Edifier MR4 Powered Studio Monitor Speakers: Review
Do you spend a lot of time at your desk working and listening? For most people, headphones are the logical choice because they can’t get away with loudspeakers in a traditional office environment. The pandemic changed all of that for a lot of people who suddenly had the urge and desire to use loudspeakers in their home office.
As someone who listens to a lot of headphones in my role as Sr. Headphone Editor, I often have the desire to ditch the IEMs or headphones for a pair of powered or active loudspeakers while I work. I’m also a musician and spend a lot of time doing studio work as well.
The Adam Audio A7x have proven to be excellent active desktop monitors and the desire to replace them isn’t very strong; the tonal balance allows me to hear everything on my own music and other recordings.
The Edifier MR4 Powered Studio Loudspeakers have been on my desktop for a few weeks and while they won’t be replacing my Audio Audio A7x ($1,599) — they proved to be rather compelling at an affordable price.
Edifier were founded back in 1996 and were the first audio company to be listed on the Chinese Stock Market. Much to the relief of audiophiles overseas, Edifier purchased STAX, the Japanese electrostatic headphone manufacturer, and have kept the renown brand going.
The company manufactures an extensive lineup of powered loudspeakers, monitors, headphones, earphones, and automotive audio products; audiophiles have access to the headphones and loudspeakers in N. America and Europe but the rest of the products are exclusively for the Asian market.
We have reviewed several of their headphones earphones, and powered loudspeakers and found that they offer excellent performance and value for the money.
The powered desktop loudspeaker category has become rather crowded but Edifier continues to make “Best of…” lists in the budget category and they are very popular with people jumping into the high-end category for the first time.
Having had the opportunity to audition the S2000 ($549) and Airpulse A200 ($1,199) models, I will say that they do offer a lot of performance for the money and their popularity with those looking for affordable speakers is well deserved.
The MR4, however, are their first studio monitor and clearly aimed at the entry-level customer at only $130 USD per pair.
While powered speakers and studio monitors certainly share a lot of design features in common, studio monitors are usually tuned for a flat frequency response so any lift or dip in a track is quite audible, while speakers made purely for enjoyment of music often have intentional non-linearity to enhance engagement.
The Edifier MR4 offer something for both types of listeners.
The MR4 are a 2-way design using a 1-inch silk dome tweeter and a 4-inch woofer housed in an MDF cabinet finished in either solid black or white with black controls and drivers.
The enclosures are roughly 9″H x 6″W x 7″D and fit rather well on most desktops.
The front baffle has waveguides molded into the face for both drivers and about 2 inches of free space at the bottom where the controls are located.
The primary loudspeaker has a pair of 3.5mm ports on the left side; one port can be used an auxiliary input, while the second is a headphone jack. The volume knob also acts as the on/off and input switch.
There is a single green LED to the left of power button to indicate power status.
The rear panels have round bass ports which are located closer to the top of the enclosure and a set of spring terminals. The secondary speaker’s cable terminals are centered below the bass port (around 2-inches from the bottom), whilst on the primary speaker they are offset to the left on the bottom near the input jacks and plate amp.
The plate starts immediately below the port and takes up the bulk of the rear panel. At the top are a pair of trim adjustments for bass and treble respectively with +/- 6dB range.
The bottom row features a pair of RCA inputs followed by a pair of TRS balanced inputs and then the spring terminals for attaching the slave at bottom.The power cord is a fixed design.
Power handling is rated at 21W RMS (per) and the quoted frequency response is 60Hz-20kHz with an SNR of ≥85dB(A) and an THD+N(%) of ≤0.2%.
We tested both the single-ended and balanced inputs and found no real differences when it came to tonal balance, clarity, or overall presentation.
Because I wanted to test the performance of the Edifier MR4 as a studio monitor, I connected them directly to a MacBook and Dell laptop using the supplied 3.5mm to RCA cable, and through the Xduoo MU-604 DAC so that I could run XLR to 6.35mm cables into the balanced inputs.
Right out of the gate, I didn’t have great expectations in regard to the bass performance out of such small woofers; you can only bend the laws of physics so far and even with the bass ports — my expectations were that the bass performance would almost demand the addition of a subwoofer.
The sub-bass is rolled-off below 80Hz and the impact is limited, but the bass was surprisingly well controlled and cleaner than I had expected. There was no thickening of the sound and the clarity and detail were quite good.
As we moved into the mid-bass, bass notes had even better definition, clarity, and a surprising amount of texture. My listening sessions started with my digital sources at 100% output and I used the MR4’s volume knob to control the overall system volume; as long as I stayed below 75% on the volume control, music was very transparent throughout the bass and midrange.
When I pushed harder, the top 15% of the volume range created a rather audible level of distortion (this happened closer to the top 25% when using the balanced inputs); my advice would be to listen to the MR4 at moderate volume levels.
The treble was less impacted by the distortion at the top end of the volume range but there is still some glare and static that creeps in so even the tweeter was not immune here.
When kept within its comfort zone, extension is good and detail retrieval is on the level of most of the small monitors I’ve tried. Snare has good attack and cymbals are well rendered.
The Edifier MR4 allow the user to switch from monitor to music mode which does alter the tonal balance creating a warmer sonic signature with an emphasis on the mid-bass and lower treble; the frequency response looks more like a “V” shape with greater emphasis in the vocal range.
The drivers respond well to EQ and I was able to dial in the sound that I was trying to achieve in both modes; music mode was preferable when listening as I worked or watched a movie because of the enhanced vocal presence.
Monitor mode was preferable while mastering or doing critical listening because of the more linear sounding frequency range.
Who are these for?
If you are looking to setup a budget home studio or desire superior sound quality from your laptop but don’t have a huge budget — these are a rather substantial upgrade and don’t take up a lot of space on the desktop.
Within their limitations, the overall presentation is rather transparent and reproduced with a surprising degree of texture. There is very little output below 65Hz and they can distort if you push them too hard at the edge of their volume range.
The MR4 are best listened to at moderate volume levels and those who require the bottom octaves should consider a quality subwoofer which should compliment these rather affordable monitors rather well.
Edifier have succeeded at creating an impressive sounding product at an entry-level price and that’s not as easy as one might think for $130.
For more information:
Where to buy: $129.99/pair at Amazon
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