Edifier S350DB ($299)
Power: 70 Watts
Connection:Bluetooth, RCA, 3.5mm, Optical,
What We Like: Gorgeous full sound, great build quality and looks.
What We Don't: Annoying control design.
See the Edifier S350DBs
And now for one of the more interesting 2.1 systems we’ve had the pleasure to plug in: the Edifier S350DBs. The S350DBs are large and powerful bookshelf boomers that provide a whopping upgrade to your home entertainment or computer setup at an affordable price. With flexible connection options and an interesting aesthetic, we want to see if these hold up as well in testing as they do on paper. In this review, we break down the Edifier S350DBs’ sound, design, packaging and accessories, specs, and more. To find out how it stacks up, check out our list of the best computer speakers.
Pocahontas would be proud of the Edifier’s S350DBs, because they certainly paint with all the colors of the wind. We really put these speakers to the test. From season three of Stranger Things to Wombat’s Australian Grime singles, the S350DBs delivered an exceptional multimedia performance and showed the depth and versatility of sound that we covet in a 2.1 system.
Sometimes, speakers’ sound profile matches the aesthetic of its build and the S350DBs are a prime example of this. Their large, rugged, and retro-chic components manage to meld classic beauty with modern pizzazz and deliver a soaring soundstage that is both delicately engineered and full-bodied. The large sub does a great job when dealing with the bountiful low-end. As one might expect from the powerful 8” woofer, the S350DBs’ sub blasts a strong thumpy bass. If you’re looking for a sub that can deliver bass you can feel, keep your eyes locked on these Edifiers. With the controls at reasonable levels, the lows produced by the S350DBs are lean, mean, and deliver an oomph without muddying the mid or high frequencies. If you’re going through a rebellious teen phase, or you just want to piss off your neighbors, the controls allow you crank the bass to a max of +6. Be warned, after +5 you’re going to lose some detail and having gone through the above scenarios, we think you can reasonably accomplish both at +3.
The way the S350DBs handle bass make them a killer option for movies, TV, and immersive gaming. You get a richness and warmth that no TV speakers can deliver. And when our headsets come off, we rely on a solid 2.1 like this to handle our gaming audio. The S350DBs can also throw one hell of a party. We had some friends over and threw on a playlist of hip-hop and karaoke favorites. The S350DBs held up beautifully through the entire night and produced amazing sound at various volumes. We put the Harmon Kardon Soundsticks II through this same test and noticed the main difference was that the Soundsticks provided less thump and more pop in their low-end. This led to the overall balance of the highs, mids, and lows being slightly better, but the energy and presence of the S350DBs’ thumpy lows could not be denied. We also want to make it clear that, while the S350DBs’ bass is prominent, it is handled much more delicately than Logitech Z533 model and is much less aggressive for the sake of being aggressive.
High-End (Treble) and Mids
The S350DBs’ really shine in their high and mid-tones. The balance on the mids astounded us - we’re talking smoother than Häagen-Dazs. This is the category where the S350DBs really box above their weight class and deliver something at $300 we only really expect from $500+ speakers. The satellites provide a ton of gorgeous detail that rises above the low-end to fill the soundstage with clean brilliant sound. This is the kind of experience that warrants spending up from the $200 Logitech G560s. While the G560s have a great sound, they don’t compare to the S350DBs’ richness.
Small details—typically indecipherable on lower-end gear—were suddenly present during testing, and we couldn’t stop playing old favorites just to hear them in a new way. While the boosted low-end is recommended for watching movies and shows, it’s worth cranking the bass back a smidge to let the highs and mids really come through when listening to music.
We couldn’t believe how good strings sounded on these Edifiers. We fell down the rabbit hole on artists like Apocalyptica, and really let the cellos loose on the entire office. The real showstopper was when we played One by Metallica. This classic track isn’t usually something we give almost 8 minutes of our lives to, but that’s only because few speakers make listening to it worth it. The repetitive guitar can wear on you if not experienced properly, and damn did the S350DBs handle it well. Each chord resonated beautifully, and you got just the right touch of sparkle and grain in the treble. A personal favorite, Roulette by System of a Down was what bumped this sound from a 4 to a 4.5. If you want an example of audio-brilliance, the way the satellites keep the steel strings and vocals so defined yet harmonious is worthy of our current gushing. Head and shoulders above even the more expensive Razer Nommos, the S350DBs deliver one of the top audio experiences in their price range.
