Edifier’s MS50a Wireless Alexa Speaker Show Plenty Of Promise
It’s incredible how quickly smart speakers have integrated into our lives. I have an Alexa smart speaker; I hardly use my old FM radio. It’s much easier to say, “Alexa, play Greatest Hits Radio!” Then sit back and enjoy the music. What’s not to like?
However, passive wireless speakers are becoming obsolete because people want Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant speakers rather than models that offer Bluetooth or AirPlay. A prime example is the new Edifier MS50a. I have been testing this wireless speaker for a few weeks. This is the company’s first step into the smart speaker market, offering premium build quality and Edifier’s high-quality signature sound.
The Edifier MS50a looks great. It’s finished in a gorgeous cherry wood finish and has a cloth grille to protect the woofers and tweeters. The system outputs a total of 40W (RMS) of power and can produce a lot of sound. A 4″ woofer delivering mid and bass frequencies is powered by 25W digital amplification. Meanwhile, the 0.75-inch silk dome tweeter receives 15W of power output, ensuring high frequency concentration. The overall result is a compact and solid speaker with a very satisfyingly punchy sound. The digital-to-analog conversion is based on the AP6265 chip.
Connecting the speaker to your home Wi-Fi network is easy, and the companion Edifier Home app walks you through the process. Once set up, you can use the Amazon Alexa app to add the speaker to your Alexa device so the MS50a turns into a smart speaker. This is the first disappointment. The MS50a doesn’t have a built-in microphone, so you can’t simply turn it on and ask it: “Play the hottest station!”. Instead, you have to use your smartphone with the Alexa app to make the speaker smart.
That’s a shame, because once you use a smart speaker with its own microphone, it’s hard to use the Alexa app, especially since it’s a clunky and unreliable implementation on my iPhone. In order for the Alexa app to accept voice commands, I had to restart it for the hands-free feature to work, but only for one command.
For those who don’t like or want to use Alexa, the Edifier MS50a can be used as a standalone speaker, offering Apple AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth connectivity. This means you can stream music from your smartphone or any device that supports Apple AirPlay or Bluetooth. However, if you want to adjust the speaker’s EQ settings, you’ll have to use the Alexa app to do so, and the settings aren’t sticky, meaning you’ll need to reapply them every time you turn on the speaker. Amazon’s app is a disappointment, as it doesn’t even support TIDAL streaming outside the US. More work needs to be done to make it a better system.
The MS50a can be controlled using the intuitive interface on top of it. It has a power button in the center, surrounded by a set of controls for pausing, playing, skipping, and repeating tracks. The circular touch is used to adjust the volume with outstretched fingers.
The press release suggested that there should be a touch remote in the box to control volume and power. However, there’s no remote control in the box, which is a shame, hopefully that’s something Edifier intends to offer in the future. Edifier claims that another feature of the MS50a is the ability to support TIDAL Connect. Well, this feature isn’t there yet, but Edifier told me it’s a feature that will come in a future firmware update. That’s good news, as speakers need to be able to play music without relying on a smartphone as an intermediary.
A neat feature of the MS50A is that two of them can be connected wirelessly as a stereo pair, or used to play the same music in different rooms as part of a whole home sound system. I like that you can pair two MS50a speakers together, but the Edifier misses a trick because it doesn’t include a 3.5mm analog or Toslink input for connecting the speakers to a computer or TV.
In terms of sound quality, the Edifier MS50a is a very pleasing powered speaker. It has enough oomph to produce punchy bass and focused highs. I love the sound it makes. I think the Edifier does a great job of tuning. However, I wish the Edifier Home app had more controls for shaping the sound and remembering settings. Some internet radio presets are also pretty good.
judgment: Edifier’s new MS50a is a beautifully crafted wireless speaker that looks great and offers Apple AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth support. The sound is so good that two MS50a speakers can be joined as a stereo pair. So far, so good. However, this great speaker is let down by its poor Alexa implementation and lack of a built-in microphone, which makes it a great smart speaker. The lack of a remote is annoying, but hopefully this is something Edifier might fix in the future. There’s a lot to like about this great wireless speaker, but it needs better Alexa integration, which, along with an improved Alexa app, would help. Options for optical and analog inputs are also nice. There’s a lot to like about Edifier’s MS50a, but more work needs to be done to make the MS50a a real winner.
Pricing and Availability: Edifier MS50a is now available for sale $149.99 / £129.99 / EUR 149.99.
More information: www.edifier.com
- Frequency range: 52Hz – 18KHz
- Power output: 40W
- Audio Input: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0
- Tweeter: 15 W, 0.75″ silk dome
- Woofer: 25 W, 4″ diaphragm
- Chip: AP6265
- Signal-to-noise ratio: ≧85dB(A)
- Dimensions: 14.55 x 14.55 x 21.13cm / 5.73 x 5.73 x 8.32 inches
- Weight: 2.25 kg / 4.98 lbs