used with smaller TVs it’s going to be a fairly dominant presence.
    It is well made though. The cabinets are substantial affairs and there has clearly been a considerable amount of care that gone into all the visible parts of their construction and this augers well for the inside too. There is a usefully comprehensive remote to control it and both the Bluetooth and USB input have worked reliably on test although my SOtM streaming head unit didn’t get on with the US connection perfectly.

    Edifier S3000PRO
    What it means is that the Edifier will happily support being connected to a TV and also support some additional audio componentry too.

    How was the S3000 PRO tested?

    The Edifier was placed on a pair of Soundstyle Z60 stands and connected to an IsoTek Evo3 Aquarius for mains power. An LG 55B7 OLED was attached via optical and a Chord Mojo and Poly were connected to the RCA connection, with the Poly placed in Roon Mode for the bulk of audio testing. The USB input was tested directly from a Melco N1A NAS drive USB Audio out. Bluetooth testing was undertaken via an Essential PH-1 Smartphone which features both aptX and Bluetooth 5. Material used included broadcast and on demand TV, FLAC, ALAC and AIFF files, Tidal, Qobuz and Deezer.

    Sound Quality

    Edifier S3000PRO Sound Quality
    We’ve already established that in terms of functionality, the Edifier can’t compete on an even playing field with something like the Polk Command Bar at less than half the price - you can shout at the Edifiers as indeed you can with any inanimate object but don’t expect them to do anything. There are two very significant reasons why you might want to persevere with the comparatively hulking S3000 Pro over a svelte soundbar though.

    The first is bass extension. Unlike the cheaper S350DB, the S3000 Pro doesn’t have a sub supplied (although you can add one). It honestly doesn’t matter though because the S3000 Pro has sensational bass. This is one of the most affordable products I can remember that can showcase the benefits of active speaker bass. With the amp directly coupled to the driver and the crossover shaping exactly what that amp receives, the Edifier kicks like a mule (although a slightly blunt force mule if they are too close to the rear wall). The starship chase at the start of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is visceral on a level that simply isn’t usually the case at this sort of price point. There is depth, control and detail and it makes soundtracks come alive regardless of whether you’re dealing with a good ole fashioned explosion or something more considered.

    Move up the frequency response and the news is still very good. Compared to the incredibly sweet midrange of the KEF LSX, the Edifier’s lacks the incredible detail retrieval and sweetness but it’s well integrated with the bass response and never sounds veiled or confused. Part of its challenge is that the top of the S3000 Pro is absolutely brilliant. That tricky Planar tweeter is a really well implemented piece of engineering and sounds consistently excellent regardless of the material you’re asking it to handle. The balance between treble energy that gives certain sounds their ‘zing’ (sword strikes in Game of Thrones being a classic example) and the refinement that ensures you want to keep listening is really well judged. It almost goes without saying that however alarming the 112 watt discrepancy between the amps might be, it makes no odds in use.
    Edifier S3000PRO Sound Quality
    As such, with TV and film, the Edifier sounds bigger, more confident and more capable than any soundbar I’ve listened to over the last few years barring the real monsters heading towards the £1,000 point. The thing is though, it can still take the fight to those too because when it comes to music, two is always better than one. If you listen to the Edifier it will generate a stereo image and this is a priceless advantage.

    If this was the only thing that the S3000 DB could do, it would still be a useful bonus over a single source speaker but it’s a good listen too. With the Chord Mojo and Poly acting as a Roon head unit, the Edifier is consistently fun to listen to. It’s not the last word in the subtlety - that same bass response and drive can be a little on the hulking side when playing something delicate - but it gets more right than it does wrong. Once again, that tweeter is a bit of a star and walks the same balance of detail, energy and refinement.

    Of course, a Poly and Mojo is £1,000 and pretty hot when it comes to decoding. Moving over to the USB input and letting the S3000 Pro do its own decoding isn’t quite so convincing. There is a sense of more processing taking place than is the case with the Chord and it isn’t as consistently satisfying to listen to. It’s still good for the asking price though and it is one of the most affordable complete systems that will show some of the benefits of a decent Hi Res recording. The Bluetooth is fairly similar tonally but Bluetooth 5.0 continues to spring some surprises. Running the Essential as the source, the reduction in battery consumption over Bluetooth 4.0 is marked and it suggests there are advantages to using v5.0 in mains voltage products too.

    For me, the best bolt on for the Edifier would be the Yamaha WX-AD10. It allows for direct streaming, excellent streaming service support and it sounds fractionally more rounded that the decoding of the S3000 Pro for a very sensible price. If you can find one, a Chromecast Audio would get the S350 streaming wirelessly while making use of its own decoding. In short, it’s quite simple to get the S3000 close to the spec of rather more expensive products without breaking the bank.

    Edifier S3000PRO
    As such, with TV and film, the Edifier sounds bigger, more confident and more capable than any soundbar I’ve listened to over the last few years barring the real monsters heading towards the £1,000 point.

    Conclusion

    9
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10

    Pros

    • Extremely potent and entertaining sound
    • Very flexible
    • Well made for the price

    Cons

    • Not pretty
    • Needs a little room to work best
    • Lacks some refinements of equivalent soundbars
    You own this Total 0
    You want this Total 2
    You had this Total 0

    Edifier S3000 Pro Active Stereo Speaker Review

    The Edifier S3000 is big, not terribly pretty and needs two mains sockets to run. It has no HDMI functionality and no voice activation. If you must have these things, you need to go and look at other products that have them as standard.

    The thing is that to do so will miss out on what has to be seen as an outrageous performance bargain. The Edifier is a genuinely capable active speaker with a good selection of inputs and features at a price that I genuinely didn’t think such a thing was possible at. It needs a little more fettling in use than a soundbar and it won’t have as many bells and whistles but its ability to delight when you listen to it is far in advance of pretty much anything else at the price and for this reason, the S3000 Pro has to be seen as a Best Buy.


    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £589.00

    The Rundown

    Build Quality

    8

    Connectivity

    9

    Sound Quality

    9

    Ease of Use

    9

    Features

    9

    Value for Money

    10

    Verdict

    9

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