The soundstage was great for a 2.1. These didn’t feel like a fully optimized Logitech Z906 5.1, but still created a nuanced and layered stage with great positional audio that would satiate our gamers. We don’t want to understate how happy we were testing the S350DBs. They were incredibly versatile and had rich enveloping sound. We don’t often see speakers with this sort of build and audio quality packaged together for the price and want to tip our hats to all those responsible.
Looks and Build Quality
While you shouldn’t buy speakers based on their looks, it’s important to get something that fits well with your room and setup. In an industry glutted with ostentatious, futuristic, and even phallic speaker designs, the Edifier S350DBs and their retro-style cherrywood are a refreshing take on what great speakers can look like. While they clash with almost everything in our testing space, the S350DBs still manage to look amazing. With the right plan, these speakers can easily be a stunning centerpiece in almost any setup.
The S350DBs’ build quality is extremely high overall. We loved the weight and solid feel of the massive subwoofer and the rigidity of the satellites. These sats aren’t getting knocked over with anything less than a bowling ball and don’t feel like they’re made of paper mache like the Bose Companion 2s. The rubber pads on the bottom of the S350DBs’ satellites are sturdy and keep the speakers from moving around at high volume, even on slick surfaces. The exposed drivers are sleek and keep the modern aesthetic of the hardware looking sharp. Just be aware that, if you have large animals or small humans roaming around your space, the drivers could be susceptible to damage.
The build quality is an easy 4.5 stars for us. We’ve rarely had such well-built speakers for the price and are confident these will provide years of beautiful sound. One small thing we noticed during our photo shoot is that the wood finish can show marks easily. You’re going to want to be vigilant at keeping any hard touches away from the S350DBs’ casing.
We are typically big fans of what Edifier does with their designs; if you read the above sections, you know S350DBs are no exception and easily won our hearts. Regrettably, looks aren’t everything and the design for this 2.1 system has some flaws we must expose.
At the top of our naughty list are the short cables. These speakers are a fair size and boxy to boot and, while the Bluetooth connectivity option gives a good amount of flexibility in setup, the short cables connecting the satellites to the woofer are slightly limiting. You need to be very careful when dreaming up your setup, because where you want to put the satellites in relation to the sub might not be feasible with the t-rex arm connections. We would love to have seen the length of cables that even the budget Cyber Acoustics 2.1 provided. But luckily, the quality of the S350DBs’ connections works towards making up for their lack of length.
Another issue for us was the controls. Granted, the side dials on the right satellite are great and allow you to up the treble, bass, and volume quickly. Our real issue stems from the control puck. People who came over and saw this thing all commented on how cool it was, at least once they found out what it was. While we agree that the control puck looks and feels extremely slick and is well-sized with lots of options, those options don’t include bass or treble controls. This made changing the sound profile on the go cumbersome and required us to get up off our couch. Additionally, using the puck to actually change what you can (volume and input) can be a herculean effort. The remote works like the old tv remotes of the 90s, which means that you have to have marksman aim and hope nothing stands between you and the unit when you pull the trigger. We’re talking infrared, nothing like the easy connection of the Edifier E25 Luna Eclipse HD. At times we were only a few feet away from our S350DBs and blasting the volume up to get nothing but frustrated. To top it off, the way the S350DBs’ puck is shaped means you naturally hold it with your index curled around the diameter to keep it secure while your thumb presses the buttons. The problem with this is that your index finger will inevitably block the signal.
While we like the physical design of the S350DBs puck controller much better than the Luna Eclipses’, the functionality of the S350DBs’ was lacking, and the technology felt outdated and unfulfilled. For this reason alone, we have to give our preference to the Kratos’ controller.
