Wireless noise cancelling headphones are a hot commodity. It seems we’ll do anything to drown out strangers’ excessive chatter during our pre-coffee morning commutes. While the cream of the crop are the Sony and Bose flagships, Edifier’s ready to duke it out with the best of them for half the price.
Who is the Edifier W860NB for?
These headphones are for anyone interested in affordable, yet effective noise cancelling headphones. The inclusion of a clamshell case and airplane adapter reinforces that these are designed for traveling and commuting, too. The neutral-leaning sound is great and makes the Edifier W860NB a versatile set of cans that can accurately reproduce nearly any genre of music.
How is the Edifier W860NB built?
Cheaply, or so it seems. The plastic construction feels tenuous and the headset is riddled with vulnerable, ill-reinforced points including the ear cup rotators and yokes. Fortunately, the metal headband should prevent breakage, but I don’t feel comfortable enough to test that as I did with the V-Moda Crossfade Wireless II Codex.
Edifier uses a combination of touch and physical controls to decorate the headphones. The former spans the entire plane of the right ear cup panel, while the latter is found on the edge of each ear cup. Although touch controls are, well, a nice touch, they’re not the most reliable. Oftentimes, I had to continuously tap to pause or resume media playback. That said, the physical buttons are fine; although the next generation may benefit from a more pronounced multifunction button.
Like the Audio-Technica ATH-M40X, the Edifier W860NB uses large 40mm dynamic drivers to push soundwaves into your ears. The ear cups are spacious and deep enough that the driver grills don’t brush up against the ears. What’s more, the synthetic leather easily molds around glasses arms, making W860NB one of the more delightful over-ear options for those of us who are visually impaired.
How good is the Edifier W860NB’s microphone?
Despite having a slightly underemphasized low-end response as it relates to the human vocal range, the microphone clearly relayed my voice to a friend who shared that I sounded only slightly muffled. This makes sense seeing as my vocal fundamental frequency ranges from 160-240Hz, which receives less emphasis than the 400-500Hz range. If Chris Thomas were to speak with these headphones, though, his voice would probably sound markedly distorted.
Of course, microphones aren’t just for taking calls, they help facilitate virtual assistance commands. Google Assistant access is snappy and consistent. The microphone was repeatedly able to register my commands and responded within moments.
How good is the Edifier W860NB’s Battery life?
Battery life is excellent. According to our objective testing, when subjected to a constant 75dB(SPL) output, the headphones lasted 31.6 hours with noise cancelling turned on. What’s more, Edifier states the headset provides up to 800 hours of standby time. Meanwhile, a full charge cycle takes three hours to complete via the included microUSB cable, which isn’t bad considering you get more than a full day’s listening out of it.
How does the Edifier W860NB connect to your phone?
Connecting to the headphones is a bit of a choose your own adventure: NFC, Bluetooth, and good ‘ol TRRS 3.5mm plug are all viable options. Seeing as these are billed as wireless noise cancelling headphones, most will probably forgo the included aux cable. In that case, streaming quality is good thanks to the aptX codec support.
A neat feature of these headphones is their ability to connect to two devices simultaneously. This means you can alternate between which device is the primary source by simply pausing on one and playing on the other.
Related: Why I’m sticking to wired headphones
How does the Edifier W860NB sound?
The Edifier W860NB headphones have a relatively neutral frequency response with some audible midrange emphasis. On the whole, though, these cans handle all genres well and avoid auditory masking that often occurs with bass-heavy sound signatures like the one heard with the JBL Live 650BTNC. Additionally, noise cancelling is impeccable. Low noises like A/C units and traffic are effectively filtered out by the W860NB. Higher pitched noises, however, still permeate the barrier.
Lows, mids, and highs
In Anderson Paak’s song The Chase, the neutral-leaning frequency response is absolutely necessary to properly reproduce the song. Kadhja Bonet’s opening vocals, heard 18 seconds into the song, are underscored by what seems to be a cabasa and chimes. The midrange and treble elements are easy to separate from one another and sound clear.
Bass response is excellent, too. First impressions from the above frequency response chart may lead you to believe that it’s underwhelming. However, the kick drum stressing Paaks’ rhythmic, multisyllabic lyrics can still be felt. This may be attributed to the sub-bass boost from 20-80Hz.
Now, if you’re someone who likes how Beats sound, you may find the low-end to be underwhelming. In that case, there are plenty of viable, affordable Beats alternatives out there. Overall, I prefer a signature like this as it grants more wiggle room for EQ-ing and can more accurately produce audio across an expanse of genres rather than complementing one or two.
Should you buy the Edifier W860NB?
Yes, the Edifier W860NB is a great product for the price. Although the headphones lack that sought after premium build quality, they make up for it by reproducing accurate audio and effectively mitigating external noise. If you’re concerned about the durability, the company’s one-year warranty should quell your anxieties.
Again, I do wish the touch controls and construction were better for the price, but where the company appears to have cut corners, they’ve reallocated efforts toward sound quality. Ultimately, these are headphones first and a great pair at that.