Normally when reviewing speakers, I put them on my secondary stands. But these were a little too large, so I put them in on the stands normally occupied by my $2,000+ passive loudspeakers.
In short, the Edifier S3000 Pro speakers are real high-fidelity loudspeakers. They run quite loud enough to fill my 5 by 7 metre office with quality sound.
Initially they seemed a touch bright. But around the back are bass and treble level controls. I take it that they adjust the relative balance of tweeter and bass/midrange. Backing off the treble control from 12 o’clock to around 10 o’clock tamed that and brought them into fine balance.
The sound produced, especially when they were turned up to a good high level, was dynamic and lively, while retaining that balance. There was excellent detail, with the tweeter delivering everything in the music. Again, there was a touch too much emphasis of surface noise with LP playback, but the tweak I mention fixed that.
I did have to be careful, though, switching between inputs. The output from my phono pre-amplifier is pretty respectable by the standards of such things, but it was still much lower than the Bluetooth or optical inputs. A couple of times I switched over while the level was up high for the record playing input, only to have one of the other inputs blast out some ten decibels higher than was comfortable. Yet the speakers happily took it.
Plenty of bass
The bass performance of the Edifier S3000 Pro speakers was a surprise. A good surprise. Edifier puts the bottom limit at 38 hertz. I’d say it easily reached that and went beyond it. For example, on Janis Joplin’s excellent 1969 album, I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!, there’s some accidental bass in the track “Maybe”. This is mostly a mixture of 50 hertz and 27.6 hertz. Both frequencies were clearly being reproduced by these speakers.
That made for a good, solid bass grind from the Edifier S3000 Pro speakers.
If there was a weakness, it would be in the imaging. There was a good wide spread, but not quite the precision in the location of the images, nor the sense of depth and height, that my regular speakers deliver. That said, those speakers cost around twice as much. Nonetheless, I do wonder whether things could be improved if there were an option to connect the speakers by wire. The way they are, only the wireless connection is possible.
USB Audio Input
Naturally, I also played a fair bit of music through the Edifier S3000 Pro speakers using the USB connection. When you select the USB Type-B input, the speakers turn into a USB Audio device. If I understand the somewhat unclear instructions – and it seems to be the case – they conform to the USB Audio Class 2.0 standards. That means a driver is required for Windows 7, 8 or 8.1, or Windows 10 before the early 2017 “Creator’s Update”.
When I plugged it in into my Windows computer – with the current version of Windows 10 – the speakers failed to appear in the list of available devices. It seems that the USB circuitry isn’t powered up until you switch to it as an input. When I did, it appeared in the Windows Speaker dialog, with sampling rates of 44,100Hz, 48,000Hz, 96,000Hz and 192,000Hz and resolutions of 16 and 24 bits on offer. Satisfied, and intrigued, I fired up Foobar 2000, my preferred high-resolution audio player, set the output to the WASAPI connection to the speakers and set some music playing. The music I chose was 44.1kHz, 16 bits. It played perfectly.
The reason I was intrigued was that missing from the reported list of supported sample rates were 88.2kHz and 176.4kHz. These are both rarer high-resolution audio formats than the others, nonetheless some music does come at those rates. I tried sending some 88.2kHz music to the speakers and Foobar 2000 came back immediately and told me it was an invalid format for the speakers. Oh well.
So, I sent the Edifier S3000 Pro speakers some 96kHz, 24-bit music, a very common high resolution format. It played after a fashion, but with a nasty, crunchy noise overlaying much of the music. I had the same result with 192kHz, 24-bit music. So, I backed up to 16-bit, 48kHz material and the result was … the same. Up to that point I’d been thinking that perhaps there was some bandwidth problem, but everything can handle 16 bits and 48kHz.
Then I switched the output over from WASAPI to Direct Sound, which is the standard Windows system for handling audio. And all those tracks now worked fine.
Does it matter?
WASAPI vs Direct Sound
Computer audiophiles generally use WASAPI or ASIO for outputting music to external digital to analogue converters. WASAPI stands for Windows Audio Session API. It’s a standard part of Windows. ASIO stands for Audio Stream Input/Output and is a proprietary protocol developed many years ago by Steinberg to support its professional audio gear. Both of these allow software to communicate directly with audio hardware.