We were lucky enough to get our set of S350DBs direct from the distributor, but it was a repackaged model so those looking to experience the unboxing will have to head to YouTube.
What We Like
- The Edifier S35DBs have a gorgeous solid build.
- The sound of the S350DBs is incredible.
- A slew of connection options makes using the S350DBs simple.
What We Don’t
- The short physical connections were a pain.
- The S350DB has a frustrating controller that’s tough to use properly.
- This model has an easy-to-scratch finish, taking away from the aesthetic quality.
|Edifier S350DB||$299||70 Watts||3.5mm, RCA, Optical, B'tooth||85dB||Various (2.1)|
|H.K. SoundSticks III||$200||55 Watts||3.5mm, Bluetooth||Unknown||Various (2.1)|
|Logitech G560||$200||120 Watts||3.5mm, USB, Bluetooth||97dB||Various (2.1)|
|C. Sound BlasterX Kratos S5||$129||60 Watts||3.5mm, RCA, micro-USB||Unknown||Various (2.1)|
|Edifier R1700BT||$150||66 Watts||RCA, Bluetooth||85dB||9.7" x 6" x 8"|
*Power figures are all listed as RMS
**Sens. = Sensitivity
We can’t sign off this review without comparing the Edifier S350DBs to our current favorite 2.1 setup, the Harmon Kardon Soundsticks II. While we don’t think the S350DBs quite managed to dethrone the Soundsticks, it was close and that says a lot. The look is almost impossible to compare because of how staggering the difference in aesthetic is. We love both and we’ll leave it up to you to decide which you prefer. One place that the Soundsticks have an actual edge is in the setup. The much smaller satellite speakers are easier to position and have longer cables making setup easier. The S350DBs definitely won us over with the mids and highs, but the Soundsticks have the best lows in the mid-priced 2.1 class. Both are well-built, but the controls on the S350DBs’ satellite are more flexible - it took us a while to even find where the volume controls were on the SoundSticks. If the S350DBs fixed up a few small flaws, we think they would win against the Soundsticks. But as it currently stands, the S350DBs fall just shy of the mark.
The Logitech G560s are an interesting challenger. The Logitechs win in the setup category for the same reasons the Soundsticks did, but the design is an easier comparison, because the Edifiers trounced the G560s. The G560s suffer from the same issue that most computer setups do: a light under-designed subwoofer. While the G560s are probably the choice for a more gamer-focused buyer, the Edifiers win out with their flexibility and expert handling of movies, shows, music, audiobooks and games.
We’ve brought up beauty and aesthetic a lot in this review, and that has everything to do with the stellar job Edifier did with their design of the S350DBs. But how does woodgrain stack up against RGB? Can the classic approach beat out modern-gaming mania? The answer is emphatically yes. Let’s compare to the Edifier S350DBs to the gauche Creative Sound BlasterX Kratos S5. We concede that we can’t give the Edifiers the W on looks alone, some might prefer the gamer-centric aesthetic of the Blasters, but what is undisputable is the material that makes up that look. The subwoofers are the place you’ll find the biggest difference. The Kratos feels like it is made of painted cardboard, while the Edifiers’ faux wood feels more like the real deal. When it comes to build, Edifier is in the penthouse and the blasters are stuck in the lobby. We’ll admit the controller on the Kratos is easier to use, but the most important test of all is sound. And when we let our ears talk, it’s very easy to pin our first place ribbon on the Edifier S350DBs. The mids and highs are warmer and more detailed, and we felt the richness of build and audio is well worth the slight increase in price.
The final contender keeps the competition in the family. We wanted to see how the Edifier S350DBs held up against their brethren the Edifier R1700BT. Both of these Bluetooth beauties sport a boxy wood aesthetic, but the R1700BTs do it a bit better with their angled look. The R1700BTs also have a simpler and better controller that looks and feels worse, but is more functional. The spot where the S350DBs pulled way ahead was the most important: sound. Both produced excellent sound, but the S350DBs had our hearts with their utter balance and poise. Hands down, the S350DB earned our preference and are one of our new office favorites.