Buying studio monitors can get expensive. This becomes even more of an issue if you are a budding producer and need to also buy other gear. Finding affordable and high-quality speakers is a difficult task.
The market is packed with options. In this review, we check out a studio monitor that looks to be able to deliver both. It also has a few extra features that make them an interesting option for people setting up their studio.
The Edifier looks beyond the studio monitor space and presents itself as an all-in-one solution. The addition of Bluetooth adds convenience in today’s connected world. The 4-inch woofer aims to deliver crisp studio sound. Does this different approach work? Let’s check out some of the pros and cons.
Edifier R1280DB Features
Let’s dive into the details of the Edifier R1280DB and see if its one of the best cheap studio monitors you can buy today.
The R1280DB offers impressive sound considering it is an entry-level studio monitor.
The mids and highs are well balanced and offer a very flat response. This is ideal for mastering your music if you are into music production. From a DJs perspective, it also allows you to pinpoint where your mixing may need some work. EQing your transitions is a key skill. Having that accurate representation of the mix will help you build this skill.
The lows are quite good for a 4-inch woofer as well. They are well balanced with the mids and highs. While satisfying don’t expect earth-shattering bass.
They are also surprisingly loud for such a small studio monitor. The only fault is once you do start to hit the top end there is a bit of distortion. If you do love your music really loud you may be better off with a bigger studio monitor.
Many studio monitors at this price point look like they have been slapped together by a blind person. Luckily that isn’t the case with the Edifier R1280DB.
The wood grain finish is not real wood. It is the standard MDF board with a vinyl wrap. Despite this, they still feel solid and robust. I don’t recommend you be rough with these but they will last the distance.
The Edifier R1280DB speakers offer decent build quality for the price.
They also come with an added remote control. This is unusual for studio monitors and points to the desire to appeal to both professional and casual listeners. Unfortunately, the high build quality of the speaker doesn’t carry over to the remote. While not horrible it is flimsy. You also cannot program another remote to work with these so you’ll be stuck with it.
The Edifier R1280DB has a frequency response of 55Hz-20KHz. This means that both the low-end and high-end frequencies are well covered. For reference, the average human ear can only hear down to 20Hz. Anything lower tends to be felt more than heard. Likewise, 20KHz is usually the most that an average person can hear. Anything higher helps improve clarity.
Good sound quality within a relatively lightweight and attractive package.
Signal to noise ratio is at 85dBA. To put this in context a lawnmower is about 90dB. This means that these studio monitors are quite loud. Of course, if you like your music really loud you may want a speaker with a bit more power.
The 4-inch woofer is coupled with a 1-inch silk tweeter dome. Considering these are a 4-inch speaker they are compact enough to be classed and used as bookshelf speakers.
I’m always on the lookout for good tuning options. It can often turn a mediocre speaker into an excellent choice. The added flexibility to adjust the speaker to your space is a feature worth looking for.
The Bass, Treble, and Volume controls are conveniently located.
The Edifier R1280DB does offer basic controls that allow for adjustment of the bass and treble. It’s a nice addition and rarely found at this price point.
The bass and treble are controlled via dedicated knobs that are located on the side of the speaker. This is a nice change to the usual back of speaker placement you find on other studio monitors. It’s a lot easier to adjust.
Design is always subjective but I love the look of the Edifier R1280DB studio monitors. With a combination of wood grain and textured black plastic, these don’t look like an ordinary speaker.
The Edifier R1280DB is an elegant and stylish looking set of speakers.
They are also not over-designed and come across as a sophisticated looking option for your studio. The option of covers is also a nice change from other speakers. This gives you flexibility in how the speakers look.
There are more flashy options available if you want your speakers to make a bold statement. But, if you prefer a more refined subtle design these are a great choice.
Normally speakers at this price point don’t offer many connections options. The Edifier has the standard RCA connection options you would expect. But, they also offer an optical and coaxial connection option. These digital options make them a good choice if you want to connect them to your TV or computer.
The primary connection option is RCA but there are some multimedia based options too.
