AirPods and similar products have become the standard for consuming audio wirelessly, can we all agree on that? Can we also agree that there is a vast spectrum of comfort and quality across the IEM marketplace? This is one of the reasons that I much prefer over-the-ear headphones when I’m listening to audio content and not taking calls, Video or otherwise. The WH950NB is the latest in a long line of over-the-ear headphones from Edifier, who know something about creating good products at an appropriate price point.
- So comfortable
- Great battery life
- Balanced sound
- Minimal codec support
- Cheap feeling controls
The combination of smooth brushed plastics and accented metals demonstrates just what is great about the Edifier WH950NB. Whether you opt for the Black or Ivory colour (we have the Ivory), the design is silky smooth. Adjusting the headband, it’s immediately apparent that there’s something a little different from other “etailer” headphones. The clicking noise is pleasing and bottoming out the mechanism delivers a wonderful clunk that is soothing! I’m dramatising of course, but the point is made; these feel gorgeous.
With a 1-inch soft protein leather cushion on the ear cups, and similar on the headband, long audio sessions are a breeze. This is further enhanced by the rotation of the ear cup and the larger-than-usual inner section of the cup that fits over my ear which is a first for me.
The right ear cup houses the majority of the input. A volume rocker with a central play/pause/power button sits above a Mode button and the Type-C charging port, a status LED and a pinhole microphone. Across to the left ear cup and it is more spartan, with only a 3.5mm Aux jack and another pinhole microphone.
On the outer edge of both earcups sit rather large microphones used for the included ANC.
- Driver unit: 40 mm Composite Titanium Film
- Battery Playing Time: ANC On: 34 hours / ANC Off: 55 hours
- Full charging time: 1.5 Hours / 10 minutes fast charge for 7 hours
- Ports: USB-C (Charging), 3.5mm audio
- Bluetooth Version: 5.3
- Audio Codecs: LDAC, SBC
- Extra Features: Ambient mode / 4 mics for phone calls / Foldable / Dual device (connect two devices at the same time)
In The Box
- WH950NB headphones
- Carry Case
- USB Type-C charging cable
- 3.5mm to 3.5mm AUX cable
- Aeroplane adapter
- User manual
Audio & Use
With the WH950NB on my head, I reached for the same song I try first on every set of headphones or earphones I test, namely Skepta’s “Shutdown”. Whilst yes, I love Grime and Hip-Hop in general, that’s not the reason this is my first test. The track has a lot of background adlibs and accompaniments to the main beat, as well as having a good blend of highs and lows. Immediately I was struck by three things. The bass levels were on point, without being overly aggressive, the soundstage was deep enough for me to feel surrounded by the track and there was a small bit of muddiness at the exact point where lows meet mids.
The latter might be an issue for some, but this can easily be tweaked in the Edifier Connect app’s EQ section. Once done, I found that the transition from lows to mids had more clarity.
Moving on to audiobooks and calls, the quality was crisp and clear. I’m used to my earbuds for this sort of use case, but if I only had the WH950NB on me, they would easily manage that scenario.
Isolate Yo’ Self!
The 40mm drivers kick! I maxed out my listening at 60%, even in a busy environment. I strongly suggest lower than 50% volume in everyday use though. The main reason for this is the combination of passive isolation and other active noise cancellation implementation. The leather cushions create a tight seal on their own and I immediately felt more immersed even without enabling ANC. When I did enable ANC, I started to think about just how far we’ve come with this technology. Only a few years ago I would have enabled the setting and immediately heard nothing but hissing and distortion beneath the track I was listening to. Thankfully, no longer. While there is a tiny amount of white noise that can be heard with ANC enabled and no audio playing, it is almost imperceivable.
There are multiple modes here too with a High and Low ANC setting along with Wind Reduction and Ambient Sound modes. There is also a noticeable difference between the High and Low ANC modes, which isn’t always the case on similar products. The High mode takes the edge off of continuous noises and deadens them accurately.
The only downside to the consumption aspect of the Edifier WH950NB is the paucity of codecs on board. LDAC is present, Sony’s high-resolution codec, but AAC and aptX codecs are missing. For the contrary audio listener, this might be cause for concern, but for most, probably not. My view has always been “If it sounds good, it’s good”. It sounds good.
I managed to enjoy this audio for just shy of the marketed 34 hours of playback with ANC enabled, during a testing period. Again, for me, this can firmly be put into the “good” category. In real-world testing, this means that I’ll probably get through around 10-11 days of continuous playback with a few hours of playback each day.
Those Controls Though
My only grievance with the WH950NB is the controls. The functions are fine, with logical single and double-tap options, and these can be configured in the aforementioned Edifier Connect app too. No, my issue is with the ergonomics of the controls. Volume up, play/pause and volume down are all quite close together and incredibly small, with little variance between them. Equally, they feel cheap. The same can be said for the Mode button too, which is almost imperceptible to my fingers it seems.
Luckily I use my device to control volume and track skips as most of my listening is at a desk or on a longer journey, but for those walking/running, or in the gym, this would be less than ideal.
The Edifier WH950NB is an excellent all-around package. The comfort, the audio reproduction, the ANC and isolation, and the design are all top quality and worth the £150 price these currently sit at.
More codecs would have been nice and might be an active turn-off for some audiophiles, but I found myself wishing for other niceties like NFC pairing, wireless charging and more colour options. The fact audio didn’t even factor into this list, for me, is a massive thumbs up. Check them out!