I have been spoiled over the last couple of years by owning the £350 (RRP) Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Headphones, which are considered by many to be one of the best premium wireless headphones with noise cancellation that you can buy. However, Edifier has stepped up to the challenge with the modest budget of £79.99 (RRP), offering specifications that will catch the attention of many.
With wireless Bluetooth, USB-C charging, lossless playback, noise cancellation, ambient mode, and more, can these more affordable Edifier W820NB over-ear headphones compete with the big boys and satisfy our cravings for music recreation at their price point?
Comfort & Control
The Edifier W820NB headphones are lightweight, although as a result, they can feel quite plasticky to the touch compared to higher-tiered options. Nonetheless, they are substantial enough to satisfy most people. However, the same cannot be said about the buttons. Although they function easily enough, they give the impression of feeling a bit cheap.
On the positive side, the padding on the top of the head and the ear cushions are spot-on and even after hours of wearing the headphones for playback, I never felt discomfort. They are ideal for long music listening sessions or when you want to indulge in multiple podcasts back-to-back. A family member of mine has been wearing them almost constantly and even wears them throughout the entire day on occasions, without any complaints about the overall comfort levels.
The buttons on the headphones include power, Bluetooth syncing with new devices, volume control, and play/pause functions for music playback.
Noise cancellation is where I feared the Edifier W820NB Headphones would be outclassed by my Sony set. Well count me very surprised when I tell you that although they are never going to compete with premium headphones, they certainly kept up with them far better than I could have ever expected.
The Edifier W820NB wireless Bluetooth headphones did a tremendous job of cancelling out low-range tones, such as bassier frequencies. I was also impressed with the mid-range cancellation, but as with most noise cancellation efforts, the high end presented some difficulty. Nonetheless, compared to using headphones without noise cancellation technology, the difference is stark.
An extra bonus is the ambient sound mode, which allows you to hear your surroundings while wearing the over-ear headphones. This is helpful when someone is talking to you or when you are in a busy area and need to be aware of the world around you while still enjoying your favorite tracks. The ambient sound mode works quite well with the Edifier W820NB headphones, allowing some of the external sound to trickle into your ears. However, if someone is talking to you, it’s only polite to take your headphones off of course.
Audio quality (Wireless & Wired)
As a general music listening experience, the wireless audio quality of the Edifier W820NB headphones is reasonable, although it suffers from not featuring higher quality wireless audio codecs that are available. Supporting only the standard Bluetooth audio (SBC) for stereo music listening, the sound can sometimes come across as thin. While there is appreciable detail in certain places, overall, it feels a little too safe and doesn’t push any boundaries.
I experimented with various genres, and the vocals always sat nicely within the sound space, while the higher range sounds were present in both speakers. However, the bass is a little light, with reduced impact leaving it lost at times within the mix.
You can also directly connect to the USB-C port on the headphones, for example, to the USB-C on your phone, to enjoy what they call “high-res” audio with no audio compression between the two devices. Given the limited Bluetooth audio codec support, this should theoretically be the preferred option in typical circumstances, as long as you don’t mind having a cable plugged in while listening to music. However, the speakers don’t really deliver enough in this scenario either. While there is additional detail available by physically connecting to the headphones, I was expecting a little more.
Overall, the sound quality is reasonable for this price range, but I had hoped for a bit more to come through the speakers. A nice little sparkle that failed to materialise.
Battery life and app control
The battery life is rated at 29 hours with active noice cancellation on and we came close to that with our own testing. You can achieve 49 hours with this feature turned off though if battery life is more important to you.
The Edifier app provides basic control over the music playing. The best feature though is being able to easily toggle the noise cancellation on and off, as well as the ambient sound mode.
|Driver unit||40mm dynamic driver|
|Playback time||ANC on: about 29 hours; ANC off: about 49 hours|
|Charging time||About 1.5 hours|
|Frequency response||20Hz – 40kHz|
|Sound pressure level||91±3dB(A)|
|Charging port||USB Type-C|
With an RRP of £79.99, the Edifier W820NB headphones offer a reasonable entry into over-ear headphones with a good noise cancellation experience. However, the wireless audio quality suffers from the use of a fairly standard wireless audio codec. While you can plug into compatible USB-C devices for a more satisfying wired experience, it is disappointing that AAC support is not included to enhance the audio presence.
Nonetheless, there are still many positive aspects to these headphones, including excellent comfort for long listening sessions, a good amount of battery life, and the USB-C direct connection for clear audio without wireless compression. However, it is unfortunate that the wireless performance falls a little short.