There is also the addition of a Bluetooth connection option. This allows you to connect your smartphone or other Bluetooth enabled device to the speakers. It highlights the philosophy behind these speakers. Not just designed to be used as studio monitors they can be your go-to speakers for all your devices.
While Bluetooth is a convenient option it isn’t without its flaws. Connecting to devices can be a bit tricky and fiddly. They struggle if there is anything blocking the line of sight. Personally, I don’t use Bluetooth a lot for connecting speakers so it wasn’t a deal-breaker. If you do plan on using the Bluetooth a lot you may get frustrated on the odd occasion.
The Edifier R1280DB powered Bluetooth bookshelf speakers offer outstanding value. Studio monitors can get expensive and often cheaper options are very low quality. These manage to straddle the line of affordability without sacrificing quality. There are cheaper options out there but you’d have a hard time matching the quality and features you get with these.
What Others Have To Say
Despite a couple of flaws and complaints about sketchy Bluetooth, many people are extremely satisfied. One of the things I did notice was the variety of uses. Some are using these as dedicated studio monitors while others picked them up for PC gaming. With such a wide variety of tastes, it’s impressive to see how many people like these studio monitors.
Understanding Your Studio Space
Before we dive into the detailed review it’s worth taking some time to consider your studio space. Every single studio will have different needs depending on a variety of factors. Identifying your needs can help cut out a lot of options that will not be suited for your space.
The first thing to consider is the size of your studio. If you have a large space you’ll need to look at larger speakers. You’ll need at least an 8-inch studio monitor to be able to fill your space with sound. If your studio space is small these large monitors will be overkill so you can look at smaller options.
The next thing to consider is how much you value bass output. Studio monitors are relatively flat. If you are used to the colored sound you often get from Hi-Fi systems you may be disappointed with some studio monitors. This is where you’ll need to consider picking up a subwoofer to add more depth and punch to the lower end.
It’s also worth considering where the studio monitors will be placed within your studio. Ideally, you want them to be at head height when you are listening to them. Many studio monitors are designed as near field monitors. This means the ideal listening distance is about a meter away from the speaker.
Correct placement of your studio monitors will improve your listening experience.
Having some space around the speaker is also preferred to allow for the proper flow of air. This prevents sound build-up and also refracted sound. But, sometimes it may not be possible to tick all the above boxes. In these cases, it’s good if the studio monitors have some tuning options to help fine-tune the output based on your space.
If the added bells and whistles are not something you need there are other options available.
Kali Audio IN-5 Review
The Kali Audio IN-5 offers spectacular sound quality at a reasonable price. These are professional studio monitors that are perfectly suited to studio work.
- Excellent build quality and a sleek and modern design.
- Features a good range of tuning options to shape the sound.
- The analytical sound might be considered dull for some people.
Kali Audio IN-5
JBL 306P MkII Review
JBL has revamped the 306P, and the improvements are great. With a broad sweet spot, it allows for easier placement. A meaty lower end will also appeal to those that enjoy bass.
- A large sound stage delivers a broad sweet spot.
- Good low end considering the size of the woofer.
- The shiny plastic front is prone to scratches and fingerprints.
JBL 306P MkII
ADAM Audio T8V Review
Stepping up to an 8-inch option will deliver you more bass. Depending on your studio space, you may be able to avoid needing a subwoofer. Keep in mind these are big speakers, so you’ll need the space for them. ADAM Audio has a long history in audio gear, and this monitor lives up to their excellent reputation.
- Clear, flat, and crisp for excellent monitoring.
- Deeper and more accurate bass.
- While affordable, they are on the more expensive side.
Adam Audio T8V
Should You Buy?
The Edifier R1280DB is an interesting option in the studio monitor space. For those looking for added wireless connectivity, they are an attractive option (even if it’s a bit fiddly). Allowing them to be connected to a range of devices is a level of flexibility not seen in most studio monitors.
Going beyond that, the solid sound quality when matched with an impressive list of features is also compelling. When you factor in the price point I can firmly recommend these to anyone looking to pick up an affordable yet quality pair of studio monitors.