If you ever work on the road, you know relying on your laptop for sound can be as disappointing as relying on it instead of an external display for visuals. Not every laptop has great — or even good — speakers.
Enter Edifier and its MF200 Portable Bluetooth Speaker. The company sent me one for review. The elegant little wedge-shaped soundbar can add plenty of power and clarity to “meh” laptop speakers.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean the MF200 blows away all laptop speakers, as I’ll explain below.
Edifier MF200 Portable Bluetooth Speaker
The Edifier MF200 Portable Bluetooth Speaker looks like a tiny version of a soundbar you might set up in front of your TV for your home theater.
But you’re more likely to use it on a desk with a laptop computer. The point of it is to out-do your laptop’s speakers, which may be no great feat depending on what laptop you have.
I’ll note near the top here that it’s an award-winning little speaker. The MF200 won a VGP award at the Visual Grand Prix (VGP) 2023 awards in Japan last month.
“The Japanese VGP Awards are well known as the ‘Oscar in the Audio Industry,'” Edifier said in the awards announcement. It called the awards the largest, most authoritative audio-visual awards in Asia. Edifier took home six of them.
“The portable PC MF200 speaker is the ultimate travel companion for work or leisure,” the company noted about the speaker. “With its sleek, compact appearance and feel the MF200 looks at home sitting next to even the most high-end laptops and produces a high-quality sound far superior to your average laptop.”
Quality look and feel
I can’t quibble with Edifier’s description above. The MF200 has a sleek look and feel. Its wedge shape is primarily a silver-colored steel casing with a hard mesh black grille over the speakers, facing forward.
The device sits flat on a desk, but the wedge shape opens up the front at an upward angle, toward a seated listener, so it’s clearly made for desktop operation, whether you’re sitting at your primary workstation or in some hotel room.
And speaking of remote work or play, nobody wants a “portable” speaker to be heavy. The MF200 won’t break your back — or the bank — but it would be fairly heavy it if were any larger. As it is, its heft suggests quality. And its size wouldn’t make you hesitate to toss it in a bag to bring with your and your laptop.
Operating the Edifier MF200 couldn’t be much simpler. After you take it out of its slim black box and glance at the manual, you use the included USB-C cable to plug it into your computer. It may need to time to charge up, which is indicted by a small red LED next to the USB-port on the left end.
On that end of the device you’ll also find a 3.5mm AUX jack, which a nice input alternative to have. However, Edifier includes no cable for it, so you’ll need to provide your own.
On the other end of the device you find a multifunction power button, plus, on the front, controls to turn volume up or down and pause/play. Rubber feet on the bottom of the device keep it stable on the desk or other surface.
In addition to USB-C and AUX audio input modes, you also get Bluetooth 5.0. You turn on pairing by quickly clicking the power button so you see a quickly blinking blue light around it. But if you hold the power button for a split-second too long, as I did a couple of times, the device will shut off. You can tell by the accompanying audio (and lack of blue light).
In my usage, I found it easy to play great-sounding audio through the speaker from my 2021 M1 Pro MacBook Pro via USB-C or from my iPhone 13 Pro via Bluetooth.
Tough test: Does it sound better than 2021 M1 MacBook Pro speakers?
I decided to make the MF200’s life a little harder by making it compete against excellent laptop speakers. My 2021 M1 Pro MacBook Pro features a six-speaker sound system with two pairs of dual force-canceling woofers and two tweeters. The system supports Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos.
The Edifier uses two 36mm neodymium iron boron full-range driver units combined with a dual-diaphragm low-frequency radiator.
At first, the Edifier speaker did quite well, possibly because of what I chose to listen to. I launched “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me,” the NPR news quiz show, via Safari. While all the voices and sounds came off well via both devices, the MF200 focused the voices more and seemed to project more volume at the same setting. On the laptop, the echoes in the auditorium where the show is recorded seemed amplified.
With music, the Edifier speaker performed well but lost points against the laptop in the detail department. I have no doubt at all the MF200 would trounce many laptop speakers. But Apple’s sound system on recent MacBooks is exceptional.
As I usually do, I listened to examples of music involving an array of instrumentation, like Randy Newman’s 2008 album Harps and Angels as well as London Symphony Orchestra versions of Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings and Richard Wagner’s Flight of the Valkries. Jazz quintets are good for seeing which musical voices stand out. And I always throw in some chest-thumping rock, too, like Drive-By Truckers or their stellar singer-songwriter alum, Jason Isbell.
The laptop seemed to spread the sound around my head a la Spatial Audio, with detail and nuance. The MF200 projected the sound more forcefully at me, with an emphasis on primary sounds like vocals. Both sounded good, but a little different. Edifer’s speaker delivers higher volume overall, if that’s what you’re after.
Edifier MF200 specifications:
- Audio inputs: Bluetooth/USB-C sound card/3.5mm AUX
- Bluetooth version: 5.0
- Drivers: 36mm full-range (2)
- Frequency range: 100Hz-20kHz
- Total output power: 4W+4W (RMS)
- Signal-to-noise ration: ≥85dB(A)
- Noise level: ≤25dB(A)
- Battery capacity: 2200mAh
- Bluetooth play time: 10 hours
- Input power: DC 5V 1A
- Dimensions: 11.5in wide × 1.77in high × 2.1in deep
- Weight: 1.1lb
If I preferred using my MacBook in clamshell mode (closed) rather than open on a stand, I would have every reason to use the MF200 for its quality sound and refined look and feel. And the same would be true if I had a laptop with so-so speakers.
And keep in mind that, given the shape and small size of the MF200, you could fit it in places other speakers might not go, in addition to your travel bag — like under a mounted laptop or display, or even on a window sill. And the speaker offers good value at the price.
Where to buy: Edifier