Edifier Esiena iF360
Edifier's new Esiena iF360 is a versatile and decent-sounding all-in-one system, but does it provide bang for a pretty hefty buck?
Sleek, stylish look
Punchy sound on bass-heavy tracks
Easy to navigate
Loss of sound detail in the mid-range
Glossy piano-black finish attracts smudges
No Wi-Fi or internet radio
Sound off-balance if not directly facing the listener
Home theatre sound not particularly robust
Edifier's new Esiena iF360 is a versatile and decent-sounding all-in-one system, but does it provide enough bang for a pretty hefty buck?
Design and features
Straight out of the box, the Esiena iF360 — we assume the name is a nod to a full circle, since it seems to do everything except cook toast — is a relatively minimalistic unit; two speakers flanking a simple dot matrix display and a CD slot. The unit is controlled through a set of glowing red touch buttons set into the top and a remote control. A flip-up iPod dock crowns the unit.
As seems to be becoming a long trend that just won't die, the top and back of the iF360, as well as the remote, are finished in piano black. This means that you need to be prepared for smudgy fingerprints whenever you do, well, anything. A sleek, glossy sound system only looks stylish for as long as it can remain fingerprint-free, which tends to make this repeated design choice by manufacturers somewhat bewildering.
Now, the Esiena is a pretty adaptable and facile piece of kit. In addition to the now-standard iPod and FM digital radio functions, it has a set of RCA R/L input jacks, an SD card reader, a USB port, a video out, a CD player, MP3 and WMA support, and digital alarm clock functions. However, apart from the CD slot and the iPod dock, all ports and sockets are located at the back of the unit. While this makes for a clean façade, it does mean that you'll need to turn the iF360 around to fiddle with the ports and, if you don't have an iPod, there's no attractive or ergonomic way to dock your Zen or iRiver.
It does mean, though, that setting up the unit is relatively hassle-free. Everything is clearly labelled and an all-in-one unit means you don't have to worry about what speaker connects where. It's also fairly lightweight, which means you can move it about easily — from sitting neatly on a bookcase for MP3 playback, to next to your television for a sound boost, to the bedroom to use as an alarm clock.
Using the remote control was simple enough, with the input selection buttons allowing easy navigation between the iF360's functions. Using the buttons on top of the unit to perform the same tasks was a little more frustrating; it seems their purpose is primarily decorative or to serve as a Plan B when the remote has gone AWOL, as remotes do.
It read quite well from multiple devices, though we did experience some skipping when we hooked it up to an iPod Touch. We were able to effortlessly rotate through media, and a cursory glance at the instruction booklet was all we needed to feel competent.
Connecting to digital radio in our office was fine. There are two methods of radio frequency navigation. The first uses the up and down buttons to search frequencies in increments; the second uses the back and next buttons to automatically scroll through stations. We got a good strong signal for the most part, and a long aerial cable means you should be able to find the strongest signal in any given room.
The one region where it did fall down was a lack of Wi-Fi. With an increasing number of devices able to communicate wirelessly, it seems strange that Edifier would not include this capability in a device touted as a "complete home audio solution". Also left out is internet radio. Sure you can hook the iF360 up to a computer, but it can't independently access internet radio stations.
The Esiena iF360 uses something Edifier calls the "Nautilus" speaker, which, it claims, enhances bass frequency response and overall audio quality. The bass is quite robust, but bear in mind that an all-in-one unit such as this will never reach the booming levels of a dedicated sound system and is probably best for a small- or medium-sized room.
In fact, how well the unit sounds really depends on the music. Bassy tracks with a strong production quality perform quite well — Rammstein's Engel, for instance, sounded punchy and rich, with a solid overall tone and no muddiness. We had a bit more trouble when we tried to break out of that key, though. While distortion was minimal, even at the highest volumes, Delibes' Flower Duet, Thievery Corporation's Until the Morning and Regina Spektor's Fidelity lost a bit of mid-range detail, even though we punched the treble up to its highest setting.
As a supplement to home theatre sound, it performs quite well, though its small soundstage will be disappointing to users who are accustomed to a dedicated surround sound set-up. The bass tones simply don't come through, though if you're just used to hearing your TV through the TV speakers, it can add depth and vibrancy.
However, if you're sitting at an angle to the iF360, be prepared for a loss of balance, particularly at lower volumes.
The Esiena iF360 has a lot of functions, and there's nothing on the market with a comparable range. However, you can probably pick up something similar with a better sound quality if you don't mind dropping one or two functions you're not likely to use or already have (the alarm clock and CD player spring to mind). At AU$599, we found the iF360 just a little too steep.