Thanks to an increasing shift toward condo living, soundbars are getting pretty popular as replacements for true 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound systems in many living rooms. But what about when you're out and about? Apparently, there are soundbars for that too.
One such example is the Sound To Go from the good people at Edifier. This is an all-in-one USB micro speaker system that packs multiple speakers into one sleek portable package. They say it's "ideal for travel," but does it sound as good as it looks?
Portable Sound in Bar Form
Yes, your laptop already has some built-in speakers, but they're usually not up to snuff. That's why you might consider picking up the the Edifier MP250 Sound To Go. The micro speaker system is wrapped up in some "elegant brushed aluminum," giving it a premium look. While you might think that it's a simple stereo speaker system, it's actually more complex than that.
In the center, you'll find an oval shaped passive radiator subwoofer (3 x 1.25-inch), flanked on either side by a 1.25-inch mid-range driver and a 1.25-inch tweeter. There's also a built-in amplifier that's supposed to boost the audio performance further. Even so, you're only getting a total RMS output of 1.5W x 2, so don't expect to blast out anyone's eardrums.
What Accessories Are Included?
After you crack open the box, you'll find a few accessories bundled in with the Edifier soundbar itself. There is a velvet-esque carrying case, as well as a USB power cable and a 3.5mm stereo audio cable. The user manual and the quick start guide complete the package. You might have to get a little creative with how you pack those cables along with the soundbar into that single carrying pouch, but there you have it.
Requires USB Power Source
This is going to be one of the first hurdles you'll encounter. The Edifier MP250 does not have its own internal battery. As such, it requires a constant USB power source and that's why the mini-USB cable was included. This isn't a big problem when you're connecting it to a laptop, since the USB connection is also for the audio data, but it's not exactly convenient when you want to use that 3.5mm connection with an iPod or some other audio source.
In practice, I found that the Sound To Go will work with an external USB battery, like the HyperMac Mini or Micro, but that completely takes away from an otherwise sleek-looking experience. That's why something like the Devotec Solar Sound 2 might be a better solution for that kind of configuration.
Do You Hear What I Hear?
While it worked simply and easily, the actual sound quality wasn't quite what I had hoped for. The "radiator subwoofer" really packed little punch at all, so I didn't exactly get a rich and full aural experience. This was true with music, web videos, and other multimedia content. It may have been a minor upgrade to the speakers built into my cheap Dell notebook, but it wasn't enough of an upgrade to be worth the hassle of carrying around something extra.
Similarly, when I connected the Sound To Go to my iPod nano using the provided 3.5mm audio cable, the sound was fine, but relatively weak and "tinny." It was also noticeably quieter than the USB connection with a laptop, even when the volume was at full crank. This might have partly to do with the aluminum chassis, but I imagine the relatively low RMS didn't exactly help either.
MEGATechie Sound Decision or MEGATechie Lowered the Bar?
It's undeniable that the Edifier MP250 Sound To Go is a looker. The brushed aluminum looks great and will match up well with a MacBook Air or something similar. While the sound is arguably better than most built-in speakers, the improvement isn't nearly as substantial as it could have been. The experience with a 3.5mm audio connection is even worse.
Given its size and configuration, I suppose I couldn't have hoped for the world, but the MP250 still comes up short in my books. You can find cheaper portable speakers that will sound just as good, but they won't have the same svelte appearance. If you really want a more powerful portable sound, investing in a TuneBug Shake could prove more interesting.