Edifier P12 Review Small Passive Bookshelf Speakers

Monday, July 19, 2021

Passive speakers require more than just the speakers to operate, which is a positive thing if you are the kind of person that likes tinkering with audio. With a passive speaker such as the Edifier P12, you have more control over the sound signature because the active components (e.g. power amplifier, pre amp, DSP, etc) aren't housed inside the speaker enclosure. Because the audio amplification is done outside the speaker enclosure, you have the ability to switch the active components and make the Edifier P12 passive speakers sound completely different, which is something you can't do with with a pair of active speakers like the Edifier R1850DB
The Edifier P12 speakers are genuinely bookshelf speakers (i.e. small) that can be put on a bookshelf without taking too much space. Like all bookshelf speakers, the Edifier P12 uses a tweeter (for the treble) and a woofer for the midrange and bass frequencies. Each speaker enclosure contains one 4-inch woofer and one 19mm tweeter with 6 ohm impedance. The tweeter dome is made of silk film, while the woofer cone is made of paper. Both the woofer cone and tweeter dome are enclosed inside a metal outer ring. The Edifier P12 tweeters delivery smooth treble, which isn't as high or loud sounding as metal tweeters but, on the plus side it doesn't make the treble as harsh-sounding as aluminium or titanium tweeters.

The Edifier P12 bookshelf speakers have a 79dB (1W/1M) sound pressure level (SPL) rating, which basically means at 1 watt of power, the Edifier P12 speakers are able to generate 79dB of sound at 1 meter distance. Since the Edifier P12 speakers have a rated RMS power of 5 watt, the maximum sound pressure level is 86dB. 

As mentioned earlier, the Edifier P12 require external amplification before you can get any sound out of them. Even when connected to a source like a turntable with a built-in preamp, you still are going to need a power amplifier. Not all turntables have a pre-amp built-in, by the way. If the turntable has a USB output, it's likely to have a pre-amp.

Before hooking any power amplifier though, you have to make sure the Edifier P12 speaker matches the impedance and output power of the amplifier. This is important because if you match the P12 speakers to an amplifier with more than 6 ohms and more than 40 watts, which is the maximum input power the P12 speakers can handle, you will blow both the speakers and amplifier. The P12 speakers have a maximum input power of 5 watts per channel, which means you want an amp that can push at least 10 watts per channel at a 6 ohm load.
Because the P12 are passive speakers, you won't find the typical connectivity ports (e.g. aux port) you find on an active bookshelf speaker. Instead, you find color coded spring clip terminals, which are built-in to the rear-side alongside a metal bracket for mounting the speakers on to a wall. There is also a thick solid metal bracket fixture below it, which is designed to provide additional stability when resting the speaker against a wall.

Like all multi driver speaker systems, the P12 bookshelf speakers have a crossover component with a cutoff point of 1500Hz, which is designed to split the frequencies, sending low frequencies to the woofer and high frequencies to the tweeter. Considering the low RMS output, the Edifier P12 produces surprisingly deep and layered bass.

Included with the Edifier P12 speakers are also detachable mesh grills made with plastic. There is also two sets of bare speaker cable wires included. The cables are designed to connect the P12 speakers to a source with spring clip terminals such as a turntable or old school sound system.

You can also use banana plugs (not included) to connect the P12 to a source with 5-way binding posts. If you want to connect the P12 to a source with RCA ports, you will need a banana plug to RCA adapter (not included). The included cables measure 2.5 meters long and has individually insulated copper and silver wiring with a transparent rubber outer-sheath.

The advantage of a passive speaker system such as the P12 is that there is no active components, which means less chance of things going wrong. A few other benefits of passive speakers is that you get to choose the amplifier, which is likely going to be better than a built-in amplifier. 

Also, you can always replace the external amplifier if you later decide you need more resolution so, you can add a DAC into the system too. With an active speaker like the Edifier D12, you can't replace the built-in amplifier. If you want more power, you have to sell and look for another speaker unless the active speaker has a line out for a subwoofer, which the Edifier D12 speaker does. Check out the T5 powered subwoofer

The price difference between the D12 speaker and P12 speakers is not a lot. And, while they both have similar hardware (e.g. 4 inch woofer), the D12 has more RMS power so, it outperform the P12 passive speakers right out of the box. Overall though, the P12 produces a nicer sound, thanks to the 12mm thick MDF enclosure, which makes the P12 speakers weigh more (6kg) than the Edifier R1010BT bookshelf speakers (5kg) and D12 speakers (4.3kg). 

The volume output is adequate for listening to music close up and, you can't listen too loud as the sound breaks up with too much volume due to the low 5 watt RMS. If you want to fill a room with music it's best going for something more powerful like the Edifier R1850DB and Edifier D12, which are active bookshelf speakers with 70 watt RMS power. You can buy the P12 speakers from amazon. Check out the review of the Edifier M201BT

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