Today we’re taking a look at the Edifier MS50A wireless speaker, a semi-smart speaker that can integrate into your smart home while still respecting your privacy. It’s a speaker first and foremost, promising to fill your home with booming sound, but it ditches the microphone so you’re fully in control of what goes in and out of the speaker. No pesky assistants mishearing your song requests or starting a YouTube playlist because they misunderstood a phrase on a TV show.
This comes hot on the heels of our last review of Edifier’s NeoBuds Pro. We found the company’s dive into truly wireless headphones were extremely distinct (and a personal favorite of mine) but with a sound profile that might not be for everyone. Will the speaker lean into Edifier’s signature sound, or go for something a little more neutral? Let’s find out.
Classic meets modern design
The Edifier MS50A takes a weird approach to mixing classic and modern aesthetics. And by “weird approach” we really just mean they threw those two design philosophies straight at each other, and this is the result.
The face of the housing hides the actual speakers behind a fabric mesh lining, which is fairly typical for home theater speaker. A subtle silver accent near the middle even gives it some modern character. But the sides are a real wood, walnut finish that wraps around the edge of the speaker, which sounds like something straight out of a 1960’s furniture magazine. Maybe surprisingly, though, the end result really doesn’t have a dated or even retro feel to it; the MS50A still looks incredibly modern and makes the wooden aesthetic work.
At around 3x the size of an OG Google Home, it’s no slouch of a speaker, but the sophisticated look is going to help it blend in with most decor, whether you want something new and striking or something a little more rustic. It uses a mix of touch, gestures, and physical controls, with physical buttons on top for turning the power on and off, tap buttons for controlling playback and pairing devices, and gestures (rotating clockwise and counterclockwise) to increase and decrease volume. Of course it’s designed to work with your phone, too, so all of this can be done from your preferred music app too.
Edifier knows what sound they want to bring, and that’s what you’ll get. I think the MS50A, much like the headphones we reviewed from Edifier, have a very distinct sound that not everyone is going to be crazy about. It’s not particularly neutral, and leans hard into a V-shaped EQ. The low end thumps hard, and the high-end is very crisp and in your face at the cost of an incredibly scooped mid-section.
This kind of sound profile lends itself to mainstream music better than, say, classical music or jazz. You’ll be very happy using this for rock, hip-hop, or pop playlists, but less so if you’re hoping for a good speaker for classical music that you use for studying, for example.
Edifier has set this speaker up to work in a pair or group, too, and you can get some incredibly great sounds out of it that way. Pairing this up with other speakers helped create a larger, room-filling sound with a ton of low end, complementing most speakers midrange with the powerful low end from the MS50A. While this feature doesn’t help a single speaker on its own, if you already have some speakers around the house it might make it a little more tempting to mix it in with your existing setup.
Smart features (or lack of)
If you’re looking for a very smart speaker, the MS50A isn’t quite it. It’s not supposed to be, but you’re trading away hub capabilities, integrated assistants and microphones, and other smart home functions for the sound quality and lower price. It does integrate into existing smart home setups, however.
It works over WiFi and Bluetooth, so even if you just have your phone you can utilize the speaker. But the MS50A also works with AirPlay 2 for Apple setups, and your Alexa gadgets will see it to play music or group up with other speakers. Spotify Connect is also present here, so you can control it via your Spotify app really quickly, and Tidal Connect should be coming as a software update in the next few months.
No Google Home integration, unfortunately.
The Edifier Home app is pretty barebones as a companion app, but it does let you pair up speakers and see what’s playing on any of them. There are no EQ controls or much else in functionality here, so this app will almost definitely go unused after you get everything set up and settled into your preferred music app. It’s also a completely separate app from what you use to tweak your Edifier headphones, which is incredibly annoying.
This recommendation is going to fall almost identically to the NeoBuds Pro review we did: this speaker is fantastic, if it fits your tastes. As a 2000’s rock guy, I think it’s great. I’d put these all over my house and keep them running 24/7 if I could. And at $149 it’s priced extremely competitive for this kind of thing, and is generally going to perform much better than most Bluetooth speakers you can buy.
But it’s a relatively dumb speaker for something that connects to WiFi, with very few smart features to talk about. The Edifier app doesn’t do much, and the best parts of this speaker rely pretty heavily on another ecosystem to do the heavy lifting. If you’re already invested in one of those other ecosystems, though, this is an affordable way to round out your house with a killer sounding speaker, and I’m a big fan of that kind of philosophy.