Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Edifier Spinnaker e30 Revisited Update Test Report & Review

The Edifier Spinnaker e30 Revisited Update Test Report & Review 

Since its introduction in the U.S. last September, the Edifier Spinnaker has proved to be a great success garnering many awards for its super style, performance, and sonics. During the time of production, improvements have been made to enhance reliability to the main crystal oscillator (TCXO) circuit and surrounding components. In addition, the remote control has undergone some enhancements improving overall feel and operation. Included in the packaging is a new 12 foot long cable to connect the left and right speakers together, thus widening the stereo image and making placement under big screen TV’s and monitors much easier. Whilst the transducers and specifications remain essentially the same, it was felt prudent to re-test and evaluate the product’s performance with the R&D Department’s analyzers. Also, the very latest sample with all upgrades would be re-evaluated by the listening team to confirm their first reactions from early last year with the original prototypes.

To recap, the Spinnaker is feature rich with Bluetooth pairing capability for Bluetooth enabled devices, utilizing A2DP and AVRCA profile support within a coverage distance of a 30 feet radius. An Optical input socket can be used for connectivity to multimedia systems, gaming consoles and media centers etc. as well as an Auxiliary 3.5mm input socket for versatile connectivity to external devices. A uniquely designed dome-shaped multifunctional wireless remote with an aluminum shell is also included. Incorporation of digital sound processing technology (DSP) with separate 6-channel digital crossovers are used for enhanced dynamic sound amplification, as well as a separate super-bass output port for connection to an external subwoofer. The system is a fully active and tri-amped product for enhanced power capabilities. Each speaker is fitted with a 4 inch woofer, a 2.75” poly cone midrange, and a 1” soft silk dome tweeter. Power is ample, with 25 watts RMS driving the woofer, 10 watts RMS driving the midrange, and 10 watts RMS driving the tweeter respectively.

Everyone was impressed with the new packaging of the product, and especially the credit card style instructions for the remote control. One can keep this in their wallet and refer to it from time to time, especially when adding additional components to the system. Fit and finish for the product was considered by everyone to be first rate. Setup was quick and easy with all the supplied cables, and the owner manual appears quite comprehensive. After a few days of running in the transducers, listening tests began with various sources of music, voice, video, movies, and video games.

The first connection method tried was Bluetooth, and the connection was fairly quick and secure with good range. The published area of coverage of 30 feet was easily met. However, as expected, the overall sound did lack the dynamics and inner detail of the auxiliary and optical inputs. Therefore, the two latter connections were used for the listening team’s evaluations.

With all source material equipment connected, listening tests revealed very positive results indeed. Using iPod, iPhone, MP3, and CD/DVD source material with high quality recordings, bass was reasonably well extended and quite tuneful, with a very smooth midrange and a crisp detailed high-end response. All members of listening team noted and felt that the stereo image width was precise, wide, and with fine depth, giving correct placement to instruments and vocals. 

The Spinnaker’s tonal character tended to favor classical music the most. Various test CDs revealed a warm, involving, and full sound as noted with “New Year’s in Vienna” (Decca Test CD). Fine, and inner detail, as well as resolution, were considered to be very good indeed in direct comparison to the original B&W Zeppelin system. Jazz and Light Orchestral performances were rendered with very clean sounding vocals as witnessed on Test CD Diana Krall's "Temptation". Drums, especially kick bass drums, had surprising punch using Brian Culbertson's "Live from the Inside" DVD. Electric bass and horns in particular, sounded quite convincing and entertaining. Rock and Heavy Metal, as well as heavy Rap selections, possessed excellent drive and timing, together with convincing dynamics. Movie soundtracks from DVDs such as the new Bond film “Skyfall” possessed a fine overall tonal balance, and performed an excellent rendition of the stereo image and ambience from the recording in direct comparison with competitor products available on hand.

With very careful room placement, levels of overall coloration and listening fatigue for the Edifier Spinnaker system during all musical and vocal tests remained pleasantly low, and indicate a solid construction with very good choice of enclosure materials and damping.

The following test data will illustrate how the LMS 4.6 and CLIOwin 7 measuring system analyzers assisted in obtaining information to assess the Edifier Spinnaker system’s performance.

Fig.1 Edifier Spinnaker e30 system frequency response taken on reference axis at 1 meter test distance. System adjusted to 85dB at 1Khz. 1/3rd Octave Smoothing applied in listening test room.

The above curve illustrates a very good system frequency response. Bass extension down to 56Hz at -6dB was measured in the test position. The midrange frequency sweep results illustrate a fine and very smooth response, with tracking +2dB/-2dB to 7kHz. The tweeter's response also appears to be quite smooth from 7kHz to 20kHz +/-2.5dB. Overall system response measured 62Hz - 20kHz +/- 3dB. These results confirm the listener’s comments of very good bass, a smooth and refined performing midband, and detailed crisp sounding high frequencies.
Fig2. Edifier Spinnaker e30 Waterfall Plot measured at 1 meter test distance on true center reference axis. Start frequency 400Hz. Stop frequency 20kHz.

The above Waterfall Plot indicates decaying resonances over a preset period of time (3.8ms). As expected with the use of a double walled polymer plastic material enclosure, the system appears more "lively" with decaying resonances. The most notable groups of frequencies are occurring at 400Hz - 1.5kHz, 5kHz, and 9kHz - 6kHz. Cessation of some of the activity occurs at a higher than average 3.0ms, but is still considered acceptable, especially considering the product’s price point and intended use.

In general, the Edifier Spinnaker (e30) system performed very well indeed during testing, with fine overall results for a wireless lifestyle loudspeaker system at this price point.
Fig3. Edifier Spinnaker e30 Color Waterfall Plot measured at 1 meter test distance on true center reference axis. Start frequency 400Hz. Stop frequency 20kHz.

The above chart illustrates the Edifier Spinnaker’s performance, using color Waterfall Plot graphic analysis. Red, green, and yellow colors indicate the most energy, whilst light blue, dark blue, and black indicate the least. Results are fairly good and linear, with no serious initial activity between 0-5dB leaking down into the -10dB-20dB region, except in the 400Hz - 650Hz, 800Hz, and 1.8kHz -2.2kHz group of frequencies.

Conclusion and summary

Since last year when the Edifier Spinnaker made its debut, it has received considerable praise from the press. The futuristic styling is quite unique and makes a bold statement of how a modern lifestyle speaker system should look, especially so since a rich burgundy color edition joins the all black version. In the all important areas of performance and sound, the product performs admirably with listeners leaving more than favourably impressed. Indeed, when one factors in the cost of $300 USD, the Spinnaker is without question good enough to stand toe to toe with the very best products available at this price level.

Peter Duminy,
Director of Advanced R&D 06-01-2013

Designing Solutions for the Loudspeaker Industry