The Edifier E3350 is a budget-level computer speaker system that tries not to seem like a set of budget speakers.
This 2.1 system-which means the Edifier E3350 uses relatively compact left and right satellites for higher frequencies plus a larger subwoofer/amplifier component that sits under your desk and produces lower frequencies-stands out from most inexpensive systems thanks to a unique design and a nice set of features, if not stellar sound quality.
The Edifier E3350's satellites and subwoofer certainly don't look like those of a budget speaker system. Each component takes the shape of a triangular, convex-sided pyramid with the top chopped off. The left and right satellites are 239mm tall, 97mm inches across at the widest spot, and 119mm deep, while the compact subwoofer is 216mm tall, 249mm across at the widest spot, and 292mm deep.
Just as unique as the shape of each component is the Edifier E3350's shell: instead of a boring black or gray, each piece is housed in fancy-looking, metallic-finish plastic. Six eye-catching-and difficult to describe-colours are available: a grayish-teal blue, a deep orange, a light-teal-green, a salmon-y pink, a pale purple, and a gunmetal gray. The shape and finish of the components make the system look much more expensive than it is.
The Edifier E3350's subwoofer unit houses a 5in low-frequency driver-small by subwoofer standards-as well as the system's amplifiers, which provide 32 Watts to the subwoofer and 9 Watts to each satellite. Along the bottom of the subwoofer, in the rear, you'll find the system's connections and controls: a jack for the included AC power adaptor, 1/8in (miniplug) jacks for connecting the satellite speakers and an audio source, a 9-pin jack for connecting the wired remote pod (described below), and a bass-level dial.
On top of the Edifier E3350's subwoofer unit is a triangular, metal-finish button to toggle the system's power on and off; a red light surrounds the button when the system is in use. The placement of this power button in inconvenient, as it means you have to reach under your desk to turn the system on and off; a power button on either speaker, or on the wired remote pod, would have been better.
The plastic grille on the front of each satellite is covered in black-fabric mesh. Behind this facade sit dual drivers: a 2.75in midrange driver and a 0.75in tweeter. The only connection on each Edifier E3350 satellite is a permanently attached cable for connecting the satellite to the subwoofer.
Oddly, instead of using separate cables, the two satellites share a connection to the subwoofer: the 70in cable splits at a Y about 15 inches from where it plugs into the subwoofer. Although this design makes for easy setup, it also means you can't place the subwoofer unit off to either side of your listening position; it must be placed essentially in the middle of the two satellites, directly underneath your desk.
We liked the Edifier E3350's remote pod, which connects to the subwoofer via a 68in cable. The pod's triangular base-which sports the same colour and finish as the rest of the system-hosts a large, metal volume dial.
The dial has a nice, smooth feel when you turn it and, like the Edifier E3350's power button, is surrounded by red light when the system is in use. On the left-hand side of the pod is a rubber door that hides a headphone minijack and a 1/8in audio-input jack for connecting an additional audio source, such as your iPod or iPhone. We weren't a fan of the flimsy door, but it's convenient having these connections within easy reach.
It's when you get to audio quality that the Edifier E3350 shows its budget-minded pedigree. While the system has good treble extension, there's an emphasis in the lower-treble and upper-midrange frequencies that makes the system sound a bit tinny. Well-recorded acoustic tracks also lose some of their ambience, and stereo imaging isn't as good as what you get from most of the other 2.1 systems we've tested.
Still, the upper frequencies sound pretty good considering the system's price; it's the lower frequencies that are somewhat problematic. Subwoofers that use small drivers often sound boomy, with an emphasis in the upper-bass frequencies. They can also sound "one-notey" at the low end-instead of distinct bass notes of different frequencies, you get a thumping bass line that muddles notes together.
The Edifier E3350 suffers from both flaws, especially at louder volumes: the system provides decent bass impact and kick, but many of the low-frequency notes seem to blend together, and the boominess of the system can get fatiguing on certain tracks. We also found that the subwoofer vibrated quite a bit if we cranked the volume too high. While you can lower the bass output using the sub's bass-level dial, this also affects the system's tonal balance.
In our tests, the Edifier E3350's bass response started to roll off above 100Hz, and by 80Hz faded significantly. In other words, don't believe the manufacturer's claim of 40Hz performance.
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