Consignment shop

Edifier MP230 hands-on review: Retro to the max

If you look too quickly, you might think the Edifier MP230 Bluetooth speaker is actually a bedside radio from the 60s. Bluetooth speaker are more than its surface-level aesthetics.

In general, Edifier has carved out a nice little niche for itself in the market by developing high-design speakers that reasonably beat their price in terms of audio performance. While the brand is known for unique designs dating back as far as 2014’s e25 Luna speakers that look like something out of a Jetson episode, the MP230 takes a page out of the old and tries to do something reasonably new.

I’ve used my fair share of Edifier products – notably bookshelf speakers, including the reasonably priced 1700BTs – so I had some expectations when I got my hands on the MP230. We’ve reviewed a number of headphones from Edifier here at Digital Trends, including Stax Spirit S3, so I was curious to see an on-the-go Bluetooth speaker in the mix. After about a week of general use, here’s how the MP230 performs.

Design and construction: It really ties a shelf together

Edifier is quite intentional about the design of this speaker. The marketing site makes it clear that they’re inspired by classic radios from the 50s and 60s, and while some aspects of that strike me as true, the look of the MP230 is decidedly a fusion of modern and retro.

The rocker-down style buttons scream Mad Men to me, and I’ll admit a highball glass looks kinda nice right next to that speaker, but the shiny, almost rose-gold badge on the modern-looking grille definitely looks like something out of 2022. rubber elevate the MP230 just enough to make it feel mid-century modern, but definitely in the Crate & Barrel style, not the “I found this in a consignment store” sense.

None of this is a bad thing, as I think it’s pretty clear that Edifier is going for a modern-retro approach here. The rest of the wood-style chassis, for example, is definitely sleek and well-made. The cabinet is made of MDF (a common cabinet material known for its resonance and durability) covered in a nice veneer to mimic the solid wood cabinets of yesteryear. I especially like the feel in hand as it has a density and weight to match the quality. The buttons, although designed to see as they slam down, actually have very little range of motion and act more like modern membrane switch buttons.

The verdict on the physical build of this speaker is that most listeners won’t be disappointed. It looks great on a shelf, in a desk, or even on a bedside table. And because it’s so small (measuring roughly 6 x 3 x 4 inches), it doesn’t take up too much space alongside the rest of its shelf mates. However, he doesn’t look at home on a blanket in the park. It’s nice that there’s the flexibility of a battery so you can take this speaker with you, but there’s something precious about the design that makes me feel much more at home than in the world.

Sound quality: right in the middle

Edifier's MP230 speaker sits on a shelf in front of some books.

The MP230 is, in short, a capable little speaker with a lot to offer in terms of sound quality. Inside the case are two 48 millimeter speakers to deliver true stereo sound. It’s refreshing to see in such a small speaker, and indeed many other Bluetooth speakers from popular brands like JBL or Ultimate Ears don’t always offer dual-matched speakers for stereo streaming – opting instead for larger elliptical speakers for volume and bass.

Each of the MP230’s drivers are powered by 10 watts of power through a Class-D amp, providing pretty reasonable headroom for most listeners’ needs, especially at this size. The frequency response drops down to 70Hz which, when coupled with the resonance of the wood-style cabinet, results in quite a nice bass response. In fact, that’s what surprised me the most about the sound quality; when you turn it on, it will project sound quite well in the low and low frequencies.

So what does all this mean in practice? Well, if you’re listening to “typical music” with medium compression – the top 40 mixes or Spotify’s official playlists – the MP230 is pretty well optimized. The richness in the low end does wonders for adding fullness to the sound. However, it just sounds a bit muddy on the vocal side. So if you listen to podcasts or acoustic music, you might find it a bit distracting.

Everything else: very few bells and whistles

The Edifier MP230 speaker sits on a railing on a porch outside.

Edifier seems to have put a lot of attention into designing the speaker and achieving at least decent sound quality. As a result, there really aren’t a ton of “extras” to speak of here. There are no high-end codecs like AAC or aptX and Bluetooth 5.0 are as modern as the MP230’s connectivity.

There’s a 3.5mm auxiliary port if you prefer to connect instead of using Bluetooth connectivity. There’s a USB-c input that doubles as a port for charging and streaming to your PC, and Edifier has even included a micro SD card slot for playing local files directly from the speaker itself.

There’s a 2,500 milliamp-hour battery built into this speaker, which Edifier promises will deliver 10 hours of continuous playtime on a single charge. I ran this speaker for full battery and got close to eight or nine hours of playback at fairly loud volumes (I was testing the speaker, after all). I think nine hours is a pretty reasonable total, although… way more than people will likely need in one sitting.

Verdict: Who should buy it?

The Edifier MP230 speaker sits on a table on a porch next to an iPhone 11 Pro

The battery life point brings me to my final thought here: who is this speaker for? Sure, it has battery functionality, but due to its wood finish and edgy features, it’s odd to toss it in a bag and take it to the park. Also, the rectangular shape is a bit awkward for this use case anyway because it doesn’t fit flat in a backpack.

No, this speaker is much more at home on a shelf in a living room or even in the corner of your kitchen. It projects reasonably rich stereo sound for its size, and it does so by looking really smooth. It doesn’t compete with the JBLs and Ultimate Ears of the world, but doesn’t quite reach the echelon of a Sonos or Bose speaker. Overall, I think there’s decent value here at an MSRP of $150 (and it can be had for $130 on third-party sites like Amazon), but if you want extra features like premium codecs or waterproof durability, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Editors’ Recommendations