9th February 2023 – Written by Nick Rowe @ Technuovo.com
These are the new Edifier WH950NB headphones, they retail at £180 here in the UK, so top of the line for the brand and they have been my daily drivers for the last few weeks. Here are my thoughts.
First impressions are very good, the headphones are very well presented in the box and carry case provided. They have a premium feel throughout, with a matte black and satin finish, but if that’s not your vibe, there is a cream and gold finish as well. Metal adjustable headband to the top, with soft memory foam padding to each earcup. These have proper memory foam, none of this cheap fake just spongey stuff, and they mould really well to your head. The headband is padded but not with memory foam. Each earcup swivels and folds in on itself for storage, plus there is a good amount of flex generally.
The controls are located on the right earcup and include power on or off, change track and volume control, as well as pairing and mode control. You can select between ANC on, off or ambient mode PLUS that same button if pressed twice will cycle through the audio modes, being music, game, theatre and ambient. Press and hold that button for 2 or more seconds, and that activates the voice control. There are four microphones total, split between each earcup. The right also includes the USB C port for charging, while the left has an aux input.
As for features and specs, these include active noise cancellation and ambient mode, quad microphones for calls, and 40mm composite drivers, plus they’re hi-res certified and hi-res wireless certified, as well as having LDAC codec so you can stream that high-quality audio. It’s got a fast charge, so after 10 minutes of charging, you should get 6 or 7 hours of playback. On a full charge, Edifier is saying you’ll achieve 34 hours of playback with ANC on, 55 hours with ANC off. These are also the first pair of headphones I’ve tried that include Google Fast Pair, which just allows for a smoother connection when pairing with your Android phone.
Moving onto performance and it’s good.
It’s not too often I put on a pair of headphones and the ANC instantly impresses me. Without even thinking, I turned the headphones on and put them on my head and the quality of the ANC hit me instantly. You can scroll through the options, High ANC on, Ambient and off and without any content playing, you can hear a difference. Note I said High ANC, there is an option for low ANC if you wanted it but I can’t really see why, other than it’s a mix between High ANC and Ambient. There is also a wind reduction option via the app as well which again is variant on ambient mode.
Sitting at my desk, the noise from the 8 fans in my PC disappeared, and the kids playing, gone but the dog barking did still come through, but that’s ok. Out walking the dog, louder vehicles still came through, although significantly dampened and otherwise it did a good job of keeping other sounds out. Ambient mode is available, I did switch to it and it works but I’m really not a fan of that in general.
Audio performance out of the box is good but it gets better when you optimise it to suit your sound style. I listen to alot of rock and the default profile known as classic sounded a little muddied to me, a little blurry if that makes sense. Enjoyable but I expected more. However, connect the headphones to the Edifier Connect app and tweak the EQ. There is a dynamic preset which is far better than the classic preset in my opinion and it offers a more rounded sound. You can also customise your own EQ too. There are various sliders and rotary knobs you can adjust, as well as select frequencies. Adjustments are instantaneous so you can play around and get the best profile you want, for the content you listen to. Once happy, save that EQ. On the dynamic preset, favoured genres have to be rap, and bass-heavy tracks, the bass hits hard, it’s quite impressive, but I enjoyed listening to rock, country and general chart stuff. Don’t forget, pair it with an LDAC compatible player for some extra oomph.
As mentioned earlier, game mode and theatre mode are also available and you can notice a difference, but do not listen to music in theatre mode, it’s not good. However, put some content on via Netflix or elsewhere and the experience becomes quite immersive. Explosions are bassy, speech is clear, and the mode does add to the viewing experience, it’s alot better to watch in theatre mode than music mode. I did try game mode but to me, I didn’t really see a benefit of the 80ms low latency they are advertising but I’m not really a mobile gamer.
As for comfort, they’re great. The memory foam earcups, love them. It’s a very snug fit but it’s not tight, plus they are secure, secure enough to wear in a gym I’d say. If I was being critical, I’d say the headband padding could be better, the sponge doesn’t offer much protection from the metal headband.
Controls, the buttons work well, they’re easy to locate with my right hand and say they’re pushing buttons, you know when you pushed it in whereas some of these with touch controls, it can sometimes be a bit iffy. Within the app, you can adjust what the buttons control, for example, swap High ANC for Low ANC, or remove the voice assistant if you didn’t want it. Other options include dual device connection but that comes with limitations on the Bluetooth bandwidth. Safe volume options if you want to limit the output, shutdown timer, Bluetooth settings and access to the user manual.
The microphones worked well, I used these with my phone a couple of times and also through Teams and Zoom, no complaints there. Battery life is stated at 55hours with ANC off but I only ever used these with ANC on, which has a lower stated battery life of 34hours. I don’t think I quite hit that many hours, more 30 and I’d be wearing them for maybe 3 hours at a time, over several days, before charging which is pretty good.
Overall, I’m really impressed with the WH950NB. I think they look smart, they’re very comfortable, and the ANC is great, as is the audio performance. They’re compact, you get a nice carry case, and the battery life is good. There aren’t really any major negatives. Price is £180 in the UK which I think is fair based on the performance and if you think the Sony XM5’s are nearly double that price. My current go-to headphones were the 1More Sonoflows but I think they’re about to go back into the box.
For more info, head over to the official Edifier website.