The WH950NB are not Edifier’s audiophile headphones. They’re much more Edifier’s response to the Sonys and SoundCores of this world. So don’t expect…
Design & build quality
In the looks department the Edifier can easily score some points. Don’t get your hopes up too high – even though the ear cups are plastic on the outside the texture is designed to look like faux leather.
Stylish. The gold accents around the noise canceling microphones are a nice touch. Reminds us a little of the black version of the Sony WH-1000XM4. Oh yeah, we have the black version of the WH950NB but they also come in white. There isn’t too much crazy branding on it either except for the Edifier logo on either side of the headband. Speaking of the headband. That’s one place which could’ve been better. The metal around the headband is sharp around the edges, catches fingerprints like nobody’s business and to top it off it’s a challenge to adjust the headband while they’re on your head. The SoundCore Space Q45 has similar issues with its headband too – so maybe it’s a budget thing? The overall build quality on the Edifier feels good though. No creaking. Fortunately, they can fold up. Like they should. ‘Cos they are TRAVEL headphones. DID YOU HEAR THAT SONY? And the case it comes in is solid. It has a textile like material and a separate compartment to stow away the USB Type C and 3.5 to 3.5mm audio cable you get as well. DID YOU HEAR THAT SOUNDCORE?
One of our favorite design elements has got to be the button layout. Super simple. You got your buttons for volume up, play-pause and volume down in one area and below that a button to toggle between noise canceling modes. We’ll talk about the noise cancelling, sound and app later on, but you do get the ability to choose which ANC modes you want that button to toggle between. We’ve set it to high ANC, wind noise reduction and ambient mode. And there are no buttons on the left ear cup and no touch controls anywhere.
Ok, enough of the looks. How does it feel? Well the faux leather pads on the ear cups and headband are very soft, but the downside is that the padding is quite thin. After a while you’ll either feel it on your crown or your ears. The cups have quite a bit of room and depth to them. Heat management was done well – no sweaty ears in our test, test, testing. So those of you with LARGE auditory organs like Kevin, you’ll be fine. And by adjusting the headband just right and the fact that the clamp isn’t too tight or loose, the Edifier’s scores an above average for comfort. But be careful when you grab the headband to adjust it – the sharp edges are… sharp.
The battery life is good but not spectacular compared to the current competition. 34 hours with ANC on and 55 hours with ANC off. We personally find that to be plenty since there’s always a USB Type C cable lying around to plug it into. And it should last you any kind of flight with those numbers. The fast charging gets you 7 hours of playback by charging it for 10 mins, so should be fairly sufficient for most use cases.
Does the Edifier have any useful tricks up its sleeve? One of the basics we would’ve liked to see was a wear sensor. But alas. You know what it can do though? It can save on healthcare costs and hearing aids. So in case you don’t know when loud music is too loud, you can turn on ‘safe volume’ in the app. The headphones then won’t let you go past 85dB of volume. Hopping back into that app you also get the choice from a bunch of ANC modes. Ambient mode even gives you a slider to change the sensitivity. Do note that a more sensitive ambient mode also gets you more white noise. Apart from that you also get custom EQ adjustment and two presets.
And finally you can toggle to a low latency mode for gaming and an additional theater mode which tries to simulate surround sound, but we didn’t quite like that as it sounded quite artificial so we stuck to music mode instead.
ANC & Transparency
Well, remember those ANC modes we talked about earlier. We’re really happy that there’s a wind noise reduction mode for us who take the bike around different places here in the Netherlands. And not a big deal you say – many headphones have it. Well, the Edifier actually saves a slot for them on the button. Which means, you can cycle between full noise cancelling and wind noise reduction without having to fish out your phone. Cycling ANC modes as well as cycling on the cycle. Because there’s nothing more annoying than your audio going whoosh as you step on to the bicycle as we all do here in the Netherlands. This is a country with more bicycles than human beings, so we’ve gotta respect our two-wheeled overlords!
All right, enough of that. How does the ANC and transparency perform? Well – why don’t you hear for yourself?
CLICK HERE to hear the ANC and transparency recordings.
Well, first off we were very surprised. Edifier’s noise canceling is good, but not better than the competition. If we had to talk in relative terms, we think it’s in the same category as the SoundCore Space Q45, just a little bit worse. Of course, the Sony flagship is still the flagship. Having said that – is the Edifier satisfactory at this price? Well, absolutely. More than.
And that’s pretty much the story for transparency as well – the Edifier is in our Tier B – that’s the second highest tier for transparency, for those of you who are paying attention. So yes – Edifier delivers and there’s also some more tweaking in the app for transparency. But there is no leapfrogging happening here – no surpassing the status quo.
You can use these headphones without powering them on. But when they’re passive, they sound VERY different from when they’re switched on. Passively – they sound very dark and the mids are almost absent. After turning on the headphones, the sound is much more open. So while you can use these wired when the battery is drained, it wouldn’t be our go-to. You also can’t use these wired over a USB Type C connection.
Wireless – Sound Signature and Experience:
The WH950NB are NOT Edifier’s audiophile headphones. So there’s no point comparing these to their more restrained and detailed Stax Spirit S3. They’re much more Edifier’s response to the Sonys and SoundCores of this world. So don’t expect a very restrained, neutral listening experience out of the box. What especially took us aback is the unabashed smack of the sub and mid bass frequencies. These are sub-bass monsters! I mean Edifier’s always been punchy – but this really smashed our skulls. I mean we’ve been fatigued by treble before, but in this case, the bass was a bit too much for us. You bass heads are gonna be very satisfied though.
