Important Specs Overview
Speaker type: powered, 2-way, front-ported
Continuous power handling: 12 W
Frequency response range: 70 – 20k Hz (+/- 9dB)
Driver size: 4 in
Unit weight: ~4 lbs
Cabinet dimensions: 5.5 x 7.5 x 9 in (width x depth x height)
Warranty: 2 years
Review And Discussion
Edifier, a smaller and lesser known US audio company, has earned a central spot in the limelight over the past few years for making a wide variety of performant, feature rich, and nice looking budget speakers. The R980T is their most basic powered desktop/computer speaker that comes at a minimal cost.
The build is pretty basic. While some of Edifier’s higher end (but often still inexpensive) look quite slick, the R980T looks much more in line with a boilerplate budget speaker. The cabinet looks to be 1/2 inch MDF in a mock wood finish all around, pretty basic. Interestingly the cabinet is magnetically shielded, which is a feature you don’t often see on budget speakers, especially so now days, but the reason is mainly that few electronics are susceptible to magnets anymore so shielding is rarely actually needed.
Edifier doesn’t disclose the details on the driver components, which is unusual, but looking at them the tweeter appears to be a standard 3/4 inch soft dome, housed in slightly embedded basket with a peculiar finger guard plastic piece on top that is near flush with the actual tweeter. The 4 inch woofer looks like a pretty standard polymer blend with a dust cap.
Again, pretty basic stuff here that’s clearly intended to make this speaker as cheap as possible while still being passable.
The R980T is a powered speaker, meaning you don’t need a separate amp or receiver – it simply plugs in and is ready to play. The parent unit, in addition to volume/bass EQ knobs and a power switch, has two RCA inputs, so you could connect it to two devices at the same time. An RCA to 3.5mm cable is included (connects to any standard headphone jack) as well as some speaker wire to connect the second child speaker.
These speakers manage to stay on the small side and are relatively light, so placing them on a desktop shouldn’t be difficult. The front facing port is unusual, but our best guess is they put it there so you don’t have to worry about them needing room in the back and can push them right against the wall to save space.
The range spec is pretty decent for an inexpensive two way bookshelf speaker, and the power handling is pretty minimal. These speakers will be an emphatic upgrade to a crummy built in laptop speaker and make listening adequate at near field range, but that’s about it. So if you’re looking for some basic augmentation to listen to talk radio or the like out loud for minimal cost, these speakers are an ideal choice. But if you’re looking for true reproduction, these won’t compete with more powerful speakers coupled with a subwoofer. Edifier does make higher grade powered speakers that do have subwoofer compatibility, among other features, but they’re more expensive.
One nice thing about Edifier’s powered speakers is the two year warranty, where you’re otherwise lucky to get up to a year of coverage.
Our Overall Take, As Compared To The Competition
If all you care about is augmenting a default speaker to “acceptable” listening and want to spend as little money as possible, The R980T appears to be the best choice for the time being. Also nice is the cheapest option also comes with the best warranty.
That said, for not much more money you can get Edifier’s 1280Ts (reviewed here), which have significantly more power and a few extra features – they remain one of our favorite overall bookshelf speakers. Also in this price range are the similarly popular Micca PB42Xs (reviewed here). Paying a little extra for something that fares better in a listening test will likely be worthwhile for many people.