Bluetooth connectivity is an increasingly common feature request in our ever-more smartphone and tablet-centric world. It has grown from the simple communication medium of the god-awful earpieces everyone hates you for wearing into a widely-used wireless audio standard. Portable speakers, cars, and headphones are all latching onto it. But what about your 2.1 system? I know I've always wished I could easily push music to my own stereo setup without messy PC software or dongle attachments. I want it to just work. Luckily, such a thing does exist.
And if you're in the market for a stereo speaker system, one that's well-suited for a desktop or smaller bedroom television setup - and you demand Bluetooth connectivity - the Prisma BTs are one of your very few choices, though they are a pretty good one.
Prisma BT 2.1
- What is it? A 2.1 wired Bluetooth speaker system.
- How much? $130.
- What's special about it? It's a 2.1 speaker system built from the ground up for Bluetooth, though it'll play nice with any 3.5mm input source, too.
- What's in the box? Two satellite speakers, the subwoofer, a wired volume control dial, and the power cord.
- Do I want it? That really depends. This is a niche product, for sure. If you've been craving a pretty decent 2.1 system that's super Bluetooth-friendly, the Prisma BTs fill that role very nicely, even if they don't sound exactly like the very best $130 set of speakers on the market.
- Key Specs:
- Satellite speakers: 9 watts each, with discrete tweeters and mid-range drivers.
- Subwoofer output: 30 watts, with bass adjustment knob, 3.5mm stereo in, and serial port (yes, really) for volume knob.
- Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (no apt-X)
- Each piece is about 10 inches tall, for reference.
- Wired volume knob thing with headphone out and stereo in.
- Sound: I do really like the way these speakers sound. Even for a system with a total RMS output of 48 watts, they can bring the noise. Like I said, you can definitely buy more powerful, better-sounding non-Bluetooth 2.1 systems in this price range, but you're not here because you're looking for a plain-Jane 2.1 setup. You want to control yours from up to 10 meters away with your phone or tablet. This considered, the Prisma BTs will absolutely decimate any portable Bluetooth speaker or Bluetooth speaker-dock on the market that doesn't cost some absurd amount of money. At the end of the day, separate enclosures, a discrete subwoofer, and a greater range of power output to work with are going to result in a much more capable system. The Prisma BT will make your Jambox sound like a shitty tin can on a string. I found I had to crank the bass on the subwoofer fairly high to get what I would call a "balanced" listening experience, and that 30 watt sub won't be bringing down the house. You'll definitely notice it, though. These are good speakers, not the sort of crap you'll find on a shelf in the PC accessory section of Walmart. Clarity on mids and highs exceeded my expectations, too - these are very clean-sounding.
- Design: The Prismas are very modern-looking, and if you're into that sort of thing, I bet they'd go perfectly with almost anything from Ikea, because they look like they're straight out of the catalog. They're fairly understated, as well. The only flourish is the silver power button with the surrounding red/blue LED on top of the subwoofer. Which should probably be on the ground, out of sight anyway. The volume knob also lights up, which is nice, because it lets you know if you're connected without having to look down at the subwoofer.
- Connectivity: You have two 3.5mm stereo in jacks, one on the back of the subwoofer, and one on the volume knob controller thing. So, think one dedicated to your TV / desktop, and one for when you decide you're not feeling like using Bluetooth today. You also have a headphone jack on the volume knob, which is a nice touch. Even if it does seem slightly unnecessary on a system that you're using to escape wires.
- Value: I have to say, the amount of sound you're getting here for $130, at least in terms of the Bluetooth speaker market, is huge. Consider that the Jambox costs $200. I know it's not even in the same market niche as the Prisma BTs, but just think of it this way: Jambox wants you to cough up 200 bucks for something that sounds mediocre at best, but this full-on 2.1 setup costs significantly less and sounds orders of magnitude better (and hugely louder). Sure, you're tethered to the AC plug teat, but you should definitely be weighing whether or not you need the portability aspect in a Bluetooth speaker.
The Not So Good
- Sound: Like I said, if you're looking at stuff in this price range, you can get something like this if you're willing to sacrifice the whole Bluetooth thing and go hard-wired. I'm not saying they'll be monumentally better, but certainly much more powerful, and at least equal in terms of general audio performance. The Prisma BTs' 48 watts of output won't be very good at effectively filling anything much larger than a master bedroom or office.
- Value: While $130 won't break the bank, it's hard to ignore that the non-Bluetooth edition of the Prismas cost $30 less. Come on, Edifier, we all know a Bluetooth controller doesn't cost anywhere near $30.
- No apt-X: Something that sounds this good should have the latest Bluetooth audio transmission standard on board. The Prisma BTs don't. This inherently limits their performance. They sound very good with standard Bluetooth 2.1 EDR, but I know they'd sound better with apt-X.
- No RCA connectors: I have to say, I'd like the Prisma BTs a lot better if they can with a set of RCA jacks and a mode switcher button. That would make them a lot more versatile. Then again, most everyone's using 3.5mm these days, so I guess my real gripe is the lack of a mode switcher between Bluetooth and line-in audio, preferably on the volume controller.
- Usefulness: I can't say I see there being a massive market for a wired Bluetooth 2.1 speaker system, but I can definitely see more speakers getting Bluetooth connectivity in the future. It's a good idea, but I think it might still need some refining to be a mainstream solution.
Like I said, the Prisma BTs are a product for a pretty narrow market. I do honestly like them - the sound quality is great (much better than I expected, frankly), and the Bluetooth connectivity works like a champ. There are just little things here and there that I'd fix (mode switching, apt-X, RCA jacks). If you're on the fence between something like a Bose Sound Link or some other all-in-one Bluetooth speaker system, ask yourself this: could I make a 2.1 system work for my needs? Because if so, the Prisma BTs are a very economical option compared to their more portable competitors, and definitely provide hugely more performance for your dollar.