Review: Edifier EsienaBT Home Music Center for iPhone and iPod
December 6, 2012 by Bill Palmer
by Bill Palmer
Before mobile users started deciding they wanted their mobile device in their hands at all times, and their stereo svelte enough to pick up and take with them, substantive dockable stereo systems for iPhone and iPod were all the rage. That makes the $299 Edifier EsienaBT something of an anachronism, if a welcome one: it weighs about ten pounds and looks like it belongs on top of your living room entertainment center, and includes features like a built in FM radio and a digital screen on front which displays the name of the song currently playing. In a nod to the mobile era, the EsienaBT offers not only a dock for iPhone and iPod, but bluetooth wireless capability as well. That means you can sit on the couch and play Angry Birds on your iPhone while your music streams across the room.
The audio emanating from the EsienaBT has an earthy intonation, sounding almost as if the unit were built of wood, even though it’s a plastic design. It sounds very solid in the bass and treble ranges, even when turned to very loud volumes. In comparative terms, it offers the audio I’ve come to expect from a $200-ish system without any special features. The question then becomes whether the EsienaBT includes a hundred dollars worth of special features to justify its price tag.
In that regard, suffice it to say that Edifier has thrown in the kitchen sink. The bluetooth functionality is almost a given these days, but the LED screen with track and playback info is a nice rarity. The included remote control includes the ability to navigate up and down the menus of your iPhone or iPod, which is handy so long as you’re standing close enough to see your device’s screen. The ability to adjust the bass and treble levels manually has become almost a lost art, and is welcome here. The touch sensitive volume “wheel” is a nice touch, and love it or hate it, the red backlighting around the seven on-board buttons gives the otherwise all black unit a touch of character.
The SD card slot on the rear, for the three people left on the planet who still store their music that way, was a bit of a head scratcher. But the USB port on the back for connecting other devices may be of great use to you if you’re using a tablet, or a new iPhone 5 with the non-compatible Lightning dock port, or a non-Apple mobile device. The included A/V port and cable allows you to hook up a television or other similar device.
It would be nice is more products like the Edifier EsienaBT were still being made, as not everyone is looking for a battery operated stereo whose audio quality is limited by the fact that it needs to be small enough to carry in one hand. Even if the comprehensive stationary dockable stereo system is more of a niche market these days, the EsienaBT does a nice job of filling it. I wish this were a $249 product. But even at $299, a good number of users will find the kitchen sink worth of extra features valuable enough to make this a good fit.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 • Price: $299 • edifier-international.com