Affordable Edifier wireless ANC headphones get the basics right [Review]


Want solid headphones without breaking the bank? Consider Edifier's W820NB.★★★★☆
Want solid headphones without breaking the bank? Consider Edifier's W820NB.
Photo: David Snow/Cult of Mac

The Chinese company Edifier has been putting out affordable high-quality audio equipment for more than 25 years. I often find it hits the “high-value” button with many of its products, offering great sound and solid features at relatively low prices. The company seems to stake out that same territory with its W820NB ANC Bluetooth Stereo Headphones.

Edifier sent me a pair of the cans to try out. While they’re not likely to blow anybody away, they get the job done well, with quality sound, strong active noise cancellation and long battery life.

If you want good sound at a good price, they could be for you. But if you’re an exacting audiophile or on the hunt for luxury appointments, look elsewhere.

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Edifier W820NB ANC Bluetooth stereo headphones review

Out of the box, the Edifier W820NB ANC Bluetooth Stereo Headphones are simple, straightforward and no-nonsense. That’s a nice way of saying the packaging and product aren’t fancy.

You get the headphones, a USB-C to USB-A cable and a brief instruction pamphlet. There is no carrying case. There is no audio cable for wired listening.

And aside from the foam in the smallish ear cups and on the underside of the adjustable head band, the exterior of the product is all plastic, including the control buttons on the right ear cup.

Inexpensive but not ‘cheap’

But that just makes headphones inexpensive, not “cheap.” And the proof of that is in the sound quality, range of features and solid, lightweight build quality.

While I like metal and leather and so forth, plastic helps keep the cans lightweight. That helps make it easier to wear them for a long time. I currently have four over-ear headphones kicking around that go for $150 to $350, and the Edifiers are the second-lightest of them. And the Edifiers can compete on sound quality despite their modest price point and cheaper look and feel.

So, despite being inexpensive, they’re not “lightweights.” And once I easily connected them to my MacBook Pro and iPhone 14 Pro via Bluetooth 5.0, I found they worked as advertised.

Hi-res audio

Edifier bills the headphones, with their 40mm dynamic drivers, as hi-res audio-worthy as well as powerful in the noise-cancellation department.

“W820NB headphones are Hi-Res Audio certified by JAS and can reach a frequency response of 40KHz,” Edifier told Cult of Mac. “They are built to deliver professional studio-grade sound. Also, it has hybrid ANC technology that reduces noise by up to 38dB.”

Music comes across as balanced and flat in the headphones, which rely on the commonplace SBC audio codec (not any of the fancier ones) and achieve a frequency range of 20Hz-40KHz. You don’t get a sense of emphasis on either bass or treble, as you do with some headphones.

And while you hear plenty of detail, you don’t really get a sense of an expansive soundstage, largely because the sound is so focused, with no overtones or echo. Someone using headphones in a studio setting would probably value that, while others prefer to feel they’re in at the middle of a lot of (distracting) action.

Fine call quality, capable ANC

Built-in microphones with deep neural network (DNN) noise cancellation make calls on the headphones sound clear. A single tap of the power button answers a call. The voice in my ears sounded clear and focused, with no distortion, and I was told I came across loud and clear on the other end.

While Edifier’s upgraded ANC is not shockingly good, it’s strong enough. The settings are Standard (off), Noise Cancellation and Ambient Mode. The company said the ANC reduced noise by up to 38 decibels of sound, which is essentially the level of a nearby quiet conversation.

As with many headphones, ambient lets the most sound filter through. Off is middling, with just the natural noise cancellation of the ear cups blocking noise (they fit snugly, offering a pretty good seal around the ear). And ANC turned on mostly blots out voices on a nearby TV, conversations in the next room, wind sound and the like. I have heard better noise cancellation, but the W820NB headphones do pretty well.

Long battery life

Another selling point is long battery life, with a claimed 49 hours of playback with ANC off and 29 hours with it on. That extended battery life, seen in this product and other recent releases, is now getting long enough that’s it’s challenging to test. You can listen for days or weeks and forget that they will need charging at some point.

When they do need a recharge, you’ll hear a voice in your ear telling you so. Then you just use the USB-C cable with any charger. A full recharge takes about 90 minutes.

Limited app usefulness

I always like it when headphones and earbuds connect to an app I can use on my iPhone as an alternative to tap controls on the product. So I was glad to find I could hook up the W820NB headphones to the Edifier Connect app on my iPhone, but I wasn’t thrilled with the functionality.

All you can do in the app with these headphones is select between Noise Cancellation and Ambient Sound or turn Game Mode (with low latency) on or off. You don’t get an EQ or music presets to play with.

The control buttons are on the right ear cup.
The plastic multifunction control buttons are on the right ear cup. See the image below for all the specific functions. There’s some control through the Edifier Connect app, but it only allows ANC selection and turning Game Mode on or off.
Photo: David Snow/Cult of Mac

Edifier W820NB specifications:

  • Bluetooth version: V5.0
  • Audio codecs: SBC
  • Driver unit: 40mm dynamic driver
  • Sound pressure level: 91±3dB SPL (A)
  • Frequency range: 20Hz-40KHz
  • Product Weight: 220g (net weight)
  • Charging port: USB-C
  • Charging time: About 1.5 hours
  • Playback time: ANC on: about 29 hours; ANC off: about 49 hours
  • Colors: black, gray and white
The multifunction buttons do much more than they look like they do.
The multifunction buttons do much more than they look like they do.
Photo: Edifier

The retail price of the headphones is $79.99, though you can get them for a little as $59.49 on Amazon. And that makes these cans a particularly good value for those who don’t want or need to shoot for the high end.

Where to buy: Amazon

Edifier provided Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out other in-depth reviews of Apple-related items.



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