Edifier Extreme Connect MP260 review

The Edifier Extreme Connect MP260 is a portable Bluetooth speaker with solid audio performance at moderate volumes, but it runs into trouble when you crank it up.

Edifier has made a name for itself with funky speaker designs that actually deliver quality audio output, as well—the Edifier Spinnaker is a fine illustration of this point. At $99.99 (direct), the Edifier Extreme Connect MP260 is, therefore, a bit of a departure from the wild designs we’ve seen in the past—though it still manages to look sleek, its design is quite simplistic. This lightweight, portable Bluetooth speaker also delivers quality audio at moderate levels. But like most speakers in this size and price range, the MP260 tends to distort at top volume levels, which is not ideal, but certainly not unique.

Design
Offered in blue, red, gray, black, or yellow, the rectangular MP260 has rounded edges and a rubberized surface. Its 2.4 by 6.3 by 1.7-inch (HWD) frame makes it very portable and takes up a modest amount of space, making it perfect for picnics and office listening.

In an effort to shake things up, we suppose, the MP260′s controls along the top panel are not presented in a clear, straight line, but more in a topsy-turvy manner—the skip forward icon is positioned at an angle to the skip backward icon, as is the Play/Pause button, and so on. It kind of looks like the icons for the buttons just fell on the top of the speaker randomly. Some will enjoy this whimsical gesture, but I prefer a layout that requires as little looking and thinking as possible.

The top panel’s controls are for Bluetooth pairing, phone call answering (yes, the MP260 can be used as speakerphone), track forward/backward, Play/Pause, and Volume. A covered compartment on the left side panel houses the micro-USB charging connection, a 3.5mm Aux input, and the Power switch. The rest of the side panels are covered in a wrap-around speaker grille, covering the dual 2-watt drivers. Despite a rubberized contour on the top and bottom, the MP260 can unfortunately do some serious dancing around flat surfaces when it is vibrating intensely.

The MP260 ships with a USB charging cable, a 3.5mm audio cable for the Aux input, and a drawstring protective pouch. Edifier estimates the battery life at up to 12 hours on a full charge, but your results will depend upon volume levels and other usage variables.

Performance
Generally speaking, the $100-and below Bluetooth speaker realm is not populated with full-bodied, bass-heavy power. The MP260 is no exception, but unlike some of its similarly priced competition, it doesn’t sound thin and bass-free. There’s a nice amount of mid-range and low-range presence that gives the speaker a sense of power and depth despite being so small. Of course, at top volumes on tracks with intense sub-bass, the illusion fades.

The Knife’s “Silent Shout” starts distorting before we reach maximum volume—and at top volume on both the speaker and the sound source (in this case, an iPhone 4S), things get quite distorted. This is a bummer, since there are some competing speakers, like the Panasonic SC-NT10, which delivers a healthy, full sound, as well, and doesn’t distort, even at top volumes. That said, the MP260′s distortion issues are far more common in this price range than the Panasonic SC-NT10′s lack thereof.

Even if there’s no deep bass on the track, top volumes are likely to cause distortion with the MP260. On Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” the vocals get a bit crackly at top volumes. However, at moderate-to-loud volumes (just not max), the track is delivered with a nice clarity in the highs and high-mids, and a surprising richness in the lows and low-mids. Big bass fans will not mistake this sound for a subwoofer, but the MP260 does a better job with the low frequencies than the comparably priced Carbon Audio Zooka, for instance.

Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild” also gets predictably distorted at top volumes. But at moderate volumes, the audio performance is again surprisingly full-bodied. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat obviously are not delivered with subwoofer force, but the MP260 does a fine job of implying the deep bass’s power here. Meanwhile, there’s just enough treble edge on the kick drum loop’s attack for it to slice through the dense mix—and that goes for the vocals, as well.

Classical tracks, like John Adams’ “The Chairman Dances,” do sound a little thin on the MP260—this is partially because they naturally have less boosted bass frequencies in their mix, and partially because they are also mixed with a wider dynamic range than most music genres, so the quiet parts are especially quiet on a speaker this small. When the orchestra gets louder, some richness in the lower register strings begins to creep into the mix. The spotlight here belongs to the mid- and high-range strings, woodwinds, and brass.

If you’re looking for more power and distortion-free audio in this price range, the aforementioned Panasonic SC-NT10 may have a less eye-catching design, but it delivers audio cleanly, with impressive volume for its size. If you have a little more money to spend, our Editors’ Choice, the $200 Bose SoundLink Mini delivers a much fuller sound than anything mentioned on this page. And finally, if you’re just looking for the least expensive, passable-sounding Bluetooth speaker you can get, the $35 808 Audio Canz Wireless Speaker is probably your best bet in the super-budget realm. But for $100, the Edifier delivers a stylish design and some quality audio performance at moderate-to-loud levels—like many of its competitors, it suffers from distortion when you try to pump too much volume out of it.

Specifications
Channels Stereo (2)
Connections 3.5mm
AirPlay No
Type iPod, Computer, Wireless, Portable, iPad, iPhone, Android
Physical Dock No
Bluetooth Yes

Verdict
The Edifier Extreme Connect MP260 is a portable Bluetooth speaker with solid audio performance at moderate volumes, but it runs into trouble when you crank it up.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc