Most speakers look pretty generic. They're basic black or grey boxes that blend into just about anywhere, but that's not at all what you get when you pick up the Edifier Predator e1100 2.1 multimedia speaker system. Instead, you get all sorts of flowing lines and curvaceous profiles in a design that has clearly been inspired by the science fiction community. This is not a surround sound system, but as a 2.1 speaker system, it's well suited for a variety of purposes. Hook it up to your TV, your computer, or just about any other audio source and the let the sound engulf you.
Quick Feature Overview
What you get with the Edifier Predator are three main components. There is a downward firing 5-inch subwoofer as your central unit, which is then accompanied by a pair of satellite stereo speakers. These satellites each contain a 2-inch front firing full-range drive, plus one 2-inch passive radiator "for enhanced audio input." Yes, despite its appearance, each stereo speaker only contains one driver, not two.
The satellite speakers themselves, each producing 4W RMS, are angled slightly upwards and the silver-colored base has some felt padding on the underside for grip. They do feel a little top-heavy, though, so you'll want to be careful not to knock them over accidentally. There is no protective grill or cover on the speakers either, so you may need to be careful there too. The 12W subwoofer unit has a similar kind of felt padding on its underside.
Inputs, Setup and Controls
The whole idea here is to keep things simple. You only get one option for audio input and that's the standard 3.5mm stereo jack. This is about as universal as it gets and it's not necessary to go with optical audio like the Sonos Playbar speakerbar, because this is not meant to simulate any sort of 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound. This is simply a stereo speaker system.
Setup, as you can imagine, is also very straightforward. You use the provided 3.5mm stereo cable to connect the subwoofer base unit to your audio source, and then the two satellites are connected to the subwoofer base using the connected Y-cable. As far as controls, the main volume dial is on top of the base unit and then there is an additional bass control dial on the back.
Depending on how you want to use the Predator, I would have preferred to have an option for a wired or wireless remote for volume control. If you stuff your subwoofer under your desk, for example, you don't want to reach under there all the time to adjust the volume or turn the speaker system off. It's even worse if you're using it as part of a basic home theater setup. But of course, this is a matter of personal preference and how you intend on using these speakers.
Where's Ripley When You Need Her?
I appreciate the simple yet elegant two-toned approach here too, as the silver provides a nice contrast to the matte black finish. The curvy bottom for the subwoofer unit adds to that unique look. Even the satellites have the same ridge running down the center of their curves. Everyone who has come over to my house has commented on the (clearly visible) subwoofer, not even recognizing that it is a speaker at first. That says something.
The Aural Experience of Movies, TV, Gaming and Music
To give the Predator a fair shake, I ran it through a number of different circumstances where someone may choose to use such a speaker system. I watched some regular television where audio quality isn't as important, I watched some more thrilling action scenes in movies, I played a handful of video games, and I listened to a range of digital music.
While it is fair to say that the Predator offers a reasonable level of audio fidelity, I found its actual performance to be underwhelming. It doesn't have quite the same kind of deep thump as we get with the Soundscience by Antec Rockus speaker system. Indeed, even at full blast, the Predator just didn't get as loud as what I am able to experience with a variety of other 2.1 multimedia speaker systems. It was barely louder than the Diamond Mini Rockers Bluetooth speaker, which is substantially smaller in stature. It also started to distort at higher volumes.
I suppose when you only have a 5-inch subwoofer and it only produces a mere 12W RMS that you really shouldn't expect to boom and shake the room, but I was really hoping for more. If you do keep it at a more reasonable volume, though, the Predator does get the job done and it looks awfully pretty doing it.
MEGATechie Certified Killer or MEGATechie Fallen Prey?
We have to put things in perspective. Given that the Edifier e1100 Predator MKII has an MSRP of $79.99, it is not meant to compete against the more expensive 2.1 speaker systems that are on the market. This is a serious upgrade over really basic 2.0 systems, to be sure, but if you're looking for a much deeper and louder thump, other 2.1 systems in this price range may be preferable. The lack of a remote takes away from its appeal too.
Then again, those other speakers aren't going to look like the alien creatures from Aliens. It's up to you whether the unique design is enough to sway you away from generic black boxes.