Edifier has created a neat, well-made bit of kit in the MP230 – but its feature set feels out of date and audio performance isn’t good enough to make up for its shortcomings.
- Eye-catching looks
- Solid build quality
- Better-than-quoted battery life
- No IP rating
- No EQ
- No built-in mic
- UKRRP: £99.99
- USARRP: $129.99
- Retro designInspired by 50s and 60s radios
- Wireless supportBluetooth 5.0 connectivity
- Card slotAccepts microSD and TransFlash cards
The world isn’t exactly short of options when it comes to Bluetooth speakers, but not many of them look like Edifier’s MP230.
While most of the other speakers in Edifier’s range require mains power, this is just one of two that runs off a battery – and with a price tag of £100, it doesn’t ask too much of your wallet.
So is there more to this dapper little singer than just retro appeal?
- Retro looks
- Sturdy MDF build
Don’t worry, you haven’t woken up in the 1960s; the MP230 is supposed to look out of time. While most portable Bluetooth speakers opt for a mixture of rubber and plastic (on occasion with something a little softer to take the edge off), the MP230’s cabinet is made from MDF.
Below the fabric-covered speaker grille on the front are five copper-coloured “piano key” buttons and a light to indicate the source from which it’s playing. The MP230 comes with instructions, but it’s pretty simple to operate. The plus and minus buttons adjust the volume, although a longer press on either one will also skip back or forwards; the play/pause button does what it says on the tin. Bluetooth allows you to connect a new device, and if you don’t know what the power button does then you’re probably reading the wrong website. A longer press on that one will also switch between sources.
Weighing just 850g and measuring not much larger than a six-pack of eggs, the MP230 is designed to be portable. Nevertheless, it feels more like a speaker you’d move around the house with you, rather than something to chuck in a bag and take away on a camping trip. For starters, it isn’t made to fend off any dirt or liquids. And while that MDF chassis feels pretty sturdy, it seems like it would scuff or scratch fairly easily. A carry case might help, but there isn’t one included.
It’s certainly an eye-catching little thing – and it makes a nice change from the usual ruggedised or Scandi-inspired speakers out there – but its retro aesthetic won’t be to everybody’s tastes.
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Includes a card slot
- No IP rating
While the MP230 might look old-fashioned on the outside, it’s more up-to-date on the inside. Your primary method of connectivity is Bluetooth 5.0, and I found the range and reliability to be excellent. Even at about 13 metres away, the connection remained solid – and that was with various walls and other domestic obstacles getting in the way.
One feature that’s a bit of a throwback is the card slot round the back. It accepts microSD and TransFlash cards (if you can find any of either) and automatically starts playing when you insert one – although, without a screen or accompanying app, you’ll need a good memory of what’s on the card to find the song you’re looking for.
With a 2GB card big enough for a few hundred songs, skipping through them one by one won’t exactly be a lot of fun either. It’s always nice to have alternative playback options, but it’s hard to imagine this would be top of most folk’s wanted lists when it comes to ways to play music in 2022.
Next to the card slot is a 3.5mm aux socket, which might come in handy if you have one of the few phones that has a headphone port; but it seems increasingly unnecessary these days. Presumably both are part of the reason that the MP230 has no IP rating – something I’d happily take over being able to listen to tunes off an ancient TransFlash card.
- Vocals sound natural
- Separation isn’t great
- Not the biggest bass fan
Inside the MP230 is a pair of 48mm full-frequency drivers with 10 watts of Class D amplification each, plus a passive radiator. A speaker of this size is never going to bring the house down, but first impressions aren’t bad.
The spoken vocals on Craig Finn’s Messing with the Settings sound natural, and the rhythm section has enough authority to move things along. However, drums lack oomph and separation isn’t great, although that isn’t unique from a speaker of this size.
PUP’s Four Chords starts off well enough with its simple intro, but when there’s more than just a single voice and piano to deal with, the MP230 loses its way a little. It doesn’t lack energy, but things start to sound quite one-dimensional when the musical demands are higher. The handclaps at the beginning of Symposium’s Disappear are nice and sharp, but the guitars lack texture and the cymbals sound a bit thin, with the top-end all becoming a bit fizzy.
Bass is fairly weighty for a speaker so compact, but you do have to be careful about what you play. Even at middling volume, it can’t cope at all with Bahamadia’s Total Wreck. That’s not to say all hip-hop is off limits, though. It handles the sub-bass in Ghetts’ Fire and Brimstone much better, although the kicks are a bit weedy.
Edifier seems to be needlessly pessimistic when it comes to the MP230’s battery life, claiming 10 hours of “continuous use”. While testing took place across 10 days, rather than one long listening session, it took nearly 16 hours before the MP230 emitted the chirps of its first low-battery warning, and it didn’t die completely for another 50 minutes after that.
This wasn’t in some sort of weird laboratory conditions, either. I played it at middling volume for almost the entire time, loud enough to fill a small home office. You can still find better elsewhere – the similarly priced Stormbox Micro, for example, can keep going for up to 24 hours – and higher volumes will certainly drain it quicker, but don’t be put off by Edifier’s glass-half-full predictions when it comes to how often you’ll have to plug in the MP230.
Should you buy it?
If you like retro stuff Want a portable speaker that will fit in among all your vintage furniture and match your 60s threads? The MP230 is the one for you. Just don’t try to listen to anything too modern on it.
If you need something rugged While the MP230 doesn’t feel flimsy or poorly constructed, it doesn’t have an IP rating, which means it isn’t certified to withstand any bumps, spills or splashes. Handle with care.
For £100, Edifier’s MP230 is a perfectly serviceable Bluetooth speaker with an appealing old-school aesthetic and audio performance that, while nothing to write home about, is more than adequate for casual day-to-day listening.
But with so much competition in the market, it needs to do more than that to stand out. In addition, the less common features, namely the inclusion of a card slot for MP3 playback, feel like a niche addition – particularly if my long search for a microSD card in order to test it is anything to go by.
Unless you’re particularly enamoured by its look and don’t listen to stuff with too much bass (or have a particular penchant for listening to music off memory cards), there are better, more versatile portable speakers out there for the same kind of money.
How we test
We test every wireless speaker we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.
Tested for 10 days
Tested with real world use
Tested with a range of music
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All the Edifier supports for wireless connectivity is Bluetooth 5.0.
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