Alexa Enabled Wifi Speaker – Home > Reviews > Hi-Fi Equipment Reviews > All-in-1 Systems > Edifier MS-50A Bluetooth / Wifi Speakers Review
I’ve never wanted a smart speaker in my home, mostly because of privacy concerns. Google, Amazon, and to a lesser extent Apple know more about me, and about all of us, than any of us probably realizes. The last thing I want to do is bring a device (or devices) that allows me to hear every word, record every question I ask, monitor what I’m listening to, and monitor and control every smart device I use. .
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The convenience of a smart speaker cannot be denied. They offer wireless connectivity to every music source for today’s digital lifestyle in compact, stylish devices. Some of them even sound very good, although no smart speaker on the market today can replace a good hi-fi system.
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This peaked my interest when Edifier contacted me with a new MS-50 sample. The MS-50 is what I like to call a dmi-smart speaker. It has Wi-Fi with AirPlay and Spotify support, plus onboard Bluetooth for offline connectivity. It can work as a speaker in the Amazon Alexa ecosystem, although it doesn’t have its own onboard microphone, so it can’t be used to talk to AI robots or listen to ready-made karaoke. Pair it with an Echo Flex or an older Echo Dot, and you can cheaply tap into the Alexa ecosystem, which sounds better than Amazon’s devices.
It looks like a traditional speaker, although it combines old-fashioned cabinet design concepts and modern DSP (digital signal processing) with digital amplifiers and a digital crossover, allowing the sound to be adjusted in software. In short, it delivers great bass response from a small cabinet with crisp clear highs that don’t break out at high volumes.
It also offers great features like stereo pairing. Stereo pairs can be configured in the Edifier home software, allowing modern speakers to create something similar to a traditional stereo system without a single-wire source input. When used individually, the speakers concentrate all input sounds into mono.
However, these features do not end there. Control is via the app mentioned above, the Alexa ecosystem and (including the Alexa app and partner Amazon Echo devices), or the touchpad on the device itself. Surrounded by an LED ring that blinks, blinks, and lights up depending on the speaker’s current operating state, the touch panel includes the only real button on the device—a center button used for power on and off, as well as a mute function.
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The touch panel itself has four controls for play / pause, next / previous and mode, the second is to switch between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, enter the device configuration mode for Wi-Fi connection and shortcut to factory reset. When installation mode is active, there are occasional audible alerts as well as flashing lights to let you know what the speaker is doing.
The panel is located at the top, next to both sides / in front mode and at the bottom with play / pause. The touch panel also controls the volume adjustment. This is done by moving your finger around the panel clockwise to increase the volume or counterclockwise to decrease the volume. It works flawlessly and is a lot of fun to use, right down to the volume controls. Of course, you can control the volume from devices connected via AirPlay, including apps on your Mac or iOS.
The MS-50 is a compact speaker, roughly cube-shaped despite the graceful curves and chamfers of its panels. The sides and back are finished in real walnut with a beautiful lacquer finish, giving the eye an unprecedented fine grain texture. The case itself is actually MDF, with the top and bottom panels being plastic, the latter recessed to accommodate the figure C7’s eight power sockets with a channel for clean cable exit. The front consists of a fabric-covered, mesh plastic grille that hides the two drivers. The grill is removable, but not meant to be disassembled.
Behind the bars we find two drivers. A 0.75-inch (19 mm) silk-dome tweeter sits above a 4-inch (102 mm) long mid-bass driver with a fluted cone surface to reduce deflection. Below is the bass port. To save space, the port has a long, flat oval shape that allows air to exit the cabinet evenly at the cabinet’s resonant frequency. The result is cleaner low-frequency output and less noticeable distortion, especially given the limitations of cabinet size.
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Total system output 40W – 25W mid-bass, 15W treble Class D bi-amplifier. Although no linearity figures are given, the frequency response is rated at 52Hz – 18kHz. The signal-to-noise ratio is said to be better than 85dB(A). These numbers don’t mean much when quoted without any linear or ambient reference, but for a device like this they really don’t matter. Practically speaking, the MS-50A has no noticeable hiss when playing, even when your ear is close to the tweeter. It can produce a lot of bass for its size, the highs don’t wash out, and there’s a lot of volume.
The MS-50A supports two input modes. Bluetooth 5.0 allows streaming directly from a supported device. Dual-band Wi-Fi gives you support for AirPlay 2 (which supports multi-room control if you have an Apple HomePod mini), Spotify Connect and Tidal Connect.
Installation is simple. Out of the box, the speaker goes into setup mode. If not, press and hold the mode button to enter the setup mode and the speaker will appear in the app
Then you will be asked to select a Wi-Fi network and enter the password (if available). After connecting to your speaker network and configuring itself, you’re ready to go in minutes. You can add additional devices from the app’s main screen. If you have multiple supported devices on your network, you can also set up stereo pairs and see what’s currently playing on your devices.
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Tapping the speaker gives you playback and volume controls, input selection, and a set of settings. There isn’t much you can adjust. The settings page shows you network configuration, speaker information, and current WiFi signal strength, and gives you the option to access the user manual, connect an Amazon account, and reset the speaker to factory settings. You can also change the speaker name to something more easily identified on the network. You cannot add room images like in multi-room systems. There are also no EQ functions to adjust the sound to your taste. What you see (and hear) is what you get.
There’s also no option for DLNA streaming, internet radio, or playing local files from your smartphone. Similar devices, such as portable speakers on the Yamaha MusicCast platform, have these features and more. But you pay more for the extra features, and they don’t sound as good.
The MS-50A is the first smart speaker that delivers sound. It may be as basic as a smart speaker can get, but what it lacks in depth, rich bass, clear highs, and a slightly boosted midrange that pushes vocals and spoken word into the room. To be honest, I still don’t see the appeal of smart speakers, at least mono speakers, for music. Music has been in stereo for over 50 years and should be played that way. Of course, if you have two of these for a stereo pair setup, they make a great system for their size and price. But where I found it, the MS-50 came into its own as podcasts and radios.
I used it mostly for AirPlay, streaming podcasts from Downcast, internet radio, and background music from Apple Music, all on my MacBook Pro. There was no dropout, and I appreciated being able to control the volume, as well as the basic transport controls, from an app, Mac, or the speaker itself. The MS-50 is an excellent choice for regular flow.
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It can easily fill a relatively large room. No distortion even at high volume. The sound coming out of such a small box is truly amazing. If you’re buying them primarily for listening to music, I’d recommend buying two to pair them together for proper stereo. If you’re looking for a good-looking, well-built streaming speaker and don’t want invasive smart technology in your home, the MS-50 is for you.
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