What we absolutely love about these headphones – and many Edifier products – is the quality of the timbre and how real instruments just have a real authentic quality to them. Whether it be the sublime Stacey Kent’s vocals in ‘Les amours perdues’ or Chris Cornell belting out Audioslave’s ‘Like a Stone’, voices sound natural. These are more intimate sounding headphones, so the soundstage is a bit closed in. In terms of genres, I think out of the box, these work great with EDM and hip hop. U and Dat by E-40 sounds super bassy and the vocals stand out just well enough. And I suppose if you’re a bass head, you could say these are great for rock too. But I really felt like I had to pull the bass back for rock and metal. In terms of classical music, violins sound great. The bass can create a little bit of a cloud at the low end, but you can make some changes there. So let’s talk about customising the sound.
In typical Edifier fashion, you get two preset modes – the classic mode is a bit more restrained than the dynamic, but still – the star of the show is the bass. We’ve dissed the Edifier Connect app a lot, but the best thing about it is that it has a great parametric EQ with exact frequency and Q factor control. It isn’t very visual, but you can get what you want if you know what you’re looking for. However, the only shame is that it’s just a 4 band EQ and we always felt that there was something we wanted to tweak but just couldn’t. And after dropping the bass CONSIDERABLY AND boosting the treble, we got a much more pleasing and neutral sound out of these headphones. If we were to be critical, we thought that the treble was a bit too restrained, even after maxing out a couple of treble bands. But if you like a slightly warmer or darker sound, then you won’t even notice what we’re talking about.
The only place I enjoyed these over the Stax Spirit S3 is some busy djent like Bulb’s Fuf Redux which needs that low end support to sound full, but in most cases, I prefer the Edifier Stax Spirit S3, but that’s probably just as well, it’s about 65% more expensive and doesn’t offer ANC. So it better sound great.
We’ll also have full, high-quality samples for all genres – vocals, hip hop, rock, EDM, jazz and classical for our Patrons and YouTube members – the icicle tier. There are just three tiers now – Popsicle, Icicle and Tested. And the second tier gets you full, high quality recordings. Check the Patreon link in the description or hit the Join button below this video on YouTube to get access. Here’s a short sample though.
And like we briefly mentioned, the Edifier also has something called ‘safe volume’, which limits your max volume. Not everyone likes this, so we understand that some of you may switch this off, but we’ve happily turned this on and we think the maximum limit on the safe volume is still pretty loud for us, so it’s kinda cool that our precious ears are protected. So we can bring you guys more reviews – subscribe for more!
Are the Edifiers any good for you ‘work-from-homers’ or phone callers in general. Here are samples for your testing pleasure.
CLICK HERE to listen to the phone call samples.
The WH950NB does quite well and we would be ok to use them for calls. It’s able to handle the wind and even though you can hear it a bit, the voice is still intelligible. The same goes for the background noise. But what you will notice, compared to the Sony XM5 is that the noise cancellation on the background noise is so harsh that the voice sometimes gets cut. The volume of the voice is also lacking compared to the Sony, making the voice on the Edifier sound like it’s coming from further away. Since it was new years eve, the fireworks you hear were mostly cut out but at the cost of Rohan’s voice meaning that you couldn’t hear what he was saying at all. This is probably what you can come to expect from very high pitched background noises. Luckily we don’t have new days eve.
Now, although we’re ok to use them for phone calls, the biggest deal breaker is the occlusion effect. Hearing the sound of your own voice through your skull. It doesn’t feel natural to talk with them for longer periods of time. Unfortunately you cannot change the ANC mode while on a call. So we much prefer the likes of the Sony or the SoundCore in that regard.
The vakman controls are standard issue for over-ear headphones. Answer and hangup as well as volume controls. There’s no muting from the headphones itself. There’s no way to change noise canceling mode either.
Multipoint and Connectivity
We’re happy to see Edifier supporting multipoint. It can be connected to two devices and it works well! Just pause on one and play on another. This will be enough for most people. A few downsides to mention though. If you enable multipoint it will be at the cost of LDAC. It’s either one or the other, you can’t have both you spoiled headphone addict! Also, you cannot pull connection from a previously paired device. You’ll need to enter pairing mode and then select the headphones from that device. And finally there is no way to see the list of devices you’re paired to in the app, nor be able to switch connections from it either. The Edifiers do support Google Fast Pair though. So if you’re signed in with the same Google account on another device, putting the headphones into pairing mode will trigger a connection window automatically on that device.
We asked Edifier what they’ve done in terms of sustainability and recycling in their product and packaging. And they said the following…
Yeh, they said nothing. We got no answer back from them. And that’s unfortunate, but also the reality for many of the smaller manufacturers these days.
Overall – despite the uninspired name of these headphones, the WH950NB is an excellent, compelling offering from Edifier – once again. But things are not quite simple in today’s market. Does it beat the Sony WH-1000 XM5? Well – no, not exactly but it isn’t trying to either. Does it beat the Sony XM4? Well – it’s pretty easy to recommend the Edifier for about $100 dollars less, especially since the XM4 had pretty bad microphones. And versus the SoundCore Space Q45? Well – except for sound, the SoundCore’s got the Edifier beat on many fronts. But the question to you is this – is sound core to your purchase decision?
You enjoyed that cross-company pun… and we’ve been DHRME. Namaste!